Thursday, October 19, 2006

Whirlwind Weekend

Wow. Just wow. None of us can get over the high that we’ve had since the end of the conference on Sunday night. However, I must confess that mine actually started when I got to the hotel Friday evening.

On the way to my room, I passed by the event room. I just had to peek in. When I did, I found rows upon rows of tables with what seemed like hundreds of chairs. I stood in the doorway, in awe of the magnitude of this year’s event. We are a grass roots organization with no paid staff and here I was staring at a room that looked like it was awaiting the arrival of the United Nations. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s how it seemed to me at the time.

My experience Friday evening set the tone for the whole weekend. There was just so much excitement. Attendees were excited as they filed in Saturday morning; the BAD RAP team was excited as they showed up with coffees in hand; and the guest presenters were also excited. That energy carried through hours of presentations and into the Saturday evening reception at Pit Bull Hall

In addition to all of the formal presentations, we talked informally sharing stories and ideas. We all made so many new friends and can already feel the momentum this weekend generated and the new projects that will come out of it. Keep your eyes out for information on our multi-day intensive ‘Pit Camps’ and the ‘BAD RAP road show’ as we look at taking our information to shelters across the country.

I’m already told that there will be a next year. I had anticipated we’d discuss the idea as a group after the conference was over like we did last year. But how can I say no to people saying ‘see you next year’ as they drive away?

Stay tuned while we sift through the feedback and wait for the photographs from our ‘official’ photographer, Rachel Young.

Special thanks to all of the volunteers at BAD RAP without whom this conference would never have happened!


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Where Are All the Pit Bulls?

Back from a quick midwest trip where BR’s Pit Ed & CGC classes earned the 2006 Best Practices Award for Behavior and Training at the AHA Conference (Yay!) .... and (Boooo!) the only pit bulls we saw were chained in the yard of a Detroit area backyard breeder. Now I know* there are plenty of great pit bull owners in the Chicago and Detroit area, but they must've all been in hiding this week. Feeling the need for a bully fix, we searched over miles of Chicago sidewalks during our flashback tour of old haunts and counted well-loved greyhounds, goldens and every kind of small dog –- but no pit bulls.

Like strangers in a lonely land, we decided to search the city shelters. The Anti-Cruelty people turned their noses up when we mentioned the breed and sent us to Chicago Animal Control. But after heading to the south side and sharing our IDs with security, we were turned away – We couldn't see them there since they don’t adopt the breed out either. Unclaimed pets are rarely rescued and usually destroyed. We could sense their wide smiles just steps away from us, but slipping through all our fingertips. When questioned ‘Why?’ the tired employees just shrugged and suggested that someone might want to “write a letter.” Sigh. Tim and I used to live in Chicago, and we were feeling pretty disappointed in our old stomping grounds at that point. Onto Detroit, we were desperate enough to stop by a neighborhood breeder just so we could get a fix and compare notes with the dogs' welcoming, albeit not-so-responsible owners. Sadly, we were warned not to step too close – The chained breeding pair was willing to bite. Greeeat. Apparently, lacking good shelter resources for quality adoptions, the couple's puppies were selling like hotcakes - intact and just weeks from their first mating adventures, of course..

I must say, the bay area never looked so good when we finally landed. We still have our problems — Many of our shelters are still struggling over the best ways to adopt pit bulls out and lord knows we have way too many being born. But despite our challenges, home sweet home is full of breed supporters, viable adoption programs, accessible spay/neuter programs and responsible owners. And thankfully, it's never hard to spot some of the most well loved pit bulls in the country strutting their stuff down our city streets with their proud owners in tow. We’re oh so happy to be back home.