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

-D. Caroline Coile

Sunday, September 30, 2012

How to Plan a Pit Bull Awareness Day Event

So, you want to show the public that pit bulls are good dogs. Well, you’re in luck! The National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign is a nationwide effort to bring positive recognition and attention to the American Pit Bull Terrier. The heart of the campaign is National Pit Bull Awareness Day (NPBAD), which was founded in 2007 by Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys.

NPBAD is an excellent opportunity to be a positive role model for responsible dog ownership, and to introduce the truth about pit bulls in the communities where we live with our dogs. Since the beginning, NPBAD has been extremely successful thanks to the pit bull advocates across the nation who are determined and dedicated to making a positive difference for pit bulls.

If you’re part of a rescue group, breed club, animal shelter or other dog-related organization, you may have some event planning experience. Even if you aren’t part of a formal group, you can still host a NPBAD event! The first step is to pick a date. Ideally you would host the event on the actual NPBAD; in 2012 it will be on Saturday, October 27, but if that’s not possible that’s ok, too. No matter which date you pick, be sure to allow enough time to advertise and spread the word about your event! You want to make sure people know about it and plan to attend!

There are lots of possibilities for events. For example, if you’re not part of a formal group, ask your local pet store if you can set up a table with information about pit bulls. PBRC has educational materials available for download and distribution at this link: http://www.pbrc.net/flyers.html Take your own breed ambassador pit bull with you! (If you aren’t sure if your dog is considered a breed ambassador, read the information at this link: http://www.pbrc.net/breedambassador.html.) Be sure to bring along the “Find the Pit Bull” flyer. It’s a great conversation starter and a perfect way to show one of the major problems with breed-specific legislation (BSL): identifying which dogs are pit bulls.

Here are some other ideas for events:

Bully Rally

Pit Bull Adoption or Spay/Neuter Event

Pit Bull Parade

Weight Pull

Dog Wash Event (which can double as a fund raiser for a local pit bull rescue)

Canine Costume Contest (since it’s so close to Howl-O-Ween!)

Kiss-a-Bull kissing booth

Canine Good Citizen Testing
                                            Lenox, a 10 yr old pit bull mix working a kissing booth

These are all great ideas, but you will likely need funds. You may need funds to secure permits for a park in which to host your event, or you may need to rent a venue. You may also need funds to print fliers or take out an ad to publicize your event. Consider approaching local pet stores, veterinarian offices, dog trainers, groomers and pet food companies to see if they would like to get involved by offering funds (or products for a raffle or silent auction) in exchange for having their company name listed on the promotional materials for the event.

Atlanta Underdog Initiative, located in Atlanta, GA, has been celebrating NPBAD since 2007 by hosting the Atlanta Bully Rally. The very first event consisted of about 30 people in a small Atlanta park. Since then, it has grown into a large and much-anticipated NPBAD event, featuring special celebrity guests, an amateur weight pull, educational presentations on topics that affect pit bulls and their owners, a pit bull kissing booth, the opportunity to showcase local rescue groups and their adoptable animals, a raffle with fantastic prizes, and free dog food and collars to pets in need. In order to plan your own Bully Rally, Atlanta Underdog Initiative offers the following tips:

-Secure a venue! A public park is usually a great choice!

-Invite other pit bull specific rescues as well as local animal control to bring 1-2 dogs each so people can see the types of pit bulls that end up in rescue and in the shelters. By including other organizations, you also increase your attendance because they tell their supporters.

-Recruit people to speak on various topics such as spay/neuter, unchaining, training, and BSL. Try to find people who can connect with your target audience.

-Give out free dog food, collars and leashes. More dog owners are likely to come if the flyer says “Free Pet Food”. Post flyers all over the neighborhoods where your target audience lives.

-For the sake of safety, consider offering a “waiting area” of crates where dogs can be crated while their owners walk around and talk to people and look at the rescue dogs. It allows people to bring dogs with controllable dog-reactivity to the event so that they get the educational info but still provides a way to keep those dogs contained if they get over stimulated. Also have “dog security” volunteers who keep an eye on the dogs’ behavior and the owners to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Atlanta Underdog Initiative hosts a LugNuts weight pull at the Bully Rally. This has proven to be very popular. They offer cash prizes for 1st ($50), 2nd ($35) and 3rd place ($20). The prize amount doubles if the dog is already spayed or neutered or if the owners allow the organization to spay or neuter the dog within 2 weeks. On the sign-up form is a field where owners of the winning dog can opt to forfeit the prize so that the funds can be put back toward rescue or spay/neuter. For info on Lugnuts visit this link: http://www.suesternberg.com//03programs/04lugnuts.html

                                         LugNuts weight pull contestant at the 2011 Atlanta Bully Rally

For further information on how to plan a Bully Rally, contact Atlanta Underdog Initiative. Contact information is available on the group’s website at www.atlantaunderdog.com. The Atlanta Bully Rally website is www.atlantabullrally.com.

Regardless of your location, please choose an activity to participate in on October 27, 2012, to promote and celebrate responsible pit bull ownership with other caring individuals. Visit the Bless the Bullys website (www.blessthebullys.com) to find NPBAD events in your area or to register your own.

Let’s make our voices heard across the nation on October 27, 2012!

By Pit Bull Rescue Central

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Video du Jour


StubbyDog Superhero Squad

Introducing the StubbyDog Superhero Squad!
Making the world a better place

You’ve heard of Superman.
You’ve heard of Captain America.
You might have even heard of Underdog.

Never before have you seen the amazing, the tail-wagging wonder of the greatest group of caped crusaders ever to be assembled … the StubbyDog Superhero Squad!

This extraordinary crew of certified therapy dogs are on a mission to win hearts and change minds.

These superheroes are determined to help make the world a better place for people and dogs. Whether they are out fighting discrimination, educating on responsible dog guardianship, assisting their canine friends to find forever homes, or just clowning around with a big goofy smile on their face…they will help change public perceptions!

These otherwise ordinary dogs have taken on the bold responsibility of donning the StubbyDog cape and dedicating themselves to helping both humans and fellow dogs.

BOOM, POW, WOW! Check out the Squad’s Action-Packed Superhero Duties:

Therapy. Squad members will perform their work as therapy dogs by visiting hospitals, schools, assisted living facilities and anywhere else in need of smiles. They’ll be equipped with a special StubbyDog Superhero ‘Power Packet’ to share.

Events. Want to get up close and personal with a superhero? These events will give fans that chance! It’s a fact: nothing beats a positive, real-life experience to win someone’s heart. Whether through leading surprise events (doggy flash mob), attending events (puppy prom), or helping local rescues (adoption fiestas, spay/neuter hoedowns), this super squad is always ready to help the cause.

Media. Ah the paparazzi! Our superheroes love working and playing with the media. Not only are these caped crusaders buzz worthy, but they’re also equipped with a super-powered PR plan to ensure the world knows all about their amazing feats (as well as those of the millions of everyday ‘superhero’ family dogs across the land). By leveraging current events, hot topics and even celebrity news, these superheroes will make sure to remain center stage.

Personalities. Squad members will feature their adventures in a webisode series. Just like Petey from “The Little Rascals,” Victor the RCA dog, and Buster Brown’s dog Tige captured the hearts and minds of people across the social strata, our Superheroes will be poised to emerge as the next canine “household names.” Cartoons, merchandise, fan clubs and much more … watch out Kardashians.

A Community of Superpower!

Although our elite squad of Superheroes is set to do amazing things, here at StubbyDog we believe every dog, regardless of shape, size, color, or origin can be a superhero. That’s why the StubbyDog Superhero Program has three levels of participation, all playing an equally important role.

The Superhero Squad will be joined by the council of:

Superheroes in Training: These are dogs that meet all the criteria for the elite squad, but either do no have their therapy dog registration yet OR they need a bit more experience and training before they are ready to be full-time superheroes. This program will work to support and prepare dog and human teams for the therapy test (if needed), and help improve their advocacy skills and effectiveness.

Super-bassadors: These aren’t your everyday advocates. These animals and humans are a group of super-passionate, super-motivated and super-dedicated ambassadors. They’re ready and excited to be extremely active and effective in their advocacy and will be able to work closely with StubbyDog on improving their super advocacy skills and power. The most exciting part? This group is open to animals of every species (even humans!), breed, type, nationality, religion and culture.

Superhero, Superhero in Training or Super-bassador: each role plays an extremely important part in the StubbyDog super community.

Together this “super” community is on a mission, specifically to:

Place 5,000 dogs in need of good homes
Reach 25,000 different media outlets
Educate 100,000 on responsible dog guardianship
Inspire 1,000,000 “rediscoveries”

… and motivate an infinite number of smiles!

Our goal is simple: for people to no longer view pit bulls as a special category of dog – but, instead, as individual dogs.

Ready to become a superhero? Apply today!!

Download the StubbyDog Superhero Squad Application

Need something to help you pass the time while you anxiously wait to see who your 2012 StubbyDog Superheroes are going to be????

Head on over to Crowdrise and start helping us fund this exciting new program

For questions or more information contact Laura Petrolino at laurap@stubbydog.org
(photos by Melissa Lipani)

To download this for your Facebook timeline cover, just click on the photo and the photo will appear in another tab, then right click to save it to your computer!

One Group Out To Prove Pit Bulls Are Man's Best Friend

As the sun started to set on Memorial Park Sunday afternoon, a group of muscle-bound pit bulls was ready for a walk.

A few whined. A couple slobbered. Max, age 5, with a massive jaw and muscles rippling under his short fur, tried to lick anyone who came within a 10-foot radius.

“We call him the kisser,” Vicki Gramm said with a laugh. She rescued Max after he was returned to the humane society three times.

The four pit bulls and two golden retrievers met at the park for the first organized “bully walk” by Southern Colorado Pit Bull Advocates. The group of owners keeps in touch online and decided to meet up Sunday to show the world that pit bulls can be good dogs.

“Once people see them, they see that they’re just like any other dog,” Gramm said. Unfortunately, she added, people only hear about pit bulls when a rare one acts up and bites someone.

Jackie Cotton said she understands some of the fear.

“Of course some people are afraid, wouldn’t you be?” she questioned, and then looked at her brown and white pit bull Luna. “I mean look at the muscle on that baby.”

While they waited to start, a few kids ran up to the dogs for a kiss, which Max was ready and willing to provide. A couple of people intentionally walked around the group.

“You stay away. You’ll be their snack,” one woman warned her tiny dog as they stepped off the sidewalk to walk around.

Holly O’Brien said she often sees people cross the street to avoid her 3-year-old pit bull Zurie.

“They will cross the street just so they don’t have to be close,” she said.

Don Middleton said he used to be one of those people. As a child he was attacked by dogs and, as a runner, he’s had several bad run-ins with dogs. He was uneasy when his wife, Christy, wanted to foster a pit bull.

“I was always worried that I’d get attacked,” he said. After fostering the dog though, he said he fell in love.

“She was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. We helped her and she helped us.”

Photos by Susannah Kay, The Gazette

Five Dogs Who Defy Stereotypes

I first got to know pit bulls when I volunteered as a dog walker at a shelter in upstate New York. Dangerous dogs don’t make it to the adoption floor, so the ones I met were friendly, though typically more interested in the great outdoors than the person at the other end of the leash.

My perception of pit bulls has been shaped by my personal experience with them then and since — not as “four-legged time bombs,” as a columnist for the Baltimore Sun recently called them, but as spirited survivors and beloved family members.

Fernando Camacho, the author of yesterday’s guest post, said that most people who think pit bulls are bad dogs have never met one. So as a follow-up, I’d like to introduce you to five dogs who fall under the “pit bull” umbrella, and the people who care about them:


I’ve always loved dogs — as a species in general, they have so many awesome qualities. They’re loyal and willing to do so much for people they love.

For pit bulls, I’d say I look at them like any other dog: They have those qualities. But they’re also extremely intelligent and so, so eager to please. I’ve never had a smarter, more trainable dog than our two.

Both of them are very affectionate and like people. Our old dog (great dog, don’t get me wrong) was not really that into people. They’d try and pet him, and he wouldn’t be interested. Rocky and Marcy really like people — they want to say hi.

I’m doing the Canine Good Citizen class with Marcy now, and she’s doing great. I think most of the pit bull stereotype has more to do with owners than with the dogs.

– Gillian Scott, journalist (Schenectady, N.Y.)


From the first time I met Keara at the SPCA, she and I were in love. I entered her enclosure, and when another family walked past us, she protected me from them. That was amazing to me, as I’d never known another dog (who didn’t know me) to do that.

She practically raised my older boys. Through her, I was able to teach them about pack mentality and having respect and love for pit bulls and all other breeds.

Her smile. It’s HUGE, and it’s contagious. When I had only had her for about a month, we were taking a walk. I had grown used to people crossing the street to get away from us, an act that crushed my spirit every time.

On this one particular day, however, a couple crossed the street to come to us, so that they could meet the beautiful red-nose pit with the big smile and even bigger heart. I still cry when I think of that moment and what it meant to us. That one small action fueled me for years of advocating for pits.

– Laura Riker, Dansko sales representative (Ithaca, N.Y.)


It’s not so much that we love our pit bull as much as we just love our DOGS. Humans have such a need to classify everything — “Oh, you have a dog? What kind?” — and then follow it up with a horrible generalization.

We care about them because they are misunderstood, and victims of ignorance and bias. It isn’t my quote, but “When people judge pit bulls, usually they are looking at the wrong end of the leash.”

– Karen McNary, co-owner of The Serendipitous Dog (Syracuse, N.Y.)


When I worked for a veterinary hospital in Troy, N.Y., a city that sees mostly pit bulls, we had a contract for five years with the city’s animal control. I saw a lot of heartbreaking situations, to say the least.

Piggy came in with her femur bone shattered in half, probably from being abused due to her being deaf. My boss pinned her leg, and I adopted her.

She is an AKC Canine Good Citizen. Despite her disability, she is one of the smartest dogs I know.

– Carrie Moak, vet tech and foster parent for Out of the Pits (Albany, N.Y.)

by Naomi Seldin Ramirez

Why I Care About Pit Bulls

Fernando Camacho, founder of the FernDog Rescue Foundation, gets some love from Hayley.
Have you ever crossed the street to avoid a person with a pit bull? Or met someone who assumed your pet was dangerous because of their breed, not their behavior?

Fernando Camacho, a North Jersey dog trainer recently honored for his rescue work at Pets & Heroes, has been there. I asked him if he’d write a guest post about breed discrimination and pit bulls based on his personal and professional experience. So read on, then share your own opinion here or on Facebook:

About seven years ago, something happened that really surprised me. I was walking my dog, Hayley, through the park by my house on a beautiful summer day. Tons of families were out enjoying the day together, and kids were running and playing everywhere.

It wasn’t long before some of the kids spotted Hayley and ran over to us in excitement. They were all very polite and asked if they could pet her. Hayley is always up for making new friends, so I invited all the kids to come over and give her some love.

In an instant, Hayley was swarmed by a small pack of little people. Five boys and girls patted her head, stroked her neck and hugged her belly. Hayley tolerated all the aggressive petting as she always did, with a calm and quiet tolerance.

Soon, Hayley’s allure died down, and the kids began to disperse back into the park to play. As the children were leaving Hayley’s side, a new little girl approached with her mom in tow and asked if she, too, could pet my dog.

“Of course,” I said. The little girl began stroking Hayley’s head as I exchanged smiles with her mom.

After a moment, the mom asked, “What kind of dog is she?”

I happily replied, “She’s a pit bull.”

In an instant, her smile transformed into a shocked grimace and she quickly yanked her daughter away from Hayley. Her daughter’s questioning of why she was being taken away from this nice dog went unanswered as the pair backpedaled away.

That was the first of many experiences I would have with the misconceptions of pit bulls. Back then, I wasn’t a dog trainer and actually knew very little about the breed. All I knew was that I fell in love with Hayley the moment I met her, and that she’s a truly amazingly loving dog.

Years later, after many other similar encounters with people who have let media hype and hearsay — not personal experience and facts — shape their beliefs, I have realized that if any animal needs a hero, it’s pit bulls.

What really gets me fired up over the bad perception people have of pits is that most of these people have never, ever had any kind of face-to-face encounter with one. If you’re afraid of something you’ve never had experience with, it’s considered an irrational fear. And making decisions when you’re irrational is never a good idea.

The problem with listening to the media for information is that in addition to being sensationalized, it’s being reported on by people who have little or no knowledge of dogs. Go ask any dog behavior professional, and you’ll get some educated information to base your beliefs on. I have yet to meet a dog trainer who thought pit bulls were bad.
                                           Petey, far right, was part of the "Our Gang" family.
Pit bulls are an amazing breed that were originally known as the “nanny dog” because of their great affinity for children. Unfortunately, as of late they have been bred by some stupid people to be dog aggressive (but never aggressive toward people), so depending upon the individual dog’s genetics, they can be inclined to be grumpy toward other pooches.

Physically, they are built like tanks and are incredibly strong. Because of this, they are equipped to do more damage than most other breeds. So if they do bite, they can cause much more damage.

But take it from someone who has worked with hundreds of dogs and been bitten more than a few times: Pits are not the ones doing most of the biting. They’re just the only breed newsworthy enough to make headlines. For some reason “Dachshund Attacks Ankle” never makes the ten o’clock news (Dachshunds, by the way, statistically bite more people and dogs than any other breed). According to the American Temperament Test Society, pit bulls actually score about the same as golden retrievers and standard poodles on temperament tests.

This is no surprise to me and other dog professionals — we have the ankles scars to prove this.

So here’s the deal: Pit bulls are no more dangerous then any other breed. Any dog can be trained to be a well-behaved lover of life, and any dog can be trained (intentionally or inadvertently) to be aggressive. Pits are just designed to do more damage when things go bad.

That’s why I believe that having a pit bull comes with a great responsibility to train them well and to show the world the real dog — the ultimate family dog that loves everyone with tongue-dripping enthusiasm.

All I really ask is that you don’t generalize and make assumptions of dogs you don’t know. Keep an open mind, stop watching the news and start meeting some pits. If you can do that, I guarantee you’ll have your kids hanging off my dog the next time I bump into you in the park.

Fernando Camacho (aka Fern) is certified in dog behavior and training, and owner and operator of his own training company, FernDog LLC. In addition to his private training and consultations, Fern teaches group dog classes, and conducts seminars throughout New Jersey and New York. He is an AKC Certified Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Evaluator, a Training Partner with the Best Friends Animal Society, created his own mentoring program where he instructs aspiring dog trainers, and this year launched his own online program to become a dog trainer, called Make Dogs Your Life. Fern is also involved in animal rescue and is the founder and director of the FernDog Rescue Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to aiding animal shelters and rescue groups. He is the author of two books: a dog behavior book, and a novel inspired by his own pit bull.

by Naomi Seldin Ramirez

Monday, September 17, 2012

Overcoming Stereotypes

A psychology professor explains how stereotypes come about and how pit bull owners can help change them.

By Dana Litt, Ph.D. (Reprinted from StubbyDog.org)

As a pit bull lover and owner, I am well aware of the many negative stereotypes we face on a daily basis and the potential consequences they have on our lives. Before understanding how to combat these negative stereotypes, it is first important to understand what they are, where they come from and how they become deeply engrained in society.

What are Stereotypes?

A stereotype is a generalized belief about the qualities or characteristics of a particular group. Although stereotypes can be positive or negative, a negative stereotype about a group often leads to prejudice (a negative judgment or unequal treatment towards a member of the stereotyped group). Although there are several theories that attempt to explain how stereotypes are formed, most psychologists will agree that people develop perceptions about how a typical “person” (or in our case, dog) in a marginalized group looks, thinks or behaves. Consequently, they form stereotypes of the group as a whole and apply them widely.

The Pit Bull and Pit Bull Owner Stereotype

Of particular importance to StubbyDog readers are the negative stereotypes associated with both pit bulls themselves, as well as stereotypes about the “type” of person who owns a pit bull. Most of us are sadly familiar with the stereotypes surrounding our dogs – that they are “evil, bloodthirsty beasts” or “unpredictable wild animals,” or “unpredictable and uncontrollable.” In addition, pit bull owners have been the target of negative stereotypes. On Internet message boards, in news articles and in political speeches, pit bull owners are routinely disparaged as nothing more than criminals, drug dealers, trailer trash, thugs, gang members or social deviants. Politicians and community members alike routinely state they don’t want “people like us” in their communities. These stereotypes are pervasive and by making both owners and the dogs seem abnormal, frightening and even dangerous, society easily endorses inhuman policies like breed-discriminatory legislation and other forms of discrimination.


Why do These Stereotypes Persist?

In psychology, the confirmation bias is the process by which a person forms a theory and then searches for things that prove their theory while ignoring things that are contradictory. This process allows stereotypes to both form and grow and become even more deeply engrained. With each event that confirms the stereotype, it continues to grow and take hold, while events that refute the stereotype are minimized or rejected.

We can apply the confirmation bias to the stereotypes of pit bulls and pit bull owners. Events which confirm that a pit bull is a killing machine are counted and recalled over and over, while hundreds of thousands of normal, sweet, friendly pit bulls are completely ignored. Events involving a heroic pit bull are difficult to find coverage of and even when they exist in mainstream media, they are usually brief and may not mention the breed specifically, whereas any story shining negative light on pit bulls is front page news. The repeated exposure to such messages only further confirms peoples’ preconceived notions about pit bulls.

However, it’s not just selective interpretation of pit bull related events that leads to stereotyping. Much of the hatred and discrimination toward others stems in part from a lack of familiarity. People who are unfamiliar with pit bull owners are reacting to the stereotype, not reality. Some individuals’ only exposure to pit bull owners has been in a negative sense and for many, has not been a personal experience but rather something they heard or saw on the news. Once these stereotype seeds are planted, most individuals can be very difficult to persuade that what they are familiar with is neither normal nor acceptable among responsible pit bull owners, due in part to the confirmation bias.

How to Fight the Negative Pit Bull Stereotype

Clearly, many commonly held stereotypes have negative consequences in terms of unequal perceptions and unequal treatment of different groups. To address this, some researchers have devoted their work to studying how to change or extinguish people’s stereotypes. Although there are several hypotheses about how this might occur, researchers generally agree that the best known way to change people’s stereotypes is to continually provide new information in different ways that contradict the stereotype. For example, if a person believes that pit bulls are vicious and unstable dogs, the best way to change this belief is to provide many different examples of pit bulls that have proven themselves to be stable, social and friendly family pets. One valuable way of achieving this is to promote favorable interactions with pit bulls. This may provide the person with new information that does not typify the stereotype and may even contradict the stereotype completely.

This process takes a concerted and careful effort on the part of all pit bull owners and supporters. It is imperative that all pit bull owners take active steps to make their dog a breed ambassador. Do everything in your power to be the best dog owner you can possibly be. Because you own a highly stereotyped type of dog, you will have to work harder to overcome that handicap than you would with a more socially acceptable breed of dog. For example, with many breeds, people think that misbehavior is “cute” or tolerable. With pit bulls, the same behavior is considered “vicious” and “deadly.” Fair? Not at all. Reality? Yes. Keep your dog under control at all times, and make sure you have done plenty of socializing and training; seek help from a professional if necessary. If your pit bull goes out in public, he needs to have good manners.

My pit bull Teddy is not only an ambassador (ambassadog?) on walks around the neighborhood, but I’ve routinely utilized him during my teaching to both educate students on the pitfalls of stereotyping as well as to help promote positive interactions with a type of dog they may not know much about other than what they read in the papers. Each semester I devote an entire lecture to stereotyping and discrimination, and a popular class activity is to ask people to think about the typical stereotypes about various people, objects and groups. Naturally, I began including pit bulls and pit bull owners in this activity. After having volunteers list some of the traits they associate with each object in the list, I show a counter-image to challenge their stereotypes. For pit bulls however, I have had a friend walk Teddy into the classroom and do tricks for us. When they find out that he is my dog (a professor owning a pit bull?!), many students have been shocked, but after class is over, quite a few want to come up and meet Teddy and often tell me that this is the first time they’ve ever actually met a pit bull. Teddy has also been an eager participant in my lectures on learning, especially when it involves positive reinforcement in the form of cookies. By integrating Teddy into my teaching, I’ve been able to expose many college students to pit bulls in a positive light that counteracts the negative stereotypes they currently hold (or confirms the positive stereotypes of pit bulls being goofy and sweet for those that are already fans of pit bulls).

Although there is a lot we can do to ensure that our dogs are the best possible ambassadors for the breed, we must remember that we as pit bull owners are also unfairly stereotyped and that in order to counteract this, we must always be an outstanding and responsible dog owner. Learn and follow the laws, make friends with your neighbors, show interest in your local government, go to neighborhood meetings, and speak with maturity and wisdom. I realize this sounds like a tall order, but we owe it to our dogs to make a favorable impression on the people who hold negative stereotypes about the typical pit bull owner. You have to do your part to separate yourself from the stereotypical pit bull owner. Over time, with enough positive interactions with responsible pit bull owners, hopefully people will learn to adjust their original views and realize that pit bull owners come from all walks of life and are no longer a feared group of outsiders, but rather an integral part of the community.

By taking the appropriate steps to present both our dogs and ourselves in the best possible light, I do believe we can make a difference. Remember that every interaction counts and that the best way to fight a stereotype is to harness the sweet nature we all know our dogs have and share it with the world!

About the author: Dana Litt received her Ph.D. in applied social psychology in 2010 and is currently an assistant professor at the University of Washington. Growing up, Dana always had dogs, but it wasn’t until she adopted a little brown and red pit bull puppy named Teddy in 2008 that she found herself getting involved in animal welfare and breed advocacy. Between having a pit bull of her own, volunteering at a local animal shelter and being part of local Seattle pit bull groups, Dana is truly a champion for the breed.

Video from It’s the Pits that demonstrated Dana’s article

Wallace the Pit Bull Needs Your Help

This post was supposed to be a happy story about an awesome pit bull and his incredible family. A tale of a pit bull that triumphed in life and had an incredible book written about him.

Sadly, things have changed.

Let’s start with the happy things. Jim Gorant, the great writer of “The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption” first met the Yori family because Andrew and Clara Yori had been one of the families that stepped up to adopt a Michael Vick dog. His name was Hector and we, the Dog Files, spotlighted Hector, Andrew and Clara for our Pit Proud short film which you can see here. Pit Proud: The History Of The Pit Bull. When we filmed this episode we also met Wallace, an awesome pit bull that the Yori family rescued, loved and in turn, became into a Frisbee catching champion.

Gorant, who is normally a sports writer, had built up quite a dog loving following because of “The Lost Dogs” and was looking for a follow up subject. Andrew told him Wallace’s story and the rest is history. You can now buy the story of Wallace right here! Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls–One Flying Disc at a Time.

                                           Yeah, I have my own book, what’s it to you?

While on their book tour the Yori’s noticed something wrong with Wallace. They immediately took him to a hospital where he had emergency surgery and had a mass on his spleen removed. It turned out to be canine hemangiosarcoma, an incurable form of cancer. This past week they visited an oncologist where they are exploring treatment options for Wallace’s time left, which could be a month, or it could be 10.

Many people have asked how they can help. The Yori’s, in return, wrote this on Wallace’s facebook page.

A few people have asked how they can help or contribute to Wallace’s care. At this point, we are not in a position to turn people down. On the same day that Wallace had emergency surgery to remove his splenic mass, his best friend Angus tore his cruciate ligament. Now the diagnosis is confirmed that Wallace has hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive cancer. We are researching our options and currently have appointments set up with an oncologist and a holistic vet for Wallace. Angus is scheduled for TPLO surgery on Monday 9/17. The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming. We can’t express our gratitude enough. We can assure everyone that we will make decisions based on his best interest. We want quality AND quantity. Here are some ways that people can help.

1. ChipIn. So far the vet bills total almost $6000. If we can get help with even a portion of that we would feel so grateful. ChipIn For Wallace and Angus.

2. Buy Wallace’s book. Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls– One Flying Disc at a Time Make sure your local bookstores and libraries have it. Read our story. Share it with others. Wallace has made a positive impact on this world and he has more to do.

3. Help a homeless pet. Donate to your favorite shelter or rescue in Wallace’s name, volunteer your time, adopt – Petfinder is a great resource. Then tell us about it. Knowing that something good is being done in tribute to Wallace makes us feel happy.

4. Send stuffies or treats. Wallace loves to destroy stuffed toys, with or without squeakers (they will be destroyed immediately so don’t bother purchasing expensive ones). Treats must be grain-free and poultry-free. Good brands for him are ZiwiPeak, Raw Bistro Stix, Wellness Pure Rewards (venison/salmon), Pure Vita (beef liver/sweet potato). No chews except for Zukes Z-Bones (he hardly has any teeth left). You can send them to him at 4712 19th St SE, Rochester, MN 55904.

5. Continue to send him positivity and love. Say prayers, wish him healing light, reiki, good thoughts… I believe all of that good energy is good for him.

6. I (Clara) am currently doing a painting of Wallace and I will be selling prints online to help with his medical bills. Those should be ready next week if you are interested.

7. Hug your pets and be glad for every moment you have with them. Their lives are too short and they deserve every ounce of goodness possible.
Folks, when we talk about great, responsible dog owners, the Yori’s would be the photo next to the definition. They have been tireless advocates for dogs, have brought a great amount of awareness to breed specific legislation and have simply allowed people to see the joy that pit bulls can bring you. The Dog Files count them amongst our closest doggie friends and hope to work with them for years to come. Anything you can do to help would be incredible. As hard as it has been to get through the writing of this article, I can hardly imagine what the the Yori’s are going through.

We love you, Wallace! You have done so much in your life to help your fellow dogs!

With Love,
Kenn, Max & Remy
                                                     Andrew, Clara and Wallace at the Vets.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca Adopt a Rescue Dog

There are plenty of laughs at Jenna Morasca and Ethan Zohn's New York apartment these days, thanks to a new furry friend.

After 10 years together, the former Survivor winners, who powered through Zohn's long treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, have adopted a pit bull/mastiff mix they named Bobbi-Ricki Zohn Morasca.

"Our lives have been very intense and serious the last year with Ethan's illness, and Bobbi has brought lightness and humor into our house," Morasca tells PEOPLE. "We constantly find ourselves laughing hysterically at her when she tries to talk to us with her half-bark, half-howl voice. She has brought a ton of laughter and love … we all are benefiting greatly from it."

Adopting this not-so-little bundle of joy, who is about 5 years old, has been a longtime dream for Morasca, a dog lover since "forever."

"I love big dogs, and specifically asked for a pit bull from the shelter because I wanted to show people that they are not mean, cruel and scary dogs," says the recent Columbia University graduate, who first fostered Bobbi through the Dog Habitat Rescue of Brooklyn, N.Y.

"It is rewarding beyond words to rescue a dog from the shelter and have that dog become part of your family," Morasca adds. "And this lovable pit bull should be the mascot of all pit bulls because she is a dream come true."

But Morasca and Zohn both fell hard for the "chill" lovebug, and the foster pup quickly turned into much more than a temporary visitor.

Though Zohn has never considered himself a dog person, he is thrilled with the new addition, who has already found a favorite spot on her very own chair next to Mom and Dad. Sharing responsibilities and walks have brought the couple closer together, too.

"Now we take nightly walks with her. We just talk and enjoy each other's company – and Bobbi's company – [without] cell phones, which we did not do before," she says. "Ethan and I are so happy and we could not envision our lives without her."

By Amy Jamieson