"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, February 28, 2012

Video du Jour

Millions & Millions of Everyday "Pit Bull" Dog Owners from
Animal Farm Foundation on Vimeo.

What Harry Potter Can Teach Us About Dogs

Oh yes, I did go there...! After a decade-long relationship with Harry Potter, I admit I’m not quite ready to let go. As I’ve aged along with Harry and his friends, my interests have developed and I can’t help but notice that JK Rowling’s commentary applies to so many facets of life. Also, I really like metaphors because I'm a huge nerd at heart. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’ve become involved with dog rescue and welfare issues. Even here, I can apply Rowling’s lessons. Here’s what I think the Harry Potter series can teach us about man’s best friend.

  1. Pure blood does not always correlate with aptitude.

Snobs like the Malfoy family gauge the worth of their friends and family members on their ability to track their lineage via old wizarding blood lines. But some of the most competent wizards in the series are muggle-born – Hermione Granger and Lily Potter come to mind – or are half bloods – Severus Snape and Dean Thomas fit the bill here. As Sirius points out, wizards had to marry muggles, or they’d die out – the gene pool simply wasn’t diverse enough to support a growing population without inbreeding. And, in the wizarding world, inbreeding can lead to pretty big problems – just ask the Gaunts.
No offense to whippet fans, but I see a definite resemblance...

  1. Big black dogs get a bad rap

An omen of death in the wizarding world, only the highly logical Hermione was quick to scoff at the idea that a big, black dog was one of the worst things a wizard could hope to encounter. As it turns out, the spectral dog that haunted Harry through much of the Prisoner of Azkaban was none other than his soon-redeemed godfather and best friend of his dad. Turns out, black dogs can be good news and faithful guardians.
To fear or revere...judge by personality not color

  1. A tough exterior can house the biggest heart

Let’s face it: Hagrid is the pit bull of the Harry Potter world. He’s brawny, he’s misunderstood, and he’s got a heart of gold if you bother to give him a chance. Hagrid’s highly sensitive to human approval – remember how long he hid out in his hut after Rita Skeeter published that nasty article about him? Raise your voice at a pit bull and watch his goofy smile slide right off his face and dissolve into a look of utter shame. Although Hagrid might be a bit unorthodox, he is the symbol of loyalty throughout the series, with Dumbledore entrusting him with critical errands and information.

If Hagrid were a dog, he'd totally be brindle...

Of course, Hagrid’s part giant, and heaven forbid you be even part giant, because, as Ron explains, “they’re not very nice.” And although there’s nothing wrong with Hagrid, and once you meet him you’ll figure that out quickly, Hagrid isn’t exactly keen to have his heritage scrutinized before he’s even given a chance to prove it wrong. Turns out Hagrid’s brother, Grawp, a full-blooded giant, can be a pretty stand up fellow as well, if you’ve earned his loyalties.

  1. If you get bitten, it was probably your fault

In the Harry Potter series, you’re liable to get bitten by animals, plants, and objects that would qualify as inanimate in the muggle world. As Malfoy found out the hard way, failing to follow proper procedures when dealing with non-human critters can earn you a trip to the hospital wing. But, even in the wizarding world, the law seems to use some sort of strict liability scheme for animal bites, and an animal caught up in a legal battle generally is blamed for acting exactly how an animal should behave, and poor Buckbeak was sentenced to death for scratching up Malfoy’s arm.

  1. Indifference and neglect can cause as much damage as abuse

Hermione was first to point out a sentiment later echoed by Albus Dumbledore himself – treating non-human creatures like objects, starving them of affection and basic respect – can ultimately bite you in the butt. Perhaps Kreacher was a foul little house elf, but it was Sirius’s callous attitude toward him that inspired Kreacher’s betrayal.

  1. Love is the greatest power of all

I’ve worked enough with rescued dogs to know that, almost always love is the key ingredient needed to fix a dog. A new foster asked me the other day, after she picked up her new foster puppy, “What do I need to do for her? I don’t know what I’m doing!” And I said, “Just love her.” Within hours, she was sending me pictures of a joyous puppy rather than an utterly defeated little creature. Time and time again I’ve seen simple acts of human compassion and kindness completely rehabilitate a dog. Harry Potter conquered Voldemort using this deceptively simple power. Let’s remember to use it with our own dogs.

Posted by GemmaZ

Monday, February 27, 2012

How Did Pit Bulls Get Such a Bad Rap?

By Jon Bastian

If current news reports are to be believed, pit bulls have been attacking and biting humans left and right—to the point that many communities are considering breed-specific bans on pit bulls.

Would it surprise you to learn that pit bulls used to be America’s darlings? Before the mid-80s, stories of pit bull attacks are practically non-existent. There is even some confusion over exactly which breed of dog is a pit bull—the definition includes the American pit bull terrier, the Staffordshire terrier and, at times, the bulldog. This confusion seems to have dogged the breed from the beginning, as there is some disagreement over the origin of pit bulls.

Where do pit bulls come from and how did they get such a bad rap?

Two Possible Histories of Pit Bulls

In one theory, pit bulls began during antiquity as the so-called Molossus, a now-extinct breed that was used by the Greeks as shepherds and guard dogs. In times of war, they marched off to battle with their humans. Eventually, so the theory goes, the Molossus made it to early Britain, where it became known as the Mastiff. In the first century CE, Rome discovered the breed after defeating the Britons, and the dogs spread all over the empire. For the next four hundred years, they were used as war dogs, and intermixed with various local breeds all over the European continent, becoming the forerunners of the modern pit bull.

A competing theory places the origin of the pit bull in England at the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, when butchers would use large, Mastiff-type dogs as “bullenbeissers,” which translates as “bull biter.” Trained to latch onto a bull’s nose and not let go until the animal was subdued, these dogs were the only way that humans could regain control when a bull became agitated. Unfortunately, this practical if dubious use eventually led to the “sport” of bull-baiting, where dogs were put in a pit with an intentionally riled-up bull and spectators placed bets on which dog would hold on the longest, or bring the bull down. You’ve probably guessed it by now, but this is also the origin of the terms “pit bull dog” and “bulldog.”

Still not a specific breed, the bullenbeissers were bred with Terriers, combining their intelligence with the strength of the Mastiffs. As bull-baiting came to be banned in the 19th century, dog fighting became popular as an underground and quasi-illegal activity in the UK. British immigrants to the U.S. at that time brought dog fighting, as well as their dogs, to the New World. However, as the breed spread to Americans and Americans spread across the continent, pit bulls began to be put to their original use, as general purpose herding and working dogs. Because of their fighting history, though, the American Kennel Club would not recognize the breed until 1936, although they defined it as a Staffordshire terrier, distinct from the American pit bull terrier.

Early Perceptions of Pit Bulls

Far from being considered a killing machine on legs, pit bulls seem to be an American favorite in the early half of the century—indeed, during World War I, the country itself is personified as a pit bull on army recruitment posters, and several pit bulls go on to become famous in the American military. Referring to an athlete as a pit bull is a very common sports metaphor through the 1930s, and it is meant as the highest compliment. There is also a famous racehorse in the late 1930s named pit bull, as well as a number of pit bull stars of early motion pictures. Frequently, pit bulls are associated with children, as in the Our Gang comedies, as well as with Buster Brown, both in short films and as the corporate mascot for a shoe company. The famous RCA Victor image of a dog and a gramophone also featured a pit bull terrier.

From the turn of the century until the early 1980s, there is exactly one dog attack story to make the national papers and mention pit bulls, but that’s probably because it involved a man intentionally siccing a pack of 26 dogs on a young woman. According to a 1947 article in The Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida), “Attorneys said they believed it was the first time the state had invoked a statute which would find the owner guilty of manslaughter if it were proven that he permitted vicious animals to run free and they attacked and killed a human being.” There’s no mention of pit bulls as vicious and no call for a ban of the breed, just a human being held responsible for inducing the dogs to attack. Ironically, though, it is in Florida forty years after this incident that the first breed-specific ban is enacted. In the intervening decades, “pit bull” continues to be a popular description for athletes and when the breed does turn up in newspapers, it’s more often than not in a classified ad for puppies.

The only mention during the 1960s that isn’t an ad is a rather amusing bit from gossip columnist Earl Wilson, who reported in his August 22, 1969 column, “Sonny and Cher, who used to scare people, have now been scared by people. ‘Totally horrified’ by the Sharon Tate murder case, they bought a big dog—‘a pit bull terrier’—to protect them and their little daughter Chaste [sic] at their Hollywood Home...” It is at about this time that using large dogs for personal protection becomes popular, but pit bulls are still not singled out as particularly dangerous. In 1971, a new law allows the U.S. Postal Service to bill people for injuries caused to letter carriers by their dogs, but it applies to all dogs, and the general attitude is still one of human responsibility. In a syndicated New York Times story from 1977 on dog bites, opening with the story of a seven year-old boy receiving a very minor injury from a Great Dane, author Jane E. Brody advises, “(S)imple precautions on the part of the dog owners and potential victims could prevent most of these attacks.”

A Change in Pit Bull Perception

Less than a decade later, that had all changed and by New Year’s Day 1986, over thirty communities are considering breed-specific bans on pit bulls. What changed? For one thing, despite being illegal in all fifty states, dog fighting made a comeback in the 80s, and the pit bull is the dog of choice. It is also the preferred guard dog for drug dealers and gangs, with a hugely publicized attack in 1987 in which a pit bull guarding a marijuana crop in California mauls and kills a two-and-a-half year-old boy. By the summer of that year, every single proposed ban has become law, but not necessarily with the support of animal professionals. Kent Salazar, head of Albuquerque’s animal control division, commented at the time of their proposed ban that he didn’t think breed-specific legislation was necessary, saying, “We have all the means to protect people with clauses about vicious dogs.” He also noted that, a few years previously, Doberman pinschers were the target of such bans. His words went unheeded, and Tijeras, New Mexico, just outside of Albuquerque, passes the toughest pit bull ban of the time, allowing animal control officers to seize and destroy them on sight without compensation to the owner.

The various pit bull bans are decried by animal control officials as “the most concentrated legal assault on a specific breed they can recall,” as well as “canine racism.” The Houston Chronicle quotes unnamed officials as placing the blame for the problem squarely on humans. “(M)any of the pit bull attacks are due to a skyrocketing number of poorly bred and badly trained dogs raised by backyard breeders, who are trying to cash in on the pit bull’s growing reputation as a cheap, but deadly effective guard dog, particularly in urban areas.”

Nearly thirty years after the beginning of this anti-pit bull hysteria, the tide seems to be turning a little bit, but every step forward is followed by a step back. Even as Florida is attempting to overturn all breed-specific legislation, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin is considering imposing a new ban. Yet it only takes a brief look at the history of pit bulls to realize that the dogs are not the problem; the humans who misuse them are. For over a hundred years, holding the owners personally responsible was enough to prevent attacks, and the breed was perceived as very child-friendly. With outreach and education, it may be possible to restore that image and rehabilitate the pit bull’s reputation, restoring an iconic American dog to its rightful place among mankind’s best friends.


The Pit Bulls in My Pack

February is Pit Bull Month on CesarsWay.com and it has provoked a lot of conversation on their site about breed, breeders and breedism. This video below is a result.

Pit bulls get a raw deal in the media and there are a lot of misconceptions about them. I love my pit bulls and they are invaluable members of my pack. Watch my video below and you can see how easily they integrate with all of my dogs of different breeds and meet my very special pit bull friend.

By Cheri Lucas

Jennifer Aniston Talks Adopting With Justin Theroux

No, Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are not having a kid together. They’ve adopted a new puppy!

On Friday night, the Wanderlust star went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to discuss her family’s newest addition, a pit bull-boxer puppy by the name of Sophie. Jen revealed that she and her beau decided to adopt after an “extreme animal activist” friend called her up and said 10 puppies were “left in a box in front of a shelter.”

“Sophie came up to us, and that was sort of a big indicator of they choose you,” the 43-year-old actress said. “We were there for three hours, and I’m telling you, I was almost walking out with three puppies. It’s so hard. That’s why we named her Sophie, because it was Sophie’s Choice. I was crying — it was so hard.”

Little Sophie is the latest addition of Jen’s family. Aniston already has a white German Shepherd named Dolly.

“I have a white German Shepherd, Dolly, and she loves her crate. We were a little nervous about them getting along,” Aniston admitted. “Dolly doesn’t have a create anymore but she loved it. Somehow she walked her way into Sophie’s crate, which is tiny. . . It was good because Sophie was like, ‘I love going wherever you go.’ They slept there together the whole night.”

For more on Jen’s adorable new puppy, check out her interview in the video above!

Written by

Video du Jour

Riddled with Media hype and sensationalism, half truths, and fear mongers and their propaganda... the average American couldn't know less about Pit Bulls.

Everything the media and haters conveniently omit when making their point about this breed is here: Pit Bulls, when responsibly owned, are service dogs, frizbee champs, companions to children and the elderly, they are comedians, atheletes, dinner dates, running partners, and good old fashioned family dogs.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pit Bulls Don’t Deserve Bad Rap, Advocates Say

The dog that killed a baby in West Montgomery County is a pit bull, a breed often maligned but one that can be loving and loyal, advocates say.

Jace Paul Valdez, 23 months, and his mother had lived with Jace’s grandparents for about four to five months, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Lt. Dan Norris said. Last Saturday, the mother was visiting friends in Spring and the boy’s father was out of state on business.

Norris could not say whether the father also lived in the home.

He confirmed the grandmother was the only other person in the house during the attack by the approximately 7-year-old male pit bull.

No previous calls have been made to the MCSO regarding the house or the animal, Norris said.

The MCSO still is investigating the incident, Norris said, and will present its findings to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office to determine what will happen as far as potential charges.

The National Canine Research Council reported that, in one-third of dog-bite fatalities in 2010 in the United States, individuals blamed pit bulls even when they couldn’t definitively identify the breed responsible for the attack.

“The breed has a very bad stigma, and many shelters won’t even accept them,” said Cory Durand, coordinator of adoptions for the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.

Individuals who own powerful dogs such as pit bulls have more of a responsibility of socializing them at a young age, but Donald Cleary, director of communications with the research council, said statistics show smaller dogs tend to be more aggressive than larger ones. However, statistics cannot be used to generalize a breed.

“Dogs are not homogenized,” he said. “Dogs are individuals.”

Three specific breeds fit into the broad category of a “pit bull,” which include the Staffordshire bull terrier, American pit bull terrier and American Staffordshire terrier.

Because of popular assumptions made about the breeds, pit bulls become difficult to put up for adoption, Durand said. Many apartment complexes and neighborhoods prohibit ownership, and if an animal has not been socialized at a young age, aggression later in life becomes an issue.

“Socializing dogs at an early age is important so they are comfortable with a lot of different scenarios when they are older,”said Aaron Ogden, president of Guardian Pit Bull Rescue, based in The Woodlands. “It is a big factor in aggression.”

Ogden specializes in rescuing and training pit bulls for adoption. His company is foster-based, so it places pit bulls in homes with various dynamics, including those with young children.

The breed is “dynamic,” Ogden said, and the dogs are strong and loyal. But it’s those qualities that also attract some owners to breed them for fighting and to train them to act in an overly aggressive state.

“People who want to do those wrong things,” he said, “take those traits and use them badly.”

Frequent abuse of pit bull breeding results in an overpopulation of the animal, Durand said, and with the increasing number of dogs,“you’re going to have some bad ones.”

“The bossy, alpha dogs are the ones left over from litters and over-breeding,” she said. They are also very prey-driven; they want to go after something.”

Such characteristics make the dog difficult to adopt out, but Montgomery County Animal Control Supervisor Joseph Guidry insists these characteristics can exist in any breed.

“Some of the nicest dogs I’ve seen are pit bulls, and some of the meanest are pit bulls,” he said. “A dog’s temperament is what the owners want it to have.”

By Carrie Thorton
Photos by Eric S. Swist

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ohio's Pit Bulls Freed From Discrimination with Passage of HB-14

Ohio’s pit bull owners are celebrating after Governor Kasich signed HB 14, into law, marking the end of 25 years of discrimination against the breed.

“We appreciate the support of the Ohio County Dog Wardens, the County Commissioners’ Association of Ohio, the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates and countless other animal welfare groups, dog-loving individuals and veterinarians whose efforts resulted in the bill’s successful passage,” said Ledy VanKavage in an earlier statement. VanKavage is a senior legislative analyst for Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society, which has been supporting the bill.

Ohio has been the only state in the country to automatically declare a dog vicious based solely on appearance, without considering behavior. Any pit bull terrier-type dog or any dog resembling a pit bull fell under the law. HB 14 removes the breed-discriminatory designation and strengthens the state’s dangerous dog laws so that they more correctly target reckless owners and dangerous dogs instead of innocent pets.

VanKavage, nationally respected expert on pit bulls and reckless owner/dangerous dog legislation, testified twice in 2011 before the Ohio legislature encouraging the repeal of the breed discriminatory law.

A petition at Change.org garnered nearly 18,000 signatures in favor of repealing the law. Legendary singer/songwriter Willie Nelson, a spokesperson for Best Friends, sent a letter to Ohio legislators last November urging the “favorable and quick” passage of Ohio House Bill 14. Actress and activist Maggie Q also urged passage of HB 14 through a YouTube video. And actor Ian Somerhalder used Twitter to urge his fans to voice their support for the bill by sending letters and signing the petition.

Breed-discriminatory laws are expensive and have been proven ineffective in protecting the public. According to economic research firm John Dunham and Associates, it cost Ohioans more than $17 million a year to enforce the old law. In these tough economic times, laws that waste precious taxpayer dollars while failing to reduce dog bites are tragically misguided.

Ohio dog wardens will now be able to focus their efforts on dangerous dogs running at large, not targeting people’s pets who are doing nothing more than being dogs with a certain appearance.

With the bill’s passage, Ohio joins the many states with laws that allow all dogs to be evaluated and treated as individuals and permit local jurisdictions the authority to hold reckless owners accountable for the behavior of their dogs.

by ADMIN in Dog News          

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jennifer Aniston Adopts a Pit Bull Mix

Fans have admired Jennifer Aniston's gorgeous hair, appreciated her natural beauty, voted her the "best body" and now they can applaud her recent choice for a new canine companion.

According to People Pets, Aniston confirmed to GQ magazine that she and boyfriend, Justin Theroux, recently adopted a Pit bull/boxer mix named Sophie.

Several sources reveal that the adoption took place from the Utah-based animal rescue, Best Friends.

Celebrities who adopt from animal rescues...who could ask for anything more.

Congratulations to Sophie, Aniston and Theroux!

Article by Penny Eims, Dog News Examiner
Photo credit: Getty Images

Monday, February 13, 2012

Becoming a Pit Bull Person

An artist and author tells the story of how he came to share his life with pit bulls

By Todd Parr (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

You may have seen this on the Web: “Pit bulls can’t be trusted, they steal your heart.” Many of you already know this, and I learned it 14 years ago on my way to a grocery store on Potrero Hill in San Francisco, Calif. I wasn’t shopping for a dog, but there he was, in a box, shivering from the cold and scared. I picked him up, put him inside my coat pocket and went into the store. I bought dog food and treats, all the while thinking, “What am I doing?” I walked through the store thinking this little guy needs me, but I didn’t realize until later how much I needed him as well.

His name was Bully, named after one of my paintings. When I found Bully, I didn’t really think about what kind of dog he was. I did think he might be a pit bull, but I wasn’t sure. It just didn’t matter to me. A dog is a dog, right? I grew up with dogs all my life and never thought about their breed.

Well, as I started to introduce Bully to the rest of the world, I quickly realized that he was not just a dog, he was a pit bull! We would be on our walks, and people would cross the street or walk out into the street just to avoid us. When Bully was off leash at the dog park, people would pick up their dogs when they saw us coming. I tried talking to everyone with a dog so that I could let them know how friendly and great Bully was, but most people couldn’t be bothered. They had their opinion about pit bulls, and there wasn’t much I could say to change that, despite how lovable Bully was.

At first, I was always on the defensive with people over their reaction to him, and then it turned into an “education” mode and finally to the “I don’t care what people think” mode. The one thing I quickly realized was that I was going to have to be extra careful with Bully around other dogs in a scuffle. Chances were he would be blamed, even if he was not at fault, all because of his breed and the negativity surrounding it.

(Photos of Bully above by Jerry Giovanini)

It’s not just a “pit bull” thing. Anyone with an animal has to be responsible and committed to making sure that their pets are well cared for and trained. You can never assume that licking your face and cuddling on the couch will make them exempt from being provoked into bad behavior.

Over the years, Bully developed many health issues, including tumors, rectal bleeding and cancer. We did everything we could do for him, and like others do for their pets, we spent thousands of dollars to keep him well.

After Bully’s last surgery at the UC Davis, he was lying on the bed and I whispered to him that I would do everything I could do to keep him well and that when he was ready to go I would be very sad. I asked him to please not make me decide for him. He died in his sleep several months later while I was out of town.

It took many months of tears before I could even entertain the idea of another dog, but when I felt I was ready, I went to the Berkeley Animal Shelter and spent time with many different dogs. How do you decide? There were so many dogs just waiting to go home with me. It overwhelmed me and I had to leave.

A couple of months later I went back to the shelter and spent more time with the dogs, playing with them, holding them and hand fed some that wouldn’t eat their food. Again I left, overwhelmed. A couple of days later I decided to go back and not over think the process, and this time I ended up with two dogs, Pete and Tater Tot. Pete is a pit bull mix and Tater Tot is an American Staffordshire Terrier. They are the most amazing, loveable and resilient dogs. I look at them both and ask them how I got so lucky. Like Bully, they are bed hogs, lap dogs and kissing machines, always ready to play and just full of love.

I want to mention that the volunteers at the Berkeley Animal Shelter, like those in so many other shelters, were amazing throughout the process of adoption.

I was talking about Pete and Tater at a school a couple of months ago, and one student asked me why I like pit bulls so much. I said, “I like all animals, and I would take every single one if I could, but there are so many pit bulls that need good, loving homes.”

I do believe there is nothing like the unconditional love you get from an animal, but if you want that love multiplied times 10, adopt a pit bull.

(Photos above of Pete and Tater Tot by Jeff Fielding)

A special thanks to StubbyDog for doing what they do and to all of you who make a difference in the world for animals.

Editor’s note: To learn more about Todd’s books and artwork, visit his website.

Video du Jour

www.jasmineshouse.org/  or visit their Facebook page.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Vicktory Dog Georgia Adopted

Sometimes it surprises me that it’s been over four years since I initially met the Vicktory dogs. Like almost all of us who read about them and certainly all of us who worked with them, I formed close relationships and lasting bonds with each.

But none more so than Georgia.

If you used to watch the television series “DogTown” on the National Geographic Channel — or are a regular follower of the Best Friends website — you may remember that Georgia is a dog I’ve had many adventures with. From traveling to Los Angeles so that Georgia could represent pitties on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, to being on Larry King Live, to the simplest (and my favorite) adventures of just helping Georgia learn to be close to a person, Georgia and I have shared a lot.

And today we share what I hope will be our best adventure yet. We are packing up and leaving this morning so that I can drive Georgia to her brand-new adoptive home.

That’s right. Our girl is being adopted!

I love this dog so much. Although I am a person who looks forward and not backward, when I think of everything she went through before coming to Best Friends, it’s tough not to get emotional.

I don’t do the daily training or caregiving work with Georgia anymore. That honor went to Kathy Moore, a really great caregiver in Dogtown who worked with Georgia to help her pass her Canine Good Citizen test (a requirement for all of the Vicktory dogs to be adopted). No small feat for Georgia, who — as part of the test — had to learn to ignore other dogs. So I do want to take a moment to give Kathy and all of the other caregivers who have played such a big part in Georgia’s life the heartfelt thank-you and respect they deserve — thanks, guys! It’s largely due to their efforts that this really important moment is finally here.

I know you are likely eager to know if Georgia is going to a wonderful home. Well, she is! I was happy to be part of the team to meet and work with Georgia’s new person, Amy, when she visited a few weeks ago, and I’ll be staying for a few days to help Georgia settle into her new home and to help Georgia and her new mom get to know one another. Georgia is going to live with someone who we are confident will love and understand her and really help her acclimate to life in a home — something we don’t believe Georgia has ever experienced.

And Georgia is a dog who likes her comfort!

Every hotel room we’ve stayed in before has had a Georgia-shaped imprint on the couch or bed when we’ve left. Very important in Georgia’s case is that she is going to a home that has committed to her being the only pet there for the remainder of her life. We think that’s the way Georgia wants it, and certainly given her history and discomfort with other animals, something she deserves. She’ll get all the love and care and attention she’s been longing for — in a home of her own.

We want to give Georgia and Amy some privacy to settle in and enjoy life together, but we’ll be talking to Amy often and providing updates on how they are doing together.

Thanks to everyone who sent Georgia gifts and wished her well along the way during her time at Best Friends. When I say goodbye and drive away, I’m not too embarrassed to say I might even get a little choked up. I know I’ll miss seeing her every time I am in Dogtown and that our staff and volunteers will, too — but this is the ending we’ve been working toward all along. The ending that Georgia deserves, after all, is actually a new beginning.

By: John Garcia
Best Friends staff

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rescued Pit Bull Brightens Workouts

Sonny, the greeter for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department gym, fits the part.

He’s got a chiseled physique, an insanely low body fat percentage and boundless energy. And he is much happier to be there than most of the people coming in. If he were fully housebroken, he would be perfect.

Sonny, a 2-year-old pit bull, was adopted by the gym’s head trainer, Deputy Scott Puckett, as the Harbison facility’s mascot. Puckett hopes the dog, who spent most of its first two years chained to a tree with little human contact, will brighten up gym members’ moods and get them ready for a workout.

“He fits the family,” he said. “He loves everybody that comes in the door.”

Sonny was one of 24 dogs rescued from a dog fighting ring discovered in the woods near Camp Ground Road in northern Richland County in September. Deputies responding to a tip found dogs chained to the ground and to trees and a group of people watching two pit bulls fight. Three people were arrested, and Richland County took possession of the dogs.

Sonny, a little younger than 2 at the time, was one of the dogs chained to a tree, Puckett said. He probably never fought – his floppy ears aren’t cropped and his tail isn’t docked – but he might have been used as a breeder. It wasn’t a good existence, Puckett said.

Sonny and the other dogs went through a lengthy rehabilitation process, said Richland County Sheriff’s Investigator Holly Wagner. The Columbia Animal Shelter kept them until deputies could get an agency specializing in dogs used in fighting rings to advise them. Some of the dogs who had fought really loved people but couldn’t come in contact with other animals, Wagner said. Others, she said, were so scared of people that they ran away the second they saw someone. Dogs that hadn’t fought, such as Sonny, were easily spooked.

“We tried to get them to come out of their shells,” she said. “It was a lot of hands-on time with them.”

None of the dogs had to be euthanized, but several had to be taken to rescuers for more individualized care. All were fostered by local volunteers, where they were socialized around people, and in some cases, other animals. Most of the more socialized dogs have been adopted by people with experience with pit bulls, but the sheriff’s department is still looking for homes for the last few.

Puckett adopted Sonny after Wagner told him about the dogs. He had always had a soft spot for pit bulls and was looking for a new pet. After seeing Sonny play for a few minutes, Puckett's mind was made up.

“It was instantaneous,” he said. “I knew he was the dog.”

Despite the rehabilitation, Puckett still had to work with Sonny. The dog was completely untrained – “like a 2-year-old puppy,” Puckett said. Sonny would run and hide if loud music played at the gym or someone dropped a weight, and he was wary of most men.

“He’s a ladies’ man,” Wagner said. But “he really wasn’t comfortable around women at first,” either.

Only three weeks later, you can hardly tell the dog had been mistreated and malnourished.

He trots up to every person who walks into the gym and is completely unfazed by the grunts of people finishing an exercise or the buzz of police radios. He barked for the first time a few days ago and has really come a long way, Puckett said.

“What challenges I thought he may have, he’s overcome,” he said. “He’s really coming out of his shell.”

Deputies working out like having Sonny around.

Master Deputy Warren Cavanaugh of the department’s K-9 unit said he has enjoyed watching Sonny’s progress. He appreciates seeing a good outcome from the department’s work and thinks Sonny couldn’t have ended up in a better place.

“What you see right now is the best thing for this dog,” he said.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2012/02/05/2140868/rescued-pit-bull-brightens-workouts.html#storylink=cpy

Article and photos by R. Darren Price

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2012/02/05/2140868/rescued-pit-bull-brightens-workouts.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, February 6, 2012

Thinking About Breeding?

Make sure you have a box of tissues close!

Video made by Urban Rescues

Changing Minds About Breed Bans

Experts show how to open minds to better approaches.

By Jessica Dolce  (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.
It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” -Mark Twain
Despite overwhelming evidence that breed bans don’t work, cities and counties – even entire countries – still keep them on the books. Breed bans are often put in place by politicians as a knee-jerk reaction to news that someone was attacked by a dog. But these panic-induced policies just don’t work:

• Since its 1989 ban on pit bull-type dogs, Denver, Colorado (a city that is also a county) has killed an estimated 3,497 dogs for being suspected of pit bull ancestry. Denver has the highest rate of dog bite hospitalizations in Colorado.

Miami-Dade County, Florida also banned dogs identified as pit bulls in 1989. It also has a higher percentage of dog bites requiring hospitalization than the rest of the state.

• The United Kingdom has had a 66 percent increase in dog bites since enacting its Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991.

A better approach

On the other hand, when the city of Calgary, Canada, introduced Responsible Pet Ownership bylaws, in 1985, the city had 600,000 residents and 621 reported bites.

By 2008, Calgary’s human population had doubled, but the number of dog bites had fallen to 145!

Calgary’s approach was quite different. Their effective measures included :

Ordinances holding people responsible for their dogs’ actions.

Low-cost or free, easily accessible spaying and neutering, with higher fees for licensing unaltered pets.

Restrictions on the tethering of dogs.

Community education that promotes responsible pet guardianship and dog training, funded through penalties for failure to comply and differential licensing fees.
Discriminatory policies invariably prove to be ineffective and costly. Breed bans (also known as Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL) also rob responsible guardians of their beloved family pets and give the public a false sense of security because they waste resources that should be spent dealing with dogs who actually have behavior issues.

Why are breed bans still being passed?

Yet lawmakers, homeowners associations and insurance companies continue to discriminate against pit bulls. Why do rely on polices that have been proven not to work? For various reasons, they want to be seen as doing something, even if that something provides a false sense of security.

People have been inundated with negative images, false claims and fiction about pit bulls. Over the past 20 years, people’s beliefs have been shaped by hysteria and misconceptions that pit bull-type dogs are more dangerous than any other breed. This makes it a struggle to introduce information that doesn’t line up with their viewpoint that pit bulls are the problem, even when confronted with facts.

New research in psychology and sociology are helping us to understand how people form opinions in the first place, and how difficult it can be to replace opinion with fact.

Photo courtesy of Melody McFarland

How We Form Our Opinions

 Psychological researchers like the University of Michigan’s Brendan Nyhan suggest that people interpret new information with a filter that reinforces their preexisting views. Nyhan found in his study, When Corrections Fail, that when people are confronted with facts that do not support their deeply held beliefs, they may be more likely to stick to their guns – a phenomenon he calls “backfiring.”
This might be because we hate to admit when we’re wrong. Author and marketing specialist Seth Godin says in his book, All Marketers Are Liars Tell Stories, that once a person has “bought someone else’s story and believes that lie, persuading the consumer to switch [ideas] is the same as persuading him to admit he was wrong. And people hate to admit they’re wrong.” (pg. 151) Not only that, but our ability to change our minds and believe newly presented facts also has to do with how ideas become rooted and processed through different areas of our brain.

Changing deeply rooted beliefs is no easy task

“Once a view becomes hardened and people see it as the truth, it becomes really hard to dispel it,” said University of Illinois psychology professor Daniel Simons in a CBS Sunday Morningsegment “Fast Draw.” He noted that when the beliefs pertain to our safety, often facts and logic just don’t apply to the way our brains process information. In the following video from CBS, psychology professor Daniel Simons, along with Josh Landis and Mitch Butler of “The Fast Draw,” show us how beliefs are formed neurologically and why human beings have such a difficult time hearing new facts that contradict these beliefs:

The Solution

So how do we convince people that breed bans don’t solve the problem and that there are better ways to create safe communities?

One: Raise people’s sense of self-esteem

Nyhan’s studies show that raising people’s self-esteem (in his case he used a self-affirmation exercise) makes them more likely to consider new information. Feeling insecure and threatened makes it almost impossible to consider opposing viewpoints. On the other hand, when you feel good about yourself you’re more likely to consider a different approach.

Two: Be blunt, but do it in person

Another study, by James Kuklinski, et al., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, showed that being direct and blunt also helps people to reconsider their beliefs, but only in person. According to Nyhan, delivering blunt opposing views in a news article creates opposition to the new views. (photo, right, courtesy of Lisa Prince Fishler, Printz Photography)

Three: Show that there’s a different and bigger problem

The other option is to demonstrate another problem that people fear more (as suggested by Simons in his measles versus vaccination theory presented in the CBS video clip above). This is how German shepherd dogs and Rottweilers lost stopped being seen as “Public Enemy No. 1.” They stopped being viewed as the most dangerous dog breeds because new breeds took their place as the most feared ones. We don’t want to throw another dog breed under the bus, so if we’re going to take the advice of this research and transfer fears, we need an alternative to fearing dog breeds.

In the case of BSL, it might be fear-inducing for some people to discover how much it costs to enforce this ineffective approach. Best Friends Animal Society came out with a handy fiscal calculator. They note that, in this time of extreme budget cutting, showing lawmakers the numbers might scare them into thinking differently.

Another “greater-fear” approach is making it known that lawsuits by citizens and non-profit organizations will be costly and time-consuming and that the breed-specific legislation is likely to lose.

The best approach

So what’s the best approach to getting panicked politicians to hear a different view point?

If we take the researchers’ advice, the best way to get lawmakers to drop breed bans and adopt breed- neutral laws that target irresponsible guardians would be to:

a) Meet with them in person.

b) Create an atmosphere that allows them to be open to new ideas by making them feel secure and competent.

c) Give them factual information that is direct and blunt.

d) Demonstrate to them that education and breed-neutral laws are less costly than breed bans.

These techniques can be among the keys to changing the minds AND the brains behind breed bans.

Video du Jour

Great video from I'm Not a Monster:

This video is a tribute to all our lovely "Monsters", pet parents and advocates! From the bottom of our hearts: Thank you and we love you for being awesome "Monsters"!

About I'm Not a Monster:
I'm Not a Monster is a dog advocacy, a place where pet parents of so-called "mean" dog breeds can showcase how lovely these dogs are as a way to change public perception and fight dog discrimination and abuse.

Our mission is to encourage positive portrayals of these "monsters" as a way to change public perception and fight dog discrimination & abuse. We want to do this by showcasing dogs who are exemplary ambassadors for the breeds (therapy dogs, Canine Good Citizens) or just loving family members who add joy and love to their family.

The "Monsters" message: We may look mean but we just want people to love us back

Visit us on http://imnotamonster.org and on Facebook: http://facebook.com/imnotamonster

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Going Pit Bull: How We Can End Prejudice Through Education

Regardless of how you feel about Cesar Milan and his techniques, there is some great positive information about pit bulls on his website: http://www.cesarsway.com/newsletter/sent/2012/Feb1PitBulls.html

Here is an article he wrote:

As I was browsing the news this week, a headline caught my eye: “Romney Takes Pit Bull Approach in Florida.” I looked at Junior and wondered if the journalist meant that Romney was going to become a calm-submissive presence, devoted to the American people. But of course, that was not they meant. They meant that Romney was going to fiercely attack his opponents, or in the journalist’s eyes, act like a pit bull.

Seeing pit bulls being referred to in this manner upset me of course, but didn’t surprise me. If any of the candidates running for office think they have image problems, they have nothing on a pit bull. There has been so much bad information spread about this wonderful breed, it’s no wonder that people get nervous when they see a pit bull on the street—people have been trained to think of these dogs as scary and dangerous.

If you watched Dog Whisperer this week, you saw me visit some of the reformed gang members in South Central Los Angeles, who work for Homeboy Industries. I greatly enjoyed meeting them and working with their dogs, many of whom were pit bulls. Now when people see a big guy, covered in tattoos, walking his pit bull down the street, they respond with fear or anxiety. They’re afraid something bad is going to happen. What they don’t know is that the guy and the pit bull are really sweet and loving and not threatening at all. It’s like I said on the show—a breed is like a suit of clothes, it doesn’t tell you anything about the dog inside.

It’s hard to blame people for being afraid of pit bulls, when all they see on the news are stories about dog fighting rings and people being attacked. They usually leave out that it’s the owner who made the dog violent, not the breed. And the news usually doesn’t report all of the amazing stories of the pit bulls making a difference as service dogs, therapy dogs, and search and rescue dogs. Did you know that Helen Keller’s pet dog was a pit bull? Or that Mary Tyler Moore’s pit bull helps her control her diabetes, by alerting her when he can sense her blood sugar is low? These are the stories that rarely get reported.

I’ve been very blessed to be able to travel the world and appear on television with Daddy and Junior and show the true nature of pit bulls. I say that I rehabilitate dogs and I train people, and I want to help educate people about pit bulls, because ending prejudice begins with education. And it’s not just pit bulls, there are prejudices about every breed. So, here at CesarsWay.com, we want to do more to help educate.

We want to spotlight a different breed every month. In February, we’re going to learn more about pit bulls. All month long, you’ll see stories about pit bulls as pets and working dogs, stories about pit bull heroes, funny and touching pit bull videos, and we’ll explore why pit bulls have such a bad reputation which they don’t deserve.

February is always a sad time for me, as it marks the anniversary of when we lost Daddy. But we hope to honor his memory by building on all the goodwill he created during his life. We hope that you will enjoy the stories and hopefully learn something, and pass them along to friends and family, so everyone will see pit bulls for the great animals they truly are.

Who knows? Maybe the next time you hear about “someone going pit bull” they’ll mean being kind, loving, and protective. I’d vote for that.

Stay calm and assertive,

Cesar Milan

Video du Jour