"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

Friday, October 29, 2010

Three Things You Can Do To Make Your Community Pit Bull Friendly

This past Saturday was National Pit Bull Awareness Day so I hope everyone was thinking pits as they went about their daily rounds. They certainly were aware of Pit Bulls in the Bronx (yeah, I know it’s Bronx, N.Y., not the Bronx, but that’s where we lived when I was born and it’s always been da Bronx to me). To help plant a flag for this annual commemoration, Best Friends sponsored Pet Bull Palooza at Crotona Park in the Bronx in collaboration with ASPCA and The Mayor’s Alliance for New York City Animals. The ASPCA rolled in two of their mobile spay / neuter vans (which were booked out by 8am) and scheduled a few dozen more follow up appointments with local’s eager to customize their pit bulls. In addition to free spay / neuter services, PBP offered:

•Free vaccinations and microchip
•Free ear cleaning and nail trimming
•Free leashes and collars for first 300 dogs
•Free toys and treats for first 300 dogs
•Free dog food

Everything went! What a great day. These kind of events make the point against mandatory spay / neuter laws…no law required…if you provide low cost or free s/n services, they will come. But I digress.

Why all the attention on pit bulls? Well, for a variety of reasons, they are the most killed breed/type of dog in America’s shelters. If we want to get to No More Homeless Pets, pits are an essential piece of the puzzle.

Pit Bulls rock! They are remarkable, eager to please, animals with mad athletic skills and an abundance of personality. Of course you can make them fight, you make them do just about anything…including make coffee, but what they’re best at is being ridiculous… big grins, a motor driven tail and goofy poses and expressions.

Best Friends is committed to restoring the reputation of pit bull type dogs and has some exciting programs in the works featuring very effective tools and resources to help keep your community pit bull friendly.

At the No More Homeless Pets Conference 10 days ago, we were delighted to announce a partnership with Petsmart Charities called the “Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project”. Basically it’s a pilot project based on a very successful partnership between Best Friends and Salt Lake County Animal Services. It’s had a demonstrable impact on increasing the number of pit type dogs adopted and consequently reducing the number of such dogs surrendered and killed at Salt Lake County Animal Services.
Petsmart kicked in $240,000 to get the program started in 5 target communities that Best Friends will partner with: Rancho Cucamonga, California, Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Carlsbad, California and Tampa, Florida.

All great stuff you say, but what can I do in my city to make it Pit Bull friendly?

Here are three things you can do to keep your community Pit Bull friendly:

1. Be Proactive
Does your community have a comprehensive dangerous dog ordinance? If not, don’t wait, take steps to get a good one passed. It will be a bulwark against regressive and reactive breed bans or other breed discriminatory regulations. A good dangerous dog ordinance targets the deed, not the breed. It focuses on irresponsible owners of whatever breed of dog who encourage aggressive behavior, take pleasure in having the “baddest dog” in the neighborhood, blow off neighbors concerns and turn their dogs into extensions of their own anti-social selves with the result being that when, not if, someone gets bitten, the dog and probably the breed get blamed. Best Friends has model dangerous dog ordinance language available and our team will be happy to help shepherd you through the process of working with local officials to get good laws in place before bad laws are dreamed up by grandstanding and / or uninformed politicians. Click here for model ordinances, resources and more.

2. Use The Best Friends Breed Discriminatory Fiscal Impact Calculator

If your community is plagued by a grandstanding pol or has a well meaning but uninformed neighborhood activist or for some other reason is considering a breed ban or some other form of breed discriminatory legislation, the best strategy to move the conversation from fear mongering hysteria to a rational discussion of what’s best for the community, use THE CALCULATOR! The Best Friends BDL Fiscal Impact Calculator will tell you how much it will cost the taxpayer to enforce, defend and implement a breed ban. When dollars come into the conversation, everything slows down and the reality of a breed ban can be considered in a different light. Does your community really want to introduce a police state with door-to-door searches that leaves kids crying on the doorstep as family pets…family members…are hauled off to be killed or does it really want to protect the community and promote responsible pet ownership through proactive enforcement of progressive dangerous dog laws.

3. Host A Pit Bull Palooza
Have some fun, fix some pits, create a community of pit bull advocates who love these dogs and are sending all the right messages.

Pits are great dogs and they need our help to get out of shelters, to stay out of shelters and to be recognized for the great dogs that they are. For help and resources for your community be sure to visit the Best Friends campaign site for Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog.

By Francis Battista
Article found here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pit Bull Owners Take a Stand for Their Dogs

We've all heard the stereotypes: only criminals own pit bulls, people only want these dogs to fight them, pit bull owners don't care about their dogs.

And we all know where these stereotypes lead: to pit bull-type dogs facing unfair restrictions and bans, innocent dogs not getting a fair shot at adoption, and thousands of animals killed by shelters just because they look a certain way.

The best way to break stereotypes is to shatter them with reality. Everyone who lives with a pit bull knows this; we've all converted friends and family who abandoned their media-generated fears once they spent a little time up close and personal with our dogs. Many of them went on to adopt their own pit bulls.

And that's why Pit Bull Rescue Central created the "I Own a Pit Bull" campaign. It's time for pit bull owners to stand proud and dispel all those myths about pit bulls and the people who share their lives with them.

When cities, like Denver, pass breed specific legislation, they think they're targeting the drug dealers and other criminals in their town; people too busy breaking the law to go to the polls. Because it's proven again and again that knee-jerk policies targeting dogs based on breed don't reduce dog bites or reach irresponsible pet owners.

City officials don't imagine that they're profiling the small business owners, doctors, nurses, veterinarians, artists, computer programmers, teachers, waitresses, neighborhood watch coordinators, community volunteers ... but that's who's impacted whenever laws are passed that judge a dog based on his appearance, and not his individual actions and the irresponsibility of his owner.

So, now through tomorrow, October 23, use your Facebook status to stand up for your dog and show that you're not a stereotype. The formula is easy, and PBRC gives a few handy examples: I own a pit bull and I vote Green Party; I own a pit bull and I am a cancer survivor; I own a pit bull and I need coffee to get going in the morning. PBRC also provides a template for "I Own a Pit Bull" business cards that you can hand out. If you don't have a pit bull, use your status to show that people who love pit bulls and support their owners come from all walks of life, too.

Why now? Saturday, October 23, is National Pit Bull Awareness Day. At events across the country, pit bull owners, rescuers and advocates will be setting the record straight, promoting responsible pit bull ownership and showing their communities how fantastic these dogs are. I encourage everyone to check out the events in your community, and do your part to start changing minds.

Breed profiling is nothing new. Bloodhounds, Dobermans, German shepherds, and Rottweilers have all that their day. But the prejudice against pit bulls is unprecedented. The constant, widespread access to media reports of "pit bull attacks" (regardless of whether the dog was actually a pit bull or whether there was actually an attack) has kept the fear alive, and every day, responsible pit bull owners face new threats of breed specific legislation.

The only way out of this cycle is education, not only about the misconceptions about these dogs and the failings of breed specific legislation, but also about who we are.

by Stephanie Feldstein


Saturday, October 23, 2010

National Pit Bull Awareness Day!

The National Pit Bull Awareness campaign is a nationwide effort to bring positive awareness and attention to the American Pit Bull Terrier and their responsible owners.

To anyone who shares their life with a "pit bull," the need for a national day of awareness for these misunderstood dogs is clear. Constant negative media attention and sensationalized hype that surrounds pit bulls has the breed in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The media and public have stereotyped and judged an entire group of dogs, as well as their owners, based on the actions of a few.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day was established as a day to educate and foster positive communications and experiences in the communities in which we and our dogs live. It is a day to focus on these incredible dogs and their devoted, responsible owners. A day to change perceptions and stereotypes.

The Pit Bull may be one of the most misunderstood animals in our country. For those of us who know this type of dog, we understand them to be incredible animals and great pets.
I cannot recall a single type of dog that has caused as much hype and hysteria as the Pit Bull. I say "type" because the Pit Bull is really not a breed but rather a moniker applied to several breeds with similar characteristics: American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bull Terrier and American Bulldog.

For responsible Pit Bull owners, we know these dogs to be loving, loyal, gentle companions that enrich our lives as much as we enrich theirs. We can relate to the "nanny dog" character, Petey (of Little Rascals fame), and see in our beloved pet the honor and courage of Sgt. Stubby, and of course the resilience and strength of heart of the now infamous Vick dogs. We are also constantly haunted by the threat of Breed Specific Legislation.

It is for this reason that responsible Pit Bull owners need to take the opportunity to join other responsible Pit Bull owners and organizations in supporting National Pit Bull Awareness Day.

On this day and every day it is imperative that we showcase our dog ambassadors at their best. Get involved with organizations that support education and programs to allow your "ambassadog" to interact with the public in positive ways.

Is your dog an AKC Canine Good Citizen? If not, make that your goal to gain CGC certification for the benefit of helping to minimize the negative public perception of your companion and to get some additional benefits from the AKC.

What do you know about Breed Specific Legislation? Educate yourself on the issues surrounding BSL, where BSL is enacted and how to get involved with fighting BSL in favor of more fair legislation that seeks to punish irresponsible dog owners rather than the dog.

And have a happy, safe National Pit Bull Awareness Day!

Article from:

What are YOU going to do to celebrate??
Find a pit bull event near you or volunteer at a local animal shelter!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

York SPCA Program Aims To Keep Pit Bulls Out Of The Pits

Not enough people see pit bulls for what they are -- loyal, intelligent and high-energy companions that need training and love, according to Melissa Smith, executive director of the York County SPCA.

And the endless flow of pit bulls into the SPCA's Emigsville shelter is what happens when people own the dogs for the wrong reasons, she said.

"Some people see pit bulls as a status symbol," Smith said, or a money-making venture. "The dogs are purchased for breeding, which is the last thing we need, but unfortunately there's a market for this. And some people obviously want the dogs for fighting."

That's why the York County SPCA is launching a program to help York's inner-city youths train their pit bulls and SPCA volunteer Ed Temple of Mount Wolf walks Tanner, a male pit bull. The SPCA is holding a program on Saturday, Oct. 23, to help pit bull owners. (John A. Pavoncello Photo)learn to see them as companions, she said. The program is even open to city youths who don't own dogs, because the SPCA can provide shelter pit bulls for dog-less youths.

The program kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at Sovereign Bank Stadium, in conjunction with National Pit Bull Awareness Day. People are encouraged to take their pit bulls to the stadium, where they can receive free rabies shots and microchipping, and celebrate the pit bull breed, Smith said.

Plenty of freebies: The SPCA will also hand out free dog food to owners who need it, and people can sign up their dogs for free spaying or neutering as well as the new youth training program, she said. Pit Bull Awareness Day festivities will continue that day at the shelter from noon to 4 p.m.

The first youth-pit bull training class will be held Nov. 6 at the Princess Street Center, Smith said. The SPCA is targeting middle-school students for the program, she said, but won't exclude older kids.

"Pit bulls get a really bad rap and aren't treated the same way as other companion dogs are treated," she said. "We need to change public perception of these dogs."

Smith said she got the idea from the Humane Society of the United States' "Keep Your Pet Out of the Pit" program. "Pit" means dog-fighting pit.

"Our target group is youth, because if we can get to them early enough, we can get them to see pit bulls as companion animals, as they should be seen," she said.

Good for kids, too: Smith said the SPCA is inviting at-risk youths to join the program as well. In addition to training and socializing the dogs, the program could help bolster youths' self-esteem and sense of responsibility, she said.

The SPCA chose York City for the training because of the high concentration of pit bulls there and is partnering with the city's Recreation and Parks Bureau, which is providing usage of the Princess Street Center.

"We just think it's a wonderful program, to educate and change the views on pit bulls," bureau director Tom Landis said.

The training program will help youths teach their pit bulls basic obedience and good manners, Smith said, and eventually could be expanded to include other dog activities, such as agility training.

"The goal is really to build the bond between a young person and a dog, and to make young people see what great family dogs pit bulls can be with proper training and socialization."

The numbers: Currently, the shelter has 132 dogs, more than half of which are pit bulls, Smith said. She called that ratio normal.

Since January, the shelter has taken in 236 pit bulls, many of which came from York City, she said. The next most common breed seen at the shelter this year is the Labrador retriever, Smith said, with 80 dogs so far.

Many of the pit bulls that come to the shelter are very friendly, but some have been treated badly and not properly socialized or trained, Smith said.

High-energy dogs: "That's what we're trying to avoid," she said. "Pit bulls are very loyal, very intelligent. But having said that, a pit bull owner needs to understand their dog's tenacity and steer that trait in the right direction. They have a lot of energy and they want to please their owners."

That means plenty of exercise and direction, she said.

A pit bull's natural trait of being protective of its family has resulted in people exploiting the breed, she said.

"And that's very sad, because pit bulls will go to the ends of the earth for their owners," she said.

Author: Elizabeth Evans

Watch a video at the website:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pit Proud: The History Of The Pit Bull

I’ve been working on Pit Proud: The History Of The Pit Bull for well over a year. But I believe that every second that went into it was worth it, because I knew then and I know now that Pit Proud is the single, most important Dog Files Episode yet.

It’s the story of what I believe to be, the most maligned and abused animal on Planet Earth.

The Pit Bull.

A dog that the media has made out to be the “great white shark” of the land. A monster waiting to jump out of the shadows and attack your children.

But you know what I’ve found out over the course of researching, writing and crafting this episode?
Pit Bulls… are just dogs. No more, no less.
And like all dogs, they are individuals with individual personalities and temperaments. But because of their intense loyalty and strong form, the pit bull has been singled out amongst lesser men to abuse and kill for their small-minded, cruel entertainment.

You see, the pit bull problem isn’t the dogs, by any means.

The pit bull problem is people.

The people that want to fight them. The people who want them so they feel tougher when they walk down the street. The people that keep them tied up in chains. The people who go about their days and weeks and months and years while ignoring the extremely social animal that’s locked up in their basement.

These are the irresponsible owners that should never own ANY dog. And these are the people that we should always have on our radar.

And the abused dogs?

Well, if the Vick case taught us anything, it’s that even fight dogs, when given a chance, would rather curl up on the couch next to it’s loving human.

And that says it all to me. Pit Bulls are dogs. Dogs are as individual as any human. And like humans, they shouldn’t be painted with a wide brush.

Unless that wide brush has peanut butter on it. I hear pit’s LOVE peanut butter.

– Kenn Bell, Dog Files Creator


After a Rocky Past, Zeus is Living Like a King

Zeus is an American bulldog and pit bull mix. His story of life as a stray on the streets to adoption reads like a fairy tale; the one about the damsel in distress who winds up being rescued by a knight in shining armor atop a white horse.

While Zeus isn’t a damsel, he definitely was in distress. Reported wandering the street of Salt Lake City, Utah, Zeus was apprehended by an animal control officer for Salt Lake County Animal Services. Like so many other dogs listed as RAL (running at large), he had no identification and was brought to the shelter to await redemption by his person. He was alone and given identification number A340150.

Nobody came to claim Zeus and after waiting the requisite five business days, he began the evaluation process. The temperament test on Zeus (initially named McCloud by the staff) went very well. According to notes in his file, one by shelter operations manager April Harris read, “This dog passed assessment with A's and B's on the entire assessment. This is one sweet, mellow, affectionate, AMAZING dog!” (Remember the word amazing.)

Other evaluations were just as positive. Another person noted, “Took out for a walk; he is a sweetheart. He does not pull on the leash and is definitely housetrained. When he comes across other dogs, he does not bark. He just wags his tail and appears to be eager to meet them. He loves to play and will play with toys if they are available for a short time but he prefers to cuddle.”

The outlook for adoption looked good for Zeus even though he was a pit bull terrier mix. Since Salt Lake County Animal Services launched its Pit Crew program, adoption of pit bull terriers and large muscular mutts has more than doubled since 2007. Still, Zeus was just one of many abandoned pit bulls at the shelter.

To make matters worse, Zeus had a condition that was a deal breaker for the five or six potential adopters who showed interest. Zeus suffered from entropion, a condition where the eyelid rolls inward and which needed to be addressed surgically. Surgery to correct this condition could easily have tacked on $1,500 to his adoption fee and would need to be paid by the adopting party.

Enter our “knight in shining armor,” Phil Walker. Walker had been looking for a dog to adopt for a couple of years, but never lived where dogs were allowed — until now. Not only did his new apartment allow dogs, but Walker’s landlord accompanied him on his search for a dog to adopt.

The first stop was Salt Lake County Animal Services where Walker and his new landlord carefully scrutinized the dogs available for adoption.

“There were a couple dogs that I thought I might like to take home, but none really jumped out at me,” recalls Walker. “As we were about to leave, one of the shelter employees was bringing Zeus in from a meet and greet outside and I did a total double-take. I thought he just looked, for lack of a better word, amazing.” (There’s that word amazing again!)

Walker studied Zeus as he sat quietly in his kennel. “I went over to his kennel and he just sat there, calm as could be, leaning up against the door, just wanting to be petted. I know it's cheesy, but it was a complete movie moment. I fell in love with him immediately.”

Not wanting to make a snap decision, Walker decided to think about it and scouted another shelter for a canine companion. As he looked at other adoptable dogs, he couldn’t get the image of Zeus out of his mind. “I decided right then and there Zeus was the dog for me.”

The adoption coordinator told Walker about Zeus’s eye problem and the required surgery he would have to take on. Walker needed a couple of days to think things through. “It was very hard.” said Walker. “I make a decent living, but I'm not at the point where I can spend possibly $1,500 on a dog. However, on Monday morning I decided to go through with it.” After all, knights in shining armor don’t give up.

When Walker returned to adopt Zeus, he was shocked to find Zeus gone. He was already undergoing much-needed surgery thanks to a second knight in shining armor, Melissa Lipani, the campaign coordinator for Best Friends’ campaign Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog.

When Lipani first discovered Zeus’s eye problem and realized he needed surgery, she immediately thought of Dr. Amy Knollinger, one of her casual acquaintances and one of only a few veterinarian ophthalmologists in Utah. Dr. Knollinger is on staff at Eye Care for Animals, a leading national provider of eye care for animals with clinics in over a dozen states including Utah. More knights in shining armor were preparing to join the battle.

“When I contacted Amy to see if she could help, she was immediately willing to look at him.” said Lipani. “The amazing staff at the Eye Care Center was willing to provide what he needed at their cost and donate their time, which was instrumental in obtaining what he needed since the shelter doesn't have a lot of resources for specialty surgeries. Dr. Knollinger, Dr. McLaren, and the administrative staff were so supportive and willing to help. We appreciate their specialty skills and their willingness to help McCloud so that he could move into a permanent, loving home.”

Dr. Knollinger operated twice on Zeus. Once to place skin staples to stabilize the eyelid and allow his corneal ulceration to heal and again to perform permanent cosmetic surgery once the ulceration healed. Zeus’s outlook is good. “Zeus responded nicely to surgery.” said Dr. Knollinger. “His long-term prognosis is great. He was a great patient to work with.”

Zeus has now finished his follow-up appointments to remove his stitches and examine his eyelid. He can now focus on being a dog enjoying a loving home.

“When we're hanging out, we generally play with his rope toy.” says Walker, recounting some of Zeus’s antics. “I’ll throw it and if he feels like it he'll bring it back to my general area. The funny thing is, he knows what I’m asking him to do, but he gets this look in his eyes as if to say, ‘Yeah, I know what you want but, you know, I don't really feel like it.’ He loves giving that rope the beating of its life every time we play.”

“One of the funniest things he does, for whatever random reason, is just take off around the yard, running as fast as he possibly can. And he'll just do laps around the yard. I have no idea what makes him do that or why, but he's just happy to be running sometimes.”

Most all dog people recognize this behavior as their dog’s way of saying, “I’m so happy to be here, comfortable in my surroundings, and knowing that I am loved that I just want to let my hair down and run.” Don’t you just love happy endings?

How you can help:
There are always plenty of wonderful dogs at Salt Lake County Animal Services. Check out some of their adoptable pit bull terriers.

Learn more about the Pit Crew.

Best Friends Animal Society is working throughout the country to help pit bull terriers, who are battling everything from a media-driven bad reputation to ineffective and expensive legislation. Best Friends hopes to end discrimination against all dogs. Dogs are individuals and should be treated as individuals. Find out how you can help by visiting and becoming a fan of the Pit Bulls: Saving America's Dog campaign.

Join Voices for No More Homeless Pets and for updates on animal issues important to you!

Learn more about breed bans and dog bite facts at the National Canine Research Council.

Find more resources in our Tools To Use section.

"How to Prevent Breed Discrimination in Your Community"

Photos by Ken Passarella

By Ken Passarella, Best Friends Network volunteer

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Video du Jour

Behaviorist Karen Overall Calls Pit Bulls 'Incredibly Gentle Dogs'

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Karen Overall, center for Neurobiology and Behavior University of Pennsylvania, talks about social structure of dogs, dominance myth, training methods and myths about Pit Bulls.



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jean Donaldson Interview

Watch an interview with Jean Donaldson, a dog trainer and author with 35+ years of experience