Friday, November 30, 2007

Vick's Co-defendants get high end sentence

District Judge Henry E. Hudson called what happened to the dogs "a tragedy."

Vick's co-defendants get 18 and 24 months jail time and 3 years probation.

On behalf of the beautiful dogs that suffered terribly under the conditions they were kept and the abuse they endured, Thank you Mr. Hudson. News Story

Vick will be sentenced on December 10.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sadie is My Life

BR alum Sadie Mae did good when she left her old life and flirted her way into her new home. She wasn't content with just a great address though; she kept going until she placed herself right in middle of her people's universe.

We laughed out loud at the name of this blog, devoted to the pushy little blue dog that insisted she was special.

'Sadie Mae Crockett, my life.' - BLOG

Well of course she is... as she should be!
Great photos. Thank you Ingrid

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stella Polari

Some news about Stella Polari, our transplant from the Michigan Humane Society. She's just recovering from a spay/abort surgery, as is our practice whenever we intake pregnant females. In another life, she would've been getting ready to be an undernourished mama to eleven puppies (ACK), but instead, she's starting classes and learning about creature comforts and life as a housepet in her temporary foster home.

An update from her foster mom Katie:

"When I first heard of Stella, Donna had mentioned that this special girl gives "hugs." I was a little worried because I had just finished fostering a big American Bulldog-pit bull mix who also liked to jump up and give rude knock-you-over hugs. Little did I know what I was in store for. Little Stella likes to gently jump up wrap her paws around you and look into your eyes as if to say 'love me!'. Its difficult to say no! All this girl wants is love. She's a little insecure about the world right now, but who could blame her? She came into the program pregnant, itchy, skinny and shy. Little does she know that she is one of luckiest dogs in the world to have made it to CA. Her name comes from Stella Polari(s), the north star. The stars had to have been set up right for this special girl, because currently all other pit bulls are put to sleep in the Detroit shelter system. She is literally one in a million.

Two and a half weeks have gone by since she first arrived on the plane from Detroit. A lot has happened in two weeks! She's on a new plan towards getting healthy. When I asked the vet how old she might be the vet replied "She has the teeth of a two or three year old dog and the body of ten year old". Wow! She's had a lot of puppies and not the best care up until this point in there life. Her skin is a mess, her tits hang to the floor, and she's under weight. Time to get this girl into shape. Its only been a little over two weeks and we're already seeing so many changes. She is now spayed, her coat is clearing up, and she is slowly gaining more energy.

She had a little more energy today than usual. Saying 'a little more' is not a whole lot though. She doesn't want to play in the yard, she just wants to be glued to your side so I am thrilled whenever she opens up a little and acts more confident. This morning she played with a stuffed dog toy and ran a few more zoomies than usual, which I take as a good sign. This girl is nothing but sweet sweet sweet.

I cannot wait to report more as she progresses. Its time for Stella to get her groove back!"

Thank you, Katie!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Speak No Evil, Beagle

Turkey Week brought headlines of the nearly-forgotten beagles confiscated from the Vick property. The media (ew) is just eating it up: The poor damaged things are making their way from a shelter straight into adopters' homes. Happy news, if it wasn't tainted by the sensationalistic comparison of "gentle beagles" to "unstoppably violent" pit bulls. Our pit bulls.

Unstoppable violence is a term usually reserved for gut wrenching reports of bloody sectarian civil wars or systematic genocide in far away places - or - the deeds of evil men who torture innocent animals. But, for dogs? Dogs that have been evaluated and given a seal of approval, no less?

I like beagles. They're cute as can be with their stubby legs and floppy ears, and busy, bossy personalities. My first dog was a beagle named Casey Jones Ratdog Reynolds. But even with those Disney-ish looks, beagles are still every bit as capable of being irresponsibly owned as other dogs... Just this month, a beagle attacked a young girl in Texas, requiring emergency surgery. Her mother said, "You always think it's a Pitbull or Rottweiler. It doesn't matter what kind of dog it is, you never know when this will happen to your kid." Another reminder that stereotyping your demons can open you up to a painful reality check. Read: Beagle Attack

Don't blame the beagle, though. He didn't know that America expects more of his kind. He's only a dog.

After news came out that the kinder, gentler dogs were getting adopted in Virginia, we heard from a dog owner who wanted to share her story of Bishop, a beagle who was nearly killed by other dogs. She wanted folks to see how silly the whole good breed, bad breed campaign is. In her words:

'I had the pleasure of meeting Bishop when I took care of a barn of horses at a Hunt Club in Connecticut. A kennel of approximately 30 beagles was situated next to my barn. Occasionally I was asked to fill in for the girl that feeds them. The girl warned me ahead of time that these were all kennel raised hunting beagles, and that they were not raised as pets. She told me there may come a morning when I find a dead beagle that had been attacked by the others. Thankfully I never did!

When working in my barn, I would occasionally hear a fight break out, and would dash into the kennel to break it up. After the third or fourth time, I noticed it was almost always the same beagle I was saving. Bishop.

One day, to my horror, I found the dogs had trapped him inside, pinned him in the corner with his back against the wall, eyes like saucers, screaming his head off with approximately eight beagles tearing at his body. He had been housed with those beagles, all uncastrated males of varying sizes, ages and temperaments. The injuries were extensive, and Bishop had to be hospitalized. They tore at his stomach and his hind legs. His testicles were almost completely ripped off of his body. He needed several stitches and drains over these areas, and to be castrated the rest of the way.

Bishop survived his injuries, and found a loving home with me. He lived to be 13 and a half, and I am pleased to say, as the least likely to survive, he outlived every one of those dogs! He passed away a couple of weeks ago of old age, I miss him terribly.

I believe Bishop was attacked not because of his breed, but because he was raised as a hunting dog kept in a survival of the fittest atmosphere.

The photo attached is of Bishop and his pit bull friend Gentle Ben, whom we fostered. Both dogs are now sitting side by side in heaven where ignorance, prejudice and abuse do not exist.' - Beth Connelly

Thank you Beth for that reminder. And rest in peace, Bishop and Gentle Ben.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Slam Dunk for the Dogs

Our entire crew got a triple espresso shot in the arm this week when writer George Dohrmann nominated BR for the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award for helping the Vick dogs.


He told us that he wanted readers to remember the dogs, especially as we get closer to Vick's sentencing date. Nice. Thank you George.

Unfortunately, we're only at half time with this bigger project and weren't able to give him the score on the dogs. (Darnit!) Talk about integrity; once he knew we were limited in what we could say, he never tried to squeeze dog details out of us. That's a rare breed journalist. I'm only sorry that he speculated that the dogs might not fit the description of gentle. Seems the naysayers hold heavy influence. But, Soon enough. Patience grasshopper.

Sophie Update!

While we wait for the opp to share some of their stories, Miss Sophie is more than happy to answer the questions that America's been asking about the Vick dogs. And now...She's going home! I love her new movie, made by foster mom Stephanie, to help her remember this special little houseguest. Watch: Sophie's Dance

The Good Guys

Last week was a crowded blur of workshops, demos, field trips and gab when a group of eight shelter workers flew in to attend our fourth Pit Ed Camp of the year. They represented shelters in San Diego County, Philly and Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS). ACO Dave Walker (right) from Spokane got his fill of pit bull love. We had a great time. Pit bulls have good friends in their corners in these towns.

Once Camp let out, we grabbed a quick flight back to Florida to meet friends fromthe Animal Farm Foundation and to see how folks in the Tampa shelters were doing with their pit bull adoption programs.

Hillsborough County Animal Service staff was proud to show us three new kennels designated for breed ambassadors in their brand new adoption wing. They had just adopted out a favorite pit bull to a great home the night before we arrived.

Further down the bay, we tipped our hats to the crew at SPCA Tampa Bay. They have such a common sense approach to pit bull adoptions that we wanted to kiss them. Okay, we did kiss them.

When asked how they handled pit bulls from cruelty busts, they looked puzzled. What else? Every dog is treated as an individual, no matter their background. They receive kennel enrichment, exercise, love and - if they pass their evaluations - they're eventually adopted into loving homes. Brava, Brava

Photo: SPCA Tampa Bay staffers Donna, Connie and friend.

CALENDARS! are finally going out the door. If you've been waiting for yours - thank you - Look in your mailbox starting this coming weekend.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A calendar's worth 12,000 words

Kids and pit bulls - what's the big whoop? They're just dogs.

Somehow, the media monster has created a climate wherein perfectly nice folks can be out enjoying a perfectly nice day with their perfectly nice pit bull, and they suddenly receive an unsolicited editorial from someone with kids.

Or worse, they're with their own kids, who suddenly get an earful from a perfect stranger criticizing their parenting skills - and their best pal! What gives? This kind of rudeness doesn't happen to folks who have other large-breed dogs with children, but somehow society has decided that it's entirely acceptable for a perfect stranger to provide his or her own unsolicited and ill-informed public service announcement to anyone who will listen whenever there's a pit bull out and about and anywhere near a child.

At a local festival, my own dog Gunther had just been set upon by a group of rowdy toddlers (he rolled around on his back for belly rubs in the grass - his favorite thing), when my trip for a first beer led to him almost being run down by yet another wee human on an out-of-control Big Wheel. Being the cool cucumber Gunther is, he just sort of looked at me like, "Um - Mom? I think that kid needs some help." So I put my foot out to prevent the toddler from taking a tumble off the curb, and as I was doing so some random guy walked by with his wife and, very loudly to everyone (but not looking directly at me), said, "Yeah, that's a GREAT idea, having a dog like THAT around CHILDREN!"

Snappy retorts and actual education escaped me at that moment, I'm sorry to say. I did manage to fit in something not fit for print (or young ears, regrettably) - hey, we're only human. (And the young ears in question were being commandeered by Mom, who'd suddenly realized that her youngster's motor skills might not be honed enough to maneuver his fly plastic ride through the madding crowd...)

In any case, the simple fact of the matter is: normal pit bulls adore children. And, we're pleased to say, lots of children adore dogs - and pit bulls are just dogs, after all.

So, for everyone who's had to endure a lecture about endangering their children or someone else's simply because of their choice of family pet, we have the perfect holiday gift for you, which we tentatively entitled:

Bad Rap's 2008 Unsolicited Rude and Unwelcome Editorial Eliminator / A Picture's Worth a Thousand Rude Hand Gestures and/or Snappy Retorts / Gift for the Naysayers / Pit Bulls and Their Favorite Kid Pals Calendar Extravaganza 5000!

That was the working title, anyway. It didn't fit on the cover particularly well, so we went with Pibbles 'n Kids.

Heartfelt thanks go out to all the families that so generously donated their time - and kids! -
to this calendar project. Most the dogs in the calendar are Bad Rap alums, but there's a couple shots sent in by some supporters that were so amazing that we just had to use them.

So, for those of you who want a G-rated pit bull calendar for next year's date-keeping, this one's for y'all. We think it makes a great stocking stuffer for anyone who's ever given you grief about your best pal - and yes, that includes your mother-in-law.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Teflon Tuff

Oh my aching head. On the heels of a fantastic evening last night (see notes below), we're reminded just how tuff we really have to be to own and enjoy our pit bulls. Not tuff as in, "Wow am I tres cool and muy macho," but tuff enough to teflon biased opinions such as those in: Vallejo Times Herald's weekend piece on 'pet psychology.'

The headline of the article reads, "Pet Psychology What does your pet choice say about you?" Although I propose a different headline: "Pets and Armchair Psychology. What does your personal prejudice say about you?"

Apparently pit bull owners, we've been diagnosed.
The tens of thousands of us who own and enjoy pit bulls in the bay area, specifically in Solano County, are merely fine tuning our bad boy macho image. Oy vey. If we REALLY meant to have "family member type pets" according to clinical psychologist Dr. Kelly Horton, we'd be by-passing these fat head dogs up for labrador retrievers.

Baby Clare is much too busy enjoying her friend to care what people think about her parent's breed choice.

The article suggests that our income and even our EDUCATION level may have something to our breed choice. "Income and education level and where they live may dictate why some people have certain kinds of animals," one north bay shelter worker said. Presumably, the less educated we are, the more attracted we will be to pit bulls. More: "Terriers have a strong prey drive, which can be a problem with kids going by on skateboards or on bikes, or the postman or pizza delivery guy gets bit."

Whoa! Wait a minute. The last time we checked, responsibly owned pit bulls weren't chasing the pizza guy any more than responsibly owned labradors - the supposed ideal family pets. In fact, two irresponsibly owned lab-mixes made the paper this spring when they chased and bit up a passer-by in the North Bay. Lab Attack, Of course, we would never blame the breed or the income level of dog owner. But rather, we would look at the circumstances. Prior history? Yes, the dogs had been at large before, barking scarily at some neighborhood kids. Containment problems? Absolutely.

Solano County pit bull owners, you have a right to be pissy at your local paper today. Yes, yes, we know there are irresponsible pit bull owners out there as well as irresponsible lab owners, but generalizing and supporting stereotypes is sooo 1950's. Not to mention, it's sensationalistic and smacks of tabloid journalism. Kudos though to Darlene Jelonek, who does animal control for the Benicia Police Department. She said most of the dogs she picks up in town are loose running labs and retrievers. She rarely encounters an aggressive pit bull, and said. "We got the friendlier, family dogs here, I guess," she said. Thank you Darlene. Score one for Benicia.

Speaking of Tuff Love

Last night's event exceeded all expectations. The tasting room was packed, the guests were dressed to the nines, the sake was flowing, the music was jamming and atmosphere was all about love and appreciation for the breed. Sales were good and everyone seemed walk out the door with an auction score, a BR Exposed Calendar and/or an original work of art.
We'll post a link to fun photos when we unfog our brains, but for now, THANK YOU to everyone who came out and showed so much generosity and kindness.

Photographer Anne Truitt had good reason to celebrate. Her Exposed calendar photos were a hit and her framed prints nearly sold out. Congrats Anne! and thank you again.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cheap Thrills, Fine Art & a Detroit Transplant

Some may be coming out to see the naked butts in our BAD RAP Exposed Calendar this Saturday, Nov 10, at the Tuff Love Show, but the real stars will be the many works of art that will be on display.

Petal (left)- a life size portrait carving by Tim Racer - will be prancing across the gorgeous spaces of the Takara Sake Factory, and will be surrounded by quality art pieces for sale, such as these. (Hm. I may to have to get ready to fight over that mosaic piece!)

Great art is showing up in the Silent Auction, too. So bring your checkbook and get ready to jot down your best bids. This lovely print was kindly donated by the dog lovers of Fifty Crows Gallery and is part of the 'In the South' series from the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography.

For 25 years, Adams has been documenting the people of Appalachia. His affectionate portraits of individuals and families speak to us with tenderness and sincerity. Adams has received two NEA fellowships and has published 'Appalachian Portraits' and 'Appalachian Legacy.'
Beautiful. Valued at $500.

Other items to shop at the silent auction:
- A week's stay in a vacation home in Jackson Hole WY
- A week's stay in a vacation flat in Cole Valley, SF
- Two night's stay in the sweet Hopland Inn
- Numerous gift baskets full of dog products and other goodies
- Tickets to shows at Freight & Salvage, Giant's Games & more
- Too much more for my bleary eyes to list...Just bring your checkbook!

Our Detroit Mama is Here!

Mandatory exercise for reading this blog:
1. Open this LINK
2. Put on your dancing shoes.
for Detroit!...AND, Stella Polare

Our Newest Transplant

Stella just scored a spot in our program after making goo-goo eyes during a visit to Michigan Humane Society's Detroit Shelter at the end of October.

She was confiscated in a drug bust and has lived some adventures in her day, but she told us that she's more than willing to leave those days behind her.

She'll be spit-shined, polished up, spayed and tutored before finally making her way to our adoption program.

What a ham. Stella poured out of her crate at the airport with a big fat smile on her face, ready to go. The air cargo crew gaped at her hanging boobies and messy coat, but we assured them that our girl had a standing date with Spa Katie. Katie Moyer is her new foster mama and is set to devote many weeks of TLC and training to get her in good shape and ready for adoption. She's had good practice: the bouncy Harvey and Princess Sadie both found their manners in her care.

Big thanks to Katie, and to Kristy Grasak and her many helpers at Michigan Humane Society for all you did to get Stella to CA.

Here's a little YouTube Movie of Stella giving hugs to her new friend Tim.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Place to Lay Their Weary Heads

We received a wonderful note from the good folks at Hillsborough County Animal Care Services today. They've been hammering out the start of a brave new breed ambassador program for pit bulls. Brave, because they intake so many dogs that the shelter is forced to euthanize dozens every day due to space constraints. Despite this daily heartache, they're finding time to get their best dogs to outings where they can be seen by the public and enjoyed for the good dogs that they are.

This is quite a U-turn from just months ago, when adoptable pit bulls didn't stand much of a chance. As some readers may remember, Little Man landed in this shelter after HCAS staff rescued him from a neglectful home. He was on his last day when we spied him, and the rest is history. He's now in Orange County living the life of a spoiled pet and demo dog deluxe. Great dog, and great team effort to get him to this ending.

Now, all attentions are turned towards the Hillsborough County dogs that are still waiting for their lucky break. Their ambassador program is modest and realistic: three hand-selected pit bulls go up for adoption at a time. (The staff was trained in BR's Pit Ed Camp to select the very best candidates) But change takes time, so even three very special dogs have to wait and wait for good adopters to see their worth. In the meantime, shelter staff is carving out spare moments every day to keep them exercised and sane.

Good deeds deserve to be rewarded.

If you know someone in the Tampa area who's looking to adopt, please tell them about this shelter. And if you want to help their pit bulls, consider buying a bed so the dogs can enjoy a good night's sleep off of the cold floor. Well-rested dogs are better able to handle the stress of the shelter and attract that good home with a bright, tail-wagging happy smile.

Kuranda's Donation Program will accept your donation and ship a bed to Hillsborough pronto: Beds for Dogs ... Easy-peazy, and such a good way to show that you support what they're doing to help the dogs.

For more information about HCAS breed ambassadors, or to learn other ways that you can help them reach their goals, please contact the ever-busy-always-hopeful Kelly Bigsby

Monday, November 05, 2007

Nekid is as Nekid Does

So, we decided to get naked for our calendar this year.

There - I said it. No big deal, right? It sounded like a good idea at the time: Draw attention to the fact that pit bull owners are so used to being stared at that we just don't give a damn anymore. Once we got closer to the date of the photo shoot, we all started caring a little more than we thought we would. 'Oh god, my stomach!' 'My vericose veins!' 'Don't shoot my butt!'

Well, pit bulls don't care what you look like as long as you look like you're having fun. So we rented a house on Stinson Beach in Marin County, packed up way too much food, way too many dogs and plenty of drink. We wished we would've packed tomato juice, because within hours of enjoying the salt air, no less that three dogs and one human were sprayed by a beach combing skunk. And so went our adventure. It was, actually, one of the happiest weekends I've had in years. Dog bless margarita inspired brainstorms!

The calendar includes BR's core group: which includes police officers, a fire fighter, a teacher, business owners, artists, account execs, lawyers and more. We may be showing butt cracks, but we ain't thugs. We hope you like the results. And even if you don't, we truly hope that - if you do own a pit bull - you're able to enjoy many moments without caring anything about the stares you get. After all, when you own a wonderful pet, you've got absolutely nothing to hide. (And, what you do need to hide is easily covered with a wee bit of foundation.)

BAD RAP Exposed will be officially launched at our Tuff Love Event this coming Saturday. For those who can't go - You're missing one hell of a good party! - but you can order your copy of the Calendar Here.

Thank you!

New Videos Worth Getting Choked Up About:

1. Wallace the Purina Flying Disc Champ and Roo, singing the National Anthem (Check out Wallace's other videos while you're at YouTube)

2. And, this News Report from East Lyme, Conn, of a pit bull that sat by his injured owner's side after a bad car wreck. *Sniff*

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Motor City Mojo

Detroit. Scrappy, messy, unrelenting, unapologetic. I love it as much as I hate it: It's where I was born and raised until my early twenties and a big part of my heart is still there. We just returned from a visit as part of a trip to the MPAW Conference in Lansing - a gathering of bright animal welfare minds hosted by the Michigan Humane Society (think: Animal Cops).

MHS wants to re-visit their policies that now ban pit bull adoptions. Right now, their pit bulls don't leave their Detroit shelter alive and the shortest coats you'll see in their surburban shelters belong to beagles. We were greeted with smiles after our morning presentation on lessons learned in BAD RAP. Many of those smiles were wearing suits; a good sign. We told the audience that Oakland is a lot like Detroit. Same gritty spirit...maybe a little less messy. If Oakland can make things better for pit bulls that need help, so can greater Detroit. After all, adoptable dogs are counting on us.

Later, we left the sweetness of the MSU conference grounds to take a peek at two of their three shelters. The newer facility in Westland was impressive, although a very lonely place for a pit bull nerd...None to be found in their cheerful kennels. We couldn't wait to hop in the car and take off to our old stomping grounds in da ghetto of their downtown facility. This shelter looks like a building from modern day Baghdad. But the people inside are warm and ... real. I always think of Detroiters as the ultimate urban pioneers. We got the hec out of that city years ago, but the people that stay somehow make it work.

You'd imagine that the dogs from Detroit would reflect their surroundings - beaten down and edgy. But just the opposite: We were greeted again and again by beautiful tail-wagging bullies, pressing into their kennel bars, smiling and ever-hopeful. Amazing. It was too hard to walk away knowing all were lost, so we asked if we could take home a lovely chocolate brown female. A tiny gesture in the middle of an enormous problem. They said yes!

It turns out the chocolate girl was a staff favorite. (I love that they even have staff favorites, since opening your heart means you're going to be disappointed in the end.) We just got word today that she passed her health check, so is ready to fly. Stay tuned for news and photos as our Detroit Lady gets her muscley butt on a plane and heads to Oakland to start her new life. We can't wait.

In case any of the Detroiters we met are reading: Thank you for not giving up. We so admire your cautious optimism for better days. You're a lot like your dogs -- and I mean that in the very best way.

Thank you to Dina for sponsoring our Detroit Girl in Gary's name. You've got some heart, girl.