Sunday, August 31, 2008
Not again! Hurricane Hell
This time around, pets are allowed on public transport - In 2005, many residents who refused to leave their pets behind stayed put and even died alongside their animals. Author and breed advocate Ken Foster reports that some pet owners are trying to track down dog crates to load up pets before leaving town. Word has it that homeless, adoptable non-pits have been evacuated to better shelters with strong adoption programs while the pit bulls & strays are being housed nearby in high-kill shelters. And so it goes...back of the bus, pit bulls.
We're all holding our breath as Hurricane Gustav approaches New Orleans and other coastal communities. Can we quiet the monster by sending 'Go to sleep' calming vibes to Gustav? It's worth a try - the alternative involves chewed up fingernails.
We're wishing safe travels to all residents of the Gulf Coast and are holding the local animals in our hearts.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Thank you, Watsonville City Council!
Finally, at 9:30 pm, Marc Pimentel, Administrative Services Director and Animal Services Board Member, addressed city council. He suggested that his staff investigate options to better address dangerous dogs and set forth several available options. He recommended strengthening already existing laws; partnering with local animal organizations to develop a public education outreach campaign; and changing who conducts the dangerous dog hearings.
After the presentation, city council members commented and asked questions. And by the time the last council member spoke, I was so proud and pleasantly surprised. ALL members of council, including the mayor, opposed any breed specific measure and believed the problem to stem from the owner, not the dog. ALL council members were in favor of the recommendations made, and ALL were especially in favor of working with others to provide community outreach. The city staff agreed to research the recommendations and come back at a later date with more specific proposals for council's approval.
News: Watsonville Rejects Targeting
WOW! Viva progressive thinking. If you have a minute, please send a quick email to the council to thank them for not only focusing on the right end of the leash, but also for realizing that education and public outreach is a more effective tool than a breed-specific band-aid:
Thursday, August 28, 2008
God Save the Queen
Nothing feels right when loved ones are in pain. Our ten year old Sally, aka Wasabi Sabs, aka Queen Machine - the dog who first sucked us into this crazy work - had to have her toe removed yesterday.
Her most beautiful, most precious, most exquisite little digit
....... Sob! ........
The result of an angry mast cell tumor.
She's had the friggin' dis-ease for three years now. Some of our lessons learned along the way: 1) Don't over vaccinate your pets. Please. Sally's immune system literally crashed years ago after an accidental double-dose of vax and we're sure it opened a door to this cancer. 2) Don't think that you have to remove every MC tumor you see. Let smaller bumps sleep, but do take off any tumor that grows up angry & fast. 3) Consider diet key to strengthening your pet's vigor. A raw meat & bones diet has kept our girl running strong since she was diagnosed. We swear by it. 4) Cancer is a gift that reminds us how short & precious life is. (Repeat: Sob!)
Cool ThingsWe've been honored to meet many hardy souls & talented miracle workers during our Pit Ed Camps. Here are just a few things that alumnae campers are doing to help the underdogs in their corners....
Pit Ed Campers are Doing
Leslie Dodds of Mendocino County went home after Camp last summer and hammered together a successful pit bull adoption program at both of her local shelters, all while maintaining a 'real job' in the insurance biz. Besides saving lives of adoptable animals, she brought a group of teenagers together to train and socialize the dogs. We met her Pit Crew last weekend when they brought us a new dog for our program. Lookit what these young people can do: PIT CREW
Make it work, girls. We're SO impressed!
Debbie Eaglebarger (above) knows how to spin straw into gold like nobody's business. She manages a small crowded shelter in Corning CA with only one steady helper. When she's not socializing her dogs in well run play group sessions, she's helping adopters put Canine Good Citizen titles on their pit bulls. NEWS. By the way, this severely under-funded project can always use donations. More info on Debbie's efforts here.
Look at these sensitive photos from Alison Talley of Silicon Valley Humane. Not only was Ali keenly tuned in to the dogs during our hands-on exercises, she has one hell of a good eye. She snapped these pix during Aug 08 Camp while the CGC exam was going on. Beautiful work, Ali. PHOTOS
Monday, August 25, 2008
Favorite response from Animal Planet mail
But, how can we complain? A favorite email:
I watched Animal Planet last night. You guys have changed my stereotypical opinion of Pit Bulls. The comment Tim made about handling 3000 Pit Bulls and never being bitten amazed me. If I handled 3000 of ANY dog, I'd figured that I'd have been bitten at least once! Great story! Great show! P.S. Has Donna been bitten by a Pit Bull? - Joe WilsonHa! Answer: Yes, once. My fault. No damage, but giving up my bragging rights hurt worse than the big yellow bruise I took on my thigh. Ouch.
The Animal Planet Show is now ONLINE
....And, Forrest the Denver Dog is SAVED
Thanks for the news, Colorado Pit Bull Rescue!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Add another CGC Star to the list
Roo has a side-stitch worthy post on the Vick Dog Blog today written in the voice of Hector. It seems someone's been working VERY hard to earn his kibble at home. Thanks for the smiles, guys. Me Too, Me Too!!!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Animal Planet 'Witness' Show Review
First, the Good: Viewers will "meet" a number of the foster-care status dogs in BR's Pit Ed class as well as Leo, looking great during his therapy work. We would've liked less Vick-footage and more focus on the dogs' trials and recovery, but the messaging is pretty darn clean and they come across well - just regular pit bulls stuck in a nightmare situation. Guardian Master Rebecca Huss is right on the money with her quotes and observations, and we weren't at all unhappy with our interviews, either. That doesn't happen too often, so, we'll take it. We were really happy to see Rose (right) included. Her story still needs to be fully told.
The Bad: It was odd to see PETA and HSUS reps interviewed for this piece. Outside of voicing (and, still maintaining) condemnation for the victims alongside their much-criticized fundraising campaigns, Animal Planet didn't seem to realize that these orgs were not players in the Vick case. Oh wait, we can't forget about the efforts to rehabilitate the fighting machine himself. (Not included in the Animal Planet taping - thank dog.) ASPCA forensic vet Melinda Merck was included however, and gives a short but interesting interview on her role in the case and collection of evidence. They kept details to a minimum (because the state trial is still pending?), but it was still fascinating to hear how science was used to help animal victims.
And the Ugly: Animal Planet was good enough to go back in and fix an error on the number of dogs sent to sanctuary for overt dog aggression (10, not 22). Thank you, production crew. But the show is peppered with way too much stock dog fight footage. Why do viewers need to see so much abuse, a la snuff film? A voice over tells: "Most dog fighters are amateurs and know little about conditioning or caring for their dogs. Many are inner city gang members where street fighting is common." Okay. The narrator then goes on to explain - in full detail - how to stage a dog fight. In case any wanna-be thugs are watching, they'll find the Cajun rules of dog fighting outlined here along with a perk for internet sites that sell fight supplies. That is SO not good.
Despite that bigger disappointment, we're endorsing this show because it offers a general message of compassion for the dogs. We're grateful to the film crew that we worked with. By the time they wrapped up (11pm -- a twelve hour day of filming. ugh), I'm sure they were more than ready to take a break from Vick-talk.
Animal Planet Witness Show Schedule HereThe SF-area film crew shown below, at lunch with Zippy's foster family. And chasing Jennifer with Hector around at Pit Ed class: Video
"He acts just like Forrest Gump.And imagine that your city is trying to kill him because he looks like a pit bull. This dog's owner is fighting Denver to save his boy. No one has been successful yet. Denver's ban is unforgiving and anything that looks like a pit bull dies; no questions asked. Story
He's slow when
you walk up to him, but then he wiggles so hard he urinates all over himself. He's the biggest baby in the world." - Chris McGahey, Forrest's owner
Let's all send some support to this brave dog owner and help keep the world's eyes focused on this case. Favorite addresses? Please share. Thx.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The No Kill Myth
I believe that my dog is not happy living with me and she need more room to play around (a yard) and more attention. I'm gone over 10 hrs. a day at work. I looked around and many different organizations and shelters, and since you specialize in pitbulls, if you have any advice on where i could surrender her to a NON KILL location. I don't know if BAD RAP takes surrenders?The answer? No. We can't take your dog.
No, there is no such thing as a No-Kill solution to a pit bull that falls out of its home.
No, SF is not a No Kill city. Not for pit bulls, anyway.
No, the private shelters in the area will not take your dog.
No, despite their best efforts to help pit bulls, your local public shelter cannot guarantee that your dog will be adopted.
The answer? Train your dog - again. (This home fell out of our Pit Ed classes)
Get up earlier and exercise her more. Consider a treadmill.
And keep trying to find a new home that can meet her needs.
Or - if this is all just too impossible - Please. Give your girl a week of love and then put her to sleep with the help of your vet.
What a horrible bit of advice to have to give. As you can imagine, this is not one of our happier jobs at BR.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Frodo - the shyer V-dog who suffered from isolation back in VA at just six months old - has been making progress in small but steady baby steps. At 22 months old, he's still dog social and spends a good part of his day romping with foster mom Kim's two dogs. Kim reports that he's starting to "act naughty" at home - a good sign! Pretending not to hear commands, sneaking into a closet to root around for treasure, chewing through a tie-down leash ... All healthy signs of a growing independence and newfound confidence. What a wonderful journey. We're so grateful to Kim for her patience and commitment to Frodo's growth.
Frodo makes a guest appearance in the upcoming Animal Planet Animal Witness Show that premiers August 24 at 10pm.
We watched an early screening in order give a review. There were a few rough spots, so before we give our report, I want to wait to see how many last minute edits the production crew decides to do. However overall, it's well done and worth watching.
Here's the Animal Witness
promo on YouTube.
Overheard @ Oakland Animal Shelter:
Boy: "Mom! Mom! Lookit THIS one!" ...pointing to a wriggly white pit bull in the adoption runs
Mom: "Hmm. She's cute. But white gets dirty."
Challenged by Reality
This tiny-sized girl joined "gray area status" at Oakland Animal Services when shelter life jacked her up and inspired a not-so-nice fence fighting habit. Hormones (she may be pregnant), constant noise, high energy levels, high stress, and never enough exercise makes for a tough time in the kennels. We look forward to finally having a trailer so we can help dogs like her chill out long enough to show us who they really are.
Thankfully, she lucked into a rare breed-experienced foster spot, so is resting up tonight. We'll scratch our heads about her once she's come back down to earth.
There are SO many dogs just like her that won't be so lucky. Gray is quickly becoming our least favorite color.
Team Pibble Dispatch—This Is It!
Hey, EK here, reporting back from training for the Team Pibble triathlon, a fundraiser we're doing for BAD RAP. I'll tell you: I had no idea what I was getting into. As it turns out, my experience riding my bike to BiRite and jumping waves and doing handstands in the shallow end of the pool isn't really the same thing as doing a triathlon—biking 34 miles and running 10 after swimming a mile at top speed with hundreds of other athletes trying to outswim you. I’ve been kicked in the face in the pool, gotten a flat, wrecked on a hill, ridden with a busted derailer, and wanted to quit so many times I have simply lost count of the discouraging thoughts.
During this time, I also adopted my best girl, Stella, the stout little fireplug of a pit bull who came to BAD RAP from
With all that she’s afraid of, though, she continues to show a mindblowing faith in me, in the good folks I’ve been bringing over to meet her, and in the routines I’m setting up for her. She’s adapting to her new neighborhood, bravely joining me on walks, softening to the tall friends who previously scared the wits out of her. She will walk past the broom now and has even eaten treats in its company. Stella has proven so forgiving.
This morning as Stella snoozed away before the sun rose, my stalwart teammate Monica came over with all her triathlon gear. We loaded up our bikes, suits, and shoes, and after we walked Miss Stella and settled her back in her crate, Monica and I headed out in our Team Pibble shirts to complete a test-run for the triathlon—an Olympic-distance swim, bike, and run, along with all the transitions among the three. For those of you following the Olympics, we did the same thing these qualifiers from the Vancouver World Championships did at the same distance they'll do tomorrow morning in Beijing. Only they’re a little faster.
Thinking of those women and their superhuman abilities, I was out at the water this morning. It was super still and as I set out my transitions stations, I was seized with this crazy fear. This was the first time we were actually doing a full practice race from beginning to end. We’d only done drills or different parts of it—swim to bike, bike to run. This was the full deal. The fear was kind of mind-frying. It was that rib tightening, hands shaking, electrical current through the whole body kind of fear. I was pacing pacing pacing in my wetsuit when this ridiculously obvious connection just came to me. This is exactly the kind of leap of faith I ask Stella to make every single day. Do the thing you think you cannot do.
These dogs have come into our lives for all sorts of reasons. Maybe your dogs aren't here to teach you to go do stupid things over really far distances in uncomfortably constrictive spandex. But chances are you learn something from them. And that it took work, patience, support, stamina, and—let’s get right to it—resources for you to get them where they are.
Please donate today at www.teampibble.com to help us put more good-hearted Stellas into the loving homes they deserve. See you at Pit Ed and other BADRAP events after the race! Thanks for all your support and love through this crazy training.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Los Angeles Times Article
These big smiles are meant for all the pit bulls that just passed their AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) exams. Linda Chwistek (left) spends a good chunk of her week helping pit bull owners prep their dogs so they can join the Pit Bull Hall of Fame. Jennie Keifer (right) was good enough to test a group of the dogs last weekend. Twenty five dogs have been added to our Fame page. That's crazy good! Congrats to everyone who tested!
We have to applaud the Humane Society of Utah for this wonderful story about their own CGC program. In this age of breed discrimination, putting a CGC on a pit bull is big: It opens doors to rentals, insurance policies and it calms the nerves of naysayer neighbors and mother-in-laws. If you've been thinking about shining up your dog's halo, one of the easiest, most gratifying things you can do is prep him for the CGC exam. Do it! If you're in the SF bay area and your dog has his or her basics pretty well worked out, contact Coach Linda for an appt. to eyeball your dog.
Below is quik-vid of Teddles showing Judge Jennie how cool he is in a crowd situation. He's supposed to stay loose on his leash and avoid jumping up on anyone. He sailed through this test, but a loud train rattled by and he wasn't able to concentrate on his sit-stay well enough to pass the whole exam (Ted's afraid of trains). Better luck next time, buddy.
Jonny Justice here (who passed his CGC exam btw!) is contemplating Eva in her chair. One of the tests involves a distraction, typically a wheeled distraction like a stroller to gauge a dog's ability to stay chill when presented with moving objects.
We're blessed to have Eva's help in our CGC Prep Classes. When she's not distracting the crew, she flirts with the dogs on the sidelines and lets them investigate her chair. Chair-shy dogs are encouraged to find treats tucked on her wheels and lap. It doesn't take long for dogs to say, "Yum! That chair is my ticket to Happy!"
Friday, August 08, 2008
The realities we find when we pick through the shelters during camp aren't always happy.
Field notes that came with this crinkly-skinned owner surrendered senior read: "....has a severe allergy to fleas....he's had the problem for the past 5 years. If the dog is gonna be put down the family wants to pay for ashes to be returned."
He was just adorable but shaking and rattled to the core when we met him and he broke all of our hearts with his story. Above: Alison Talley - Manager of Behavior Programs, Humane Society Silicon Valley - comforts Ozzie.
More Campin'We came home to some ear-to-ear happy news from MI today: Michigan Humane Society sent two people to Camp last February to help staff ruminate on changes in their no pit bulls adoption policy and ways to help Detroit-area pit bulls. Kids attending MHS's Summer Tails Camp program got a taste of their new & improved messaging. Kristy Graszak of MHS - who helped us get Stella home from Detroit last fall - sent us this update:
"During this camp we gave a presentation on pit bull type dogs (which is another first for us), providing general education about the breed including some general dog safety tips. We also talked about positive things pit bulls are involved in (search and rescue, law dogs etc) and we highlighted your work with the Michael Vick dogs. Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter partnered with us on this presentation, and brought one of their staff members dogs, Digger, along to meet the kids. The pictures say the rest."
This photo of Digger giving campers a ride is da bomb. Bravo to both orgs for giving the kids such a great experience and reason to care.
(By the way, the long search for a pit-friendly rental finally paid off and Stella's finally home (in Oakland!) for keeps. Congrats to lucky Elizabeth on your wonderful new dog.)
DogtimeMany thanks to dogtime.com for the lovely follow up on Hector, Uba and Jonny. The photo of Hector & Clara are absolutely adorable.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
The transformation of a Vick dog
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Breed identification is always a crapshoot, especially when dealing with puppies. Readers might remember when we let ourselves get suckered into this situation back in January '07. The high school kid that found this pup did the right thing and, rather than try to sell or give it to his friends at school, he contacted his local humane society in Marin for help. They don't typically take pit bulls and were honest enough to tell him that his foundling was probably a goner in their org. So he googled up BR, and sent this photo with one hec of a heartfelt plea for help. Ack! --- How can you say no to those two faces? So the story of Tank, now Owen, began.
A reputable pit bull kennel took too-young Tank in to be mothered by her litter-experienced bitch and guessed that he was probably full-breed. We shrugged and just hoped that he would grow into a nice dog that sorta kinda looks and acts like a pit bull. After all, it's embarrassing to grow a non-pit when you specialize in pit bulls, but Heartbreak City if a pup doesn't mature with the right wiring to be a steady little ambassador.
So, 18 months later, the verdict is in: Tank-now-Owen grew into a wonderful dog as hoped. His body and personality turned out to be much more 'random yellow-dog mutt' than pit bull, tho.'
Owen lacks a certain something that we're used to seeing in pit bulls. He's just ... so different. But despite, he has a sweet & likable, if not somewhat dingy personality. His new person Debbie loves her handsome boy, but curiosity got the best of her and she submitted a blood sample for a Wisdom Panel DNA test to figure out what the hec she had. She shared the results in an email: "AmStaff and Golden Retriever are the more recognized breeds, and in the mix was Bloodhound (I can actually see that one in him), Weimaraner (yuck), King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, and Bedlington Terrier (ha!)" ...We're blaming Owen's dinginess on the Golden Retriever genes, btw.
The accuracy of these tests is suspect, however Tyson scored big and strong as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and we weren't at all surprised.
This strange sort of confusion has shelters talking. With so much cross-pollinating going on our streets, how do we know when a dog is really a pit bull? After reviewing several DNA test samples, the Animal Rescue League in Boston is ready to toss the whole breed ID mess out the window in exchange for more generic labeling. It's a fascinating puzzle and has the potential to throw a real wrench in evil BSL plans.
The results of the testing have been so startling that the Animal Rescue League is planning to stop making educated guesses about mixes and will instead label all mutts as American shelter dogs. The shelter the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals runs at Angell Memorial Hospital is considering a similar change. Boston Globe Article
The American Shelter Dog label would certainly help dogs like this big BIG boy now at Oakland Animal Services (photo below). Named 'Oso' by whoever loved him then lost him, he's probably from the mutant wannabe pit bull lines now exploding in SoCA. We call his type the red-headed bastard stepchild of the rescue world: He's not enough AB or APBT to fit in full breed groups, but way too much beef for most all-breed groups. What do you do with a dog like this when he's not really anything but a cartoon character stereotype? His head size alone is enough to get his owner evicted. Even when we do take dogs that are less-than-pit bull - like Roller here - stigmas and BSL can still hurt them. Roller was returned to BR when his person was forced to return to Australia to tend to a dying relative. He's not nearly a pit bull to us, but just enough to outlaw him in so many places.
This is a rock and a hard place dilemma. All we have to go back on really when we stare at homeless dogs is temperament. When evaluating, we constantly ask ourselves: Does this dog demonstrate the qualities that are spelled out in the UKC/AKC/ADBA breed standards? Our yardstick might actually be longer than many show judges' because, while we don't mind a bad underbite or cowed hocks, our dogs have to be as smooth, solid and stable as the biggest star in Westminster. Maybe it's better to say that we aren't looking for classic pit bulls as much as we're looking for classic family dogs (which happen to look like pit bulls).
While Owen the golden/pit mix is not your typical pit bull gusher-type, he's a SuperStar in his own right and he just earned his Canine Good Citizen certificate. Congrats Debbie!
Friday, August 01, 2008
Pit Ed Comes to Vallejo
We know there’s a huge need for Pit Ed classes here and if you are nearby, you have an opportunity to take your Canine Good Citizen diamond in the rough and give him or her a bit of polishing up. BAD RAP is offering a Thursday evening Pit Ed class at the Benicia/Vallejo Humane Society (BVHS) for anybody within driving distance and with the desire to build a better relationship with your Pit bull. Our award winning classes are available to Pit bulls in the SF Bay Area. If you would like to attend our Vallejo class, send an email to me at Linda@badrap.org for more information. We’ll hold an orientation session on August 7th at BVHS from 6:30-7:30pm (no dogs at this one please) with 6 weeks of classes beginning the following week.
You'll help your Pit bull learn on-leash self control, problem solve for issues at home, foster better dog-handler communication, help your dog become a breed ambassador, and we'll give dogs foundation training for Canine Good Citizen prep. If you’ve been looking for a class for your Pit bull right in your hometown of Vallejo, well, we’re here!
Here's Lady, a bit spicy when she first started taking Pit Ed classes, a CGC star a few months later!