January, 2008. The Associated Press was the first news media org to introduce the recently rescued Vick dogs to the world, displaying 20 photos of the dogs being trained, cradled and enjoyed. The AP article ran in over 200 publications around the world (we stopped counting after 200). Other news agencies faithfully filed their own stories including the Los Angeles Times, NPR, Fox News, SFgate, and numerous local papers and 'zines. CNN devoted nine minutes to the story with this interview with Tim, who explained that foster care status dogs did not need to be "rehabilitated."
February 2008. The Humane Society Missouri, following the federal government's lead, made the decision to evaluate their own 22 fight bust dogs - A first. One third of the dogs found new lives in pet homes. May 2008. One of the Missouri bust dogs made her video debut at the HSUS Expo, as part of BR's presentation on identifying breed ambassadors. Other law enforcement agencies join in aiding their own bust victims, including Los Angeles and South Holland, IL
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.” - Anne Lamott
Photo Above: Oklahoma dog about to released from his chain.
BSL WINS in 2008. The wins are ever sweet, despite the constant work of battling BSL threats. Thank you Marcy Setter for faithfully recording each and every win and loss, and to everyone who busted your balls in this fight. A biggie: In June 2008, the Netherlands announced a total removal of their 15 year breed ban.
July 2008. Photos of the Vick dogs captured by Pulitzer prize winning photographer Carol Guzy appeared in the the Washington Post with a nearly full front page photo of Our Pack's Leo, a therapy dog.
September 2008. Inspired by the groundbreaking victim advocacy work of Special Master Guardian Rebecca Huss, the American Bar Association promoted the lessons learned from the Vick case as a legal precedent. In October 2008 the precedent is promoted in Lewis and Clark Law School's annual conference. The ASPCA included 'happy endings' photos of the dogs in their training manual Investigating Animal Abuse for Law Enforcement and the USDA Office of Inspector General has plans to highlight the same Vick dog successes in a federal law enforcement conference in April 2009.
STUBBORN ACTIVISM: CA group Roverlution organized the Second Annual Pit Bull Awareness Day in October, shining positive media attention to pit bulls through 78 organized events in 33 states...Monthly Pit Bulls Pounding the Pavement parades took hold in central Florida. A Rotta Love in MN perfected the art of educating kids about dog safety. ...BR partnered with several agencies in Vallejo to bring resources, including training and owner support to over a hundred grateful pit bull owners. The City of Vallejo awarded BR for the "Celebrate Your Pit Bull" event in a presentation at a city council meeting. BR's Pit Ed Classes tripled in size, and over 25 pit bulls earedn their Canine Good Citizen certification and therapy dog titles.... Wallace the Disk Champ got a new housemate when Roo & Clara Yori gave a home to Vick dog Hector, creating exciting new opportunities for pit bull PR in 2009.
MEDIA DARLINGS: The Vick dog successes appeared all over the airwaves including specials on Nat'l Geo Special "Dogtown" with Best Friends, on the Animal Planet Witness show with BR dogs, on the Rachael Ray Show and the Ellen Degeneres Show. They're highlighted in People Magazine, Bark Magazine and at the end of the year, the much celebrated cover story in Sports Illustrated.
Photo Right: Teddles on his Adoption Day.
PROGRESSIVE SHELTERS around the country began new or strengthened existing Breed Ambassador Adoption Programs in 2008, including the Humane Society for Inland Mendocino County, Hillsborough County AS Tampa, Anti-Cruelty Society Chicago, MN Tri-County Humane, Corning Animal Shelter, Oakland Animal Services, and many many more. The ASPCA celebrates pit bull adoption matches with the Adopt-A-Bull Contest. In December 2008, still enjoying a reduced shelter population after eight years of hard work, Berkeley Animal Care Services offered to fill two of its empty kennels with dogs from an abuse case in Kay County, Oklahoma. The case represents the first time multiple agencies came together to rescue abused pit bulls from a large scale bust in Oklahoma.
I'm sure readers have more to add to this list of Good News. Please, bring it on. We still have so much work to do together, but for today, we're wishing Happy Tipping Points to everyone who cares enough to insist on better days for all creatures, including and especially the pit bulls!