Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Girls Club - Words from a Foster Mom

Rachel is one busy lady. She volunteered to take a recent rescue case (Jolee!) home to help her get ready for her big debut at Pit Bull Hall. Move over twins! - a pit bull's moving in. In her own words:

As an employee at the East Bay SPCA, I've fostered hundreds of animals. From kittens and cats to dogs and puppies. From healthy animals needing socialization to sick ones needing time to get better. From tiny day old felines to large epileptic canines needing observation. It is always a different experience and so far I have only adopted one of them: my beloved Kelly, who is no longer with us and who I miss every day. Everyone always thinks I am going to adopt the foster animal du jour, but those that know me well know that I will not. I like fostering. I like getting them ready for adoption. I like helping them out. But I like giving them back and seeing them in their permanent home much, much more.

I just finished a short foster period with a great dog named Jolee, a current Pit Bull Hall resident. BADRAP pulled her from the Martinez shelter when I said I could foster. They said they would find one "that is a good fit for my household" and boy, did they. You see, I have two cats, one 2-year old son, 3-month old twin girls and one grumpy, but accom- modating, husband who doesn't like dogs. Jolee was a delight. She was excellent in her crate, was housebroken, was fabulous with all the kids, and only disliked the cats because they were "scary". She was a fast learner, did excellent in the Saturday Pit Ed classes that foster parents take their dogs to, and recovered quickly from her spay surgery. I really could not have asked for a better dog.

She is a lovely dog that might not have made it out of the shelter alive. But thanks to BADRAP, their foster program and Pit Bull Hall, she has a chance to find her perfect forever family. I'll send her my good thoughts and well wishes while she patiently waits for them to show up. Any family would be lucky to have her.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Yes, Chickie Sue, there really is a Santa Claus

You've been so kind, and Chickie Sue is feeling your good vibe....Chickie Sue Happy Dance!

News of this orphan's predicament has brought out the holiday spirit in everybody....One reader is donating a wire crate so she can view her surroundings better in her week-time foster home (she's in a slightly stuffy vari-kennel now) and another was inspired to double her holiday donation to help with her care. And look at the fun new friends we made who want to help spread the word.

What do they say? With every crisis comes opportunity.

We hope to update the blog soon with other BAD RAP news items, but until we do, I asked Chickie Sue's friend Steve to write a little something about his buddy. Steve is a pilot, btw, and while everyone wants this man & dog to be together, a pilot's demanding schedule won't allow it....Just thought I would get that out of the way!

This is one happy-go-lucky, fun, optimistic, wiggly, and if I do say so myself VERY cute girl. She falls into a daily routine with ease, and happily adjusts to spur of the moment diversions. She draws a crowd wherever she goes, and people love her. She even managed to form a line of kids in Montclair the other day, all waiting to have their faces licked by a very happy Chickie. She rarely barks, she is crate trained, house trained, tolerant of other dogs (actually gets along well), and has the ability to settle down and either snuggle with you or entertain herself with a toy or her own tail!

What else would anyone ever want in a dog? I can’t figure this one out. (BTW, if those little ears worry anyone they do come with the benefit of not blocking the TV when she is sitting on your lap!!)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Village Gets Busy

Since leaving kennel life, Chickie Sue's world has gotten much bigger. As promised, here are pix of our orphan girl with her friends passing time while waiting for her permanent home to find her. (Confused? See Blog below.)

Driving under the influence of Chickie Sue.

A fun visit at 'the office' with her friend Steve.

Don't tell the passengers, but....

How much do we love these ladies!

Berenice's kids have dubbed her 'Chickie Soup.'
Nice downstay, girls!

Come back soon for more pix and updates!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It Takes a Village

Rescue work is the ultimate roller coaster ride; one day you're sailing on the best high ever because a dog found a home or earned his CGC title, and the next day, a new challenge crops up to poke big fat holes in that optimistic glow.

Miss Chickie Sue, the Queen of Optimism herself, has been one of those dogs that's kept us up worrying late at night. Not for something she's done, but for the dumb luck that's so far kept her from getting a real home. She came into our program waaay back in July, and before that, lived at Oakland Animal Services. A diehard resident of Pit Bull Hall, she's endeared herself to everyone. But she's watched so many dogs come and go to new homes that we have to wonder if she thinks her life is supposed to be lived in small one hour snippets during her out time. The fact that a former home cut her ears short has hurt her. What hurts US is that, like it or not, looks DO matter to people when they shop for pets. And with so many pit bulls competing for homes, a dog like Chickie Sue - no matter how charming - is bound to wait longer.

Recently, it became clear that months in confinement were wearing thin on Chickie Sue's spirits. She's a trooper, but really, enough is enough. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, we had no where to put her. I tossed and turned and wondered: How do we possibly give this dog a quality life when no one will take her into their home? At this point, asking Chickie to live for hours on end in a crate or even a cozy kennel run is unacceptable. Since dogs live in the moment and have no concept of future adoptions, we owe them our best to make sure that their 'Now' is acceptable, and even enjoyable.

I brought the dilemma to the volunteer crew for a frank discussion about limited resources and quality of life issues. (Note According to Wikipedia, "a dilemma is a problem offering two or more solutions, neither of which is acceptable." - How true!) I wasn't looking forward to our talk, especially since zero solutions might lead to difficult and painful decisions.

What the crew came back with reflects the dedicated soul of this group: Together, they decided we would ALL give Chickie Sue a life out of the kennels by sharing the responsibilty of caring for her around with everyone until a permanent home could be found. No small feat. So, a volunteer who was short on time would house her, while others who had no room but extra time would commit to fun weekend get aways. Others raised their hands to take her on field trips, and another built a daily schedule to record her new social calendar. I have no doubt that this group is going to give Chickie Sue a very happy life while she waits for that golden application. This is a dog that THRIVES on adventure, variety and fun.

We learned a lot about each other and our collective commitment to these animals through this dog. It takes a village to help a pit bull like Chickie Sue find a home...And what a fantastic village it is.

Check back for new photos and reports on Chickie's new adventures. And of course! - if you're interested in meeting her, please contact

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pandora's World Domination

Pandora, Bad Rap alumni and Pit Mix extraordinaire, is a finalist in Dogster's "World's Coolest Dog and Cat" contest with the ever-happy muddy smile photo that I call "The Pig."

She is very pleased with herself. If not with being compared to a pig. She's nominated as a Jumper too, but Dogster doesn't aggregate votes for Best in Show.

Pandora would like to inform everyone that playing soccer with her head is a favorite pasttime, which is why she's both so muddy and so dang happy in this pic. Dirt + slobbery soccer ball = muddy, happy dog.

Funny thing about this picture: Dogster received complaints when it was first up that a "fighting dog" was one of the site favorites. Some people were mistaking the large amount of mud and grass stains for gore. The media sure has done its job getting "dogfighting" into the public consciousness every time the word "pit bull" is mentioned, now hasn't it?

UPDATE: Pandora did indeed score the honor of "coolest dog" in Dogster's online contest. While we all know the very coolest of dogs is ALWAYS the one that's sitting at our feet, Pandora is still very pleased to accept her important new title. She promises not to abuse her celebrity.

width="319" height="285"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Being Off Leash Never Felt So Strange

It's a good thing our foster dogs don't know what email is. They can play and cavort without a care in the world, trusting that the humans will somehow make the magic to bring them food, warmth, fun and eventually, that new home they've been waiting for.

My mail program exploded yesterday. And with it, went messages from thousands of helpers, supporters, applicants, adopters, and even the notes from people who write to heckle us. Poof!...Gone. I'm trying not to panic and to be philosophic about the timing of this catastrophe: I'm sure the bully gods want me to get away from my computer during this holiday and enjoy my dogs instead of sifting through hundreds of messages.

So, in honor of this sudden quiet, we're bringing our little foster Taz - who's been waiting way too long for his perfect home - to a 'secret' place where we can have a Thanksgiving Day picnic outdoors while our dogs enjoy the rare freedom of being off leash. Doing rescue work can be hard on the heart and soul, so to recharge, we'll be counting all our blessings for a year of incredible blessings and opportunities to help the breed we love.

I think I'm going to like being off leash from my computer. Or at least I'll try. But I can't wait to get my mail program back.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! ~ Donna

If you've written to me recently, your email is officially gone. But please try again. I promise to get back with you once I've had a day to examine my navel - Thanks to the computer gremlins.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Slow news day?

Someone just e-mailed us an inane Reuter's article that makes the claim that "vicious dog owners may be vicious too," then goes on to cite some half-baked study that samples a whole 355 dog owners in Ohio (a BSL state), noting that "[a] study of 355 dog owners in Ohio showed that every owner of a high-risk breed known for aggression had at least one brush with the law, from traffic citations to serious criminal convictions."

I mean, honestly. *YAWN*

Now, I must admit: I have a pit bull and a mix. And - yes, it's true - I have recently obtained a parking ticket from BART police for parking in the permit area of the lot, because I didn't see the sign. I know, I know - my social deviancy should remain hidden for PR purposes, but here I am, outing myself as a sign-ignorant and serially unpatriotic criminal hellbent on reducing my eco-footprint by inserting myself in a metal tube and hurtling myself under the bay into San Francisco, rather than being a true law-abiding flag-waving American and driving some sort of gas-guzzling land yacht through traffic (while, of course, obeying all traffic laws) while blasting my A/C and drinking a Big Gulp out of a styrofoam cup. Oh, woe is me. I am indeed a criminal.

Now that we've established that the writer of this blog is a pit bull owner and unconscionable parking renegade (with the additional sin of a speeding ticket 10 years back - surely, I should be locked up), let's get back to Reuters and the various ridiculous things about this article.

We'll start with the fact that the study takes place in Ohio, a BSL-ruled state that criminalizes people just for owning pit bulls. Note to Reuters: lots of responsible pit bull owners out there would never move to freakin' Ohio, because the state has a lot of silly laws restricting our pets.

Then there's the 355 number, which is so laughably small and arbitrary that I'm wondering how anybody could call this a sample. (Hell, my dogs have more than 355 dog pals on Dogster. Pandora has over 2000 pals, and Gunther is hanging in at 1600.)

Let's revisit the pit bull overpopulation explosion, which makes the breed arguably the most populous breed in this country. Anyone who doesn't buy that pit bulls are the most represented breed in this country clearly hasn't been to a public shelter lately. With so many dying, it's a wonder they keep showing up in such numbers, but those breeders are awfully busy.

Reuters also mentions that the authors of this study "used public records to check on the criminal pasts of dog owners. They used agreed definitions of vicious dogs used in writing local ordinances. "A 'vicious dog" means a dog that, without provocation, has killed or caused serious injury to any person, has killed another dog, or belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog," they wrote in their report."


Apparently the authors of this study and Reuters (a news source, oh the irony) didn't hear about the Tellings case, which reversed the constitutionality of the state and local vicious dog laws. Most specifically to this study, the case concluded that:

"The trial court erred when it held that Toledo Municipal Code §505.14 and Ohio Revised Code §955.11 and §955.22 were constitutional because the statutes violate the defendant's rights to equal protection and substantive due process because there is no rational basis to single out the American Pit Bull terrier as inherently dangerous."

This case took place in Toledo, so I'm guessing that the sample/study took place somewhere else in Ohio, quite possibly somewhere that pit bull ownership is retricted. If that were the case, all the owners of pit bulls might de facto be having a "brush with the law."

In any case, is it really so hard to grab a small sample that's going to prove whatever you want to prove? I too could prove that most pit bull owners had criminal records if I chose my 'hood wisely. I could also prove that most cat owners made over 100k/year, if I decided to pick 355 owners from Darien, CT.

Here's the thing:

It's really no secret that bad guys are attracted to pit bulls. I mean, hello - watch MTV for 5 minutes, people. Sheesh.

But to take some small sample of people in a BSL-ruled state to try to prove that all owners of pit bulls are criminals is just plain silly. And this kind of argument is implying that it's the fault of the dogs.

I am sick and tired of lazy reporters and ego-driven media whores using pit bulls as a springboard to get a headline, a study, or their name in a journal. These kinds of articles and studies seem to always be authored by people who have no real interest in the public safety.

It's so much easier to use scare tactics and big bad monsters (oooh, the magic pit bull word) to make yourself look important and get a headline. I mean, really - what was the purpose of this study/article? It would seem that the entire point was to get an article or on the news - so congratulations to its authors! Mission accomplished: your lazy and meaningless study was mentioned on CNN.

Truly, I must now admit that this study has served the public good, because CNN has to make up news 24 hours a day, and Lord knows those poor downtrodden CNN employees must get tired of changing the color on terror alerts, simulating earthquakes and shoving rain-jacketed reporters into wind tunnels during hurricanes.

Here's the reality:

Pit bulls are a convenient and very marketable proxy, representing the shadow part of society that reporters, media-whores and polite society don't want to directly confront or discuss. Indeed, it’s much easier to transfer your fears and anger about overwhelming social problems onto a dog breed.

Don’t look it in the eye! Walk away slowly… now run! Phew. That was a close one.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go participate in the weekly Bad Rap carjacking so that we have a getaway vehicle for the bank heist.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pancake Breakfast

Someone we only recently met invited Tim and I over for a banana pancake breakfast this morning. How cool is that?

What did we do to deserve such a kindness? Well, we brought them a new family member in the form of Queen Beanie.

Beans, as I like to call her, is very special to me. She’s the ‘perfect dog'...the classically fantastic pit bull that I wish every dog family could enjoy at least once in their life. Utterly delightful, gorgeous, and, as our weekend Pit Bull Hall manager Kim describes, “all about positive energy.” I just love that damn dog. Saying good bye to beasties like her can be gut wrenchingly tough, but SO much easier when we can see the important role she’s going to play in her new people’s life.

When I did the home-check, I did the obligatory fence check, made recommendations about tie-downs and crates, and warned about stained carpets and chewed chair legs. But what stood out above and beyond anything I could mark on my checklist was the sweet collection of family portraits all over their house. This is the type of home that cherishes their friends and family --- Exactly where Beanie needs to be. The couple’s only child is a bright eight year soccer fan who sacrificed a prized stuffed animal to Beans during our breakfast meeting. DoG willing, he’ll enjoy his pet through the rest of his childhood all the way up until he graduates high school as a handsome young man. I can only hope that Beans teaches him lessons about friendship, tolerance and unconditional love, that she comforts him when he has his first heartache and that she mugs her way into new family photos on their walls.

You go Beanie; Do what you came here to do.

The pancakes were wonderful. The family was thrilled. And, I traded my beloved Beanie for that fabulously bittersweet feeling that keeps all of us who do pit bull placement hopelessly addicted to this work.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fun with numbers

A lot of people focus on numbers and statistics when it comes to pit bulls. Reporters, in particular, are fond of plucking numbers and stats out of various reports and using them, out of context, to support whatever sensationalized editorial happens to be selling papers that day.

There are many famous quotes about statistics - a lesser-known one is one of my favorites:

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts — for support rather than illumination." — Andrew Lang.

As we've seen, these kinds of uneducated critics point to the breed as “unpredictable” and “vicious,” citing popular myths as “locking jaws,” saying that the dogs just “snap,” mentioning an “inherent aggression” due to their historical roots as pit fighting dogs. This is often followed by citing out-of-context statistics to prop up such fallacies.

The good news: these critics are wrong. Plain uneducated, ignorant, and wrong. The bad news: pit bull popularity is on the rise, and the rash of backyard and plain over-breeding has led to an overpopulation crisis of epidemic proportions.

So, a lot of people routinely write to us and ask for numbers after reading the kinds of editorials mentioned above, and after yet another concerned citizen read an inflammatory and ridiculous piece in the local paper and decided to write to us for numbers, I figured that today might be a nice day to share the ones I have on-hand, in the context of refuting the various random editorials written by people who've most likely neither met a pit bull, nor have ever visited a public shelter.

We, Bad Rap, have placed over 300 pit bulls in loving homes – an insignificant number given that our shelters are 60-80% full of pit bulls, most of which will not get out alive – but significant to us, and to those lucky folks who love and cherish their family pet.

With so many unlicensed dogs out there, it’s difficult to get a hard number on pit bulls. This is what we know:

  • The ADBA registers about 200,000 pit bulls a year. (I called and asked - they don't usually release this information, but I did get it from the source.)
  • The UKC registers about 300,000 dogs a year, and pit bulls are #2. Is 30-50,000 dogs a fair estimate? Probably. They're not talking.
  • HSUS estimates that 400,000 pit bulls are involved in illegal fight rings. (I got this directly from John Goodwin, Deputy Manager of Animal Fighting Issues for HSUS.)
So: counting just the registered dogs and the dogs owned by felons participating in fight rings, we have about 650,000 pit bulls. This is 2/3 the number of total AKC registered dogs, and adds up to more than their top 20 breeds combined.

Of course, most dogs flooding the shelter system are not from fight rings, and they're not papered either. The backyard breeding epidemic is what's leading to the overpopulation crisis. Last time I checked, Lawless links listed over 400 pit bull "kennels" - and those are just the ones who submitted themselves, i.e. the ones who have a website and chose to submit themselves to that particular directory. Sigh. (The page is down now, but a simple Google search found another random page with almost 400 kennels listed on it.)

Anecdotally, if you ask someone in the public shelter system what percentage pit bulls are making up of their intake, it's anywhere between 20-80%.

NYC also does population studies on licensed dogs (and, as we know, most of the dogs landing in the shelters are not licensed - NY is around 1%, last time I checked) and pit bulls are routinely in the top 5. The study results for 2001 and 2003 are online, along with licensing stats.

Of course, the dogs making newspaper headlines and being peddled off in the backyard are not papered, registered dogs. Furthermore, HSUS estimates that more dogs are euthanized in our shelter system annually than the total number of dogs registered by the AKC.

One thing is certain: as pit bulls have become the dog du jour for unscrupulous breeders, they have begun to show up in our shelters and our streets in alarming proportions.

At the end of the day, the only number one needs to know with regards to pit bull overpopulation is 2. Most of us have two eyes and two legs: march both sets down to your local shelter, and take a good hard look. Walk through an urban neighborhood. Check the number of classified ads in your local paper or online. If you have two good ears, talk to a Shelter Director or Animal Control Officer. We have; in our conference travels, we are often disheartened to hear that pit bulls are regularly streaming into the shelters in places as far-flung as Idaho and Nova Scotia. The vast majority of these dogs do not leave the shelter alive.

With so many exploited pit bulls out there, some skeptics might wonder at dog-bite fatalities with the breed declining steadily over the past two decades.

The reason: Pit bulls are among the most stable breeds out there with people. Critics are so quick to claim that the sexy, media-worthy "fighting dog" history causes a hardwired "aggression," but these folks aren't understanding the difference between dog aggression and human aggression (does a Jack Russel's predisposition for rat and dog aggression mean it's hardwired to eat people?), and they're conveniently forgetting that the breed was also specifically bred for unwavering bite inhibition towards people, in order that the trainers, owners, referees, and spectators of this unfortunate bloodsport be safe in the amped-up environment of a dogfight.

The pit bulls that make newspaper headlines share the attributes common to all breeds that have led various bite statistics over the years: unaltered, badly bred, overbred, and off-leash. The CDC’s report is often pillaged for breed-specific stats to fuel the fires of hysteria, but their own conclusions - right there in a box on the front page of the report - specifically note that dog bites are not a breed-specific problem. This conclusion was seconded in the AVMA’s 2001 “A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention,” wherein the Task Force noted that singling out breeds “ignores the true scope of the problem,” and furthermore debunked dog-bite statistics as “not really statistics.”

It's easy to write an attention-grabbing article with the word "pit bull" in it - America loves its monsters - and grab some numbers and stats to create statistical lies that sound legit for the purposes of persuading JQP as to a headline-worthy conclusion. But it's disingenuous and harmful to the public discourse and the public safety.

Just remember this: Statistics 101 taught me that the average human being has one female breast and one testicle.

The root of dog bite prevention lies in responsible breeding and owernship. It is only when we as a community address the real problems that dog bite incidences will decline – and those problems stem from the human end of the leash.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Whirlwind Weekend

Wow. Just wow. None of us can get over the high that we’ve had since the end of the conference on Sunday night. However, I must confess that mine actually started when I got to the hotel Friday evening.

On the way to my room, I passed by the event room. I just had to peek in. When I did, I found rows upon rows of tables with what seemed like hundreds of chairs. I stood in the doorway, in awe of the magnitude of this year’s event. We are a grass roots organization with no paid staff and here I was staring at a room that looked like it was awaiting the arrival of the United Nations. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s how it seemed to me at the time.

My experience Friday evening set the tone for the whole weekend. There was just so much excitement. Attendees were excited as they filed in Saturday morning; the BAD RAP team was excited as they showed up with coffees in hand; and the guest presenters were also excited. That energy carried through hours of presentations and into the Saturday evening reception at Pit Bull Hall

In addition to all of the formal presentations, we talked informally sharing stories and ideas. We all made so many new friends and can already feel the momentum this weekend generated and the new projects that will come out of it. Keep your eyes out for information on our multi-day intensive ‘Pit Camps’ and the ‘BAD RAP road show’ as we look at taking our information to shelters across the country.

I’m already told that there will be a next year. I had anticipated we’d discuss the idea as a group after the conference was over like we did last year. But how can I say no to people saying ‘see you next year’ as they drive away?

Stay tuned while we sift through the feedback and wait for the photographs from our ‘official’ photographer, Rachel Young.

Special thanks to all of the volunteers at BAD RAP without whom this conference would never have happened!


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Where Are All the Pit Bulls?

Back from a quick midwest trip where BR’s Pit Ed & CGC classes earned the 2006 Best Practices Award for Behavior and Training at the AHA Conference (Yay!) .... and (Boooo!) the only pit bulls we saw were chained in the yard of a Detroit area backyard breeder. Now I know* there are plenty of great pit bull owners in the Chicago and Detroit area, but they must've all been in hiding this week. Feeling the need for a bully fix, we searched over miles of Chicago sidewalks during our flashback tour of old haunts and counted well-loved greyhounds, goldens and every kind of small dog –- but no pit bulls.

Like strangers in a lonely land, we decided to search the city shelters. The Anti-Cruelty people turned their noses up when we mentioned the breed and sent us to Chicago Animal Control. But after heading to the south side and sharing our IDs with security, we were turned away – We couldn't see them there since they don’t adopt the breed out either. Unclaimed pets are rarely rescued and usually destroyed. We could sense their wide smiles just steps away from us, but slipping through all our fingertips. When questioned ‘Why?’ the tired employees just shrugged and suggested that someone might want to “write a letter.” Sigh. Tim and I used to live in Chicago, and we were feeling pretty disappointed in our old stomping grounds at that point. Onto Detroit, we were desperate enough to stop by a neighborhood breeder just so we could get a fix and compare notes with the dogs' welcoming, albeit not-so-responsible owners. Sadly, we were warned not to step too close – The chained breeding pair was willing to bite. Greeeat. Apparently, lacking good shelter resources for quality adoptions, the couple's puppies were selling like hotcakes - intact and just weeks from their first mating adventures, of course..

I must say, the bay area never looked so good when we finally landed. We still have our problems — Many of our shelters are still struggling over the best ways to adopt pit bulls out and lord knows we have way too many being born. But despite our challenges, home sweet home is full of breed supporters, viable adoption programs, accessible spay/neuter programs and responsible owners. And thankfully, it's never hard to spot some of the most well loved pit bulls in the country strutting their stuff down our city streets with their proud owners in tow. We’re oh so happy to be back home.


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Conference Countdown

So much to do, so little time…

It’s already October; which means that our second annual conference is literally just a couple of weeks away. I had expected planning this year’s event to be much easier than last year since it would involve simply duplicating the format. I would have been right, if I was not me and BAD RAP was not BAD RAP.

First, I complicated everything, as I always seem to so. I mean, who else would decide to have a baby just a few months before, and in the middle of planning, a national conference? Conference planning with a newborn presents a whole set of challenges I hadn’t anticipated.

Second, BAD RAP complicated everything. We thought it seemed unfair to the conference attendees to just repeat what we did last year with a few minor content changes. Nope, we had to change almost everything. We added more relevant content based on the feedback we were getting from shelters, rescues and the community. That still wasn’t enough. So we added more hands on work with the dogs so people would be able to hear about a training technique, see a demonstration and then practice it. Still not satisfied, we scheduled a separate ‘workshop’ at the East Bay SPCA on Saturday evening where we will be explaining the ins and outs of our unique sheltering program Pit Bull Hall (

Despite all of the work, it’s been a great deal of fun. Conference planning brings the whole BAD RAP team together, combining the special talents of each member of our Steering Committee. It also helps me connect more with the pit bull community. I’ve been energized by the emails from people all over the country, and Canada, who are so excited about coming.

This year we’ll have over twice as many people in attendance. We look forward to building new partnerships and reconnecting with old friends. With all of these eager visitors, I am convinced that the information will be used to improve sheltering and rescue of the breed that I love.

Stay tuned for photos and updates after this wonderful event. Better yet, we'd love to see you there!


Monday, September 25, 2006

Know Your Rights! (and Protect Your Pooches)

So many issues, so little time! This recent incident in Palo Alto (below) inspired a long overdue BR Blog and webpage on Dog Law

A Palo Alto pit bull owner found herself in the headlines when her dog fatally injured a small dog during a routine on-leash walk. This tragedy played out in the media as a vicious pit bull attack on an innocent victim. The pit owner swears up and down that, although she called out several warnings to keep a distance, the small dog owner willingly, unwittingly, marched her tiny pet right within the reach of the offending dog, and right into a train wreck - so to speak.

While we’ll never really know exactly how/why this tragedy played out the way it did, many large dog owners are using the opportunity to confess: Poorly managed small dogs scare the crap out of us. Somewhere along the way, we seem to have shifted to a new society that thinks all dogs should be chummy with all other canines. The problem is, Mother Nature doesn’t agree. She’s written some pretty tough laws about predator/prey relationships, and try as we might to rebel against her motherly wisdom, she keeps reminding us that a dog is STILL a dog - That is, an animal with teeth and some 10,000 years of hardwired instincts; Hardly a small and saintly mini-human. Denial of this nuts and bolts reality has created a very untidy epidemic of dog owners who insist on rushed nose-to-nose greetings and forced kisses between pets that are strangers to each other, including the small dogs that look like prey and large dogs that might agree that they look like prey. Talk about setting our dogs up to fail!

At a recent Pet Fair, BAD RAP volunteers experienced a climate where forced dog-dog greets were the name of the game. Dozens of dog owners rushed their pets up to see the 'nice pit bulls' again and again. Thankfully, our demo dogs have been conditioned to calmly tolerate a certain amount of rude dog behavior, although even our most rock solid ambassadors were hard pressed when a Chihuahua owner unexpectedly thrust her tiny squirrel-imposter friend into their noses while cooing “Want to meet the doggies?” Praise be, our dogs were steady. But just imagine how the 6 o'clock news would've reported things if instinct had taken hold and our dogs had decided to accept the kind gift of the tiny animal sacrifice?

BAD RAP’s legal beagles have written an info page on Dog Owner Rights: What you need to know to stay out of trouble with your dog and what to do if trouble finds you. We need it. Bad.

Stay smart and enjoy your best bulls in peace.