Friday, December 26, 2008

The anatomy of a rescue

Nelly here is adjusting well to life without a heavy chain around her neck ... and warm blankies and butt scratches and - dog help her - antlers. She's one special creature.

I'm still pondering the people we met last week as I throw in another load of laundry from our surreal mission to the great plains. Life likes to throw curve balls every now and then just to see if we're paying attention, and one of those came in the form of an email from an Oklahoma dog trainer in early December who wrote to let us know that nearly one hundred dogs had been found starving on chains in dropping temperatures. News Clip. Could we help? I wrote back, "Who's in charge?" The reply, "Who's in charge? They've never dealt with anything like this before. At this time they are trying to make it so the dogs stay living." Smack! Curve ball, right upside the head.

The sheriffs of Kay County were in a bit of shock still after watching dogs drop dead at their feet. Once the perp was in jail, they had the messy problem of deciding what to do with the survivors. Peta encouraged them to kill every last one - natch - while much of the public was crying 'Murder!' for headlines that suggested they were going to do just that.

Oklahoma has a sad history when it comes to animal abuse cases including hoarders and puppy mills. There are no licensing or inspection requirements, and zero agencies assigned to oversee large scale breeding operations. No wonder Jerry Southern set up shop in OK once he was banned from owning pit bulls in Kansas.

The Oklahoma Alliance for Animals knew that, based on prior cases, Southern's pit bulls could very well end up in all the wrong hands. So they smartly requested - and won - custody of all the surviving dogs. When Ruth Steinberger told her board they now owned several dozen homeless and starving pit bulls, their first question was obvious: "What are we going to do with them all?" Oklahoma had never saved pit bulls from a cruelty case before, and things started getting extra messy when local papers put out a general plea for help. Phones were ringing off the hook as well-intentioned folks from all corners offered to jump in and take dogs home. That was right around the time that we met Ruth, who was having a very bad couple of days. No, we can't take 90+ dogs I said, but we can help decide which lucky few can go into limited but reputable rescue slots.

The immediate problem was that Kay County doesn't have an animal shelter, the dogs were exposed and the weather was taking a turn for the worse. Local volunteers were essential in their survival: they trucked in food and straw to feed and insulate the plastic barrels the dogs called home. But theft and disreputable 'help' was as big a concern as the dropping temperatures, so decisions had to happen FAST.

This is where we call for disaster relief assistance. Could someone please (please?) bring in quick reinforcements so the dogs could get out of the cold, if only for a short time so they can be evaluated? Messages went out to all the large orgs. The HSUS said "No," citing a poor economy as their reason for staying home. Everyone's Best Friends waved a quick "Yes!" for transport help, and Homeward Bound Humane Society offered up a small but cozy spay/neuter van to help us get out of the wind. All we had to do was buy some winter gear and we were set.

We had to hop inside a small window of decent weather so we could get to know the dogs while they were relatively warm. Once selections were made, it was fast work to take them back off of their chains for good, weigh them in the screaming wind and spay/neuter them onsite in the crowded trailer. Since this rescue was such a precedent for OK, it was only right that OAA make sure the dogs were fixed before turning ownership over to rescue. This is when we witnessed the miracle of Dr. Terry Yunker and his vet tech Nancy. Yunker's an Oklahoma vet with a passion for curbing the overpopulation problem. He did a series of fast surgeries before our eyes in some of the most extreme conditions you can imagine: unforgiving winds, freezing temperaments, nowhere for the dogs to recover but our cars with engines running and heat vents set on full blast. I'm a huge new fan of the cool and composed Dr. Terry.

We're also big fans of the local lawmen: Under Sheriff Kelly and Sheriff Landis. Both were honestly surprised to see so much fuss going towards helping pit bulls, but - we reminded them - that's what happens when you put out a call for help. Pit bull people are like that. To simplify this fast-track mission, BR accepted responsibility for all the rescued dogs from OAA, then transferred ownership over to three orgs: the up and coming Mid-America Bully Breed Rescue who helped immensely with the rescue; to a second rescue who's asked to remain nameless for now; and - a surprise - to open-admission Berkeley Animal Care Services (More later on the wonderful happenings in Berkeley that inspired shelter workers to say 'Yes' to Oklahoma bust dogs.)

I don't know how we managed to do what we did at the farm - the rescues as well as the euthanasias. The conditions were so horrible and the dogs were so brave despite their neglect and mistreatment. I'm still choking back that big ugly cry that needs to come out...(It'll probably wait until the Sports Illustrated buzz wears off and I hear some sappy music in some terribly inconvenient setting). Fearing more criticism from both sides of the fence, the authorities have requested that we not disclose the number of dogs that were rescued, but let's just say "an impressive number" of lucky dogs made it out. Let's just say that what happened was a miracle - because it really was. (Repeat: Slideshow)

Two sheriffs, a vet and vet tech, five rescuers, an animal activist from Oklahoma and two diehard drivers from Best Friends (left). We may never see each other again, but for that one weekend, the dogs made sure we were at our best. It's just another reason to fall even more in love with this breed.

Please consider sending thanks to the orgs that helped these dogs.
Under Sheriff Kelly and Sheriff Landis would probably love getting New Year's greetings. They deserve to hear that they did the right thing.

Under Sheriff Kelly and Sheriff Landis
Kay County Detention Facility
Newkirk, Oklahoma 74647

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sports Illus: A home run for pit bulls.

We've come a long way, baby!

Most pit bull owners know that in '87, Sports Illustrated went for the worst kind of cheap thrill by running this provocative cover story. The decision to titillate America back then about our still-rare breed set the dogs down a dangerous path. Within months, they were the 'in' dog for the bad guys, and the rest is history. So when SI writer Jim Gorant contacted us in mid-October about a follow up on the Vick dogs, we were skeptical to say the least. Never one to hold back, Jonny Justice's adopter Cris Cohen told him point blank, "You owe us the cover." But the hard-to-read Gorant was non-committal. We really didn't know what they were going to do to our dogs.

It was clear that Jim and his editors were intrigued with this story though, especially when their wonderful photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice kept returning for additional photo sessions. Things started looking good when they asked for family portraits of the dogs in their homes, and then, of Jonny working as a therapy dog in the Paws for Tales reading program.

We're as surprised as anyone to finally see the fruits of their labor: Five pages of in-depth, well written copy, good clean quotes, beautiful family portraits, and the best of all...The cover shot, highlighting Recycled Love's shy little sweetheart, Sweet Jasmine.
SI Online Story and Photo Gallery

Thank you for giving the dogs back to us, Jim. Steeling ourselves against the public disdain heaped against these wonderful animals sure takes its toll, and you just softened us all up for one the happiest Christmases we can remember.

The Sports Illustrated issue about the Vick dogs will be on newsstands starting Christmas Eve and available for two weeks. Grab a few copies for your coffee table and for your files. I tellya...this 'zine is a welcome piece of history for our breed.

Left: Zippy's foster family now includes tiny new brother Francisco Hernandez. Photo credit: Deanne Fitzmaurice for Sports Illustrated.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Slideshow of Kay County dogs

Warm and fuzzy thanks to everyone who's written with your kind words. Your support means a lot to us.

I'm gathering spellings of people's names so we can offer a proper thanks to all the helpers in this case as part of our online debriefing, but the dogs are set to pull up very soon and we have some work to do. For now, visit the site with us in this Slideshow of the Kay County dogs.

We hope the little girl on the right will approve of CA's weather. (Who needs a nose when you have eyes like that?)

Thank you,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A girl and her dog

Every great lady deserves a great dog. After a five month trial foster period, Cindy got what she wanted for Christmas and officially adopted Mister Ted. We signed him over on Saturday, in between the bustle of the thousand details that come along with doing Pit Ed class. It was fitting that Ted's big journey with our group end with the very low-key signing ritual; He's been at home in Cindy's heart since she first laid eyes on him, way back when she was still unaware of his rough beginnings (Photo: Michael Blackwell)
Welcome home, Ted. We sure do love you.

Ellen Meets Georgia

Hollywood rolls out the red carpet for Best Friend's Vicktory dog Georgia (who we'll always know as Jane!). She appears on the Ellen Degeneres Show on Monday, December 15. We hope they dance.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Top Ten Animal Stories

What is it?
Television producer Phil Boag studies the elusive canis familiaris fighting dog in preparation for filming a segment for a new Animal Planet TV special. It's called 2008: Year in Animals and will run down the top ten animal stories of the year.

The show will be aired several times, starting this Saturday, December 13.

Jonny Justice was filmed with his steady sidekick, Cris Cohen as part of the show. His story is up against a featherless SF penguin that was fitted with a wet suit, a dog that dialed up 911 for his person, few other animaly tales that slip my mind right now.

I wonder which story will make its way to number one? Whicheva! We're just glad that America gets to hear about the Vick dogs' success again...and that our homeboys are interviewed in front of Cohen's gorgeous '67 Nova. Check it out. And rock on with your bad self, Jonny Justice. Top Ten

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Pleasant Reminder

Scary fighting dog (aka Jhumpa from V-Hell). Now at home practicing the art of being a dork.

Thanks for the happy reminder why we all do this work, Kathleen.

Yes, Oklahoma

We've made a commitment to Oklahoma to assist authorities with making decisions for the starving dogs that have captured dog lovers' hearts this holiday season. Hurricane Newkirk.
It's way too soon to say how many can be helped; First, the defendant has to face the judge, and the judge has to agree to release the dogs to rescue. It looks good, but just you never know.

Making sense of these kinds of situations can be very difficult. It's hard to know who's calling the shots and who's able to be on the ground to help with logistics. Hurricane Katrina taught us all that too many cooks in the kitchen can muddy a rescue and sour feelings, causing some to say 'No' to the next batch of animal victims. We can't have that.

But at this time - because this is the giving season - I wanted to give a shout out to Undersheriff Kelly who asked for help, and to all the Oklahomans who've poured their kindness into caring for the dogs while they wait. An Oklahoma-based group is currently providing the logistical support that we'll need to pull this off. We expect to offer up thanks to other orgs that we know are out there, poised to help the dogs, but let's get this thing rolling first.

If do get out there, we promise to do our best to help the most likely candidates for adoption programs. (And did someone say it was c-c-cold in Okahoma? Drat. I guess I gotta get me a winter coat.)


While the country is focused on helping pit bulls, please give generously so more of us can do more of this work. Our current Newsletter outlines ways to donate while you shop. On behalf of the dogs that are counting on all of us, thank you!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Rest in Peace, Petal.

Once in a while, a dog comes along who manages to find her way into the soul of the right person and helps to change the course of history.

Animal Farm Foundation's Jane Berkey is grieving the loss of the inimitable Petal this week, her best friend and steady confidant. Petal was key in inspiring her to build a rescue and foundation that celebrates and supports pit bulls and their advocates. Those who may have met Jane know that she's an unstoppable maverick (correct use of the definition here) on a mission to see pit bulls "included inside our circle of compassion." That kind of passion and generosity only comes from being sparked by one of the breed's best.

We were fortunate to know Petal, and kissed her one last time this summer knowing that cancer would soon take her home. Petal's spirit lives on in the hearts of everyone who is inspired by the tireless work of Animal Farm Foundation. Rest in peace, pretty girl.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Santa comes early to a shelter dog

With realities as they are, deciding which dogs to put to sleep - which pit bulls especially - is a daily chore that no one looks forward to in any open admission shelter. In Oakland, the decisions are usually made in the evening so the dogs can go to peace in the morning, altho' sometimes it can take days of exploring options. We've joined the staff with some of this burden and it's a responsibility that weighs heavy. Some of the questions that need to be answered: How many pit bulls are in the kennels right now? (OAS keeps room for 13 adoptable pit bulls + five kennels for BR) How many new pit bulls are about to become city property once their stray holds end? How many do we think we can place this week? Can this dog's health or behavior issues be resolved in a shelter setting? Do we have a foster home?...a spot for a compassion hold?

It's easiest when decisions are cut and dry; harder when the dogs are what we call 'grey area dogs' ... meaning, they're not the strongest ambassadors due to minor behavior or health issues or both. The gray area dogs keep me awake at night rolling over every possible possibility we can invent....And in the meantime, more and more dogs & pups keep coming in the door.

This little girl was a very gray dog for more reasons than her coat color: A bad knee. She's probably going to blow one (crap. or both), and need an expensive surgery. That's an easy one - She needs to make room for the healthier dogs that are coming in. But, I can't do it. I mean, lookit her. Sometimes you just need to wait a day or three, and let Fate have a say....

...So, an email comes in yesterday marked "URGENT!"... A fan of the breed all the way in NYC wants to help a needy shelter dog immediately, for a Christmas gift that's being presented today. Do we have any needy dogs that need a special sponsor?

Do we? and how.

Yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. Meet Lolo, a wonderful girl with a wonky knee and a good friend who believes in the spirit of helping pit bulls, even those she's never met.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's still about the dogs.

A standing ovation to Los Angeles authorities for doing it right with this latest dog fight bust. The bad guys were tossed away to three and five year sentences in state prison for 10 counts of felony dogfighting. Story

Their attorney tried to downplay the crime, calling it "a low-grade felony," and rationalizing that "it isn't like selling narcotics to children." ... Because torturing animals is so much more acceptable in the grand scheme of things?

But L.A. Superior Court Judge Bowers pulled out the whoop ass: "It is a felony and it is a serious matter...Mr. Counts, I think to say that you made a bad decision is an understatement."

Good bust, good collection of evidence, good ruling - and no mention of the dogs as evil doers. Instead, five of the 17 dogs were absorbed into local rescues. And you gotta love that photo as an antidote to the evil doings in Texas last week.

Above Lead investigator in the case, Los Angeles Police Officer Susan Brumagin at a press conference. Bless you Susan for reminding us why we should care about these cases.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Houston - Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

"All 187 dogs seized in the large bust that led to the mass indictments earlier this month, Smith said, were euthanized because of their aggression — an all-too-common end to a life of suffering."

They did it. They went for the all-too-common easy out: The most convenient, economical way to deal with an unwanted excess of abuse victims. Instead of assessing the animals or asking for help, they decided to blame the dogs and make them go away. "Euthanized because of aggression." .... Surely, America will believe that every single one of those 187 was dangerous, because, pit bulls are just freaky scary, right? Who can blame them? Evil, evil pit bulls.

Now that the dogs are 'officially' dead, Houston authorities are planning a campaign to curb the fighting they say is on the increase in their counties. "But the crime is more commonly found here among kids or young adults who spontaneously engage in the activity — referred to as "bumping" — on street corners, in parks or near school grounds." - Assistant DA Smith.

Before they start, Houston might want to look at what's been helping to make it so acceptable among the kids who do it.

Recipe for Increasing Kids' Interest in Dog Fighting:

1. Devalue pit bulls through agency policy: Ban all shelter adoptions. Stand firm against helping any impounded pit bull, no matter how adoptable. Reinforce the public's belief that the dogs aren't worthy...'Nice people don't want pit bulls.'
2. Alienate young people by blaming popular culture for devaluing pit bulls. Kids looove when adults disapprove of their music.
3. Use the media to stereotype. Categorize dogs as "aggressive" and indicate to bored youth that, after all, the dogs were "bred to fight."
4. To separate out from acceptable shelter dogs, reinforce the pit bulls' lessor status: "They are not pets." - Assistant DA Smith
5. Where possible, alienate further by implying that dog fighting is a stain on the lower classes. "I really want to get the word out, especially to the low-income students" - Assistant DA Smith.
6. Indicate that pit bulls are better off dead. "This is a point where death can be a gift." - Houston SPCA veterinarian Harkness.

Finally, Lucky 7. If your audience still doesn't get the message, demonstrate by killing every single pit bull you get your hands on.

That'll teach'em, Houston.

Photo above: Vick dog 'Shadow' during evaluations.

Friday, November 28, 2008

BAD RAP Gossip

In a new pending home tonight: Once adopted, then bounced back due to a move to Australia: Roller! ... Dogs that are one step away from going home: Kinzie, Harley, Jelly Roll Jones ... Now in a new foster home: Squeeks ... Now being courted by new applicants: Grace, Piglet (fingers crossed) ...

.... Still waiting to be claimed by Obama or other ... Bob the Dog (above). Bob is living at the Oakland Animal Services as part of BR's Ambassadog Project.

Other gossip... BR's Vick dogs will be in a major publication in time for Christmas. Good stocking stuffers for the dog fans in your circles. And, Jonny Justice is about to make an appearance on a popular show. Stay tuned for juicy details.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Dogs remind: Life is good. Even better if you get your feet wet.

Thanks to all the dogs out there who inspire us to push past our comfort zones and into some of Life's happiest adventures.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let's get this party started! - Wanted: Fun for dogs

22 hours a day in a kennel is a looong time to wait for fun. This holiday, please consider giving to the sheltered pit bulls - either those in Oakland's kennels or closer to your home - or both! All toy donations go to BR's foster dogs, especially the kenneled Ambassadogs now living at the shelter. We also share around with the many, many other pit bulls that come in. Even the dogs that are under custody hold (below) and/or those that can't be adopted due to health or behavior reasons deserve some kindness before they go 'home.'

Our Wish List:

For downtime in the kennels...
Used blankets and towels for better naps.
Goods to freeze inside kong balls: Peanut butter, healthy wet dog food
Cans of unsweetened pumpkin to curb diarrhea
Healthy chewies: Bully Sticks, white shin, tibia or knuckle bones Link (no rawhide, pigs ear or smokey meat please since they tend to upset our sensitive divas' bellies)
Grizzly salmon oil to rebuild our dogs' health
Multi-vitamins for the same
For play time...
Used stuffed toys for rowdy fun (bagged thrift store stuffies are great)
Old soccer balls, basketballs, footballs - YES! and tennis balls, too.
Strong (long) tug ropes
Tuff toys - oh WOW do they love these. Tuff Stuff
Treadless motorcycle tires for fun tug & toss games
For our training room...
Washed dog beds for quiet time
Cleaning supplies: Nature's Miracle for those inevitable accidents!
Healthy training treats (liver treats, Natural Balance loaf, etc)
Handsome 16"-22" collars to look pretty for dog shoppers

Please send items to:
BAD RAP Ambassadog Program
c/o Oakland Animal Services
1101 29th Street Oakland 94601

Or, let us know where we can pick up your donation.
Thank you, Thank you!!

BELOW: Bob, Harley and Piget have a great play date with a ... Goose? heh. (btw, we don't recommend tug games between all dogs. Know your dogs' limits! More info)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Achieved Purpose?

A couple of years ago San Francisco city leaders spearheaded the movement to pass SB861, the state legislation that permits municipalities to enact local BSL for the purpose of controlling overpopulation. Since that time, the city has remained the only one in the Bay Area and one of very few state-wide to avail themselves of this option. The city’s ordinance requires pit bulls, as determined by Animal Care and Control, over the age of 6 months to be spayed/neutered unless granted an exception. The fines collected from those who fail to comply are to be utilized not to provide low cost or free pit bull S/N, but rather to fund the ‘pit bull breeding permit program’ – a system for issuing permits to those who would like to breed their pit bulls.

You may be asking yourself ‘what’s the problem?’ After all, we all generally agree that we would like to see a dramatic decrease in pit bull breeding and an end to casual backyard breeding. Beyond the fact that we know voluntary S/N programs work best, and BSL comes with horrible unintended consequences like difficulty finding a rental that will accept your dog, San Francisco has enacted what politicians like city mayor Gavin Newsom rail against the state and federal governments for – an unfunded mandate. In this case the mandate is imposed by the city on the citizens.

While the rest of the Bay Area encourages and supports pit bull owners in their efforts to do the right thing and S/N their dogs through low cost and free services, San Francisco’s efforts are limited to fining those unable to afford to do the right thing. Take for example, a nurse I spoke with recently. A city employee and native, she’s spent her professional career devoted to treating incarcerated youth. A dog lover, she’s only owned rescued dogs and does not discriminate by breed. Are you getting the impression that she’s a good person and responsible citizen yet? A few weeks ago, by way of a friend of a friend, she came into possession of a young female pit bull puppy. When the San Francisco SPCA would not accept the dog, she stopped by SF ACC where she got the distinct impression the dog’s chances of survival were slim. Though she has 2 small dogs already, she decided to try to find the puppy a new home herself. Since then she’s been crate training, house training, exercising the energetic pup for hours every day and searching for a place to spay her. At about 6 months old, the dog is required to be spayed under SF’s ordinance. The unintended rescuer wants to comply, wants to be responsible and doesn’t want to pay a fine, but she cannot find an affordable spay clinic in San Francisco. The prices quoted for spay of a dog over 40 pounds range from $350 - $450; euthanasia is substantially cheaper. Local rescues can probably get a cheaper rate through their arrangement with vets based on their non-profit status, but because SF still has an overpopulation problem despite their BSL, San Francisco rescues report that there’s ‘no room at the Inn’.

One bright spot in the S/N situation in San Francisco is the FREE mobile S/N service offered twice a month by the Peninsula Humane Society. PHS provides the service that SF based organizations should be providing. Unfortunately, the need is far greater than the space available and from what I hear, people routinely line up at 5am for the first come, first served program and it still often takes several weeks before actually getting in for service – a burden, even a barrier, for residents with full time jobs and families.

The fate of this pup remains to be seen. If only the Good Samaritan lived in the East Bay, South Bay, on the Peninsula or even in Sacramento, she could easily do the right thing for the dog and the community. If only she had morning after morning to wait in line for weeks. Unfortunately she lives in San Francisco, works a full time job with a shift that ends at 8am, and as a result, may be unable to save this dog from euthanasia after all. If the purpose of San Francisco’s BSL S/N ordinance is to decrease the city’s pit bull population, in this case, I guess maybe it worked.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Take me to your (competent) leader

People often ask us how we learned to work with pit bulls. We've had some good teachers: Our husky mix taught us everything we know about preventing dog/dog issues and keeping pack harmony (most pit bulls have nothing on a drivey, ball possessive nordic breed). But some of our most important lessons about animal handling came from this lovely lady.

Pam Hessey is a gifted master falconer who showed us how to convince winged predators that sitting on your wrist was in their best interest - Not easy, considering the alternatives that Mother Nature offers. Tim and I studied under Pam years ago while working downed raptors at a wildlife center. We used falconry equipment and techniques to handle the birds and strengthen their flight muscles. Falconry is more than a cool hunting sport: At its best, it's an amazing art of cooperation, trust and ego-less leadership. True falconers understand that taking a bird from the wild (via permits acquired from Fish and Game after a long and arduous apprenticeship and accreditation process) steals something very precious away from that animal: its freedom. So in return, the bird is offered the exchange of ready meat, meticulous care and a chance to fly and hunt - under the direction of a human teammate who knows how to do magical things, like, flush game out of hidden places. Yum.

Falconers' birds fly free, by the way...they can go AWOL at any time during their hunt. Amazingly, that doesn't happen as often as you'd think. So, why would a raptor choose to put up with a two legged anchor and not disappear into the sky? The answer has everything to with the falconer being very aware of the bird's needs and motivations (food) and staying a respectful, competent handler with a reliable focus. The birds are still very wild, but come around to believe that these huge predators with their leather jesses and pickup trucks and crazy ways are worth accepting. And that's nothing short of a miracle and testament to the ability of humans to motivate our fellow creatures to achieve that zen-like state of mutual cooperation.

Of course pit bulls aren't wild animals, so the line drawn between handling raptors and handling dogs is admittedly rather fuzzy. But I find myself drawing on our lessons learned from the hawks again and again when working the dogs. Dogs want what the raptors wanted from us: A game plan.... A reason to believe that working as a team is in their best interest. Not for the avoidance of pain or an endless parade of treat bribes, but for the pay-off that helps each animal fulfill its destiny. With hawks, that destiny is to succeed in the hunt and survive. And to highly social animals like dogs, surviving involves flourishing as a pack animal, preferably, with a truly awesome leader who'll call the shots and make life enjoyable. Having a great leader is so, well, gratifying! - especially to this intelligent working breed. Pit bulls thrive on it. Most will drop bad habits, even dramatic bouts of leash reactivity when their person finally offers them something better ... direction.

Learning to become a good leader takes some real effort. Without that relationship, many dog owners let their pets make their own decisions, and that's a huge responsibility that dogs just can't handle. They may love their pets completely, but indulge them like children, begging for their compliance. There's nothing sadder than this: "Sit. Sit. Sit. Siiiit. Come'on now. Siiiit." Imagine how confusing it is to a dog to see his human beg! Lacking structure, dogs are more than happy to invent exciting games, like, "Woo! I wanna fence fight and revel in that adrenalin blast - Feels GREAT!" And so shelters fill up with dogs that are rejected simply because they never had a leader to show them the joy of behaving beautifully. It's sad when society demands that dogs should be born already knowing what we want them to do.

One of our greater challenges in teaching new dog handlers is helping them find their inner leader, women especially (and in men, quite often the challenge is toning down their inner dictator. I'll leave that topic for another blog!) In short: remember that your treat bag is not your dog's leader. Your clicker is not your dog's leader. YOU are ... or at least your dog wants you to be. Be fair, be upbeat, be consistent and decisive and clear in your direction, and your dog will fall over backwards to work with you.

Below. The unmistakable glow of a dog who adores her leader. Sally owned by Sheri Cardo, captured by Ali Talley on CGC Day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ginger! - Another Vick dog heard from.

On the heels of the messy dog fight bust in Texas, we present Ginger, one of the lessor known Vick dogs that trekked cross-country in the pit bull crowded RV trip to start a new life with the folks at SPCA for Monterey County.

This is the same shy little sprite that appeared in the video with Tim, leaving her VA shelter kennel for good. The road wasn't easy for Gingerette. She was one of the more timid dogs that came this way and she forced her foster mom to downshift big time so she could perform a modern day version of the patient art of soul retrieval on this little lost girl ... (Hey, it IS California, after all)

We were thrilled to hear from her foster-mom turned forever-home in an email update, along with this beautiful PHOTO SERIES outlining Ginger's evolution.

Bless you Stacy...You're an inspiration!

From her update: "Our early days and months were not easy - her clinging to the back of her crate for hours on end as I cried and wondered if we would ever be friends, her fleeing from any attempt at a gentle touch, refusing to eat for days as I tried a variety of techniques to prevent her from wasting further goes on and on and has probably been experienced by many a person fostering an abused animal ....

.... It has been such a pleasure watching her evolve into a happy and loving dog. She loves running about the yard, playing with toys, treats, riding in the car, snuggling on the bed (how a 35lb dog takes up the entire bed I do not know), and did I say treats? Her exuberance (or perhaps clumsiness) at times has unfortunately led to her crashing into many a wall, tree, piece of furniture, my shins, etc…she shakes it off in that bully way even as I am still muttering various expletives thinking that must been painful and surely this will be a visit to the vet .... It is a delight every day to see how happy she is when I get home, to see her sprinting up when I whistle for her or like now, to simply have her curled up at my side snoring away..."
- Stacy Schmidt

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Houston, you have a problem

For your files, letters to editors or general need-to-know info, here's a printable PDF update outlining the Vick dogs' current status.
* * V-Dog UPDATES * *

Proof in the Pudding.

Please share it with Texas this week. Up to 200...two hundred (!) dogs have been gathered up in a large scale fight bust, involving 55-some arrests. Suspects include an English teacher, employees of the oil industry, felons - you nameit. Big catch. Apparently Texas likes itself some dog fights.
"My guess is that the majority will have to be euthanized. Some of the dogs may be people friendly, but the question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you'd want your 3-year-old child around the dog." ....Sgt. P Leone, Houston Humane Society's Rescuing Animals In Danger Education Resource Program

Before we start hearing too many tired myths about bust dogs, let's write to remind Houston news sources of lessons learned in 2007-08. 1) Bust dogs are victims, not perpetrators. 2) Dogs are individuals, not cookie cutter stereotypes. Blanket statements like "bred to kill" are obsolete, disproven, antiquated. 3) Kenneled dogs deserve the decency of vet care, enrichment, compassion - an evaluation. (How many sick dogs like Rose were confiscated? And do they get a warm bed tonight?) 4) Dogs that can't be saved suffer from lack of resources. And that's a human shortcoming; No blame to the victims of these sad times.

Don't forget to offer the news crews some pudding.

You Dirty Dawg

It's lazy Sunday. Today's agenda: Eat toasted cinnamon bread, wear pajamas until noon and give that dirty dog a bath! The best Sunday morning inspiration ever comes from this old classic "Luke the Dog" ... from days back when dogs were allowed to be dogs. Love it, love it.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Mr. Rogers would've dug Pit Ed Camp

Our homeboy Mr. Rogers had the pit bull optimism thing all figured out. I'll never forget his most brilliant advice to parents after the Oklahoma City bombings in '95: A committed optimist, he told horrified parents to steer their children's focus to all the helpers who were on the scene. It was a great plug for keeping the faith during difficult times. With that generous lesson in mind, it's easier to believe in a better day for pit bulls. This week marked our 9th Pit Ed Camp and we're floating happy after spending time with some truly big hearts and great 'helpers.'

Shelters San Diego Humane Society, Longmont Humane (CO), Chicago Animal Care & Control, Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society and Hillsborough County Animal Services sent key staff to Oakland to hang out with the BAD RAP crew and study up on all things pit bull. Imagine being able to discuss dogs for days on end without seeing eyes glaze over - that's Dog Dork Heaven! Some earned extra credit by sneaking our shelter dogs into their hotel rooms for slumber parties (YES!). All hope to use lessons learned to improve shelter policies for pit bulls back home. After spending six great days with this crew, I don't doubt that some of their changes will be noteworthy. What a satisfying week - Thanks, guys! Photo: Campers below.

Awards for Camp Alum
Several alumnae have raised a high bar for other attendees. Three were recently recognized by BR's sister group Partners in Shelter Services for work they did for the breed before or after the Camp. We're proud to know them! * * AWARD NEWS * *

Postcards, At Yer Service

For those who wanted postcards of Bob's nomination for White House lap dog (see blog below). This large size file will print as a 5x7 POSTCARD. If a certain November camper doesn't adopt Bob first, we may have to let the Obamas adopt him.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bob 4 Obama

Dr. Mr. President Elect

Thank you for being brave and steady and for persevering in your goal to lead our country. You give us hope that we didn't know we were allowed to have anymore.

There are a million things the world will demand that you fix. And your choice of dog is pretty darn trivial compared to the mammoth decisions you'll soon be called to make. But, as keepers of some of the nicest dogs in this great country, we respectfully submit for your consideration:

Bob. Bob the Dog.

Not the bouncy puppy you imagined. Better.

Young Bob - short haired low-allergen Bob - is a symbol of the Real America that's been lost in this age of bad clich├ęs (lipstick? please) and hurtful biases. He's sensitive and resilient and kind and he's an eternal optimist. And he's good as gold - the kind of dog that will adore your children and charm your distinguished guests and tender your heart as you morph into the untouchable president that you need to be.

No doubt you'd encounter mountains of outrage for selecting a dog that looks like Bob. But we have a feeling that you'd weather that just fine, and even turn Bob's story around to illustrate a new world's vision to everyone: Prejudice is obsolete. Good hearts rule and a true friend's loyalty is ultimately more important than a fluffy photo op.

If we could give you anything that would help you and your family with the trials ahead, it would be Bob. Truly. But whichever type of pet you end up with, we hope he brings you a sense of peace and calm and HOME as only a good dog can.

Our best to you, Mr. President.
Bob's devoted caretakers.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

$ Foreclosure Sale $

........ Am I worth a dollar? ..........

Too many really nice pets are losing their homes, so What the hec .. We're giving them away. Pit bulls adopters are getting the red carpet treatment at Oakland Animal Services during the month of November. With any luck, a few of OAS's best will be in new homes begging for turkey trimmings come Thanksgiving.

* Dollar-A-Dog Days at OAS * 

Your help needed. Got any favorite bulletin boards around town? Please help us spread the good word by posting this flyer around town, and we'll report back with any good news. Thank you!

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Here!

A milestone for pit bulls -- The 2009 Bust Dog Survivor Calendar. Dedicated to you-know-who as well as a few other bust dogs that didn't make the headlines. It feels so good to launch this, I can't even tellya. GET IT!

And this one is almost here!

What a tease.

Not to be outdone, the shelter dogs will have their very own calendar in 2009. Arriving any minute now ... (Read: as soon as these dang dogs give us a minute to download!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Dignity of Age

This old guy's face says it all. He passed away yesterday in the arms of a new friend after leaving the shelter (he was a stray) and after relaxing into a week-long compassion hold. Rumor has it that the cute girl dog in the house, Grace, perked up Morley's spirits a bit during his final days. Way to go, You dawg.

We're surmising, but it sure seems like a lot of sick and older dogs have been losing their homes since the economy started wacking out on us. Vet assisted euthanasias can cost as much as $150 and lord knows treating canine cancer is only possible for people with Whole Foods life styles ... So, here we are. Getting depressed about it is certainly an option, but so is setting out to do nice things like this:

  • Donate your old fluffy blankets to your shelter so the skinny dogs can sink into a good sleep.
  • If they'll let you, give a shelter dog a bath and let your fingernails grow out a bit so you can dig in deep when you lather. That's sheer heaven to a dog that hasn't been touched in years.
  • Drop off some stew or roasted chicken and ask shelter staff to give to dogs on their last day (They will) Everyone should be so lucky.
  • Can you do a compassion hold and let a sick dog like Morley have a final week or two of comfort in your home? Ask your shelter to consider you for this kind of work.
  • Read this website for more ideas: Senior Dog Project
  • I met the owner of the Senior Dogs site years ago when I impulsively pulled a tired senior doberman from Berkeley Animal Services. Senior, as in sunken eyes ancient. I had the idea then that Doberman Rescue would surely want him. Ha! And so, Tim and I were 'stuck' with the (forgotten) challenges and huge rewards of loving Henry - the oldest, most wonderful doberman ever known - to me, anyway. Thinking of that dog still squeezes big fat tears out of my eyes. Old dogs are the best.

    Here are two seniors that recently charmed their way into our adoption program. They aren't ancient - in fact, at 8-some years old (guessing) they both have spunk to spare. But we expect that they aren't going to fly out the door anytime soon due to their age. That's okay...We're counting our blessings in the meantime.

    Right: Daddy-O
    Below: Frida Brown
    For more info:

    Morley's Photo: Nicole Rattay, his final friend.

    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Out for a (Responsible) Walk

    I have a ten year old Pit bull, Ruby. Nothing makes her day, and mine, more than the chance to walk on the waterfront. It’s peaceful there. Not long ago we snuck out of the house and started a leisurely walk on the waterfront, Ruby on a 4 foot leash in a prance, looking up at me, glued to my left leg. Suddenly, I heard a woman scream from several feet away, “Don’t let that dog bite me!” I quickly scanned around looking for the loose, dangerous dog. I thought I could probably help distract this dog from the woman long enough for her to escape harm. But I couldn’t see the dog. Suddenly I realized the frightened woman was pointing towards me. She was screaming at Ruby. I was 20 feet away. I was also too astonished for words and could only ask Ruby to sit as the woman ran frantically away.

    It got me thinking though. If somebody 20 feet away fears for their safety because of a well mannered Pit bull in a heads-up obedience heel, we have a lot more educating to do. And we have a lot of catching up to do. The media has had a number of years and has used many outlets to scare people out of their wits when it comes to Pit bulls. In order to help turn the tide, pit bull owners should commit to making their dog the very best ambassador it can be. While out in public,

    · obey your local leash laws.
    · don’t allow your dog to run up to other dogs. Protect him from the consequences of a greeting gone bad.
    · don’t allow your dog to run up to people. No matter how friendly your Pit bull is, not all people like dogs and some can become very frightened by a pit bull's effusive greeting.
    · while in close quarters and passing others, ask your dog to look up at you and to walk close to you.
    · clean up after your dog; it's common courtesy and it lessens the spread of disease. Most importantly, when you reach down to pickup after your dog, know where he is and what he’s doing while you’re concentrating on the clean up.
    · when you turn a blind corner on a walk, make sure you look ahead and notice what might be hidden from view before your dog does. You don’t want to inadvertently run face-to-face with another dog that may not be friendly to yours.
    · Be aware of dogs on retractable leashes and avoid them for your own, keeping your dogs close to you on walks. Besides, many cities have enacted six foot maximum leash laws.

    Can you add anything to the list? I know my experience with the terrified woman is not an isolated event and I am certain you must have a similar story. But, with a trained, well managed dog, we should all be able to go about enjoying that leisurely, peaceful walk in our own neighborhoods.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Whoa. Sc-c-cary!

    This image of a newscaster announcing a GA town's search for better dog laws gets our vote as the scariest News- Graphic-that- Exploits-Pit-Bulls
    that we've seen this year.  *Shudder*

    Did she pull her safari jacket out just for this broadcast? Fetching. And why is that dog glowing neon? Some stations just gotta whip it up...Nevermind that the impetus for this story (a dog-dog attack) had absolutely nothing to do with pit bulls. Way to hype, WALB News!

    If you have a scary news graphic that needs to be adored this Halloween season, please share! Big points for unnatural color schemes, creative hairstyles and theme-appropriate outfits.
    Nice one! 

    Thanks Sarah Williams of of True Blood and VAMPIRE PIT BULLS. Bwaaahaha. I'll never look at my dogs the same way again!

    Obligatory Sound Effects

    On a Better Note - Pit Bull Awareness Day
    It's catching on all over the country. Kudos to Bless the Bullys and ROVERlution for getting it started. We look forward to seeing happy reports as news of celebratory events pop up on our Google alerts.

    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    They are just dogs

    We were sent this link today by a fellow pissed off pit bull patron: ARTICLE It has been discussed on message boards over the last week, but I really felt the need to chime in.
    First, I have to let down Matt some more when I correct him: Vick was sentenced to twenty-three months in prison, not sixteen. He may have to spend more time than that behind bars as his state trial has not even happened yet - the trial that addresses animal cruelty, among other infractions. Vick’s federal trial didn’t address the shootings, drownings, electrocutions, and beatings (to death).

    I don’t know where your information comes from, but I don’t believe any business would touch Vick again for endorsements. Please let us know which endorsements you believe he got back.

    Just a little heads-up Matt: dog-fighting is *illegal in all fifty states, so no, it’s not okay if Vick, or anyone else, chooses to fight their dogs. I’m surprised the University at Buffalo doesn’t can your ass for openly supporting felony activities. Perhaps you are in favor of other such felonies that you would like to share with your readers.

    Don’t fool yourself for a second with your cat analogy. With more than sixty million pet cats in the US, their owners would have been even more vigilant than those disgusted by what Vick did to his own canines. You have to remember, Vick killed Pit Bulls, a breed that society has NOT put on a pedestal and barely even considers to be worthy of the moniker Dog, yet even non-doglovers were appalled by his actions. And FYI Matt – there is a HUGE pit bull overpopulation problem and there has been for more than a decade, so your distorted theory about overpopulation being a litmus test for our tolerance for cruelty is completely off the mark, as are your beliefs about property rights. Vick was not torturing his refrigerator and it is remarkable that you don’t allow the difference between an inanimate object and a living being.

    For your sake, I’ll point out the difference between shooting a deer for food and beating a dog’s head into the ground because it wouldn’t fight another of it’s kind, for it’s masters pleasure: The former is necessary or else we would have to eat said deer alive. The latter is unnecessary, sadistic, torturous, cruelty. I’m also pretty sure you are aware that there *are cultures that eat dog, but they skip the torture.

    That you believe no one was affected on a personal level by Vick’s cruelty and killings is pointless. We’re all personally unaffected by crimes committed across the globe to those we’ve never met, but that makes the crimes no less serious. And no, our culture does not sympathize more with dogs than people; our prison system is overflowing, mostly with people who committed crimes against our own, while in large, most animal cruelty goes unreported, is reduced to a lower crime, or is thrown out of court, and not to mention, is only a misdemeanor.

    To end my rant, consider for a moment that the eight dogs of which you speak were dogs that Vick and his boys killed in one particular month during his six-year dog-fighting venture, do the math Matt. How many others would that mean they likely tortured and killed, and how many other dogs of his died in the pit? And then include the dogs that he fought during his high school and college days.

    The bigger picture of which you speak also must include what you have unwittingly left out – that Michael Vick has some part to play in this, an enormous part. He knew he was committing serious crimes and yet chose to risk *everything. It’s as simple as that, Matt.

    Here is another link on the theory that "It's just a dog."

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Two Halloween Events

    The SF Bay Area sure loves it some Halloween. Here are two fun events coming up for dog lovers and pit bull supporters.

    1. Saturday, Oct 25 12-4pm
    Treats and Tricks
    at the Oakland Animal Shelter
    1101 29th Avenue

    Come see where our Ambassadogs live! Costume contest for dogs, Halloween photos, Tour of the shelter - Get a sneak preview of BR's new Pit Bull Love Shack. Bring treats for the dogs. BR Ambassadogs will be doing tricks for you at 2:30.
    OAS Party Details

    2. Friday, Oct 31 - 6-9pm
    Paws & Claws
    Fundraiser for BR

    2023 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland

    This is going to be a sweet party. Costume parade through the Diamond District at 6pm, then back to Paws & Claws for a campfire, food and drinks. Fun!

    Paws & Claws Party Details

    Above: Juliette the Bunny Princess lives in NJ with her person, Maho.

    And left, Robert Heller of MN created this gargoyle costume for Sonja Joy. Both dogs won BR's online costume contest in 2004.

    You just gotta LOVE this red/red demon dog.

    Oakland: 2 out of 3 ain't bad
    Thanks to all who came out to the Oakland City Council budget cuts mtng on Oct 16. The council heard our pleas, and 2 of the 3 endangered positions at the shelter are safe. Whew. 

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    My pit bull is smarter than your yoga teacher

    This is so wrong, but so very sublime.

    We approved a new home for Newman today, and we're all doing handstands to celebrate. Lucky dog, lucky adopters. Thanks for all your dedicated training work, Sara Scott! We know it's going to be hard to say good-bye to this little teacher's pet when he goes home next week.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Floyd Acquitted; Bad Law Remains

    Pit bull message boards lit up with news of Floyd Boudreaux's acquittal from state dog fighting charges this week when prosecutors failed to present enough evidence to convict. *News* Floyd admitted to pitting his dogs back when dog fighting was still legal in Louisiana, but maintained a reputation as a breeder until 2005, when state troopers, aided by the HSUS, stormed onto his property and seized his dogs. We'll let Floyd's Maker sort out his life choices, but we can't let this go without highlighting the archaic Louisiana State Animal Law that gave investigators the green light to destroy some 57 dogs within 3 days of Boudreaux's arrest ---and all for naught.
    (2) The legislature finds and declares that fighting dogs used or employed in violation of R.S. 14:102.5 are dangerous, vicious, and a threat to the health and safety of the public. Therefore, fighting dogs seized in accordance with this Section are declared to be contraband and, notwithstanding R.S. 14:102.1, officer may cause them to be humanely euthanized as soon as possible by a licensed veterinarian or a qualified technician and shall not be civilly or criminally liable for so doing. Fighting dogs not destroyed immediately shall be disposed of in accordance with R.S. 14:102.2. - LA State Animal Law

    When we first learned of Floyd's arrest, we got on the phone to plead for the lives of his dogs, but they were already dead. The news was personally devastating to many of us - Not only were the dogs lost, they were branded as killers, and without any evidence or trial. That case subsequently lead to our fire to help the Vick dogs, before they fell to the same ugly fate.

    LA-SPCA's then-director Laura Maloney received death threats for her shelter's role in destroying the dogs. But Laura was fed the same line that the rest of the country had heard: Bad dogs, too dog aggressive to save. If only we'd heard a different tune in place of the chest pounding braggery that surfaced.

    The. Dogs. Deserve. Better. And yes, three years in a shelter would've been a cruelty of its own kind - Which is exactly why authorities need to consider the victims' fate, and take their potential suffering into account when weighing out the consequences of any raid. As we've said in the past: It's about the DOGS, people. Not the coup or the glory of the bust.

    So, many breed fanciers are celebrating the Boudreaux acquittal tonight as a major victory for pit bull owners, especially during a time when owning a treadmill or breakstick can cause homes to lose their pets. That's got to be difficult for investigators to hear (and no doubt someone will follow here shortly to accuse me of supporting dog fighters). But victory or not, Louisiana's pit bulls are still the losers....

    As long as LA is willing to keep an inhumane law on the books that excludes due process and condemns pit bulls to death based on an outdated, unproven premise, the authorities will continue to be in the wrong in these situations, and even the most responsibly owned pets will be in certain danger.

    Photo Above: Bust survivor Hector has lessons for us all. Shown here with his adopter, Roo Yori.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Civic Yourself, for Dog's Sake

    I haven't been to a city council meeting in forever, but Oakland is as broke as the next city and tomorrow they want to discuss cutting three staffers from the already thin payroll at Oakland Animal Services. That can't happen. Oakland has finally dug its way out of one of the worst reputations in the county for shelter nastiness and there's no room for moving backwards. If you want more details on the plans to cut, feel free to email me. And better yet, if you're a resident, consider adding your two cents at the city's Open Forum - Thursday, Oct 16 at 4pm.

    Speaking of City Councils - love'em-hate'em?

    Well, we're still buzzin' ... Our faith was so very restored by how well Vallejo represented this past weekend. Members from their city council and animal services gave up their Sunday to help us the facilitate the Celebrate Your Pit Bull Day Event (see Christine's blog below) and over a hundred people gathered in one place to do one thing: Support pit bulls and their people.

    One city rep even hoofed door-to-door to distribute event literature and connect with dog owners...
    ...Read this blog entry from Council Member Stephanie Gomes.

    It seems like easy math, but it just doesn't happen often enough: Animal control, city gov't and dog owners all need to be on good terms so all sides can work on the issues that affect our pets.

    Above: David Sidie, director of animal services at the Benicia Vallejo Humane Society, embraces pit bulls both literally and figuratively by assisting with a vaccination.

    If you aren't sure where your local gov't and/or animal shelter stands on dog issues there's no time like the present to introduce yourself and offer your thoughts on public safety and responsible ownership. Extra points for offering to help make them look good by initiating an event that brings dog owners and politicos together for the common goal of evolving ourselves as better dog stewards. Being a middle man was never so rewarding.

    Right: Owner Pride, Vallejo.

    Monday, October 13, 2008


    We put on our last shot fair of the year yesterday in Vallejo. We didn’t quite know how many dogs to expect as we had never done a shot fair in Vallejo before and this was our first (of many!) shot fair that we’d organized on our own, so we called it a “Celebrate Your Pit Bull” shot fair event. Because it was our first fair in Vallejo, our goal was mainly to start building a relationship with the community and support Vallejo’s pit bull owners.

    How did it go, you ask?

    PHEWF! Although the 2-hour fair officially started at noon, when I got there just after 10 a.m., there was already a line forming, and people were overheard mentioning that they wanted to be one of the first 50 people because we advertised the first 50 microchips were free. While people were waiting in line for their dogs to be vaccinated, Tim talked to everyone about training and offered support and answers to their questions. A number of people were very appreciative and interested in signing up for BAD RAP’s new pit ed classes in Vallejo, taught by Linda.

    In the end, 75 pit bulls and pit bull mixes were vaccinated, at least 60 were microchipped, and we gave away just over 50 vouchers for a free spay/neuter surgery. Most people were more than willing to get their pit bulls spayed and neutered – the biggest obstacle was the expense. And what an expense it is, too! When I called around to find general spay/neuter prices in Vallejo, a city that recently filed for bankruptcy, it ranged from $250 to $550!

    The event was truly an example of what can happen when people and groups come work together for a common goal. We couldn’t have done it without the help of the Greater Vallejo Recreation Department, the Benicia-Vallejo Humane Society, Vallejo Animal Control, Ms. Diana Lang, and of course, our BAD RAP volunteers who make things look so easy! Even Vallejo City Council members Stephanie Gomes (who personally helped hang doorhangers in and around town!) and Michael Wilson came to support the event and offer their help.

    What a great day for the both the Vallejo community and pit bull owners! We’re so looking forward to next year’s fairs!

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    Hey, Sailor!

    Every birthday deserves a good bulldog card. This one's at Barnes & Noble right now. Created by Sunrise Greetings.

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    Regardless of which end you look at… can’t always be certain of what breed of dog you’re looking at. There are a myriad of reasons for not supporting any sort of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and just one of them is breed misidentification. Because of my hectic life, I start early in the day and jog with my Pit bull on the waterfront every morning before the sun even thinks of coming up. I have for years.
    I heard a particularly disturbing story this past weekend. Rumor had it that three Pit bulls “attacked” one of my fellow joggers at 5:30am last week in the very same park that I jog though. The local media wanted the story and was calling around for information. Instead of making assumptions and jumping to conclusions (like the media did), I started asking questions. Seems one dog was large. “How large” I asked. It was 100 pounds. “Well, it probably wasn't a Pit bull” I said. But there were two other smaller dogs, both brown. And when I heard a description of the owner, it clicked. I knew the dogs. I knew the owner. The owner and her Boxers live nearby and she’s also silly enough to start her day in the park at 5:15am.

    Nobody but me knew who these dogs were and who they belonged to. This wasn’t a Pit bull attack. Do I defend the breed so dear to my heart? To do that I had to rat out my neighbor. She and her dogs were going to be in a lot of trouble. Of course, without hesitation, I made the right decision. Careless owners with dangerous dogs have to be held accountable for their dog’s actions.

    I’ll bet no mention is ever made of this bite incident in the local paper. In these times of Pit bull paranoia, non-pit bulls bites are barely media worthy. What’s important is that dogs are individuals and one particular breed isn’t responsible for all bites. It’s just not about the breed, and BSL is just not going to stop dog bites. But if it’s up to the jogger that got bit last week, all smooth, short coated, muscular dogs are going to be misidentified as Pit bulls and this incident in my own neighborhood highlights but one problem with BSL.

    I wonder if even the most Pit bull savvy among us can find the Pit bull on first try in this popular online game from Pit bulls on the Web. For more info regarding BSL, bookmark Understand-a-Bull's great website.