Thursday, July 31, 2008

Out of the fog

The recent Verizon/Tulsa/Erie news has been such a soul-suck, I'm double-dosing on dog promos as a way to fend off the bad juju.

This is Kinzie back when we met her in April. She was from a hoarding case of sorts and she wasn't in the best of shape. She was also completely unfamiliar with life in the real world, so she had a bit of catching up to do.

Anyone who fosters dogs knows what a pain in the butt it can be; the whole household can get thrown off until the new guy settles in, chills out and finally curbs the barking, marking, whining, chewing, or whatever else feels like nails on a chalkboard.

But this tiny girl has soldiered on with such steady progress that she's made our job easy. It's so rewarding when you see them finally come out of the fog and find their sparkle again. If only it were this easy to set wayward humans on the right course. The before photo is left, and, look at her now....

Welcome to real life, Kinzie. We can't do a whole lot more for you - it's time for you to reel in that most wonderful new home!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Our first crew of dogs at Oakland Animal Services was quick to show us how to make best use of the exercise yard for crazy fun adventures. Here's an update on the new collaborative project from our most recent Newsletter

And here are two young dogs who would prefer fewer words - more fun. They're each going to be great additions to their future families.

Tulsa Redone

The lab puppy case is all over the news - 205 news articles and counting. It's been interesting to see how many insist that a lab pup could never use its teeth to cause harm. In case your co-workers are trying to convince you that reality just doesn't work that way, here's a short list of old and not-so-old headlines to remind them that dogs are still animals, even when they can fit into a fancy leather shoulder bag. If you can quiet them long enough to read, maybe you'll be able to get some work done. Good luck. .....Dachshund ... Pomeranian ... Jack Russell Terrier ... Poodle/Cairn mix....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Lab Puppy Kills

Infant dies

I hate that we (we, as in pit bull people) will be using this heart wrenching story as an example of failed dog ownership, but we will - for a long time. Just like we've been using the example of the French woman who received the first face transplant. It's horrible to have to know about these things, much less keep track of so much grief. (Chako Press) I look forward to the day when people finally start to get it....

The dogs that are set up to fail don't know what breed they are.

Rest in peace, little Tulsa baby.

Since when do paramedics get to speak on dog behavior? Ugh.

"Even a very familiar family dog can turn on you, puppies specifically, they're unpredictable, they're young, they got a lot of hormones going on, you've never know what they're gonna do" - Chris Stevens of EMSA.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hear this, Verizon

Another unattended child killed by a chained dog (a pit bull) employed as a guard dog in MS. The dog owner tells it better than any of us ever could...

"Let me set the record straight ... That child wandered into my yard when no one was watching him. And had Chassidy asked me to watch him, I would have. And I probably would have saved his life."

Reason said he got Blue Eyes as a guard dog. The dog was always chained and never allowed to roam, he said. "Believe me, this was no pet" ..."I've had more stuff stolen from this driveway. You wouldn't believe it. The dog worked because it scared people away."
News Article
Our sincere condolences to the victim's family, to the dog owner, who has to live with this terrible memory, and to all the families who will lose their cherished pets to BSL because of avoidable tragedies like this.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stereotyping for fun & profit

We can bet that the ad goons for Verizon are n'yukin it up and high-fiving over the press from the Dare campaign. People in that world tend to be too neurotic about their careers to care about silly things like sentient beings. Peta's mock outrage is equally annoying. As if they care about pit bulls. Please.

Here are two postcards to print off, scribble pleas for sanity or obscenities or both and send out to the corporate world. The really awful part is that no one on the receiving end may care. But we have to do it anyway. We chose Jane aka Georgia from Bad Newz Kennels as the messenger in this piece. Jonny's on the second card. They've each had more than one org stereotype them in the name of cashola - trendsetters that they are.

The postcards are on a big fat PDF file. Oh my aching bandwidth. So give it a minute to come up. If you know of names... (stores/shareholders/execs/etc) that should get a pile of these, please share their address here. Thanks.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Storytelling For Change

"Although dogs don't tell stories, they have stories, and the stories help us understand."

This is my favorite line from Susan McCarthy's beautiful article in the current issue of BARk Magazine, a story about the Vick dogs. Susan reminds us how important it is to tell - and retell - important stories. Storytelling shapes who we are as a culture, and more specifically, as a culture of animal stewards. The Vick dogs' stories have been told many times already and, we hope, will continue to be retold again and again. All the better to help us shape a new understanding and reality for pit bulls and other beings plagued by abuse and misunderstanding. So, thank you Susan.

Here's the first page of her article. I love her style. I love even more that she committed herself to so many personal visits to get to know the dogs (She was worried that she was being a pest. She wasn't.) Susan even joined us at a Shots Fair in the belly of Oakland last winter as a way to peek inside this strange world of ours, and she let herself get swept up in assisting the clients who showed up with their pets.

She really 'got' Frodo - our shy damaged youngin.' Not many people take the time to slow down and understand that dog, and his story is as important as any. Frodo was damaged by the good guys -- by the shelter that took him in. Read more about it in the BARk on newsstands now.

My next favorite line in Susan's story is from Randy Lockwood, who reminds us that even old dog fight experts can learn new tricks. It takes big cajones to admit that you've changed your dogma in the face of new evidence. Thank you Randy.
"I've changed my own position. I helped draft the HSUS policy (when I worked there) of not placing animals rescued from known dog-fighting operations. I've changed my tune." - Randy Lockwood ASPCA
After all, if we can bend our hearts towards bust dogs, then there can be no excuse for condemning the pit bulls that come from other places. That's our story, anyway.

Verizon Sucks

By now, you've prolly heard that Verizon is telling a horror story by exploiting chained pit bulls to pimp their phone. You just KNOW the ad team expected to catch heat for this. I'm betting that they're banking on controversy as a way to draw attention to their product; Every advertiser knows that there's no such thing as bad press. Even so, screw the petition. Send your outrage in ink, or mail them some dog poo, etc.

Ivan Seidenberg, Chairman and CEO Verizon
140 West Street
New York, NY 10007

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bed Bugs

Jonny & Audie trip the light fantastic during an overnight education mission in SoCA. With clowns-on-tap, who needs cable?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Volunteering your blood, sweat & tears

Our group of dog handlers formerly-known-as Pit Bull Hall team members has been busy getting their bearings at Oakland Animal Services. The OAS Mentors have given everyone a warm welcome and made this transition so comfortable.

This week, we're selecting dogs for the brand new Ambassadog Program. Those lucky pups will get the benefit of focused training, field trips, web exposure, socialization with other dogs and, if all goes as planned, a great home that will continue with the dog's PR work for years to come. After all, being an Ambassador is more about the human than the dog, right?

The hardest part so far is choosing which dogs to wrap ourselves around. With so many great diamonds-in-the-ruff, we're drawn in all different directions. Do we take the ghetto bred goof that needs a LOT of training (above) ? ... the sassy, effusive little gamegirl with energy to spare? ... the over-muscled trophy dog? ... the obnoxious but ever-happy pit/AB mix? ... the gentle lady's dog who's getting swallowed by the chaos of the kennels ...? Stay tuned. We'll highlight our picks as soon as early next week.

In the meantime, please considering volunteering for this project. Anyone who wants to help the dogs of Oakland Animal Services will have the option of applying to do double-duty as a BAD RAP Ambassadog Team Member. This will require two separate trainings. First, the basics to help you decide if OAS is the right place for you. And if it is, then another set of hoops helps segue OAS volunteers into BR's pit bull only program. Did we mention the blood, sweat and tears part yet?

Follow This LINK for info on how to get started. Look for the tab at the top of the page that says Volunteer. And don't forget to donate to this big bad project via the Team Pibble project (blog below). THANK YOU! ... We're so excited.

Dispatch from Team Pibble

Hey folks, Team Pibble here, raising funds and love for BAD RAP's new Ambassadog Project! We're into week two of triathlon training—or is it three? Who knows. Big grins to Boris, Josie, Bug, Brigitte, Deja, and all the rest of the pups barking at the sidelines so far.

One of the unexpected bonuses of all this yammering we're doing about OAS is turning up pit bull junkies in our lives that we never knew about. Leslie M. is a gifted poet EK's known for years who, as it turns out, rescued her own young pup years back. Leslie wrote recently about Sally's tough start:

Sally is my doggie love. She and a littermate were tossed from a moving car as puppies one December day. They were likely the runts of the litter of one of the fighting dog breeders in nearby New London. The other pup died. Sally was nursed back to health by a local vet, but no one would adopt her. I took my cats in for a checkup months later and fell in love with her. How could I not? She was small, three of her four hips were displaced, she had wicked bow legs, and she was carrying a little stuffed animal! ... She's been the heart of my household for years. Sleeps between me and Bill, wears a darlin' pink collar. And she smells like Cheez Doodles.

Whew, good to get to the happy ending there. I’ve met a few Sallies, the kind of survivors whose stamina will push us not only to finish this damn race, but to continue to ask for your contributions. There are probably a few forgiving Sallies over at OAS right now and we aim to do right by em like Leslie did.

So if you haven’t been back to Team Pibble to support BAD RAP, we’ve added the stuff you asked for—new shirts and styles. Also: a new extra-dorky short video of our coach and hey, hey, a new playlist too (it could be your dog!).

So come visit our sandbox, wouldja? We're waiting for you. You can donate any amount you like.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Smiles about the ATTS, the ASPCA & the ABA

Good news comes in threes.
Here are some reasons to smile this Monday.

1. Brave heart Jonny Justice made us all proud by passing the American Temperament Test this past weekend. Not bad, considering the test involves a gun blast and a scary stranger - both of which factored into the dark days of his former life. The ATTS criteria is tough. Evaluators score dogs on their confidence and stability in confrontational situations. Pit bulls still rank as one of the top scoring breeds in the ATTS yearly scores.

2. The ASPCA is including happy ending photos of the V-dogs in their online course: Investigating Animal Abuse for Law Enforcement. Valerie S. Sheppard, Director of ASPCA's E-Learning told us that they hope to "illustrate the point that law enforcement officers who investigate dog fighters can truly make the difference in the lives of animals." Yes, ma'am!

3 The American Bar Association (ABA) is looking at the Vick case as an important animal welfare precedent, and a teaching case for up and coming animal law attorneys. Legal proceedings and lessons learned will be presented in a workshop at DePaul University College of Law this coming September 19. In addition to great inside info from Special Master Guardian Rebecca Huss, forensics expert Dr. Melinda Merck and others, Tim and I will be there to discuss the challenges of caring for fight bust victims. We're honored to be included in the event, which will be a bit of a reunion for many of us. Attorneys: Register Now

Sunday, July 13, 2008

There goes the neighborhood. Foreclosure freak out.

Watch out! Foreclosures are attracting a new kind of neighbor to once-gated communities, and long-time residents aren't happy. Gasp. Taxi drivers. Gasp. Kids who race their cars. Gasp. Families who sit in lawn chairs and drink beer in the middle of the day! What's an upper-class homeowner to do? American Public Media drums up all kinds stereotypes in this article about foreclosures in Las Vegas. Seems they attract the I-got-mine types' worst nightmares, including the wrong kinds of people and especially, the wrong kinds of pets. It's a wingdinger of a piece in that the author, Krissy Clark - who seems to recognize that classism & racism are, um, bad - is completely oblivious to the fact that her words have endorsed another way to stereotype and condemn American families. Article

Krissy writes: "To understand how San Niccolo went from a place you'd expect to see golden retrievers to a place where pit bulls are the in-vogue pet, you need to back up a few years."

.....A fews years, like the 1950s?

She goes on: "Three pit bulls now live on Arcata Point, Karen's neighbor says. She shows me her son's Louisville Slugger baseball bat, which she carries whenever she leaves the house to fend off the dogs in case they get off-leash."

The article's subject (who is black) comes around some and confesses: "There are some biases that I had that I didn't realize. You sort of stereotype people."

Ya think? Now let's see if we can put away that baseball bat and go get to know those neighbors who love up on those crazy smiling dawgs with the big fat heads.


On a better note, while times are tough and we hate seeing anyone lose their home, we're hopeful that the foreclosure trend can offer new opportunities for stability to long-suffering pit bull owners. Many can finally keep their dog safe from landlord bias and buy a decent house in a decent neighborhood. Who ever thought we could find house again for $200,000 in the SF bay area? Rock on pit bull owners -- go make it work for you and yours. Photo Above: Pit Bull Hall dog Elvez, now adopted, is about to take his Canine Good Citizen test. His new owner is renting and hopes very much to buy a home to help keep his boy safe.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bounce Back

The Google alerts have been bringing way too many stories of pit bulls tortured: This week in Seattle, a dog was tied to a cement block and tossed into a river to drown. And in Alberta, Canada, another was doused in gasoline and burned nearly to death. What cruel bastards we humans can be.

We've been noticing an increase in burn injuries on dogs over the past 5 or so years. In many cases, the burns walk down the backbone, as if someone poured butane and lit a match. This back belongs to BR dog Deja Blu by the way. Like a lightening bolt that you can see with closed eyes, it's hard for me to look at this without seeing the flames. Thankfully, she doesn't seem especially sensitive there, and her new home more than makes up for that hellish moment ... In fact, outside of tending her with salves & sunscreen, the scar is barely on their radar: What's done is done.

While burns like Deja's seem intentional - and may be connected with a gang initiation or some other form of cruel dare-you game - another common pattern shows up as random burns scattered & dotted all around dogs' bodies. It's not a coincidence that these injuries are increasing right along with the number of meth lab-related burns coming into ERs all over the country. Just another way that pit bulls silently reflect the social ills of the two-legged animals.
RESILIENCE 2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

Ted Baby

In the face of cruelty, you just have to keep on trucking....

Vick dog #5 gave us a big happy by leaving to his foster/adopt home today. Teddles - who may choose to ignore you unless you call him Ted BAY-BEE - will have a new sister dog and a devoted family with happy plans that include helping him earn his Therapy Dog title. Amazingly, his new mom Cindy didn't know he was a Vick dog when she applied to adopt him. Ha!

Ted's foster mom Christine told her son Sam this morning that "Ted doesn't live with us anymore." GULP I can't imagine what a two year old brain does with that kind of information, but we're so grateful that he gave Ted the last 8 months of his life. Thank you kindly, little Sam.

Ted stole my heart completely in VA during a pre-roadtrip bath out on the shelter lawn. He was too big and dorky to be a fighting dog and is one of the biggest clowns you can imagine. We had the good fortune of watching him for a few days recently and loved every minute. Here's a quick clip of Tim enjoying him in the morning. Notice Ted wince about mid-way through when Tim raises his hand with the toy. Somebody in his past heavy handed this guy. Like Deja, he keeps on keeping on.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Positive Vibes & Good Ink

This shelter girl is thugging out so bad that the house is shaking.
Check it:
I manage the Butte Humane Society in Chico and I went to your conference last September for pit bulls .... I just wanted you to know how much of a difference you have made in the way people see pit bulls. I was very used to hearing on a very regular basis "why don't you just put down all the pits, they're aggressive anyway," etc. We would find good families for out pits, but it would usually take a lot of time before nice people came in seeking a pitbull. (and thugs didn't come in looking! Silly PETA.)

Since the vick dogs we have had families coming in to look at pits, our adoptions are up, and I NEVER hear people on their soapbox about pit bulls. Being a pit bull is no longer a guarantee of being around for six months. Now people are asking questions instead of assuming!

People have mentioned the vick dogs, and seeing jonny on rachel ray. People are finally seeing pitbulls as dogs, not monsters. I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done.

I even got a tattoo of Jonny (Justice) on my arm. He represents the beginning of the acceptance of pitbulls and the understanding that every dog deserves a chance.

Kim Thompson

Oh Yeah. Now THAT's a girl who wears her heart on her ... arm. Thank you for the huge smile, Kim.

A peek at the Butte Humane website shows a good number of happy dogs, including some very handsome pit bulls.
This pretty girl is named Sydney and she's representing BHS's Shining Star program, designed to highlight the shelter's best breed ambassadors. What a beauty. If you're looking to adopt and are anywhere near Chico, please go give these dogs some love.

Have a great weekend. Remember to slather sunscreen on your dogs AND your tats.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hector on MN News

A first. Oh MAN! The news piece is modest, but the fact that they sought out the story bodes well for Roo & Clara & Hector. Here's hoping for lots of positive press for many years to come.

Great quotes, Roo. You just go on with your bad self. Hector on the Telly

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Desert Thug Confessions

Desert Thugs leave their mark by tagging rocks and crashing Burning Man parties. As you can see, they're reckless & outta control.
Dear BadRap - This voluptuous redhead is Princess Calico, AKA The Licko, who at 12 years old decided to try quad riding (carefully!) She just returned from beating up the neighbors with her evil tail. Her accomplice is my husband, an aerospace engineer. I am an R.N. and we have two (mostly) grown thugly sons, one who is working on becoming a police officer and the other who is attending college to pursue youth ministry. We are truly a shady bunch! We live in So. Cal. but this picture is taken at our place in northern NV. Calico's other interests include hanging out with her Chow mix bro Hoover, power napping, playing with her favorite dog homies, and of course eating!
We've had and loved several pits and pit mixes over the years and always come back for more! - Pat Swain

Are you a thug?

Monday, July 07, 2008

All Hail Pete

How much do we love Youtube? It's full of old timey silent movies like this one called Dog Heaven, starring Our Gang's Pete the Pup back in 1927. Lots of dog-action and a couple of other bulls in there too, including a handsome amstaff with a nice crop who saves Pete. Love the scene with the hose!

The adult themes in these old flicks are always a little shocking, especially the hanging scene. Let's just tell ourselves he was strapped in by a harness. Fill up yer mug and take that longer break you've been needing. This is good stuff. ... Part 2 and ....Part 3

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Washington Post Pix

This is Carol Guzy, the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who jetted around the country to capture images of the Vick dogs in their current settings. Her images just launched in a beautiful multi-media piece in the Washington Post.

Shelter for the Scarred

Even though we've seen hundreds of photos of the dogs by now, I admit I broke down and wept when I finally saw these. She captured the bond that keeps all of us defending these dogs. Thank you, Carol.

The accompanying article is rather average (unfortunately, this pit bull-shy reporter was never able to meet the dogs) but those photos! They speak a thousand words. Bless that lady and her camera.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Chin UP! Pledge some sugar to Oakland's homeless dogs

The group is in a nervous/excited state, getting ready for a big BIG change. Which provides ample excuses to procrastinate housework in the name of finding head space for -- ack! Big Change. Readers may have noticed that we're almost out of dogs right now (Yay). That was by design ... As our foster dogs were adopted, we all took a brief break to gear up for the Ambassadog Project at Oakland Animal Services. This in-shelter adoption/education project is a reincarnated, re-named version of our much loved, recently completed, Pit Bull Hall project. Then located within the privately run East Bay SPCA, it will now live inside Oakland's city shelter.

Dozens of our dogs rotated through Pit Bull Hall over three years, and we had a blast. But we felt it was time to move this focus to a public shelter, where challenges are bigger and definitely more numerous. I guess we're like pit bulls in that we get squirrely if we don't have a new goal in front of us. That, and we love the staff at OAS. They're good people and as motivated to help Oaktown's animals as you'll ever find.

Now, Chin Ups
To help us get ready for the Big Move-In, pit bull junkies Elizabeth Kennedy (also a dog handler with BR) and gal-pal Monica are working to raise bucks for items that will help Ambassadog Project dogs enjoy their kennel-time at the shelter. To do that, they've taken on the name TEAM PIIBBLE for a triathlon competition and they'd love your pledges. And these ladies are motivated, lemme tellya. Just look at that inspiring chin up session on their link. Whoa!

Our first hope is to use the funds to buy up a ready supply of sturdy toys, tug-ropes and ample kongs for a never-ending kong stuffing party at the shelter. And when we really get rolling, we picture agility equipment: Our very own tunnel! An A-Frame! Maybe even the weight-pull equipment we've been threatening to buy. Oh Holy Pit Bull Christmas!

Watch here and on the TEAM PIIBBLE site as Elizabeth updates us on her training adventures. Thanks for helping out!

Kind Generous People

Speaking of helping out, recent gifts from these donors are going to make it easier for us extend our work to another struggling city. We're currently targeting under-resourced Vallejo as a home for a Shots Fair and regular Pit Ed training classes. Big thanks to Silicon Valley Community Foundation of Mountain View, CA and Triangle Community Foundation of Durham, NC. Bless you! We couldn't get off the floor without people like you.

And finally, thanks to Amanda Schaefer. She manages a 7-11 in Grand Ledge MI and held a car wash so she could send a donation to the dogs of BR. You so rock, Amanda!

I also want to thank Gina Spadafori at the Pet Connection Blog. for one of the biggest soul-food boosts we've received since the feds said we could come get the Vick dogs. Her vote of confidence and praise for BR's programs propped all of us right up. Thanks again, Gina.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Update on V-dogs in other places

The V-boys that lived at the Hanover shelter (Uba, Hector) have kept us talking, but now it's the girls' turn. We have both happy and heartbreaking news to share. First the sad.....

Hanover #43 otherwise known as Aretha - a warm-eyed black female, absorbed by the Georgia SPCA - died after being hit by a car outside of her foster home. Her foster dad was apparently very bonded with her and is understandably distraught. We send our condolences and our thanks to all the people who loved her and helped her enjoy her post-rescue life. Party on in pit bull heaven, Sweet Aretha.

Aretha was photographed by Nicole Rattay during her 6 week stay in VA.

We think a lot about all the dogs that we put our paws on back in Virginia. This little prick-eared girl - known as Hanover #31 - had us worried for awhile there when her life in a vet's office became longer than temporary. So we were thrilled to get this video along with a note from her new home-sweet-home. Damn, it feels good to see these guys living a real dog's life. Big kudos to Sharon Cornett of Richmond Animal League for your tenacity with Hope's placement (since renamed 'Jhumpa'), and to Kathleen and her crew. You so made our month with this update.

Check out this little family --- Now THAT's a pack!

And if you want another good dose of the Good Life for Kathleen's pack, check out this video... Pure BLISS