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.

    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    Disaster in the Gulf

    Houston-based blog "Hair Balls" has been covering the Houston SPCA's decision to allow twelve homeless Hurricane Ike victims go to rescue. It seems only natural that an animal welfare org - whose mission is to - Promote commitment to and respect for all animals and to free them from suffering, abuse and exploitation. - would assist sound, adoptable dogs who've lost their homes. But not so at HSPCA, where every unclaimed pit bull that walks in the door leaves in a dead barrel. The no-adoption policy of this 21+ million dollar charity shows no mercy and offers no apologies.

    So why help these lucky twelve storm orphans then? Hair Balls Blog quotes a HSPCA rep who explains, "The circumstances with Hurricane Ike, we felt all the animals should get a chance.”

    Thank you HSPCA, that's very kind of you. But what about Hurricane Foreclosure, Hurricane Landlord Discrimination, Hurricane Unemployment, and all the other disasters that are rendering adoptable dogs homeless?

    ARTICLE: Pit Bull Laundering by the Houston SPCA

    RIGHT: BAD RAP alum Boris lives near Houston. He's a happy survivor of Hurricane Oakland.

    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    OH NO! Wallace! And AP re-runs.

    Phooey!! Roo & Clara's disk champ Wallace decided to get in the media for a new kind of adventure this week. A spatula snack lost him a chance at the Purina Dog Challenge, but earned him alotta love from a whole lotta well wishers. OUCH! - News .... Rest up, Buddy. There's always next year.

    Animal Planet is showing re-runs of the Animal Witness Vick Case special Friday & Sat nights. Schedule ....The show did really well, ranking as AP's highest debut ever (stats) with over 1.1 million viewers the first night. Huh. We're discussing a follow up with them now.

    Lovin' the View!
    Oh joy! October is my favorite month in BR's Exposed Calendar. If you bought this issue, you get a little peek into the private life of Tim starting today. heh. We're getting our 2009 calendar together now, but it may be hard to outdo this celebrated view of Honky Tonk and his favorite human.

    The Education of a Vick Dog

    Having a Michael Vick dog running around the house has taught me many lessons. Knowing a little about their history has taught me others. One of them is that chaining a dog and then storing him in a small cage for months and months with little human interaction is not a good dog training method. But, we all know that already. My Vick dog Audie needed basic obedience classes and so I searched out beginning dog training classes like a proud parent searches for the best kindergarten class. And in the past few months, Audie and I have taken a couple of recommended beginning dog training classes.

    Above: How NOT to do a dog intro. (This is not Audie, btw)

    Disappointingly, in both classes, dogs were allowed to stare at other dogs (you've seen it, a hard eye stare) and to run up to other dogs, face to face, nose to nose.

    I’d momentarily hold my breath and hope the recipient of a rude greeting didn’t decide to correct his classmate with a growl or worse for such a blunder. Because of this, I thought about ranting on about how beginning dog training instructors need to teach their students about the language of dog before showing us how to teach our dogs the language of people. But instead, let me share five lessons that another instructor taught us that could potentially save your dog’s life.

    • Teach your dog that all good things come from you. This includes his meals and toys. Teach him to allow people to handle the food in his dish and to take toys away. How many toddlers would walk up to a dog, take his toy, and try to stuff the dog’s stuffy toy into their own mouth?
    • Teach your dog that grabbing his collar is a load of fun. You never know when grabbing that collar might save your dog’s life and you’ll want him to think it’s just another great game of “grab the collar”.
    • Teach your dog to wait. A dog rushing out the front door could end disastrously.
    • Teach your dog a “watch-me”. A dog checking in with you is a dog paying attention to you.
    • Teach your dog that friendly strangers really are friendly. And if your dog sits for them, they might be even friendlier.

    Watch for video to come. We’ll gather up a few of the Michael Vick dogs to demonstrate and show-off these lessons they’ve learned now that they’re settling into real homes and given the opportunity to live real lives.
    And in the meantime, for all of us who teach beginning dog training classes, please teach your students a little about the language of dog and show us how to be leaders. You’ll be helping us keep our best friends safe while ensuring their place as a treasured member of our families.