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.