"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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Video du Jour

Many pit bulls enjoy the company of other pets. This video turns stereotypes upside showing pit bulls with their furry and feathered friends.

Rebranding the Pit Bull

By Laura Petrolino, StubbyDog VP of Operations (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

When you need to blow your nose, do you ask for a tissue? Or a Kleenex?

When you want something to drink, do you ask for a soda? Or a Coke?

When you have a cut, do you get a bandage? Or a Band-Aid?

In marketing, you know that your product/service has reached ultimate “brand” utopia when you achieve what I call “Kleenex-Level Distinction.” Kleenex, Band-Aid and Coke all have brand recognition that is so strong they are no longer just seen as an example of the actual object, but the object itself. In many cases, you might be using Puffs tissues and still call them Kleenex! That’s pretty powerful when you think about it.

The “Kleenex Distinction” is a rather odd dynamic and tells us a lot about human nature. We have a natural tendency to want to associate things in this way. I’m sure someone much more qualified than myself could explain this further (and I might try to find someone in the future), but the important point here is that the association tends to extend beyond the object into its characteristics and actions as well. So, using the same example, Kleenex has become associated in our minds as a quality, soft, trusted source for tissue, so strongly that it is in fact what many of us see as tissue. Much of this is done subconsciously, of course, which makes it even more interesting to explore.

So what does this mean when you look at pit bulls from this “brand” perspective? Unfortunately, the same strong association is there in most cases, but in a negative light. So here at StubbyDog, we say that we are working to rebrand the pit bull, undoing that negative association and replacing it with a more accurate description of these dogs. This precisely what we are working to do through our outreach, stories, articles, photos, etc..

The other day I was out walking my Vizsla, Oliver (yes for those of you that don’t know, I actually am the mom of a crazy, goofy, hyperactive Vizsla, not a pit bull … more on that in another blog). We came upon a family with two youngish kids. The kids automatically came running towards us, arms flailing, obviously un-trained on how they should approach a dog. The parents panicked when they saw the scene take place and went running and yelling after the children, blockading them from reaching Oliver and myself.

“They can pet him,” I said. “He’ll probably give them lots of kisses, but he loves the attention”

“But, is he a pit bull?” the mother asked me tentatively.

Resisting my urge to launch into an educational monologue in the middle of the street, I simply took a deep breath, “He’s a Vizsla,” I responded. The mother paused, looked at her husband and then asked me again, “But, is he a pit bull?”

I wasn’t quite sure what part of “No, he’s a Vizsla” didn’t make sense to these people. So I repeated again, “He is a Vizsla, the dog is a Vizsla, but that doesn’t matter; he is gentle, they are free to pet him if you’d like.”

She continued to look at me absolutely puzzled (I was seriously starting to wonder if I wasn’t speaking English clearly … it had been a long week). She pointed at his the Gentle Leader around his nose, “But why does he have that on his mouth? Does he bite?”

And then it hit me, when this woman was asking me if Oliver was a pit bull, she wasn’t trying to figure out what type of dog he was, she was basically asking “Is he vicious?”

This is the association we must correct if we are going to change public perception of pit bull type dogs. “Pit bull” in too many cases is not seen as a descriptor for a “type of dog,” but as a descriptor for a set of characteristics.

This is why when a dog attack/bite occurs, people automatically assume a pit bull was involved and even falsely identify the dogs as pit bulls. This is why the media indict pit bulls in their coverage of negative incidents involving canines, without having any actual proof of the dog’s breed. This is why “pit bulls” are the target of breed-discrimination laws throughout the country. Just as Kleenex is used to refer to all tissues, “pit bull” is too often used to refer to negative canine incidents or traits.

A key component to changing the conversation about pit bulls is breaking this negative association. Today, I want you to think about the ways you can work to do this in your daily life? What resources can we provide you here at StubbyDog to do so? How can we, as a community of pit bull advocates, change the conversation, reverse the negative association and improve the lives of pit bull type dogs everywhere?

(photos by Melissa Lipani)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Texas Woman's Pets are a YouTube Hit

HAPPY FAMILY: Sharky and Max-Arthur relax with some of their young feathered friends.
(Photo: Helen Jürlau Arnold / www.HelensPets.com)

When Helen Jürlau Arnold uploaded a video in 2007 of her pit bull playing with baby chicks, she didn’t expect it to amass millions of views or for thousands of people to subscribe to her YouTube account. She was simply sharing a cute video of her dog Sharky with her family in Estonia.
“YouTube popularity was very overwhelming since my English was pretty bad and I had started using YouTube just to share clips with my family,” Arnold says.

Arnold was born in Estonia and lived there on a farm full of chickens, pigs and cows for 19 years before moving to Texas in 1999, so it was only a matter of time before she had her own menagerie. Her little zoo began with a pot-bellied pig, but it wasn’t long before she had chickens, ducks, bunnies and the stars of her YouTube channel, Sharky the pit bull and Max-Arthur the snowshoe cat.

Max-Arthur was discovered on Arnold’s property 11 years ago, and Arnold says “he was in terrible condition and probably wouldn’t have lived till the next day” if they hadn’t taken him in. Sharky came along five years later as a four-week-old pit bull puppy, and he was one of the main reasons why Arnold continued to share videos of her pets.

“I had a hard time with the bad comments and people saying that my dog could not be trusted, so that was why I kept doing the updates like 'Pit bull and chicks - two months later',” she says.

While you might not expect a pit bull and a cat to get along, Arnold says that Max-Arthur and Sharky were instant friends — but Max is the boss, of course, which is evident in one of Arnold’s most popular videos, which features Max riding a Roomba vacuum and swiping at Sharky.

Sharky, meanwhile, has a sweet temperament that challenges the pit bull stereotype, and Arnold admits that even she was surprised by the extent of the dog’s docility.
“I gave extra love to Sharky because I was frightened by other pit bull owners who said that the dogs could turn on you when they get older. But I have come to find that my pit bull is the smartest dog that I have ever owned. I think they are born with an amazing sweet and caring heart!”

And Arnold isn’t the only one who receives the dog’s affection. Sharky was just 10 months old when he began “fathering” baby chicks, and since then the playful pit bull has fostered goslings, a guinea big, a baby rabbit and an iguana, among other creatures.

“Sharky wants to be everyone's friend. He likes every little animal — little lizards, baby birds that fall down from trees. Chicks, ducks and geese are like his own babies. Now his newest love is a little baby rabbit named Oreo. He's just in heaven when he's surrounded by all his babies.”
In addition to a vacuum-riding cat and a pit bull crawling with fluffy chicks, Arnold’s YouTube channel also features humorous videos of Max-Arthur taking showers in the sink (Who says cats don’t like water?) and other adorable critters from her ever-growing zoo. You can keep up to date with Sharky and Max-Arthur's latest escapades at HelensPets.com, or you can become a fan of Sharky on Facebook.

Don't miss this adorable video of Sharky and Max-Arthur with some baby chicks.

By Laura Moss

The Pit Bull Ban in Miami-Dade County Forces Mark Buehrle’s Family to Settle Elsewhere

Mark Buehrle's left arm may have been greeted warmly down in south Florida this offseason, but the same can't be said for one of his family's four dogs.

According to the Miami Herald, "Slater" Buehrle, an 18-month-old American Staffordshire terrier, falls under a pitbull ban that has been in place in Miami-Dade County since 1989. That means the Buehrle family didn't have the option of moving anywhere close to the Miami Marlins' new ballpark after Mark signed a four-year, $58 million deal with the team last month.

Mark Buehrle, a dog lover who made headlines when he said he hoped Michael Vick would get hurt, avoided the ban by moving his family to a dog-friendly development in south Broward County. And while he says he wouldn't have signed with the Marlins if there had been no housing alternatives for Slater and the rest of his family, Buehrle still wants to speak up against the injustice of the ban.

From the Miami Herald:
Mark Buehrle believes "it's kind of ridiculous that because of the way a dog looks, people will ban it. Every kind of dog has good and bad, and that depends on the handlers. If you leave a dog outside all the time, it'll be crazy. Slater would never do anything harmful.''

Mark Buehrle grew up with cats, rabbits and fish, but got his first dog with Jamie. They married in 2005 and are spokespeople for Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society, which accepted 22 of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick's pit bulls.
The Buehrles have three other dogs — Viszlas named Diesel, Drake and Duke — and adopted Slater after Jamie fell in love with him during work with an animal rescue group. Judging from his festive getup in the picture above, he sure doesn't look too menacing.

As a dog lover who has admired Mark and Jamie Buehrle's work with "Sox for Strays" in Chicago, I agree 100 percent with the pitcher's stance. Without getting into a long drawn-out debate on the subject, the danger with pitbulls lies more with the responsibility of its owners and not the breed itself. There's absolutely no reason why a well-trained dog and its family should be discriminated against through government legislation.

The good news, of course, is that at least this tale has a happy ending. Though Slater and the Buehrles were forced to go live elsewhere, perhaps their story will help end a ban that causes a much bigger hardship for other families.

After all, not everyone who moves to Miami-Dade County for a job has the luxury of being able to choose where to live. The awareness the Buehrles are driving could prevent dog owners from having to make a decision they shouldn't have to in the first place.

Mark Buehrle pets a fan's dog at U.S. Cellular Field. (Getty Images)

By 'Duk | Big League Stew
Top photo: (US Presswire/Buehrle family photo)

If you live in Florida, contact your legislator today by
going to http://savefloridadogs.bestfriends.org for more information.

If you don't live in Florida you can sign the petition, go to:

Because of an archaic exemption in state law, Miami-Dade County is the only county in the entire state permitted to engage in canine profiling. Florida state legislators Representative Carlos Trujillo and Senator Jim Norman are leading an effort, with the help of Best Friends, to right this injustice and to repeal the portion of the Florida statute that allows Miami-Dade to kill dogs simply because of their appearance. No other county in Florida is allowed such unmitigated power over people's pets.

Last year, with help from you and other dog lovers in Florida, we were able to repeal the automatic dangerous dog classification that discriminated against any dog rescued in a dogfighting bust. Now it is time to put an end to ALL canine discrimination in Florida and make the Sunshine State a model of humane public policy.

Despite being over 20 years old, Miami's canine profiling still causes the needless, senseless and unjustified confiscation and killing of hundreds of innocent dogs every year, proving that breed discrimination does not make communities safer, and is impossible to enforce. It's also a waste of tax dollars. Nowhere else in Florida can certain breeds of dogs be summarily killed simply because of their appearance.

To correct this injustice, we need your help. Please reach out to your state legislator and urge him/her to support the repeal of Miami's archaic and inhumane breed-discriminatory legislation (BDL). If you live in Miami, please ask your state legislators, in both the House and Senate, to co-sponsor the repeal bill that will remove Miami-Dade County's exemption from the statewide BDL prohibition.

Your legislator needs to hear directly from you that you want to live in and be part of a safe, humane community and state. Tell your legislator that this problem has an easy solution: Support HB 997 and SB 1322.

By repealing the canine profiling provision, Miami-Dade will have the opportunity to embrace proven methods for building a safer, more humane community. We need YOU to help Best Friends save pets.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Facebook Page

The Truth About Pit Bulls has a Facebook page. Come "like" us!

Video du Jour

The Urban Animal Alliance is a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness of and ultimately ending dogfighting in urban America. Visit us at: www.uaausa.org

Our Dogs, Our Family

A pack of bully breeds + three children = a family full of love

By Anna Peterson (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

We have four dogs and three children. The dogs came first; we had three when our first son was born. They were tolerant, but I didn’t know what it was like to have a dog that really loved kids until we adopted Tozi. At the time, we had two elderly, ailing dogs and were not planning to add another. Somehow I wound up at the humane society with my 3-year-old son, Rafael. As we were leaving, a stocky brindle dog headed out for a walk with a volunteer. Rafael sat down next to her and pulled a toy from her mouth. She wagged her tail and kissed him. I came home and told my husband that I had found our next dog.

When I sent a friend a picture of Rafael and Tozi, she said, “You’re brave to get a pit bull.”

No bravery required: As long as you’re not a squirrel, you are safe with Tozi.

She is a true nanny dog who adores babies and children. She has passed the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) tests and visits schools and libraries to read with kids and teach them about dog etiquette.

Our other dog, Libby, is a living lesson in resilience. When she passed the ATTS test, the evaluator remarked on how well she had done and added, “It’s all how they were raised.” If that were true, Libby would be a wreck. She grew up on the end of a tether, while her skin grew over her harness. She has physical scars but no emotional ones. She is also a reading dog and makes every person she meets feel specially loved.

Libby is an extreme case, but none of our dogs had a good upbringing. Tozi was turned in to the shelter with four puppies, a big scar on her muzzle and several missing teeth. Thunder – an affectionate, goofy American Bulldog mix that is another member of our family – was surrendered twice before he was 2 years old.

Our dog Boomer was a skinny stray that had probably never lived in a house. I met him while volunteering at the county shelter. A few days later, the adoption coordinator called to say that he was on the euthanasia list for the next day, so if I wanted him I had to pull him right away. (How did she know I wanted that dog?) Boomer was supposed to be a temporary foster, and three dogs was supposed to be our limit, but four turned out to be a good number.

Even in a town full of pit bulls, Boomer stands out, with his steel-gray coat, amber eyes and – as a friend affectionately put it – jaws that look like they could crush gravel. At his first obedience class, a woman next to me said, “I love dogs, but yours is scary.”

I looked around the room. Every other dog there was barking non-stop, while Boomer sat quietly by my side.

Our dogs have to be twice as well behaved as others, and even then they often don’t get the benefit of the doubt. It’s bad enough with strangers, but the worst was when one of my children’s friends said her mother is afraid Boomer was going to attack her. This family has dogs that are so out of control that they cannot be walked on a leash and are shut in another room when visitors come over. Our dogs have been unfailingly polite and gentle with their kids, who love to play with them, but the mother cannot get past her fears to see the real dog.

Those experiences are discouraging, but there are moments that make up for it. At the park one day, a toddler ran over to say hello. While he was petting Boomer, he told me that he had a dog just like him.

“Really?” I asked. “You have a dog who looks like Boomer?”

“Oh yes,” the boy insisted, “exactly like him.”

His mother, who was laughing, finally said, “We have a Golden Retriever.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Becoming a Dog Person

A loving Elderbull named Daddy converts a former cat person into a lifelong dog lover

By Renata Tweedy (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

It was plain and simple – I was a cat person. I had two cats and had fostered more 50 (but had never adopted, as I was strong in my conviction that each one adopted meant a space for one more!).

As an adult, having a dog had never crossed my mind. Dogs were nice, sure. I didn’t fear them, and I enjoyed being near them. But the thought of enduring smelly wet fur and their need for exercise even in bad weather didn’t interest me one bit. I didn’t want to even think about having to schedule my time around a dog’s bladder capacity!

But when I started working at our local animal shelter, I was bitten not by a dog, but by the love of dogs. My husband and I had caught the bug, and we began to foster as many as we could.

I took dogs home from work with me every night, learning as much about them as I could so that I’d be better equipped to help potential adopters meet their match. I didn’t think of actually adopting a dog, however, until I met “The Governor.” I still remember clearly how he looked that day as he lay in the kennel of the stray area after animal control had picked him up alongside the highway. The image is still vivid now, almost a year later.

Suffice to say, he didn’t stay there long. He wasn’t one of our usual guests; my husband and I would generally take home long-term, high-energy, young dogs that needed a break from the shelter before we could learn what they were really like. But “The Governor” was old and gray, unneutered and not even ours yet, as he came home with us before the time to reclaim him had passed. Surely his owners would come forward. A stately gentleman such as he deserved better accommodations than a concrete kennel while he awaited them.

His owners never came forward. And, except to visit, he never went back to the shelter.

Daddy the Gentle Heart

When people heard he was a pit bull and saw his bulky frame, many were terrified – until they saw him move. His graying muzzle wasn’t the only thing that identified him as an elderly and non-threatening soul: The fact that he didn’t have many teeth helped too.

He became “Daddy,” not after the famous pit of that name on TV, but due to his behavior the first time his new home was invaded with orphaned kittens. I will never forget watching him calmly resting on our bed with these tiny felines crawling on his back, sprawling on his nose and chewing on his ears, as another foster dog came into the room, eager to play with – or eat – the little creatures. Daddy never even lifted his face from the comforter, but his lips quivered, showing his teeth, and his low growl sent the other dog quickly out of the room.

Daddy’s fathering skills came in handy on several occasions. When my pregnant foster pit bull had eight beautiful pups, my husband and I brought home babies to bottle feed. We placed them on the floor of the living room, and Daddy would clean, keep warm, carry, and keep them safe from our pesky puppy Cavil!

Daddy of Adventure

The old man could barely walk some days, but he could sure swim! Our property is on the ocean, and while he struggled with his age getting there, once we hit the shore he forgot his creaky joints and sore hips almost completely. He would plow into the water like a pup – such a beautiful sight!

Daddy loved the car and often travelled with us. His age and slow pace, his low energy and his way of putting other dogs at ease made him a welcome guest in canine-friendly homes. He attended board meetings with me and went to work with my husband too from time to time. At outdoor events, he was always in tow; he especially loved a barbecue, for obvious reasons. He was also a great addition to presentations for the shelter and another animal rescue with which I worked, teaching adults about prejudice and children about dog safety.

Another image that will always be with me is from a summer day camp: Our presentation was about to end, and while I told the kids that crowding a dog is never a good idea and can be very unsafe, this one time Daddy would be happy to say goodbye to them all at once. About 20 little bodies gathered around, patting and scratching, while Daddy just stood in the middle of it all, tail wagging and tongue licking the closest faces.

My favorite times of all with Daddy, though, were when he would haul his old body up onto the couch or bed and collapse with a sigh, resting his huge head in my lap or on my shoulder. I won’t forget his eyes.

Bidding Farewell

The end came unexpectedly. A new medication had him practically prancing, and he had several delightful days of swimming and fun at the end of that summer. Then one day he woke up like his old self again, slow and wobbly. On our way home from the water after his last swim, he lay down and never got back up. He could no longer walk or stand.

I’d watched “Marley and Me” many months before, alone with Daddy. And when the lead character asked the old dog in the movie an important question, I asked Daddy for the same favor through my sobs – to let me know when it was time. That day, I asked him again. And he told me it was.

It was the holiday weekend, and our vet was away for the weekend. I was so thankful that Daddy didn’t seem to be in any pain. He was still eating, drinking and going to the bathroom, so we spent our last days with him spoiling him rotten and carrying him onto the lawn to enjoy the beautiful weather. Another image that I am so blessed to have caught on camera: Our puppy, who was not so much a puppy any more, had been a pest to Daddy every day since he was born, but when Daddy took his downturn, Cavil’s behavior changed. He became attentive and kind. He brought things to Daddy’s blanket on the floor and lay down with him. On Daddy’s last full day on the earth, Cavil joined him on the lawn in the sunshine. (photo below)

The final image that I will remember always is of Daddy when I said goodbye. The vet and the staff were so caring and respectful. They knew him, and they knew me. If it hadn’t been so horrendously heartbreaking, I would have called it beautiful. The way he was just there, and then he was gone. Not even a sigh. The way the vet laid her forehead against his soft fur for a long moment. The way he was still warm when I kissed him –before I stood and left his shell behind. Yeah, I guess I’m a dog person now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I AM...a Pit Bull

I AM...a pit bull from Game Dog Guardian on Vimeo.

Game Dog Guardian thinks all dogs should be treated as individuals. The media and myths surrounding "pit bulls" is out of control. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent

Riverfire Films Unleashes Documentary on Discrimination Against Dogs
by Julia Szabo, April 2011.

The American justice system stands firm on the presumption of innocence. The accused in a criminal trial is innocent until proven guilty.

The Latin term for this is Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat. This means that the burden of proof is on the prosecution (qui dicit, the one who speaks out), which must gather and present legally admissible evidence that the accused (qui negat, the one who denies) is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is any doubt, the accused must be acquitted.

Unless he’s an American Pit Bull Terrier.

Tragically, the pit bull has been routinely betrayed by the American justice system. In the case of this most feared and legislated-against dog breed, the rule is: Guilty until proven innocent. The dog doesn’t even get to stand trial – he’s simply sentenced and removed.

Removed from the home he knew for years, seized by animal control officers in the presence of the horrified children he loves; removed from the animal shelters that are meant to be a homeless dog’s port in any storm; removed from the compassion that should encircle every dog, regardless of breed.

It’s unconstitutional and un-American, but it’s the way it is. Thousands of good dogs have been branded “bad,” found guilty without a fair trial. The breed as a whole has been categorized as “dangerous” and handed the harshest possible sentence: Death.

No appeal.

The accused come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Even before they get a chance at life, pit bull puppies are put down at animal shelters in states where breed specific legislation makes it illegal to own one. The lucky ones are pulled by dedicated animal rescuers, then transported to other parts of the country where they may legally be fostered or adopted. The unlucky ones are euthanized by gas, intracardial (“heartstick”) or intravenous injection.

“Punish the Deed, Not the Breed” is a famous pro-pit slogan. But it’s the breed that keeps getting punished, over and over again. The dog pays the price for its owner’s irresponsible deeds. The real criminals are the people who exploit, abuse, and neglect these dogs – not the dogs themselves. Yet it’s the dogs – not their owners – who get the bad rap.

Convicted dog fighter Michael Vick is enjoying a successful second career in football; his new employer received a congratulatory call from the President of the United States thanking him for giving Vick a second chance. The dogs Vick killed are forgotten. Some of them are enjoying their second chance, experiencing love and kindness for the first time. Others – the ones Vick boasted about intentionally drowning or electrocuting - never got that chance.

The injustice that continuously befalls dogs categorically labeled “dangerous” has motivated many to rise to the pit bull’s defense. One pit defender is documentary filmmaker Jeff Theman. His production company, Riverfire Films, has spent the better part of the last two years shooting and editing footage for ”Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent,” an investigation of breed specific legislation in his home state of Ohio.

All that hard work is evident in the trailer below.

Jeff’s constant companion and muse throughout the long process of making this documentary has been his adopted dog Preston, rescued from an Ohio fighting ring by Cleveland’s For the Love of Pits and granted what all pit bulls deserve: a new leash on life.

In Jeff, Preston found a doting Dad: “I’ve even received a speeding ticket for rushing back home to be with him!” he says. “Words just can’t describe the unconditional love I have for him. Every day Preston changes minds; he’s a shining example of why dogs should be judged as individuals and not systematically killed.”

I’m proud to be one of the people speaking up for pit bulls in Jeff’s film, and I’m looking forward to his final cut. In the meantime, I hope you’ll view the trailer and post a comment about it. Preston thanks you.


New Dog Documentary Trailer Hits YouTube in Time for MLK Day
by Julia Szabo

Followers of this column have read about Jeff Theman’s excellent anti-BSL documentary “Guilty Til Proven Innocent,” (article above) which shines a spotlight on breed specific legislation in the filmmaker’s home city of Cleveland, Ohio.

When the Cleveland City Council revised its dangerous dog ordinance, it became apparent that this little film is making history even as it chronicles it.

Jeff’s best friend Preston (pictured at right), a former fighting pit bull adopted from the Cleveland rescue group For the Love of Pits, is the undisputed star of the documentary. And with good reason. Watch footage of Preston (and read about him here) to see why the camera loves this sweet, handsome black dog.

The bond between the filmmaker and his four-footed muse could melt a heart of stone. “You’re all I got,” Jeff whispers in Preston’s ear.

Today, in honor of our national holiday remembering Martin Luther King, it’s important to remember that BSL is something Dr. King definitely would not approve of. It is - in the words of the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates’ Jean Keating, one of the subjects interviewed for Jeff’s documentary - nothing more than canine racism. And it must be outlawed, without delay.

I’m honored to appear in Jeff’s film alongside my pit bull Lazarus. My dogs and I think BSL is Un-American. We absolutely agree with our friend and fellow dog lover Dixie Laite (@DameStyle on Twitter), author of this fine hashtag: #MLKwouldknowBSLiswrong

Watch the new “Guilty Til Proven Innocent” trailer below. After you view it, I hope you’ll consider adopting one of the literally thousands of pit bulls just like Preston who patiently await their forever homes at animal shelters across this country. Visit your local animal shelter or check out Petfinder and Pit Bull Rescue Central. Cast your vote against canine racism; Dr. King would definitely approve.

Happy MLK Day!


I Have a Dream

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
 Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Saturday, January 14, 2012

An Active Pit Bull is a Happy Pit Bull

A happy Pit Bull makes a happy human.

The American Pit Bull Terrier is an athletic breed with a need for physical activity. Pit Bulls make great sporting dogs in that they are agile, strong, and typically energetic. Accompanied with their eagerness to please their owners and enduring will, the combination makes for a great working dog.
Routine is another necessity in the making of a happy Pit Bull. Dogs in general thrive on routine and enthusiastically look forward to anticipating the next steps of a daily schedule.

Signs that your Pit Bull may need more activity, and/or routine:
  • Chewing on items other than toys
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Hyper activeness
  • Disobedience
  • Soiling inappropriately
  • Anxiety

Healthy activities for you and your Pit Bull

Not every day has to include a triathlon, but everyday needs to include some personal exercise with your dog, whether it is a simple jog through the neighborhood or 30 minutes of Frisbee. Not only does the activity keep your Pit Bull mentally and physically happy, it strengthens the bond between dog and owner. Aside from generally supporting a healthy lifestyle for a human, research has shown that owning a dog can also increase the average person’s life span.

The following are suggested healthy activities for you and your Pit Bull:

  • Never run long distance with puppies. Growth plates, (soft areas of immature bones) have to close prior to extensive exercise, as these bones are more susceptible to injury, which can cause the bones to stop growing. A six month old Pit Bull can typically tolerate a mile run. Work your Pit Bull up in distance slowly and wait until they are at least a year old to start running more than a mile at a time.
  • Avoid jumping on a bicycle with your Pit Bull leashed at your side. This activity takes a lot of practice and a well trained dog to successfully exercise in this manner without causing injury to dog or owner.
  • Don’t run with a Gentle Leader-type collar. Moving at high speeds on foot with a collar that pulls a dog to one side, (usually in front of runner) is a combination for a rough fall and a bad case of road rash. Gentle Leaders are great for walks; stick to a regular collar or halter for runs.

For more information or to request listing on a specific Pit Bull topic, email dogexaminer@yahoo.com.

By Sara Enos, Pit Bull Examiner

Video du Jour

Fat Pit Bull Productions present Dogrobics, a high intensity calorie blasting workout. Let Fit Pit Leroy lead you through a cardio pumping workout sure to help you develop the body you've always wanted.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pit Bull Nation

Every person who loves animals should read Pit Bull Nation about the world's most intensely misunderstood animal. Pit Bull Nation is a passionate labor of love by a woman whose commitment and drive mirrors the very dogs she saves.

A story that begins with finding one dog takes the reader on an unforgettable whirlwind journey into the fascinating world of pit bulls, their rescuers, the people who love them and those who hate them. Cindy shares the secrets of her rescue work with the reader in this intimate and heartfelt work.

Pit Bull Nation is the story of a woman who found a pit bull and how that one dog changed the course of her life. The chain of events which follow would discourage most people, but Cindy finds a connection with these dogs that gives her the strength to overcome adversity and confront her own fears. She finds a comrade and soul mate in these unwanted dogs whose very name and image inspire media frenzy. This book is a journey over the hills and valleys of rescue work and a tell all look from behind the scenes in the killing fields where most of these dogs are being slaughtered simply because they look like pit bulls. Cindy Marabito believes there is a solution for America's first native dog breed, the American Pit Bull Terrier. This book is Cindy's story about these extraordinary dogs and the people who believe in them.

You can buy either the e-book or print copy or buy it on Amazon.

**If you are a rescue group, click here to learn how to receive a FREE copy!

Buy a Book and Build a Shelter

Reunion Rescue has a dream. We are raising money to build a no kill shelter.

This shelter will be like no other shelter. All dogs will be welcome...old, sick, young, pit bull and non pit bull. There will be no breed discrimination at our shelter.

Reunion Rescue has been rescuing California pit bulls and other animals across the US for over 13 years. Many times, we've been overdrawn at the bank, but still found a way to save that dog (or cat or small animal).

The story of Reunion Rescue is told in "Pit Bull Nation," a tell all book about what really goes on when the shelter doors slam shut. All proceeds from sales of this book go toward saving animals. Our dream is to put the words on the paper in action...grand action and your purchase of "Pit Bull Nation" puts us one step closer. Every book sold goes toward saving dogs and building a no kill shelter.

Reunion Rescue has a plan. We want to create a safe haven for dogs on death row where they will undergo the Reunion Rescue detox and rehab plan and get them ready for that forever home.

Our refuge will house:
1. a holistic space where our secrets can help other animal lovers
2. a training facility
3. a do
ggy day care and boarding kennel
4. a self-operated dog wash
5. a refuge for previously unwanted dogs

Please help us realize this dream by contributing and crossposting.

We yearn for the day when no dog is left behind to hear the slam of that shelter door.

Please check out our Facebook page to keep up with progress and see your dollars at work. Join us!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Does Your Pit Bull Have a Unique Friend?

Oliver serenading his girlfriend, Hailey.

Hailey doesn't seem too interested....

Can I play, too??

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sharing the Street With Pit Bulls

SociaBulls walking club aims to socialize dogs, rehabilitate their reputation.
Katharine and Kevin Mershon and their dog, Zoe, walk through Hyde Park Saturday with about 30 members of the SociaBulls, a group founded to socialize pit bulls and help shake the public stigma that surrounds them. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune Photo)

A week after two dogs mauled a jogger on the lakefront, about 20 pit bulls and their owners walked along Drexel Boulevard in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood.

Some suffered from minor issues. Izzy, a 2-year-old pit bull, gets a little too excited when she sees other dogs. Gordon, a white-and-tan dog, has a bit of a leash problem. Levi, 18 months, can't seem to stay focused.

Helping the dogs overcome these problems while also improving the public image of pit bulls are among the goals of SociaBulls, an organization that organizes weekly walks around the city for owners of pit bulls and other dogs.

With some aldermen calling for a conversation on legislation regarding dogs in light of last week's attack, SociaBulls leaders want to show what responsible pit bull owners do to keep their dogs and the public safe.

SociaBulls founder Amy Kang said she didn't want to get a pit bull when she and her husband, Edward, went to adopt a dog in 2006. But when they met Mazzy, an excitable pit bull who had been taken in by the city pound, her fears disappeared.

"I was like, wow, these dogs are fantastic," Amy Kang said.

It took some training, but Mazzy, now 7, can put her toys away on command. She knows how to play dead. She rolls around and she shakes. She gets along well with the couple's second pit bull, Bruno.

After adopting Bruno in 2008, the Kangs started a blog called "Two Pitties in the City." There, they offer advice to fellow pit bull owners, chronicle their experience as foster parents for dogs up for adoption and write about their own dogs. In August, the Kangs and some of their readers got together for their first walk.

Inspired by reading about HikeABull, a similar group in California, Amy Kang thought walking their dogs in a pack with other pit bulls would help them get used to being around other dogs and people in a city environment.

"I think it's great for the dogs," said Jeff Jenkins, who offers training classes for pit bull owners. "If you get 20 pit bulls together that's a lot of energy. And they don't have to love each other, they just can't attack each other."

SociaBulls members want to counter what they see as a misguided public perception about pit bulls.

Jack, a light-brown, 3-year-old pit bull who on Sunday's walk sported a fleece-trimmed leather jacket, was a little shy when his owners first adopted him from the city pound. But after proper socialization, Jack started relating eagerly with other dogs and people, his owners said.

Now, "he's got a little girlfriend in the group," said his owner, Kim Vargo, pointing to another pit bull named Lola.

"We like to be visible," said Kang. "People are going to judge the entire breed based on what they see from your dog."

Of the 1,931 bites by dogs of all breeds reported to Animal Care and Control last year, 118 resulted in dangerous dog investigations. And only 34 dogs were actually classified as dangerous, according to Animal Care and Control executive director Cherie Travis.

"Do I think that pit bulls are more likely to bite?" said Travis. "Anything with teeth can bite. I don't want to malign a particular breed. … So much has to do with how the dogs are socialized."

Ald. Sandi Jackson, 7th, whose district covers the area where last Monday's attack occurred, said last week she plans to examine how officials can better enforce city ordinances governing dog ownership.

"Hopefully there are things we can do legislatively with all of these abandoned and stray dogs," she said.

Kang and others said they hope pit bulls won't be unnecessarily targeted by any actions taken by city officials in the coming weeks. The energy that might scare some would-be pit bull owners away is exactly what can make them great companions, advocates say.

When Jerry Kirkpatrick, 51, was scouring websites for a dog to adopt, he wasn't looking for a pit bull. But he is now the proud owner of Dude, a golden-brown pit bull mix, who was shot when he was younger, but still maintained a playful spirit.

"I didn't know any better and I hadn't been exposed to any (pit bulls)," said Kirkpatrick. "Now I'm pro-pit bull."

By Naomi Nix, Chicago Tribune reporter

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Discrimination is the Pits

I have a dog named Grant. He's a lovely dog, and has been a certified therapy dog since 2007. His favorite thing is having children read aloud to him. He's been at my side for nearly 11 years after coming to me as a 9-week-old puppy. Before his life as a therapy dog, he was once a competition obedience dog. He was even nationally ranked with the American Kennel Club in 2005. He has his Canine Good Citizen Certificate, as well as a Herding Instinct Certificate. He's a very accomplished dog! Despite meeting the breed standard and winning ribbons in conformation at dog shows, Grant is usually identified as a Boxer rather than what he is. He is roughly 45 pounds, quiet, polite, outgoing, and sports a warm, inviting expression. Is he too small and friendly to be a Pit Bull? Those judges who had awarded him ribbons would disagree.

Somehow, the words "Pit Bull" have nearly become analogous to "Boogeyman." I often wonder what the picture of a Pit Bull is in the mind of the general public. Is it a large, snarling, massive beast?

The world's eyes have turned to our little corner of the world due to a high-profile dogfight. James Sak, a disabled former Chicago policeman and Vietnam veteran, was separated from his service dog, Snickers, after the Aurelia, Iowa city council ordered him him to relinquish the dog or risk Snickers being confiscated and killed, despite this being a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Fortunately, a federal judge ruled that Snickers be returned to Sak stating that "the national public interest in enforcement of the ADA "trumps" the more local public interest in public health and safety reflected in the Ordinance prohibiting pit bull dogs within the City of Aurelia."

The thing is, there was no reason to remove this dog. Reports say that he has a lovely temperament, and he provides support for his owner. The irrational fear of other people should not be used as a reason to violate another person's civil rights.

There is a visceral reaction to the idea of being killed by animals. It is horrifying and something of nightmares. Despite the shocking headlines, it's a very rare occurrence. According to the National Canine Research Council, there have been four dog bite-related fatalities in the state of Iowa since 1965. Different breeds of dogs were reported in each incident. Yet in 2007 alone, 11 people were killed in ATV accidents, 7 people were killed in bicycle accidents, and 4 people drowned in swimming pools. It makes me seriously wonder, why are we not banning ATVs, bicycles, and swimming pools? They are statistically much more likely to cause a fatality, yet we see children utilizing all of the above on a regular basis without adequate supervision or protection.

Breed specific legislation usually associated with Pit Bulls, but often extends to other breeds. In Fairfield, Iowa, the dangerous breeds list consists of Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls (American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers), Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and anything over 100 lbs. Think you are immune? How big is your dog? Has a dog of the same breed ever caused a fatality or severe injury? Dachshunds, Pomeranians, Weimaraners, and many other breeds have all fatally injured people. If you go back in time through fatal dog attack records, you see that trends change. The Pit Bull rarely made the list until the late 70s, and German Shepherds, Saint Bernards, Great Danes, and Bloodhounds are all over represented at various times in history. While the fatality numbers per year tend to be static, the breeds represented change due to what is "trendy."

Today it is the Pit Bull that is the go-to for anybody wanting Machismo on a Leash. They attract the worst kinds of dog owners. Many shelters around the country, depending on area, report that between 30-80% of their population consists of Pit Bulls. There have been many high profile abuse cases, and there are just a ridiculous number of Pit Bulls out there. But, you never hear about the vast majority of them. Thousands and thousands of them are living the life of a regular dog right now, sleeping on couches or dog beds like the Labradors of the world. Tomorrow they will go for a walk, eat some dog food, play in the yard, get some attention, and sleep some more. And repeat. You don't hear about these dogs, but they are what make up the vast majority of the breed.

Breed bans are failing all over the world. The United Kingdom has passed a bill through the House of Lords that would repeal their infamous Dangerous Dog Act. Why? It costs taxpayers millions, and despite such harsh laws, severe dog bites are on the rise. Scotland Parliament passed a bill to repeal their breed bans in April 2010. In 2008, the Dutch Agriculture Minister abolished the country's 15 year Pit Bull ban because it hadn't led to a reduction in the number of dog attacks.

Evidence and research showing the folly of breed specific legislation is readily available, yet it continues. It is expensive and difficult to enforce, and it does nothing to protect the public from dog attacks. In spite of Denver's Pit Bull ban, their rate of dog bite-related hospitalizations is higher than other areas of the state without breed bans. Omaha has also had an increase in dog bites since passing breed specific legislation. The National Animal Control Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Kennel Club, and many other organizations that are actual dog experts are against breed specific legislation.

I understand wanting to protect the public. Believe me, I want to protect my own family from harm. But, this is one issue where hysteria is overpowering common sense. We don't have to ban particular breeds of dogs to protect the public. Breed neutral dangerous dog laws have been shown to be successful in reducing dog bites. The animal control bylaws in Calgary, Alberta, Canada have been hugely successful combining pet owner education and enforcement.

I encourage you to read The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression by Karen Delise. The eBook can be downloaded for free at http://www.nationalcanineresearchcouncil.... Or if you prefer a print copy, you can request it through inter-library loan at your local library.

Grant and I thank you for being open-minded!

By Aimee Clark

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Macy The Lonely Pit Bull Finds a Home

Few breeds have quite the reputation of pit bulls.

Characterized as junkyard curs or fighting dogs, the poor pooches don’t see their more affectionate, loving sides advertised very often.

Children’s author and former WCTC radio producer Todd Jagemann, the proud owner of his “spoiled princess” Macy, is looking to change the public’s perception of the animals with a new book, “Macy the Lonely Pit Bull Finds a Home.”

“It’s a shame they get a bad rap,” he said. “Maybe I can change people’s attitude towards the breed. Kids are impressionable, so we can start there.”

The book is based on the true story of Angel, a white pit bull that had been the victim of someone’s attempt to make her a fighting dog. She was badly abused, tortured and almost died.

She was left chained to the fence outside the Ewing Animal Shelter in July 2007 in dire condition. She had internal and external injuries, emaciation, parasite infestation, and scars from being attacked by other dogs. Both of her ears had been cut off.

At the time, Jagemann’s wife Robyn was searching for a dog to love on the website Petfinder.com. She came across Angel at the Pet Rescue Center of Mercer, where she was described as “calm and great with kids.”

Robyn Jagemann fell in love.

She knew she could give Angel a good home and told her husband of her intentions.

“At first I said, ‘What, are you crazy?’” Jagemann recalled.

But his wife insisted.

They adopted Angel and renamed her so as not to upset a family member who had just put down a dog with a similar name. Her new name, Macy, was suggested by Jagemann’s niece.

“It was named after her favorite store,” he said.

At first, the dog seemed cautious, especially of males, Jagemann said. But as she came out of her shell, Macy, who is now a healthy 65 pounds with a sweet disposition, proved to be a great family member — playful with the Jagemann’s nieces and nephews and the playmate of choice for other dogs.

“They really are sweet dogs,” he said of the breed. “You hear her bark, and she sounds like a big, bad pit bull, but by night she is covered with blankets. She likes to be covered when she is cold. She’s not so scary.”

In 2010, the Jagemanns attended a pet exposition in Edison and Macy was the belle of the ball, they said.

“People kept telling me what a calm, nice dog we had, and that she was a perfect ambassador to the breed,” Jagemann said.

Two weeks later he woke early one morning with an idea for a story about Macy, and quickly wrote out half the story of a lonely dog in search of a family to love.

He connected with the self-publishing website Lulu.com, which worked with him to bring his story to life with illustrations of Macy, and a book was born. Jagemann said he will donate part of the proceeds from the book to Pet Rescue of Mercer.

To purchase the book, visit www.lulu.com and search for “Macy the Lonely Pit Bull.”

To help Pet Rescue of Mercer or to find out more about the organization, visit www.petrescueofmercer.org.

By Michele Angermiller/For The Times
Photos by Martin Griff / The Times of Trenton

And I'm a Pit Bull

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