Thursday, August 21, 2008

Animal Planet 'Witness' Show Review

We have an early copy of Animal Planet's Animal Witness - Michael Vick Show in our hot little hands. Altho there are some concerns, we think this is an important show. Producers chronicle the case, from random drug arrest of Vick's cousin in 4/07 to the search of his home where dozens of pit bulls and fight evidence surprised investigators - to denial, confessions, apology, sentencing and finally, the current status of the dogs. A variety of interviews help outline the story, with the bulk of the focus staying on Vick and his downfall.

First, the Good: Viewers will "meet" a number of the foster-care status dogs in BR's Pit Ed class as well as Leo, looking great during his therapy work. We would've liked less Vick-footage and more focus on the dogs' trials and recovery, but the messaging is pretty darn clean and they come across well - just regular pit bulls stuck in a nightmare situation. Guardian Master Rebecca Huss is right on the money with her quotes and observations, and we weren't at all unhappy with our interviews, either. That doesn't happen too often, so, we'll take it. We were really happy to see Rose (right) included. Her story still needs to be fully told.

The Bad: It was odd to see PETA and HSUS reps interviewed for this piece. Outside of voicing (and, still maintaining) condemnation for the victims alongside their much-criticized fundraising campaigns, Animal Planet didn't seem to realize that these orgs were not players in the Vick case. Oh wait, we can't forget about the efforts to rehabilitate the fighting machine himself. (Not included in the Animal Planet taping - thank dog.) ASPCA forensic vet Melinda Merck was included however, and gives a short but interesting interview on her role in the case and collection of evidence. They kept details to a minimum (because the state trial is still pending?), but it was still fascinating to hear how science was used to help animal victims.

And the Ugly: Animal Planet was good enough to go back in and fix an error on the number of dogs sent to sanctuary for overt dog aggression (10, not 22). Thank you, production crew. But the show is peppered with way too much stock dog fight footage. Why do viewers need to see so much abuse, a la snuff film? A voice over tells: "Most dog fighters are amateurs and know little about conditioning or caring for their dogs. Many are inner city gang members where street fighting is common." Okay. The narrator then goes on to explain - in full detail - how to stage a dog fight. In case any wanna-be thugs are watching, they'll find the Cajun rules of dog fighting outlined here along with a perk for internet sites that sell fight supplies. That is SO not good.

Despite that bigger disappointment, we're endorsing this show because it offers a general message of compassion for the dogs. We're grateful to the film crew that we worked with. By the time they wrapped up (11pm -- a twelve hour day of filming. ugh), I'm sure they were more than ready to take a break from Vick-talk.
Animal Planet Witness Show Schedule Here
The SF-area film crew shown below, at lunch with Zippy's foster family. And chasing Jennifer with Hector around at Pit Ed class: Video

49 comments:

Caveat said...

Somebody told me the HSUS owns a major interest in AP. I don't know if it's true, haven't looked into it.

Generally though, the channel featues a lot of hype and AR-type stuff, so what you've described doesn't surprise me.

Donna said...

I don't think so, caveat. I'm guessing that AP was unable to get interviews with the federal authorities (they've turned down everything), which always opens the door to people who aren't involved, but able to provide some story line.

You will like this show, btw.

Donna said...

I don't think so, caveat. I'm guessing that AP was unable to get interviews with the federal authorities (they've turned down everything), which always opens the door to people who aren't involved, but able to provide some story line.

You will like this show, btw.

Caveat said...

I don't subscribe to AP as I find a lot of it is too sensationalized for my taste.

I would have to not watch the dog-fighting scenes because I never desensitized myself to violence, unlike most people these days and animal cruelty is too upsetting.

I loved the article in LA Times, btw, failed to highlight it but should do that today.

I knew there was something I liked about you guys - I'm an artistic type myself. We kind of put the stereotype about 'artists' to bed, don't we? Not exactly dreamy types.

I'll be in CA in the early fall, if the show is on at my dad's, I'll tune in - and be ready to cover my eyes and hum if necessary :>)

EmilyS said...

What is with the sick fascination of the AR types with the specific details of dogfighting? And these are the same types who promote "owning books about dogfighting is evidence you're a dogfighter". Gack...

Will we see yet another increase in dogfighting as occurred after that infamous Sports Illustrated cover coinciding with the birth of the HSUS campaign against dogfighting? You know most longtime pit bull people believe that dogfighting was an obscure, fading activity until SI/HSUS hyped it up.

Donna said...

if you're near the bay area in the fall, caveat, let us know. we can go out and stare at art together. luxuries!

Caveat said...

I can go to San Fran or LA, SLO is about halfway between either place. The drive from SFO is easier, if not as scenic.

Be careful - I might take you up on that!

You probably won't remember, Donna, but when I sent in my written submission opposing the Ontario ban in January 2005, you let me use a picture of Pearl and also looked over my stuff, which I appreciated.

Robert said...

Here you go again, bashing HSUS. HSUS had a confidential informant they provided to a Richmond FBI agent, and that informant provided essential information that boxed Peace and Phillips in. When those two pled guilty, Vick was sunk. HSUS also kept the media focused on the crime at hand, rather than letting the Atlanta NAACP turn the case into a major race issue.

Instead of bashing other groups, why don't you guys focus on dog rescue? Shooting at other groups that are kicking dogfighter butt only serves to help those that abuse our beloved breed of dog the most.

Donna said...

Robert - Was this before or after the feds booted them for endangering the case with their fundraising campaign? I'm very aware of one important informant and sure wish we could give them public credit, but they know who they are (and this person did not come from an HSUS tip, btw). If this informant is reading (doubtful) we owe you huge thanks for caring.

I respect the feds for staying quiet on this case, although their public acknowledgment and award to the ASPCA players clearly demonstrates who they believe helped move the case to the finish line.

A far as focusing on dog rescue, it gets real tricky when the people who are supposed to be the good guys are calling for the slaughter of the victims.

Thanks for reading our blog by the way.

Anonymous said...

I fail to see what the HSUS did in the vick case other than raise money on the suffering of dogs they never saw and still advocate killing. They certainly did not remove the race component from a case that remains very racially charged and divisive.

The act of rescuing pit bulls is a racial and political statement. As a white woman who owns two rescued pit bulls with my partner, who is a black man, I can attest to the vastly different reactions to my walking our two CGC certified dogs compared to the reactions of the same neighbors to my boyfriend walkng the same well behaved pit bulls. Racism is alive and well and condoned by society in breedism, BSL, and the HSUS and Peta's continued desire to kill my dogs.
Letti

EmilyS said...

excuse me Robert: HSUS (along with PETA) publicly called for the DOGS TO BE KILLED. So in what way (even if your story about the informant is true) does HSUS deserve ANY credit?

If Vick had had his way, some of the dogs would be dead (though some appear to have been some kind of pets).
If HSUS had had its way ALL of the dogs would be dead.

Despite HSUS, and thanks to ASPCA, BR, Best Friends and the smaller groups who don't get enough recognition, ALL OF THE DOGS (except 2) are ALIVE and many have found, or will find, permanent homes.

HSUS are a bunch of despicable hypocrital moneygrubbing moral cretins whose only interest in dogfighting is riding the victims to personal glory and organizational riches

And you can quote me

EmiliyS

Spiderama said...

The word "Prejudice" in the Webster Dictionary is defined as: 1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or learning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.

Because of preconceived opinion's, like that of the HSUS & PETA, it became the norm for fight-bust dogs to be PTS once a trial was over. If not for a few key players pushing for the V-dogs to be given a chance for evaluation, stable dogs like "Johnny Justice, Hector & UBA would have met certain death.

I say, its time for large organizations like HSUS & PETA to start taking responsibility for the messaging that gets put out there. People are starting to see that your "preconceived opinions" are that of ignorance. If you never have taken the time to get to know a fight-bust dog or ever had one as a pet, you really don't have the sufficient knowledge to say you're an "expert" on them". And therefore, should not be speaking as such. The Vick Dogs are just like many other fightbust dogs who, if given half a chance, will continue to prove the skeptic's wrong.

~Bullymomma~

bystander said...

Nicely put, Bullymomma. What gives these organizations license to be experts on fight bust dogs when they've never put their hands on them, except to pose for fundraising photos with the poor dogs before sending them off to their deaths? It's perversely criminal. These organizations have been doing as much damage to the breed's reputation as the dog fighters.

ERV said...

Quote:
John Goodwin, a dogfighting expert with the Humane Society and a proponent of euthanizing fight dogs, is skeptical of the emerging reports of the Vick dog recoveries. Fighting is in their blood, he said. Retrievers retrieve. Shepherds herd. And fighting pit bulls fight. "The behavior is bred into them," he said. "These groups are not rehabilitating these dogs. They're training them to behave in a more socialized manner. But these pit bulls should never be left alone with other dogs, because you never know when that instinct to fight another dog is going to surface."

Yeah, HSUS is a great group *rollseyes*

Google 'John Goodwin Animal Liberation Front'.

Jon Low said...

I'm wasn't aware that the HSUS and PETA took this position. Where can I find more about what exactly they had to say?
The August issue of Bark magazine has a lengthy article about the surviving Vick dogs. There wasn't any mention of what the HSUS and PETA had to say.

Donna said...

Jon, Wayne Pacelle outlined his opinion of the Vick dogs in several places. Here are a few:

NPR:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=13890476

And here.
http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/sports/falcons/stories/2007/08/01/0801_vickdogs.html

""Officials from our organization have examined some of these dogs and, generally speaking, they are some of the most aggressively trained pit bulls in the country," Wayne Pacelle, the president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "Hundreds of thousands of less-violent pit bulls, who are better candidates to be rehabilitated, are being put down. The fate of these dogs will be up to the government, but we have recommended to them, and believe, they will be eventually put down."

Erv, I believe that people like John Goodwin are too easily influenced by what dog fighters say about the dogs. Of course dog fighters and fighter wanna-bes are heavily invested in promoting their dogs as intensely dog aggressive. Who wants to be known for having curs?

Can some pit bulls be dog aggressive? Absolutely. But this behavior is common many dogs, including and especially the working dogs. Unfortunately dog aggression in pit bulls has reached MYTHIC proportions and even pit bull supporters themselves have bought into the myth. I did, years ago because it was all I'd heard. Experience brought different lessons, and the Vick dogs brought us all back down to earth. 25% of the dogs were indeed dog aggressive, while the other 75% were so manageable that all or most are living successfully with other dogs. Some are even downright dog social. This isn't just specific to Vick's dogs. Some of the Patrick dogs that were able to be saved (he won the Dogman of Year award) are living very nicely with other dogs. The Humane Society of Missouri found the same thing with the dogs they took in from a large bust.

In our experience, dogs from fight bust yards are no different from the dogs we find in the shelters. There is a WIDE RANGE of tolerance levels. Sussing out the dogs that can live successfully with other animals involves evaluating them as individuals and then pairing them with homes that understand basic terrier-style traits. It's not about taming lions - it's about having common sense along a willingness to say 'No' to dogs that absolutely can't* succeed with other dogs. (and even those more dog aggressive dogs can be beautifully managed, but unfortunately those kinds of homes are much harder to find.)

Jon Low said...

Donna,
Thanks for the links. Wow, it's disappointing to hear them make statements like that before the dogs were even assessed as individuals. The guy makes you think that rehabilitation would be next to impossible. I wonder if they snub their noses at an organization like BADRAP? Or why not let someone like The Dog Whisperer give it a try?
Bullymomma's post was right on the money!

ERV said...

I think you misunderstand me-- I was in no way, shape, or form supporting John Goodwin. Goodwin is the 'dog fighting expert' for HSUS and he is a friggen Animal Liberation Front psycho. I really hope he wasnt interviewed by Animal Planet for this special...

I found my pup Arnie on the street a couple years ago (then, now) I have no love for HSUS or PETA.

ERV said...

You guys looked great! I wish BAD RAP and the rescued pups were featured more than the 'underground video footage'... but you all did great :)

Caveat said...

Somebody on our show dogs list said the State of Virginia was unaware of any HSUS involvement in the Vick case, despite what HSUS was saying at the time. She called to find out.

The HSUS was fundraising for the V dogs' care - that changed quickly when too many people knew they weren't involved and they changed their website. One intrepid blogger saved the screen shot. It wasn't me, btw.

Then, they called repeatedly (and predictably), along with the harpies at Peta for the death of the dogs, as they always have in the past.

Goodwin is a convicted felon, whatever, it happens but he holds an Exec position at the HSUS.

Now, they are bombarding the public with dogfighting films - gee, I wonder why?

1. For fundraising from the gullible, which is Job One. It's even more lucrative than puppy mills.
2. To find another reason to kill Everydog, the mythical 'pit bull' because it dovetails with their plans to limit and eventually eliminate pet ownership.
3. To set the stage for their next big media operation - portraying any dog owner who has multiple dogs and friends who visit with their dogs into a 'dogfighter'. Turn in your neighbours, folks and win 5 grand. By the time the dust settles, the dogs will be dead and nobody will know the owners were actually innocent.

They are no longer a Humane society, it's been years. They are a radical animal rights organization.

I'll miss the show unfortunately, but hope to catch it in a rerun.

Jon Low said...

Wow, the show was shocking, sad, and uplifting. It was great to see those Vick dogs doing so well.

I know there are those who will disagree with what I'm about to say but I feel it needs to be said. I'm rooting for Michael Vick. I feel the man should be given a chance to redeem himself like he said he would at that press conference. I want to believe that he really is sorry. I want to believe he really has seen the error of his ways. I hope that he leads a successful career when he is released from prison.

The dogs given to BAD RAP are the perfect analogy. These were animals that would have been put to death if it weren't for BAD RAP stepping in and saying, "Wait a minute. These dogs shouldn't summarily judged as being beyond help. Just give them a chance." (or words to that effect).

I'm sure that there are many who feel that Vick he is a horrible person that did horrible things and should be thoroughly punished and should not be allowed to play football ever again. And while that sentiment is understandable I believe it would be unfair to have given those dogs a chance at redemption but not extend that same chance at redemption to Vick as well.

Malcolm X is one of my heroes. He was a drug user, a drug dealer, a pimp, and a thief before he went to prison, turned his life around and became one of the greatest heroes of the civil rights movement. People CAN redeem themselves, but only if they're given the opportunity.

Here's my crazy wish for Michael Vick. My wish is that he really has seen the error of his ways, that decides to champion the fight against animal cruelty when he is released from prison, regains his superstardom in the NFL, and uses his fame to raise awareness for the cause.

I know it's nuts of me to hope for such a thing, but wouldn't it be great if it happened? I think it's worth giving it a chance.

Caveat said...

My wish for Vick is that he contributes some serious coin to all the constitutional cases going on across North America, because he reinforced the myth that people who own bull and terrier types are all low-life animal abusers.

Other than that, he never crosses my mind.

MichelleD said...

He'll only do it to get his big paychecks back. He's only sorry he got caught...you don't commit that kind of violence and turn into Mr. Rogers. There is a difference between commiting a crime and committing the kinds of sick, heinous acts of violence like Vick did.

I was disgusted by the show and worry it will be used by our opponents do more harm than good. As wonderful a job as BR did, as well as the reporter and cop they interviewed, the rest was so disgusting I can't get over it or get it out of my head. This will definately be used by PETA for support of their "kill them so they won't be abused" campaign.

I hope I'm worrying for nothing and people will take the good from Tim/Donna's (I don't think you could have done a better job - your part was excellent) piece and override the rest. But undoubtedly, it also created a new (hopefully small) crop of dog fighters....

Donna said...

Fight footage film clips were used 30 times, +5 stills.

I implored the producers to gut the violence but you have to remember the popularity of shows like 'The Battle of Kruger" (now counting over 36 million hits on youtube) gives animal channels the idea that this is what people want. Ugh.

Even so, we we were avalanched with happy mail this morning from folks everywhere who were moved by the show and grateful for the efforts. One woman wrote to tell us that the show changed her mind about pit bulls in a good way (wow - really? huh). So, it is what it is.

Yes, more kids will fight their dogs because of this, and more hopefully people will understand their plight. It's a weird world we live in.

Thanks for the kind words Michelle. We're still amazed that we got the opportunity to speak for the dogs. It's a huge responsibility and a privilege.

Donna said...

Oh - and don't forget to tell Animal Planet what you thought of the show.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry but the way everyone is talking you would think that BAD RAP offers a $5000 reward for information on dog fighting, grants money to shelters housing fighting dogs, employs a person that specifically assist law enforcement on dog fighting investigations and must we never forget HURRICANE KATRINA and the 7000+ pit bulls.
Bad Rap has no earthly idea what it is like to house and care for TRUE game dogs until a case goes to court. Bad Rap has NEVER participated in an investigation into dog fighting nor have they testified or assisted in the prosecution of a dog fighting case. The HSUS is the organization that is putting an end to dog fighting. Check out the raids in the last year, AL White, Irish Jerry, Pat Patrick, TL Williams, and so many others. Bad Rap is financially supported by East Bay SPCA and is the wealthiest pit bull specific organization in this nation. Let's not mention the million dollar Vick case that they were so willing to get involved. They don't do anything until they KNOW it will bring in a lot of money and press. Please look into the full story before taking the words of the Bad Rap blog as the gospel.
I urge you all to visit the site below.
http://www.hsus.org/acf/fighting/dogfight/programs/hsus_end_dogfighting.html

EmilyS said...

ugh; I'm not sure how you could bear to actually count the fight footage.

You should also do a minute count of how much time pit bull killers PETA and HSUS got, and compare to the amount of time BR/ASPCA/Ourpack got (you know: the people who actually did save the dogs!... though it was sad that the other groups didn't get named at all). Or how much time the fighting footage lasted compared to how much time the victims got.

all in all a very disappointing show, and lost opportunity. But of course if it turns some minds around, it may have some positive impact.

Anonymous said...

Will do.

I was disappointed the forensics and evidence was glossed over, in favor of dog fight videos. I thought this was going to a "legal" show and expected to see more of Huss and her team, rather than PETA.

Anonymous said...

Frankly I was thrilled that the show ended with Donna and her challenge to the constant negative media attention this breed receives. People involved with Pit Bull rescue may take for granted that they are wonderful dogs, easy to train, eager to please...but the "World" does not know that. Everyone knows they are fought so that is all old news....finally people are finding out how terrific they can really be becuase of this show. This was HUGE.

Thank You Bad Rap and Animal Planet!

Anonymous said...

Donna and Tim,

The two of you were great on the show, showing your compassionate and loving spirits once again. The fight footage bothered me, a lot, but as my husband said, that was what it was supposed to do. I do feel it was a bit to much info on behalf of the fighter's side. I hope the Sept. 5, NatlGeo show Dogtown is more about the dogs themseleves. As for Vick, he is only sorry because he got caught. Putting a suit on and pretending to feel bad doesn't make you any less of a monster. You can't polish a turd, and given the chance, I believe he would do it again. Not because of his race, but because of his lack of common sense and compassion. Now, the question is, when can I get my dog into class to help her with her dog aggression?

Donna said...

> Please look into the full story before taking the words of the Bad Rap blog as the gospel.

Interesting. This one has too many myths that need bustin.'

1. A good number of Hurricane Katrina pit bulls are dead, anon. Housed, shipped, destroyed in shelters as soon as October 2005. (Did you really think those thousands of pit bulls were going to be able to home with their impoverished, displaced families or re-homed thru the shelter system?) Although I'd be happy to send you our Katrina Survivor calendar if you want to see some of our storm bulls that made it out alive.
2. Remember, Pima AC invited us to come out to help some of their 150 bust victims that were set to die.
3. That's amusing, but No, BR is not supported by the East Bay SPCA. (Which is a tiny little shelter in Oakland, btw.) We work out of the very poor but very progressive Oakland Animal Services - a city shelter, which is run by the Oakland Police Department and routinely involved in fight busts, and in housing fighting dogs.. We aren't paid to be there, btw. Everything we do there is out of pocket and supported through the donations of kind people who want better days for Oakland's pit bulls.
3. BR signed an agreement with the feds stating that we would agree to help the dogs on our dime if necessary. We gladly agreed. One interesting story: During the cross-country trip to bring the dogs home, we were so broke that we had to borrow money from volunteers to complete the rescue. And being under a gag order meant that couldn't (and still can't) fundraise for the dogs. Meanwhile, other orgs were raking in untold amounts of money; we imagine much more than the 5K per dog we were granted for the care & training of each. And all on the backs of dogs that they wanted dead.
4. Press. Well, we turned down Inside Edition if that matters. LOL. Yes - any news org that wants to show these lovely dogs to America is welcome to talk to us about creating story. Let's hope the next one shows less fight and more healing.

Don't mistake our message. There are some very good people in the HSUS who support our mission and who are doing wonderful work to change attitudes about pit bulls. And stopping dog fighters is a worthy goal. But the helpers are overshadowed by those who continue to decree that any confiscated dog should be destroyed. This notion hurts the breed, it's based on tired, out-dated stereotypes and the messaging has got to change. If a stable bust dog like Hector can't be helped, it's due to human-created shortcomings (not nearly enough rescue resources, too many stereotypes that frighten homes away, etc) We need to stop blaming the dogs for the situations they find themselves in.

___

By the way, I can't publish posts that include a death wish for Vick or anybody else for that matter. Sorry. I understand where your sentiment is coming from, but we gotta rise above.

lynn said...

I just finished watching my recording of Animal Witness. (I knew not to watch it last night if I was going to be able to go to sleep.)
Just wanted to say what a great job you two did. I worked with y'all in LA after Katrina and am so proud to say I know ya (even though you surely don't remember me in the crowd). Anyway, good luck with your "exposure" which I bet is celebrated by you only in that it will help you do yet more work for pit bulls.

Jon Low said...

Donna,

I sure hope you don't feel like you have to answer every negative post. Thank you for standing up for these dogs. Don't let the naysayers stop you.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for all you have done to show the world that ALL dogs should be evaluated individually. I have followed your group for years and have the highest respect for you. I watched the show last night with two former fighting dog (females!) snoozing on my bed. These two females are just two of the lucky ones that got into rescue before they were picked up by animal control and destroyed. Let each dog stands on its own - now and forever, scars or no scars. BAP RAP = rocks!

Jonny Justice said...

It looks like Mr.H$U$ Defender would benefit from a visit with a pitbull therapy dog. Maybe Leo would be available to help him ?

Becky said...

Hi Donna,

I just thought you'd like to see this comment that was posted on the animal planet forum after the show aired.

"I TOTALLY agree with you regarding PETA. As a vegan, humane educator, foster parent (animals), and activist you'd think I'd be a card carrying member, but I'd NEVER join that organization. I think I'd join the NRA first."

I didn't say it, but the part aboutjoining NRA first really cracked me up.

You and Tim were fantastic, ASPCA was great, Rebecca Huss and of course the special investigator Brinkman. Do you know if he found another job, hopefully with the feds? It sucked that he lost his job but I had some faith restored in police because of him.

I could have definitely done without the 16 tips on dogfighting and all the gory footage, but if it keeps opening doors for the victims in the future, then it as worth it.

Anonymous said...

Will the show or even just the BadRap part ever be available online?
The one message I get from BadRap and I think it`s the MOST important message of all..
These dogs are individuals and need to be assessed as individuals.
So simple,so true.
Why is that so difficult for most people to understand?
They`re JUST dogs.
Why must humans always have something or someone to hate?
Anyone criticizing BadRap for what they`re doing should give themselves a shake.
If I had a million dollars to give away....they`d be the people that would get it!

Pam said...

I definitely felt like I was watching a snuff-film-- and it made me very uncomfortable thinking about all the people watching it who would be intrigued (and hence interested in becoming involved in it). And then to point out that everything can be learned (and procured) on the internet was downright irresponsible! The rescue aspect of the story seemed almost like a sidebar. In my mind, Carol Guzy's photo-essay is much more compelling. But of course, we are dealing with television, where the bottom line is always money, and gore sells advertising. I will definitely write to Animal Planet.

Just a comment on a posting above by a white woman who gets a different reaction from strangers than her partner, a black man does when she walks down the street with her pitties-- I KNEW there was something about race and rescuing pit bulls. What I sense when walking in my 'hood with my pitties is angry indignance: "who does she think she is to interfere with a part of our culture?" I don't know if I've got it quite right-- but there is SOMEthing there.

Anonymous said...

There are 2 interesting videos on Perceptions-Race and Breed by Dawn Capp
Part 1
http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=bJbZcCppFjY
and
Part 2
http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=b0a4ALDcza8&feature=related

Elena said...

I taped AW Sunday night and watched it yesterday. Twice. I, too, now have a different outlook about pit bulls as the show educated me greatly. When I saw those dogs released from their 5 month confinement, expecting them to be vicious, only to see them allowing handles to carry them from their cage, bouncing around, wagging their tails and, amazingly, not showing aggression towards other dogs they passed in cages, simply astounded me.

What your organization has done touched my heart. You gave these dogs a 'third' chance at life. What I find so ironic is that these dogs are now out of cages and living the life of peace and tranquility with loving families while MV is himself in a cage and having to file bankruptcy. What a reversal of fortune!

Donna said...

Beautiful feedback, Elena. Thank you so much for sharing.

Thoughts said...

How annoying that PETA was interviewed for this documentary when they are the ones who want the dogs killed. Also, isn't it true that they are the only AR group that tried to profit from the Vick dog case by campaigning for a membership drive during that time, pretending that they needed to raise money to help dogs like that but then turning around and saying they should be killed.

PETA drives me nuts. Sorry.

Jon Low said...

Donna,
I'm a little bewildered that the tone of the comments here that have become an us versus them mentality when it comes the the subject of the HSUS and PETA. I'm in absolute agreement with you that Wayne Pacelle's comment was horribly irresponsible. I'm wondering if he's had a chance to make a retraction after seeing BR's successes? I'm also wondering if his statement represented he own personal feelings or if it was the official position of the HSUS. I took a quick visit to the HSUS website. It seems that BR and the HSUS are both on the same page when it comes to pit bulls and dog fighting, in general. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything specifically addressing the issue of the Vick dogs.
A quick visit to the PETA website yielded similar results.
That being the case I'm not sure that it's fair to villify the HSUS and PETA as a whole.
Was there something there that I missed? How does BR, as an organization, feel about the HSUS and PETA?

Anonymous said...

Jon Low,

Your email was not addressed to me so I am probably being presumptuous in responding, and I am responding on my own behalf and not on behalf of BADRAP, but try an Internet search about the former Vick dogs and PETA's and HSUS's views on them. You'll find plenty of articles and websites quoting and/or discussing those views. Of course PETA and HSUS are not going to emphasize those views on their own websites, especially since they used the Vick situation as a fundraising opportunity, while calling for the dogs to be killed summarily. As a volunteer at an urban open-door shelter, which houses, at any particular time, at least 50% bully breed dogs, I find their views to be offensive and hypocritical. Although I previously supported both organizations, I now do see it as "us vs. them" given that they want all of my bully friends to be killed.

Elena said...

Can any specific background be given on 'Rose' - one of the dogs that was put down? I'm asking because on the Animal Witness thread on Television Without Pity, someone posted about a dog named 'Georgia' who had all her teeth pulled so that was she was continuously tied to the 'rape stand' she could't bite the male dogs. Because 'Rose's' teats were practically dragging on the ground, I'm wondering if it's because she was bred so many times without rest and possibly developed the painful medical condition which became her undoing.

Thanks!

Donna said...

Hi Elena

Rose's story deserves to be told at length when we have a little more time to tell it well. But in short - as you guessed - repeat breedings beat her up and she had an internal mass of sorts. More later.

By the way, we're very confident that Georgia did not have her teeth removed. She's a bit OCD about chewing on everything in sight and she wore those things down to near-nuthin' nubs. It's clear that she would've happily grabbed onto any male dogs that mounted her, so they probably used a stand to breed her. Maybe with a muzzle since Georgia/Jane still has one HELL of a grip even with her gummy gums!

Donna said...

Jon - Peta's called for the extinction of pit bulls and in the meantime, don't believe they should be adopted out of shelters. Because they represent a threat to the dogs with their hardline intolerance, we consider them a very real liability to the breed and to our four-legged family members. They haven't shown any softening in their views, so we've all but written them off as heartless kooks. Sad but true.

The HSUS has much healthier views on pit bulls and pit bull adoptions --- as long as the dogs aren't confiscated from any kind of raid. They've stated that they're not willing to change their official view even in light of the Vick dog success, which is very disappointing. Of course individual HSUS employees may feel differently, but their official statement has to come from the top. This means that they will continue to advocate for death-without-evaluation anytime their staff is involved in a raid. Shelters don't have to follow their advice (many aren't) but the overall messaging is hurting more than the individual dogs - the public reads their viewpoint as a reflection on the breed itself. It's not pretty.

Tracy said...

I just wanted to say that I thought Bad Rap did a great job on Animal Witness. I did think the show itself was great and although it did show alot of fight scenes, I doubt that people who would fight dogs are watching Animal Planet. Needless to say, I don't believe that it's going to increase dog fighting. Also, I did think it strange to see the PETA rep there as I once emailed PETA on their stance on pitbulls and they replied that they did agree that pitbulls should be euthanized. So Animal Planet screwed up on that one. But I think that we are looking at it from experienced eyes (I too own a pitbull) and not from the ignorant eyes of someone who only gets their info from the media. For them, I think the show was a good learning experience...

Trisha said...

Overall the Animal Planet program Animal Witness was was well done though I agree the Pitbull fight footage was a bit much. Any thing that give the Pitties some chance for good press is a winner in my books. I volunteer with Almost Home Foundation a small non kill organization and they get and place many Pits. My hats off to Bad Rap and all who help the public understand these great dogs. A rescued Pit owner my self. I was touched by yourphota of Rose I would like to know her story too.