Saturday, February 28, 2009

Twelve new CGC stars close out the month

A big day for bay area pit bulls: Twelve dogs earned their Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificates today thanks to the steady dedication of coach Linda Chwistek, AKC certified evaluator Jennie Keifer and some very dedicated dog families. We're starting to lose track of the overall number of Vick dogs that've earned their CGC, but you can go ahead and add Amazing Grace to that growing list (thank you Cris Cohen!).

These certificates don't come easy. Not only is Judge Jennie very tough on the handlers, most of the participating dogs first had to survive some crappy lives way before getting the chance to prove themselves today.

But it was Stella Polari's perfect score (above) that choked me up the most. Talk about a turn-around - She was born into the wrong house (drug house) in the wrong city (Detroit) with the wrong owner who failed her in every possible way. The only thing that worked in her favor was the dumb luck of our chance meeting, and then, scoring the friendships that set her on course. I wish we could fly to Detroit every month and grab us up another Stella or three....But maybe that's not necessary. We were doing somersaults when we learned that Stella's former shelter has quietly started adopting out pit bull "mixes" - a brave new policy for an org that used to shun their best blockheads. Michigan Humane Society Pit bull Adoptions! If you live in the area and have been considering a new pet, please support them when you do your search, and share the news of their dogs with other pet owners. If you're shopping, maybe you'll even run into one of Stella's kinfolk, now in need of a home. Congrats to Team Pibble diva Elizabeth Kennedy and your best girl, Stella. We heart you both.

Shy Guy Frodo braved the exam today and although he's still too skeered to pass all ten tests, we're so proud of him for showing up with a big smile on his face, ready to give it a go. His big sista Jhumpa has some words of support for the little guy. She just passed the exam herself on the east coast! Congrats to her ever-optimistic human, Kathleen, and rescue sponsors Richmond Animal League.

We'll be uploading all 12 bay area heroes to our CGC Hall of Fame page soon. Below, Judge Jennie tests a dog's response to being examined and groomed. (This was Elvez, who passed his exam last August.)

Vick off leash in May.

The AP tells us that Vick may be going home in May and he's looking for love from the NFL. We're not big on panicking over whether a team will pick him up - Instead, we're prepared to be painfully amused if someone does. After all, the plague of PeTA will descend on any takers and the spectacle will draw news crews like honeybees to the dogs once again. We recognized the other day that Frodo is not only getting more comfortable with cameras, but he's starting to vibrate in full tilt happy mode when they come around. Practice makes perfect, Frodo!

Bah. We really are over the Vick sagas. But this cartoon still hits home:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Needed: Wire Crates for Shots Fairs

Edit: We are set for crates now, thanks to wonderful donors!

This Sunday March 1, we'll be back out in Oakland neighborhoods offering resources to low-income pit bull owners at one of our quarterly Celebrate Your Pit Bull Shots Fairs.

We're a little short on wire crates, used to help clients keep rowdier dogs safe while they fill out forms and stand in line.

Do you have a medium or (especially) large wire crate that you're willing to donate? 

If you live in the SF bay area, we'd be happy to come pick it up. Or, we invite you to drop it by our Pit Ed Class this Saturday so our dogs can give you a proper slurp of thanks. Contact Frodo's mom Kim to arrange:

Thank you! Please check back next week for news & pix from the fair!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

HSUS announces interim policy; Meeting planned

Score one for sanity, guys.  Best Friends called this bigger news out today: HSUS calls for a summit to discuss dogs from fighting busts.

February 23, 2009 : 8:44 PM ET

The Humane Society of the United States on February 23 issued an interim policy recommending all dogs be evaluated as individuals, and is calling a meeting of leading animal welfare organizations concerning dogs victimized by dog fighting.

Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer and president of the Humane Society of the United States, suggested the meeting of major stakeholders in Las Vegas to work through the associated issues. This meeting is in response to concerns expressed by Best Friends Animal Society in December 2008 regarding HSUS policies related to animals confiscated in dog-fighting busts.

Pacelle said the meeting, scheduled for April, will include the participation of national stakeholder organizations that deal with pit bulls. The meeting was in the planning stages before Superior Court Judge Ed Wilson Jr. ruled that 145 pit bulls, including approximately 70 puppies, confiscated from Wildside Kennels in Wilkes County, North Carolina, would be euthanized without evaluation to determine suitability for placement.

The new interim policy announced by the HSUS, pending the outcome of the meeting, recommends that local law enforcement and animal control evaluate such dogs as individuals rather than as a category before any decision is made regarding their future.

“We expect government, corporations, and individuals to constantly re-evaluate how they deal with animal issues,” Pacelle said. “Likewise, we regularly review our own policies and procedures here at HSUS, and we think it is important to talk with professional colleagues in the movement to examine issues related to the disposition of fighting dogs.

“I am pleased to discuss these issues with personnel from Best Friends and other organizations interested in the welfare of pit bulls.”

Julie Castle, director of Community Programs and Services for Best Friends said, “There had been more than enough airing of feelings and outrage that the dogs were not evaluated prior to being summarily euthanized. It was time to hit the reset button on this in order to move things forward in a constructive way. Mr. Pacelle was open and receptive to what we had to say and we are looking forward to our meetings in April.”

Best Friends, through its campaign, “Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dogs,” is looking forward working cooperatively with HSUS, according to Castle.

The campaign is aimed in part at educating the public and the media about pit bulls in order to help save the breed’s reputation. “Our goal is to bring positive change to lives and image of pit bulls,” she said.

Written by Best Friends staff

Tim and myself will be participating in this April meeting. We look forward to representing the rescue community's views based on our ten years of experience with placing "fight bust dogs" into family homes and, believe me, we don't take this responsibility lightly. Bless every one of you for pushing this issue so hard right alongside the rest of us. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

a nip and a tuck - Lolo, Nelly news

Bionic Lolo is living in a fog of sedatives while her foster family works to keep the Wallaby girl still ... Not easy for a dog so full of life. We'll update as she's allowed to try out those new knees. We really appreciate everyone who's donated towards her fund. Bless you! That dog must've been born with lucky rabbit's feet.

Next is Nelly, who's getting herself healthy enough for surgery. We're waiting for her white blood cell count to improve just a bit more ... maybe one more week before we go. Our vet puzzled over best ways to create new nostrils and keep them from re-sealing like an unused piercing once they heal, but with a few well placed sutures tucked up high, she's optimistic that she'll be able to breathe again for the first time. Imagine - no more gasping, rasping, chortling like a little dragon. We have to wonder - Will she still be Nelly or will we sorta miss her 'special' noises? 

Below, Nelly and cohort TugTug make the most of their first untethered zoomie party in our house together, compliments of the rainy season. The best bits come from our wide-eyed, gray muzzled Lola, who just can't seem to believe her eyes: "Wha? The underlings get to run loose now? Oh crrraaaap. What's the world coming to?" Don't worry Lola. Your job's still safe.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bionic Blue

We didn't have time to mention Lolo this week with all the Wilkesboro news going around. This blue beauty just got two new knees! - a first for our organization. The double TPLO - Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy - was the most we've spent on a homeless dog, but it was just too hard to say 'No' and put this girl to sleep. Lolo is a "foreclosure orphan" who got bumped out onto the street right along with her owner and his worldly possessions. The older African American gentleman cried when they took her away to the shelter; a volunteer who happened on the scene watched him crumble under the realization that his home was gone and his dog was probably going to die. She was already limping when we met her - a really bad thing for a dog in a shelter full of homeless blue pit bulls. Ugh. But, lookit this dog....

Her second knee blew out not too long after. It was destined to; she was born with a limited warrantee on those shaky joints and it ran out while she was trying to keep herself entertained in her kennel. These are the times when I really kick myself for getting into this work. What the hec was I thinking? This is insane. The seed money from her Christmas donor and from Paco's friends was a great start, but not nearly enough to fix two wobbly, throbbing knees, and Lolo's pain was getting worse.

Turns out Jonny Justice's adopters have racked up quite a few good karma points (not surprising) and used some of it to help out the blue princess. Their vet heard their plea and offered to give Lolo some new knees at a greatly reduced price. Dr. Richard Schwach has a strong handshake and he loves talking about this particular surgery. You can tell it still fascinates him; a good sign. He worked on her for almost 3 hours on Tuesday as part of a fast-moving team of four. Three hours to open, assess, measure, saw bone at just the right angle, fasten a plate & screws, sew her up and repeat on the second knee. She walked out the clinic door that evening. Yes - she walked outta there!

For the next 6-8 weeks, her foster parents Jamel and Letti (more Vick dog karma) and helpers Peter and Danae will be trying to keep Lolo from moving too fast or doing zoomies and all those other things our breed loves to do to celebrate a good day. Not easy!

I have the idea that, even if her former owner never sees her again, the fact that she's still alive will somehow broadcast good fortune to him - wherever he is. We take on very few of these heroic type cases because we hate to tap out our donors and we have a relatively tight budget, but this one really cost us, so if you can afford to help us out with this one we would be forever grateful. Thank you. And monster thanks to Avenues Pet Hospital and Dr. Schwach for being one of the good guys.

To donate to BR's medical fund:
Or, send a check to BAD RAP- Lolo Fund
P.O. Box 320776
San Francisco, CA 94132-0776

Thank you!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Get up, Dust off, Stand tall

Somewhere in Minnesota, a kind woman decided to write a lovely letter about her meeting with Hector, and a dark gray cloud lifted right off a grumpy group in Oakland. Thank you Marcia - your timing was perfect.
And yes, loads of credit goes to the adopters of this impossibly awesome dog.

"I am a certified evaluator for Therapy Dogs International. I just wanted to share with you that I tested and certified Hector as a therapy dog this past Tuesday evening. Our tests are very stringent, both with obedience and temperament, but Hector enjoyed every minute of it and passed with flying colors.

I considered it an honor to meet him and be the evaluator to certify him. What an awesome creature with such a gentle, loving and happy soul. His family, Clara and Andrew Yori, are a perfect fit for him in his fur-ever home.

I rarely test a dog that passes with the excellence that Hector did. I consider that a reflection of what your group did for Hector to rehab* him and what his family has done for him with their continued training program. Hector has a bright future as a therapy dog and I know he will bring an enormous amount of comfort and joy to the people he will serve as a therapy dog. Pretty awesome for a dog that came from his background."

Marcia Fritzmeier
Therapy Dogs International
Certified Evaluator #144

* Pssst: We can't take any credit for 'rehabbing' Hector. He came to us almost whole. But we appreciate the kind compliment!

Photo Credit: Joshua Grenell

the aftermath of a massacre

Whoa. The internet is on fire today.

No one can capture what everyone's thinking, feeling, wanting to graffiti on every wall in sight quite like Luisa can in her Lassie Get Help blog. Worse than Vick

And don't miss YesBiscuit's entry today that outlines HSUS' reaction to those who are grieving the decision to destroy 145 Wilkesboro dogs without evaluation. Shame on us for caring about bust dogs rather than shelter dogs, btw. We need to leave the caring about bust victims up to the experts.

And who else saw this one coming? From HSUS statement:
"Those particular fighting dogs in Wilkes County, NC were very, very different than the Vick dogs.....Vick was not a good breeder, and he lost most of his fights. His dogs were a poor representation of true fighting dogs."
So clearly the Wilkesboro dogs were even LESS deserving of evaluation than the Vick dogs, who (we're told) did not deserve evaluations AT ALL. Yes, John Goodwin. Your actions and words are indeed doing irreparable damage to the soul of your organization, and to the good people who still work within it.

Thank you to everyone including Luisa for reminding us that without any fanfare, sissy-dog-fighting-wannabe-should-neva-have-been-evaluated-by -those-bleeding-heart-rescuers Hector officially became a therapy dog yesterday, reminding us once again that all this grief and head banging and stomachs turned in twisted knots is really (truly) worth it.

Good GOD! lookit that dog.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The 145(?) Wilkesboro dogs are gone, dead, deceased, destroyed, euthanized, killed, put to rest, murdered, at peace, slaughtered, put to sleep ... Choose your description.

A few days ago I made a special trip to the shelter as I was asked to help put down a couple of code 597 (cruelty case) American Bulldogs that had spent their lives on chains and concrete. They looked like they were ten years old, but in reality were more like three. Their ears and tails cut off, sores abound, and starving. They were used as guard dogs and had displayed such characteristics in the kennels, so weren’t really right for this world anymore, but I was able to get them out separately for play sessions to make their last minutes as happy as possible before their end.

We knew it was the right thing to do, but nonetheless, it sucks. It’s that funny feeling that just sticks with ya for awhile until you aren’t sure why you have that odd feeling. You wake up feeling strange, then memory serves ... you killed a couple of dogs yesterday. Not something I have gotten completely used to, don’t know if I ever will, and don’t know that I ever want to.

So with today’s awful news, my mind went right back to the euthanasia room. The Wilkesboro shelter workers must have gone into overtime with this enormous task. Seventy some beautiful adult dogs, and sixty some beautiful puppies (all deemed dangerous without evaluation due to their address, as they lived with a felony dogfighter). I can’t help but wonder how those people are doing who were basically forced to kill all these innocent dogs.

Who gets to do the awful deed; the dirty work? The low-wage shelter workers who have no say in the matter; usually the same people who have cared for these dogs, who've gotten to know the dogs and have seen for themselves how truly wonderful most of them are. How are they feeling right now? I think I know.

Updates: News Release

We aren't sure if the dogs have been destroyed yet, but have joined Best Friends and other rescue agencies in a News Alert to protest the court-order to destroy the victims of Wildside Kennels. Please keep those phone calls coming.

Monday, February 16, 2009

ALERT - Wilkes County dogs ordered destroyed

Two HSUS reps gave testimony today declaring the dogs from the Wilkes County fight bust dangerous. These dogs have not been evaluated, and no rescue voices were heard in this hearing. The dogs had NO advocates speaking on their behalf.

As a result, the judge has ordered all the dogs, including approximately 60 puppies, to be destroyed. It may be too late, but please phone the numbers in the post below and pray for a miracle.

News Update

Sunday, February 15, 2009

the high cost of being a victim

Here we go again. A scumbag breeder/dog fighter in Wilkes County, North Carolina is busted, convicted and, predictably, his dogs shoulder the blame. Bad, evil dogs to be born into this operation. Authorities - ignoring Best Friend's offer to organize evaluations and a rescue - are getting ready to blue juice, bag and fill their local landfill with 127 bodies, including several litters of puppies. Because surely the rescues of the Vick dogs, the Patrick dogs, the Missouri dogs and even the Oklahoma dogs were a fluke.
"Goodwin (dog fighting 'expert' HSUS) said that the dogs have been bred for fighting and it would very difficult and expensive to re-train the dogs, even the puppies, so that they could be adopted.
Expensive ... to save lives? Since when do we decide what rescues should spend on a dog? Sorry, TugTug. That nice dog bed you tore up is clearly a waste of funds. And the vet costs to clear up your infected ear? Unforgivable. (Current cost to rescue TugTug from the abuser who kept him chained: not including the airfare spent to select him: Vet costs: $118, dogbed, crate, chewies and treats: donated, food and supplemental vitamins: $60).

From the website of the Wilkes County Landfill...
It costs 50 cents to dump a bag of trash at the landfill. However, dumping by the bag is free if a bag of recyclable goods are brought for every bag of trash.

In all fairness to Goodwin, it clearly IS much cheaper to landfill a litter of pups from a bust case (assuming a litter will fill one bag) than to ask Best Friends to shoulder the cost of the plane tickets needed to evaluate and transport these same dogs to breed experienced organizations...Nevermind the dog beds and vet costs that would mount up post-rescue. And even cheaper if authorities bring in a bag of recyclable goods along with every dead dog.
"Goodwin said that the dogs have been bred for fighting and it would very difficult and expensive to re-train the dogs, even the puppies, so that they could be adopted.

Banging my head on brick wall. Re-train them to do what exactly? to the fridge and grab us a beer?

Dear John, How many times do we have to say this? Rescuers don't re-train dogs from any situation, shelter or otherwise. After cherry picking the best dogs for our programs, we simply give them what they didn't have before they came to us: clear direction, basic obedience, opportunities to play with well matched play buddies. In short, we help them to become whole dogs again. A hand-picked dog from a fight bust is no different than a chained, backyard dog that's been surrendered to the shelter by a family in East Oakland - although bust dogs tend to have better genetics and we prefer their temperaments over the mixed breed pit bulls that come in from so many shelters.

I am pained by the lack of knowledge a "dog fighting expert" has for the breed. Shouldn't someone with this lofty title support the orgs that embrace these dogs? Unfortunately, people that believe bust dogs are devil's spawn - "bred for fighting" - spend so much time reading gamedog message boards that they've become as invested in dog fighting mythology as the guys who write this macho crap. Boys with low self esteem and big pick-up trucks encourage their dogs to spark up and act dog aggressive for a reason. Yuppy rescuers in densely populated urban areas with mortgages and multi-pets have no use for badly behaved dogs. Choose your reality, preferably the one that saves the lives of vicitimized pets.

From the news article: County officials have said that the dogs would be euthanized. Officials did not return a phone message yesterday. "I think there's a county ordinance that requires it," Goodwin said. "It's not a matter of would, could or should. It's the law."

WRONG. Article 1A of Chapter 67 of North Carolina's General Statutes allows for the adoption of dogs from fighting pasts provided "the animal shelter shall notify any persons adopting the dog of the liability provisions "

So now what? If Goodwin and others have their way, Best Friends' offer will be ignored and the dogs will be killed and land filled. Below: one of the many puppies born since the bust. To ask for a different outcome, write, write, write...

Wilkes County Board of Commissioners
110 North Street
Wilksboro, NC 28697
Phone: 336-651-7346
Fax: 336) 651-7568

Wilkes County Attorney Tony Triplett
Vannoy, Colvard, Triplett & Vannoy
922 C Street
P.O. Box 1388
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659
Phone: 336-667-7201
Fax: 336-838-7250

District Attorney Tom Horner
500 Courthouse Drive Suite 2022
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
Phone: 336-667-6361 or 667-2994
Fax: 336 667-7999

Sunday, February 08, 2009

the Now of Frida

One thing pit bulls are really good at is asking their people to shake off their brain-fuzz and engage whole heartedly in the present moment. Depressed? Get over it. Daydreamer? Get with it.

Frida's been all about getting us hu-mans up to speed. We've puzzled quite a bit over her, all the while she bats her big browns as if to say, "Okay. Silly people, just what are you going to do with me?"

Not the most likely adoption candidate, this owner surrendered shelter resident is a little too old, a little too weathered, a little too mischievious for most homes.

We brought her into our Ambassadog program after noting how goddam rock solid she was: crooked toothed grin, wagging widely from her kennel which just so happened to be located in a ward full of admittedly insane custody dogs at the time. Insane, as in, barking, spinning, slamming at the bars in the way really freaky dogs will do when they've been poisoned by the dark side of humanity. She wasn't part of that mess; didn't seem to notice the loud funk of the other dogs one bit. Her world was all about US: "Beloved humans, blessed two-legged soul mates. Let's go have us some fun together." That's exactly the kind of pit bull we covet. So we grabbed her up and declared her safe. For now.

Problem is, she's not the classic squishy seal faced darling that most homes flock to, and she can't romp happy in a household of well-matched dogs like so many of our crew. And no cats...No, no. This one's a grizzled old girl with an impressive seen-it-all sense of self and she can push a sparky dog's buttons from a hundred yards away - just for fun. She'll also size up a novice handler in a quick sniff and make like she doesn't know a stitch of manners. Heh. The master manipulator. BUT she's warm, wise, and wonderful and on top of all that, she's been remarkably good-natured about being kenneled all this time (Since September).

Rescuing salty dogs like Frida feels like an act defiance. "No, you are not easy-perfect. But letting you go without giving you a chance would go against everything we know and love about the rock solid soul of pit bulls." This one's so brave that I'm convinced she'd have no problem passing over to the next world in order to gift her kennel to an easier dog (believe me, we've thought about it). But to hell with that. She's here for now and we're too stubborn to let her go.

In order to help Frida become a better ambassador, her entire team of handlers has had to become better at what they do. This is the part where pit bulls excel at turning us all into better people. After discussions, we all agreed to handle Frida with the same seen-it-all attitude that she was shining on us. No freebie treats, no half-sits, no stink eye allowed at other dogs ... No, no, no. We'll only accept 100% compliance on commands, smooth, zen-like focus and relaxed body language in even the most difficult of situations. Spot a naughty dog barking wildly in Pit Ed class? - "Ignore it Frida. I mean it." And so she is, bless her heart (although methinks-that-shethinks it would be MUCH more fun to rear up and spit back a few choice obscenities.)

I heart Frida in a big way. She reminds me of my late grandma Alma - social and flirtatious but with a wicked sense of humor.

So here we are with a strong-willed sweetheart, wondering if we'll ever find her a home and trying our best to out-stubborn death. We might not, and Frida might end up telling us that kennel life is wearing her down, and if so, we hope and pray we'll be clear minded and selfless enough to hear her and let her go. But for now, we're moving forward as if she has a home out there, and she's happily teaching all of us to be so much better at what we do.

It seems that one of Frida's best lessons is reminding us all to Live. In. The. Present.

Thank you, Frida. You're absolutely right.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Go Goji, Go Goji!

Another Okie dog heard from. This is Goji, one of the females we brought back to CA from the Kay County, OK cruelty case. 

Almost two months after they're home, and all dogs are finally caught up on their sleep, gaining back their strength, and enjoying play dates with the other dogs in their foster homes.

Goji here won our hearts by grinning like a love struck hyena when we first met the dogs. .... Ohhh ... and those eyes ....

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Huckabee Show

You know – Mike Huckabee – the Arkansas governor who ran for president. I didn’t know he had a show either, until we received a call about being a guest. We looked it up, even watched an episode. FOX News, but it was a chance to show off a couple of X-Vick dogs and how well they are doing. Roo Yori (think World Disc Dog Champ Wallace) was to bring Hector and I was to bring Jonny Justice. And I would surely take a ribbing from our gay friends.

Last minute apologies came from the segment producer yesterday when she revealed that PETA was to suddenly join us. No problem there I assured her, I relished the idea of a face-to-face; to let America know that PETA isn’t just interested in destroying all dogs from a fight bust (without evaluation), but recommends that all shelters across America destroy all of their pit bulls. Though I did let her know that we had just stumbled upon a real problem...

While material searching for a blog promoting the show this weekend, we discovered that Mike Huckabee’s son David had been involved in, of all things, hanging and killing a dog – something that Michael Vick had admitted to also doing himself. So how could we go on the show now?

We wrestled with ethics. It was a great opportunity for the dogs and it was the governor’s son, not the governor himself, and it was ten years ago - his son almost eighteen. Ahh! Had Huckabee ever spoken out about his son’s transgression? If so, we can do this. After a search, the best we could find was his response on Larry King Live: “There was a dog that came in. It was mangy. It looked like it was going to attack. He was a staffer at the camp. They put the dog down. They didn’t do a good job of talking to the leaders. The way it was handled was not ideal, but there was no criminal activity.” Depends who you talk to. Animal cruelty, though still a misdemeanor in Arkansas, is a crime nonetheless. Other allegations were made that the dog’s throat was slit and that it was stoned to death while hanging, but this is just rumor. Nobody can say for sure.

We were ready to call it off when the producer suggested we talk to Huckabee himself. I suggested to Mike that the campers were safe once his son had the rope around the dogs neck and that the adults should have then been alerted to make humane decions. He reminded me that his son was seventeen at the time. Fair enough – about the not alerting part – but what about the rest? The dog was then hung over a tree branch as David’s friend recalls. Still, besides rumor, no one has officially talked about how the dog was finally done in. Surely *you* know Mike, he’s your son. “He didn’t tell me” was his reply.

This was the deciding factor for me. His son had lost his job over this, and the dog his life - what father would not want to know such an extremely important detail?

We are all very disappointed over this today, I would have loved the opportunity to show off the dogs and to beat up on PETA for their Unethical stance on our breed, eye-to-eye. But instead, I will simply try to stop imagining that lone, unknown dog, hanging from a tree.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tough Lessons from Katrina

Oh Noooooooooo! 

Best Friends let itself get shuckered by a snake oil salesman who claimed to be someone who could train and re-home Katrina pit bull victims, and most of the 28 dogs they sent his way have turned up missing or dead. 

Sad for the dogs; sad for the good people who trusted that they were safe. Sad for everyone who worked so hard to pull them out of harm's way and who kept them going. And tragic for the families who will never know if their pets survived (most likely, not).

Good for Best Friends for going after this scumbag though and for getting his ass hauled into jail. Good for the judge who is demanding restitution. This whole thing must have been turning insiders in-side-out all this time.

Katrina's lessons were beyond harsh. This raving bitch was bigger than all of us and she squashed good intentions like a Louisiana bug. But one thing she couldn't steal away was the impression the gulf coast pit bulls made on their rescuers. As a group, these dogs were exceptional. No matter how tattered and scarred, they were so true to their old world roots that they made each of us fall deeper for the breed. The fact that so many were destroyed post-storm is enough to twist our stomachs for years to come.

Next time, we must all be a little wiser, better connected, better resourced to make better decisions for the victims of these bigger disasters. There's no room for snake oil salesmen.

I posted pix of some of the storm dogs we brought back here. They represent just a tip of the iceberg of what was lost. If you own a pit bull from Katrina or have one in your circles, please share your story and let's turn this depressing blog entry around. (And yes, the pretty girl above made it. She was absorbed by Humane Society of Calumet and adopted to a young couple.)