Friday, May 30, 2008

Introducing, Joker

Blessed brindle beast. Gangsta of Love (aka Thug Dog).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Confess: Are YOU a THUG?

If you got your pit bull from a shelter, you might be one of those - you know - Thug Types. So says PETA.

Pit bull owner Charles Brettell wrote recently to challenge PETA on their position which calls for the death of all sheltered pit bulls. (Compassionate much?) A PETA spokesman explained:

But we must consider that nice families rarely come to a shelter to adopt pit bulls; almost without exception, those who want pit bulls are attracted to the "macho" image of the breed as a living weapon and seek to play up this image by putting the animals in heavy chains, taunting them into aggression, and leaving them outside in all weather extremes in order to "toughen" them. There is no denying that pit bulls are at a higher risk of suffering a horrible fate. - Jeff Haines PETA Spokesman

If you think you might be a thug, please confess. Send us a web-link to your family photo or video...with said pit bull please...and we'll post it here on days when we're too busy home-checking thug adopters to blog.

Also, tell us a little bit about yourself: Are you a thug with a mortgage? a college educated thug? a soccer-mom thug?...any fashion or music preferences?...And we'd love to know what kind of suffering your pet is enduring at home.

Thug Mail

Thanks. We'll have to figure out a way to gather up the pix and share them with our friend Jeff.

Thug Alert!

True Thug Confessions are rolling in. Dangerous Sarah of Baton Rouge LA with dog Wicked Riley writes:

"Over the years we've enjoyed numerous thug-centric activities with Riley, including obedience classes, long walks around our middle-class suburban neighborhood, intense fetch sessions in our backyard, and hours of snuggling on the couch.

A lot of my time is spent caring for our four dogs (we also claim a chocolate lab, a husky and a shar-pei/possible pit bull mix as members of our family), but I also enjoy reading, jogging, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and volunteering with my local animal rescue organization. I currently work in an administrative position for a large veterinary hospital, but this summer I will be entering a full-time graduate program in Education at Louisiana State University. Next year I hope to start teaching English classes to middle-school students, where the first order of business will be learning the definition of "stereotype."

Watch out Louisiana. That lady is packin' some real Cajun pit bull heat!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Signs, Signs - Everywhere a Sign!

We just came out of Dog Bite Prevention Week, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the news. Kids are getting bit up all over the place. Clearly, families are ignoring the signs. Or maybe the signs read as jibberish?
Family dog with bite history mauls kids in Fremont
Family dog bites again Great quotes from Karen Delise, btw.

Marcie has good bite prevention info on

In the meantime, Let's hear it for Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hearts never lie.

We did our first official adoption of a Vick dog last Saturday. Little Dutch was grabbed up by none other than BR's ace trainer, Linda Chwistek and her husband Bill. Linda's been looking for an agility dog for ages and when she met Dutch and recognized his courage, drive and natural talent, she told us "I haven't been this excited since I tasted my first candy bar!"

Unfortunately, a specialist noted that Dutch's joints would not be able to endure the stress of the sport, so Linda sadly resigned to let him go so she can continue her search. Until she phoned us that is, to report that she wants him anyway. ha! Dutch made such an impression on these guys - and they meet hundreds of dogs every year - that they couldn't let him go. While Linda is still looking for her agility star, there are plans to give Dutch a different, less strenuous vocation (details to come). The adoption ceremony was captured by a film crew for Animal Planet and will air in August. We'll give a heads up when that happens.

Moral of the Story? Some of the most precious treasures can come from some of the darkest of places. You'll never know unless you look.

On another note, we're all feeling very grateful for a kind donation from the friends of a remarkable San Francisco resident who died last year. Micheal Keenan was a pit bull owner and all around animal lover. He ran into a burning building to save the life of his friend's jack russell terrier and later died from the burns that resulted. A Hero's Story

We were able to use the funds to help transport five AZ bust dogs from Tucson to CA. The dogs narrowly escaped a sad fate. (We're still grieving for the ones we couldn't help).

Coincidentally, one of the dogs transported is a brindle, just like this pup shown with Michael. (Movie: Joker) Much gratitude to Michael for inspiring so many to be heroes through your selfless actions. And thank you to his friends, including Leslie Hayne, for donating to the dogs in Michael's name.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


There's just no way to present this with any semblance of professional courtesy: PETA's euthanasia rates are out of control. Follow this link to a telling graphic that illustrates just how many pets Ingrid's shelter destroyed last year, compared to their save rate. Slaughter.
These numbers are nuts. How can America be so blind?
Thanks for the heads up, Terrierman via Caveat

Speaking of nuts. An Ohio Senator is looking to go the way of Denver, and is calling for the automatic death of any and ALL dogs that appear to be pit bull. Ohio House Bill 568. We're getting frantic emails from all over the country.

Please holler loudly from your corners. These atrocities are no different from the horrible pet massacres in China, but right here in our so-called heartland.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We came, We saw, We collapsed

Disney World is an odd place to gather round with shelter workers to talk about pit bulls, but it's a Small World after all, so what the hec? - Bring it on. This year's HSUS Expo in Orlando FL was as otherworldly as one can expect. The convention center conveniently blocked any cell phone reception and Internet access, so you're essentially forced to give in to the scene and make nice with the pet stain remover lady who really really really wants you to try her product. Yay trade shows!

Our 'product' hung on banners on our booth walls and I don't mind saying how proud we were to have our dogs flashing their big-fat smiles at everyone who walked by. We shared a 'double wide' with Animal Farm Foundation and never stopped talking with the endless parade of people. I think we dreamt about talking once the lights went out. EVERYone wants to talk about pit bulls -- or, I should say, everyone who actually works with pit bulls wants to talk about pit bulls. The suits tend to steer clear, but it's only a matter of time. You know what they say.

Big thanks to all the people who piled in to hear our presentation. I didn't expect you to cheer when the slide came up showing the Vick dogs in their foster people's arms and I nearly choked up into an ugly-cry when you did. Caught myself tho' - Whew.

Combined with AFF, we gave away pounds and pounds of stuff. Some 200 magnets, 2000 Vick Dog trading cards (thank you Nicole), 500 Pit Bull Placebo books, hundreds of hand-outs, stacks of CDs with our materials, and finally, 500 posters ... Many were signed by Cooper, who drew fans like pit bulls rush to weed wackers.


Some stuff for you: Our new posters are online in case you need some positive imagery and healthy messaging for your cinder block walls. If you aren't a shelter, buy one or two anyway and have them delivered to your favorite ACO. We aren't marking these up, so hopefully they'll be affordable enough to get some mileage out there. ---> Getyer POSTERS

And finally, this little post-expo article was a good reminder why Mickey's madness is worth enduring. We look forward to next year (in Vegas - Woot!) and some more of that crazy non-stop talk.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's Working

Something VERY exciting has been going on in Berkeley in recent months. It's so exciting that we've been afraid to talk for fear of jinxing it. That is, empty kennels ... lots and lots of empty kennels in the city shelter.

Ten years ago, the 60 runs at open-admission Berkeley Animal Care Services were depressingly full, sometimes doubled up, and staff was forced to euthanize for space...up to 600 dogs a year. But in 2007, the number of dog euthanasias was down 90%, with only 50 dogs put to sleep. Check it: BACS Stats

Our girl Sally was set to be euthanized in BACS due to lack of space, way back when. You-know-who actually inspired us to start BAD RAP.

Since last summer, the number of dogs coming in to BACS has dropped so much that almost one half of the runs are now consistently EMPTY. Last week, an all time low with 34 empty runs. It's almost too quiet in there! What's going on? We have to credit a combination of efforts: Successful Marketing of Shelter Dogs, Owner Education including Free Training, Volunteerism, Rescue and Voluntary Spay/Neuter Programs.

In short: The shelter staff and the local community kicked ass to make some changes.

We're really proud to be part of the these changes. Every week, dog owners pour into our Berkeley classes to learn how to be good stewards for their dogs and volunteers train unowned shelter dogs (pit bulls and their mixes are the most over-represented breed in BACS). It's extremely gratifying to see dogs that were once ill-mannered and a wee bit out of control turn into well behaved canine good citizens thanks to the help of the diehards who keep trucking in every week, some from over an hour away. It gets even better when the shelter dogs' new adopters show up to learn the drill.

This month, 25 new dog owners started BR's Beginning Class, and our Drop In class is at an all time high with up to 25 volunteer handlers and new adopters working the dogs together. (Over 400 people are on our waiting list trying to get in - EEK!) To keep up with the demand, we've called in reinforcements, and now the talented Linda Chwistek and Donyale Hoye (Photo) are giving up even more of their Saturdays to help train the new influx of people. It's going to be a busy summer!

So, there. It's out: Voluntary spay/neuter works, and Community Partnerships will save the world. At least, that's the plan. Here's more info: Cooperation & Compassion, Not Compulsion.

Congrats to Kate O'Connor and the staff at Berkeley Animal Care Services. With unwavering tenacity - not to mention a lot of class - you've shown everyone how to make it work. Well done.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What's Tuffer than Love?

We're slamming away behind the scenes to get things ready for our presentation at the HSUS expo next week (Next week? Ack!), meanwhile all but one of the dogs from the AZ raid have arrived and are getting settled in. So blogging goes back burner for now.

But this video just stopped me in my tracks. Thanks to Jane for sending it ... True grit people like Craig and his dog are the best inspiration.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Trouble with Hector

It shouldn't be that hard: Bring former Vick dog to shelter yard for quick photo session with dog loving, NFL player and Oakland shelter volunteer, Jarrod Cooper. Nice park-like setting, few dogs milling around. No biggie. Perfect lighting. Quick snap - we should be out of there.

Except it's Hector, who - we forgot - turns into a moosh-ball whenever he's held. Like, rag-doll-limp-noodle-ain't-got-no-bones-in-me kinda thing. Jellyfish. We love you Hector, but, please. We're on a time table here, baby...Work with me. Cooper was more than patient with shot after shot after shot after shot. Here are just some of the way too many ridiculous out takes.

Hellooooooo Hector?...Are you awake?

What loose dogs?

Zen Game Dog.

Yeah. You're a working dog. Right.

And finally! -- He opened his eyes. Here's the FINAL PRODUCT.

Cooper will be at our booth at the HSUS Animal Care Expo next week and promised to autograph a few posters. The connection? A new collaborative project to bring positive change to pets in Oakland. We were hoping to get Hector busy with paw print signatures for this run, but we wouldn't want to keep him awake.

Heads up: Caveat has a good opinion piece on an opinion piece from a Utah shelter. My favorite new term for media praddle: "Camp fire tales for the weak of mind" Thanks Caveat, I may have to steal that. Ticking Time Bomb or Trusted Friend