"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lost Souls: Found!

Are Pit Bulls the vicious people-eaters the media portrays them to be? The stories submitted by loving families who have adopted and rehabilitated Pit Bulls in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories about Pit Bulls will tell you they are a product of their environment. And, like any other dog, when treated with love and respect Pit Bulls are the most loyal, loving companions out there. This thought-provoking compilation, with introduction by acclaimed actress and animal advocate Linda Blair, shares the discrimination that Pit Bull owners face and the joy these dogs provide which makes it all worthwhile. A must-read for Pit Bull lovers and open-minded people who want to learn more about the breed.

Up to 50% of net profits from your book purchase will be divided among Pit Bull rescue groups. The book was compiled with stories from people who have adopted Pitties from rescue groups around the country. The stories are happy, sad and educational, and are meant to encourage pet rescue and paint a clear picture of life with a rescued Pit Bull.

Buy the book here and here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Video du Jour

Before there was such a thing as a "bad breed" there was Luke, a pit bull terrier who appeared in many films with his master, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle (1887-1933), from 1914 to 1920, along with Buster Keaton and Al St. John.

Born in 1913, he became one of the first canine film stars, earned $150 a week for his master and was very popular with audiences. A high energy companion to the slapstick antics of his human costars, he was a natural for early comedy shorts. Very people oriented, friendly and agreeable to the oddities that came with working in comedy pictures at the time, in the course of his career he fearlessly performing such stunts as jumping from great heights, climbing two story ladders, running across rooftops, and leaping from one moving car to another. In addition he never failed to chase off the bad guy or save the lady in distress.

Pit Bull Poem

Click to make picture larger.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What Do Pit Bulls Act Like?

Here are some examples of the silly, playful nature of pit bulls. They are total goofballs who will always find a way to make you laugh.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pit Bull Bigotry: Public Perception and Legislation

Feature photo: Author/Above Photo
Nancy Harder challenges the social and legislative prejudices against pit bulls.

I used to think pit bulls were born mean.

I had never met one, but I accepted the opinions of my parents and the adults around me. I didn’t question the prejudice, despite a lack of evidence.

My attitude towards pit bulls didn’t change until I met my now-husband.

In a discussion about possible future pets, my husband said the only dog he would consider adopting was a pit bull. I questioned his reasoning, only to grow ashamed when he described all the positive, loving experiences he had with the breed.

Bigotry checked, I began researching the breed.

I fell in love.

I learned that violent acts attributed to pit bulls are not innate to the breed; violence is a manifestation of the way pit bulls are treated and raised. Despite the media’s portrayal of the breed as inherently aggressive dogs with a proclivity towards fighting, pit bulls will not act more aggressively than any other dog if not abused.

The real pit bull

Pit bulls do have three characteristics easily exploited for dog fighting. It’s no surprise that with these characteristics, bull breeds can be trained to harm:

1) Very high intelligence.
2) Strong desire and determination to please their owner.
3) Physical strength and stamina.
Cosmic intervention brought our pit bull, Zoey, to us. A vet technician acquaintance told us about a really sweet dog about to be euthanized. Zoey had been abused, neglected, and left to die in the street after being run over by a car.

Despite her cruel beginning and months of physical rehab, she is the sweetest, happiest dog I’ve ever known. Check out the recent "Meet Matador Pets" article for an example.

Since adopting Zoey 18 months ago, I’ve spent even more time researching the breed and connecting to other pit bull owners and rescue organizations.

I’m saddened when pit bulls are associated solely with hardcore gangsta rap, Sarah Palin, and Michael Vick. I cringe whenever someone uses the term “pit bull” as a descriptor for aggressive tenacity; it’s not only ignorant, but that bad word in writing: cliche.
Pit bulls in the news

Historically, the pit bull was championed as a family dog. Petey from the Little Rascals was a pit bull and Helen Keller’s dog was believed to be a pit bull. Understand-a-bull.com keeps a list of heroic pit bull stories and Cesar Milan published a list of celebrity pit bulls.

Karen Delise, founder and director of research at the National Canine Research Council, has been researching fatal dog attacks for 20 years.

She obtained official documents and data from as far back as the 19th century and interviewed animal control officers, police, and medical examiners to complete two books on dog attacks and pit bulls, "Fatal Dog Attacks: The Stories Behind the Statistics" and "The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media Myths and Politics of Canine Agression".

According to Delise’s results, the overwhelming majority of dog attacks were by dogs who were treated inhumanely and interacted negatively with humans. There was no evidence of a particular breed or type of dog behind the majority of dog attacks.
Typical pit bull
In temperament tests conducted by the American Temperament Test Society, pit bulls received a passing rate of 82% or better- compared to only 77% of the general dog population.

Michael Vick’s former dogs

Even pit bulls that have been fought are still not permanently aggressive. After the football star Michael Vick pleaded guilty to conspiring to run a dog fighting operation, officials confiscated 50 pit bulls on his Virginia property.

The dogs had been chained to car axles. The ones that didn’t fight were beaten, shot, hanged, electrocuted, and drowned. Many people, including animal rights groups, called for the animals to be euthanized because of their alleged vicious nature.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ordered each dog to be evaluated individually, not by breed stereotype, and required Vick to contribute one million dollars to the dogs’ lifelong care.

Only one dog was found to be too aggressive to save and had to be euthanized. Another was too injured to keep alive.

The other 48 dogs were placed in foster homes and animal sanctuaries, with a handful being adopted.

Despite their past, the dogs recovered from the torture. According to a St. Petersburg Times article about Michael Vick's former dogs:

"More than a year after being confiscated from Vick’s property, Leo, a tan, muscular pit bull, visits cancer patients as a certified therapy dog in California. Hector, who bears deep scars on his chest and legs, recently was adopted and is about to start training for national flying disc competitions in Minnesota. Teddles takes orders from a 2-year-old. Gracie is a couch potato in Richmond, Virginia, who lives with cats and sleeps with four other dogs.”
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)

Prejudice isn’t just affecting public perception. Throughout the nation and world, breed specific legislation is building momentum in policy debates. Breed specific legislation bans or restricts pit bulls and other “aggressive” breeds.

Denver, Colorado banned pit bulls in 2005. As of March 2009, the city of Denver euthanized at least 1,667 pit bulls in gas chambers. Pit bull owners had two choices when they enacted the ban: inhumanely euthanize their family dogs or send them away.

Denver is not the only place that’s passed BSL.

Cities and regions across the US, Canada, and 14 other countries have banned, restricted or are considering breed specific legislation. Air France, Continental Airlines, and British Airways also embargo pit bull type dogs on their flights due to safety concerns.

Reasons BSL doesn’t work

The laws may originate out of concern for public safety, but BSL hasn't worked and doesn’t work for six reasons

1) Dog attacks aren’t disproportionately pit bulls; it only seems that way because of media portrayal.

2) The laws don’t fix the real issue: encouraging responsible pet ownership and punishing abusive and irresponsible owners.                                                              Pit bull at the pound

3) Banning pit bulls creates a black market of mis-bred and abused dogs.

4) Defining breeds is problematic. A dog can still be defined as a pit bull or other banned breed if they carry certain physical characteristics, even if the dog is a mixed breed. The pit bull breed, for example, can encompass the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, dogs with mixes of these breeds, even the American Bulldog and Bull Terrier.

5) It’s more expensive. According to Prince George County's assessment of BSL, it costs $68,000 to confiscate and euthanize a single pit bull. Gas chambers, like those in Denver, lessen the economic blow, but millions of dollars are still spent enforcing the ban. Those dollars could be allocated to promoting responsible pet ownership, punishing abusive owners, and contributing to other important issues like education and health care.

6) 4 million dogs are euthanized per year in the United States. With BSL, dogs are confiscated that actually have homes, adding to the number of dog deaths per year.

Outlawing and discriminating against pit bulls and other breeds is shallow and harmful. Negative group think and propaganda is no reason to hold a prejudice based on race, gender, religion, nationality…or breed.

What you can do:

Support your local pit bull rescue through donating, fostering, and volunteering.

Adopt a pit bull if you believe the breed works for your lifestyle.

Follow these tips to see if BSL is being proposed in your area.

Write your congressman about the issue.

Visit these websites and blogs for more information:
Dog Politics, Stop BSL, Anti-BSL, Understand A Bull, Pitbull Lovers, Molosos y Terriers, KC Dog Blog

How do you feel about BSL and pit bulls? What associations do you have with pit bulls? Are you considering bringing a dog into your family? Read "So You Think You Want a Dog? Four Questions to Ask Before Buying a Dog."

Author: Nancy Harder

Article from:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pit Bull Bomb Sniffer

Neville the pit bull to retire from job as bomb sniffer for WSP

SEATTLE - He's got a reputation, but he's not living up to it. And that's a good thing. Neville the pit bull is working the ferry lines at Seattle's Coleman Dock.

He isn't supposed to be here. Neville was on death row in Canada until an escape worthy of a spy novel got him across the border and into the K-9 work force. Today he protects the people who almost failed him.

"He's the kind of dog who would take a bullet for you," said Neville's handler, Trooper David Dixon. "And there are people like me who had a bad idea of pit bulls in the past that may change their mind and love them because they're great."

"He's so sweet. I love it when you pet him and he just smashes up against you. You feel the love," said Diana Cameron, who works at the espresso stand on the dock.

And after five years and 21 actual finds of weapons or explosives, Neville prepares to hang up his badge for good. He is scheduled to retire in September.

Neville was the first pit bull on explosives patrol for the Washington State Patrol. And he's helped pave the way for four others to follow in his footsteps.

WSP currently has five pit bulls working narcotics or explosives. But Trooper Dixon says it's not so much about the breed as it is the sniffer and the disposition. Neville has a nose that knows and the temperament of a dedicated officer. Not to mention his success has helped booster the reputation of a breed known more to be fighters than crime fighters.

Trooper Dixon estimates that Neville does detection work on 150,000 vehicles a year. One dog's life was spared to benefit the lives of countless others.

Neville will remain with Trooper Dixon after his retirement.

by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Article from: http://www.king5.com/news/local/Pitbull-on-Patrol-88957032.html

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Meet Leo, a former Vick Dog

Meet Leo. He’s a cheerful, sweet greeter. He’s fond of cuddles and hugs. And he spends his free time sharing his affection with the sick and elderly at a local hospital (having recently passed his therapy dog tests with flying colors). He also spent the first part of his life under the dark, demeaning ownership of football star Michael Vick.

Yes, Leo is one of the fifty Vick dogs confiscated from the football player’s property late last year – although to meet him now you’d never guess at his unfortunate beginnings. In fact, it seems wherever Leo goes he garners adoring smiles and effusive compliments. What a sweet boy! Where did you get him? He’s so well-behaved! To which he responds with tail wags and dreamy gazes from his kohl-rimmed eyes. His most adoring fans are schoolchildren.

Leo doing therapy work

It’s amazing to watch, surprising to some, and yet to those who know the Pit Bull breed, not a surprise at all. Leo is the consummate example of true Pit Bull spirit – despite the life he led before with his former owner, he has made a quick ascension to stardom: ace-ing his obedience classes, playing and socializing with other dogs, and revealing himself to be a true ambassador for all canines, not just Pit Bulls. He has already begun work as a Therapy Dog with Therapy Dogs, Inc. (www.therapydogs.com), and is invited weekly to a local South Bay hospital to bring comfort and smiles to the patients there. His biggest supporters aren’t just the patients either – staff, nurses, and EMTs have taken to calling him “Dr. Leo” for his healing touch. All in less than two months.

Marthina McClay, Leo’s trainer, foster mom, and founder of Our Pack, Inc., can’t get over his popularity. “I’ve worked with hundreds of dogs. People are drawn to Leo. I’ve never had a dog that was so magnetic.” She’s quick to brag on his personality, “He’s such a tenderheart. When he came to me, I was prepared for anything. But I never realized I would be meeting the Casanova of Dogs. He has this way of romancing you with those brown eyes of his - he’s truly amazing.”

Of course, if you spoke with Leo today, he would likely gloss over his accomplishments and the association that has made him famous. Instead, he would politely take a seat beside you, plop his head in your lap, gaze up at you with those dreamy eyes and talk about how he enjoys Sunday afternoons playing with his doggie brothers and sister, and how much he looks forward to visiting more people next week.

Leo (far right & center) hanging out with his buddies.

This is the true Amercian Pit Bull Terrier: resilient, people-loving, willing to please, and just so good-hearted!

Watch Leo on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams!

Watch the amazing photo slideshow by photographer Carol Guzy HERE!

Leo's story featured on NBC 11. Watch here!

Read about Leo's amazing work with at-risk youth on the Best Friends Network!

From: http://www.ourpack.org/leo.html

Lover Not Fighter

Photo from:

Their Nose Knows!

What a great activity for your Pit Bull! I saw this on the BAD RAP blog and had to share:

A sport that builds upon a dog’s natural ability to locate a scent, nose work starts dogs out on a course with a basic, strong smell—say a bag of stinky treats—hidden in one of five boxes all lined up. They’re walked on a leash beside the boxes and rewarded when they pick out the treat box. From there, the game is refined—with boxes scattered everywhere, less treats in the box, things being hidden higher, buried deeper, stuck in stuff other than boxes, on cars, on grassy outdoor courses, you name it. As the dog advances, so does the game. The idea, at its essence, is just to set the dogs free to do what they do best: act like a dog.

Every single dog in this class—without exception—loved it. And that only makes sense. Dogs have 220 million olfactory receptors to only 5 million for humans. That means they can smell forty-four times as well as we can! They’re designed for this sport; it employs the tools evolution afforded them. Dogs are able to follow a scent like it's a thread right to a source. Watching the satisfaction the dogs got in hunting, I was reminded (silly human!) that dogs have their own native intelligence, way more keen than the paces of sit, shake, roll over we often put them through.

And beyond their genetic predispositions, dogs get such a boost from this work. Take little Stella, for example. Some might say Stella has been something of a scaredie cat in her day. Rescued by officers during a drug raid in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan, she’d come to fear a good few things in life, boxes among them. But take a look at her on the job here, sticking her big ol’ anvil-head straight into boxes, coolers, crates, and cones, all on the hunt for the buried treasure. You’d never in a million years know this dog had a fear in the world. And neither would she.

Stella locating the source hidden in an apple basket.

Stella nosework 1 from Elizabeth Kennedy on Vimeo.

Stella nosework 2 from Elizabeth Kennedy on Vimeo.
Stella is excited to be working!