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.


Tom said...

Hooray for PitBulls. This article is incredilble, it's about time these gentle souls got some good press and Hooray for Bad Rap for all you've done to help get us there...

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a gift!!!

Caveat said...


Between this and your slideshow about OK, I'm a blubbering mess.

Thanks, thanks a lot. I mean it.

Donna said...

Miles to go before any us of sleep, guys. But everyone who fights the good fight deserves a few days of feeling good about the favor that the bully gods have shown us in '08.

Holiday blessings to us all!

Anonymous said...

I`ve only read page 1 so far and I`m overjoyed.
Can`t believe they got the cover.
Way to go Chris Cohen!

Anonymous said...

I should have read your post first.
I ran out to get it as soon as the word came in via the google alerts.

Anonymous said...

Frodo looks amazing!
They all look fabulous!

Anonymous said...

I am beyond words. The article is powerful, and the photos are beautiful! Merry Christmas everyone! Thank you for making this happen for the dogs!

Anonymous said...

Awesome story, gorgeous photos. A great gift for all of us who love the breed.

Boris said...

Donna and all the Vick rescuers,

You have to have OUTSTANDING material to work into a FANTASTIC article. Your and your pit bulls' efforts provide the BEST content, EVER!

Vick Dogs - works not over gang:
Get your people off this blog and get the writing campaing going. Pibbles need letters to the SI editors thanking them and letting them know they got it right. Have them get in on the comments before the PETAful folks whine in with their hype. Share this and the O.K. conversation with your local media as heart-warming Christmas stories.

So,true-love gifts of Christmas (... 12 copies SI drumming, 11 Pit Bulls pibbling, ...), always need to be followed by a great New Year.

I'm RESOLUTE in Houston, Boris

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful gift for all! Thanks to SI for this article. Maybe now the bad press about pitties will start focusing on the good!

Anonymous said...

HALLEJUAH!!!! Best Christmas present EVER!!! Our bully buds deserve this and MUCH MORE!! Here's to ousting BSL in 2009 and restoring these dogs to the status of FAMILY PETS!!! Thanks to everyone who tells the rest of the story about these great dogs!!!

Anonymous said...

you all have made my Christmas... Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Kirsten said...

Oh wow, this is great! The balanced article on pitties we've all been waiting for (from the main stream press). I hope it starts a trend. Best SI cover I've ever seen. ;)

I was blubbering, too, until I got to the photo of JJ helping the little boy read... so extremely adorable :)

Anonymous said...

Best X-mas gift of the year, has me in tears. Still such a fight for us living in cities that have banned our favorite dog. This is a good start for 2009.

Anonymous said...

yay for bad rap and yay for the resilient pitties. i will be buying several copies of this issue of si. i think we need to organize a letter writing campaign to roger goodell he is the nfl commissioner and we need to make sure vick does not return to the nfl. anyone who wants info on where to write email me at jadiegirl67@yahoo.com or just google roger gooddell's name.

Social Mange said...

Thank you, thank you! And thanks to SI for doing such a great article and great photos! I'm going off to cry now, those sweet little faces...

The Foster Lady said...

Donna, the best Christmas present we pibble lovers could ever hope for....perhaps we have really taken the first steps to undo 21 years worth of damage to our breed. To you, Tim and everyone else at the Br gang, from Dina, Stan, Lily and fosters Kiera, Cutie and Cherie....the Merriest Christmas ever!

PS I still have 6 People Magazines that featured you and Tim and the dawgs...

Marie said...

Fantastic!! I am going to buy many copies to take over to the prison. They still won't let us put a pibble on the program. Maybe this will help.

Great news!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Our 2009 calendar for The Sula Foundation notes the date of that horrible 1987 SI cover as one of our pit bull history dates. I guess we'll have to add a new date to pit bull history for our 2010 edition. And I'm going to have to drive out to the suburbs and buy a stack of SI tomorrow morning.

Happy holidays!

Unknown said...

I'm so proud of all of you! Sending BADRAP a Xmas check!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to us, Merry Christmas to us....Merry Christmas to each and every one of us who love our pitties, who fight for our dogs against oppressive legislation, who help our local shelters and rescue groups by volunteering our time and finding a few extra dollars to pass along, and who show the rest of the unbelieving world just how wonderful, loving and worthwhile our dogs are.

The article is well-written and touching; the photos reflect the love between the dogs and their people.

Thank you SI and BADRAP....you've given me a wonderful Christmas gift!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the article yet but I wanted to thank the lovely family who have fostered Zippy and congratulate them on their new son! What a lovely family! Merry Christmas to all the BR staff, volunteers, supporters and friends and most of all, the pitties for whom all this is devoted to!

Anonymous said...

For the first time ever, I'll run out and buy Sports Illustrated for the pictures! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Im sitting at my desk crying after reading this article. Such a shame that they get such a bad rap but us owners know the real truth. I could never imagine my sweet Rosie having to endure such heartache. Great job Bad Rap you are doing a wonderful job. Thanks to SI for doing a wonderful follow up job.

megan colleen said...

This is an awesome article. I'm already planning on getting my hands on several copies - one of which will be framed to hang on my walls! I am also planning on giving a copy to my family to read because when I told them I was planning on adopting another pit bull they had the same reaction when I adopted my first. I told them to get over themselves. This article and cover will help me in my quest to bring another beauty home.

Thank you thank you thank you!

And Happy Holidays to everyone who loves a bully!

- Megan (and Mojo)

Anonymous said...

The Power of Positive Press!
You guys are awesome!

Right on time for the holidays and what to be grateful for! Ahh, tears of happiness....

The Pit Bull community is grateful for organizations like Bad Rap and others... you guys are leading the way and helping us get there!


Anonymous said...

Wow. I can't believe...what a wonderful thing to see xmas eve. Except now I have to redo mascara, before I run off to Borders.

Thank you everyone who helped bring this story full circle. May 2009 bring many more good things for pit bulls everywhere.

Anonymous said...

I just can't beleive this - what a gift! Congrats to Donna, Tim and the Vick dogs.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful article and thank you for posting this. Also, thank you for all you do!

Anonymous said...

Again, NSFW!!! I'm sniffling here at work from that great story.

Love to your dogs . . .

Anonymous said...

Hard to type and cry at the same time...

Dog bless you all for all the hard work this took... I'm going out to buy SI now to keep it out on my coffee table for everyone to see.

For all the pibbles that have suffered at the hands of their abusers may they find their forever homes or be able to cross the bridge surrounded by people who love them.

Keep up the fight! One day the pibble breed will get the respect from the rest of the world that they so highly deserve.

My therapy pibbles Molly & Ms. Annie are fighting hard to change the belief that all pibbles are "scary" and they love to show off all their tricks to the folks at the nursing homes :o)

Merry Christmas Donna & Tim and the rest of the BadRap folks... May the blessings of the animals be with you all.

Sarah and her pibbles Molly, Ms. Annie, Tootsie Roll, & Flip
Lost Fantasy Rescue, VA

MIA said...

This is the best article I have read to date, bless everyone who fought for these dogs and made it happen for them. Merry Christmas to all! I am jumping in my car to go buy a few of the mags.

Best to all!!!!!

Luisa said...

It's Christmas Eve, I've done next to no shopping, and I'm about to remedy that situation with my own little BAD RAP spend-a-thon. Thank you good folks SO. MUCH. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and best wishes for a wonderful 2009 to all!

Anonymous said...

Donna and Tim,

There aren't enough words.......so long over due, yet so beautifully done! Thank you a million times over for all the wonderful things that you do. May you and your family have a very Merry Christmas, and I hope to see you this weekend at CGC.

You are truly angels.

Merry Christmas, and God bless!

Natalie, Osa and the rest of the family

Anonymous said...

I just have to say I love this blog. AND I love this article in SI I'm going to get a few extra copies for some of my bully buddies! :)

Donna said...

THANK YOU folks for staying positive and for digging your heels in about what you believe in. We appreciate your donations very much and hope a wee bit can spill over into your own local shelters and rescue groups, too. They need hope as much as we all do. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wow!....Wow! That made my whole week!!
I want, though, to put in a plug for Boris' excellent suggestion that all of us and, hopefully, many others write asap to our new friends at SI and smother them in positive feedback that they can use to offset the predictable sort of garbage we all know will come quickly from the PETA sympathizers and the Vick sympathizers and anyone who is clueless about pit bulls.
I'm writing tonight! Happy holidays!

Laura Barrett said...

What a handsome, good looking family! I think Zippy should remain a permanent part of their family. They look so happy with him!

Anonymous said...

I can`t believe some of the negative comments made about this success story by some Pit Bull supporters on a few forums around the country.

I guess it comes back to that old saying

"Some get out there and do good-BadRap and a few others and some yap and complain on some forums"

Ok it`s not an old saying ...yet.

Who needs enemies when you have "friends" who don`t think you deserve to be alive.

I love that photo of the Hernandez family.

Zippy and Francisco both blissfully unaware of the kerfuffle(sic?)

Dog and boy
Man`s best friend until you grow up and start reading Media Reports and some Forums.

What`s that other saying?

Green with....

Donna said...

Hey anon 12:46. I'm not surprised to hear that some are less than impressed with this story.
Rescuing pit bulls is one of the most controversial things anyone can do, and after 10 years of doing it, we're fairly teflon-ed to the varying opinions on how it 'should' be done. After all, Peta and HSUS has been trying to tell us how to rescue and where the dogs should or should not come from for years."Talk to the hand, Ingrid." Jim Gorant is getting a taste of this -- I see he's already getting criticism for daring to show pit bulls in a positive light. I think he knew he was going to get slammed by some and even called a racist for writing a story like this, but he did it anyway. Good for him.

This fact pulled off of Wikipedia has us smiling today.

"Sports Illustrated is an American sports magazine owned by one of the world's largest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world - Time Warner. It has over 3 million subscribers and is read by 23 MILLION adults each week, including over 18 million men, 19% of the adult males in the United States." Va-Va-Voom.

I hope the sale of this issue goes off the charts and that the CEO of Time Warner takes notice.

Anonymous said...

I hear ya.
I plan to buy enough copies to paper one room of my house.
I`m renovating at the present time,so why not.

Kudos to SI,BadRap and the other groups that helped.
That`s all I can say.

I imagine Time Warner will be hearing "You`ve got mail" for a while.

Unknown said...

OMGoodness Donna, what wonderful news!
Its a new Dawn! with Obama, with more people looking at bullies in a better light, with the media like, Sports Illustrated seeing our loving bullies as they really are; loving, loyal dogs.
The future looks so bright!
I know your hard work over the years has made all the difference.
I know our work is not over, but this sure makes as the best xmas present.
Feliz Navidad Donna & Tim, and all the bully community.
I raise my glass to all of you!!!
Ena & her pack

Anonymous said...

This is truly a great day for pit bulls everywhere... Sweet, sweet Jasmine, from Recycled Love rescue, makes a most lovely cover girl on this issue of Sports Illustrated and Jim Gorant really did these dogs justice by showing the resiliant and loving, and true nature of this breed in his article.

HUGE thanks to ALL of the rescue orgs and people involved in this Vick case as well as other bust cases too. Tides are turning for our favorite breed.

Anonymous said...

Yea! I agree that we have a long way to go, but it's incredible to finally get some positive pit bull press of this magnitude. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to making the world a better place for our bully buddies.
This was the best Christmas gift!

Anonymous said...

The silence is deafening.
I thought this would be coming in via google alerts constantly.

Isn`t ANYTHING about Pit Bulls supposed to be picked up by AP and then proceed to spread rapidly around the world?

Aren`t all the bloggers and Editors supposed to be writing damning opinion pieces about all these dogs and their look-a-likes.

I guess all the jaws are still dropping.

I`m sure it`s just a matter of time.

I`m sure they`ll all claim that these are just individual dogs.....oh wait a minute....that`s the whole point.

Blog away naysayers.


Anonymous said...

"It has over 3 million subscribers and is read by 23 MILLION adults each week, including over 18 million men, 19% of the adult males in the United States."

Donna, don't forget that the SI story was covered on Anderson Cooper 360 on Monday night -- reaching another Million or so viewers, and this story on Monterey TV this week.


It's about time the world gets to see these dogs in this context -- just being dogs -- vs all of the other visuals that have been pumped out there over the past decade. Yay.

Thanks...thanks...and thanks.

Anonymous said...

What a true Christmas blessing for all of those who dedicate their lives to saving these wonderful pets.

As a pittie owner, my husband and I could not have asked for a better pet. Our pit- Winston (Churchill) was abused as a puppy, and as we understand it, pulled behind a car. He was 1 day from being euthanized when he was taken to a local animal rescue.

Today, he is the master of his domain, he sleeps in bed with us, goes for long walks, plays with other dogs not to mention our cats. He even watches football with us and gives a "high 5" when our team scores.

Without the love and dedication of those who help this wonderful breed, I hate to think what would happened to this marvelous breed and our dear Winston.

May God Bless all of you who not only have been blessed with the Vick dogs, but to all who love and fight for the rights of these precious dogs.

Winston's mom

Anonymous said...

This is Wonderful!! I have a rescued pit (that's deaf) and he's the sweetest most loving dog I think we've ever had. He's great with my 8 year old too! Thanks to all thos pit families who have sloughed off the bad rap stuff and commited to having a wonderful family pet!! Kudos to all of us!

Tim said...

We always ask ourselves over here - what next? And this cover story and photos takes the cake for sure. We can finally relax for a minute and really take it in and enjoy what is happening since this moment isn't likely to come again ever. But the beauty in it is that this issue will last forever in every bully lover's home - it will never go away!

Happy New Year everyone.

Anonymous said...

Wow, wow, wow. I can't believe this. The article was beautifully written and captures everything I'd want the public to know about the APBT. Not many writers could do this, but Jim does it perfectly. PLEASE everyone write to SI and Jim to thank for this piece...it is truly the best present Santa can bring for the pitties. I also saw Headline News cover this story, it was all too sweet and too surreal. And finally to Badrap and all the other rescues, thank you for all that you do!

Anonymous said...

I wrote to SI but is there an address to write to Jim directly
or would that just be annoying to him?

Anonymous said...

A well deserved reward for the fosters/parents is the awesome awesome family portraits. I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful set of photographs. I hope they were able to get prints.

Unknown said...

My pitty-mix, Tika, and I thank you and SI. One more step to people not being afraid of her on sight.

Anonymous said...

I am speechless... emotions are running high... even Spirit is smiling!!! This is the best Xmas present we have received!
25 months on the road my Pit and I only has been positive. I ride the motorcycle and he the sidecar... I am so happy!!!
Thanks for posting this...
Be well... Ara & Spirit


Donna said...

Thanks for writing Ara! Maybe we need to find a way to get a big batch to you so you can distribute on your journeys. Would that be possible?

jhumpa jones said...

What an unbelievable effort. On the part of SI, BADRAP, ASPCA, Rebecca Hess and everyone - EVERYONE - involved. You inspire all of us who love this amazing breed to continue to fight - In whatever ways we can - for justice.

From all of us, fighting the good fight, we thank you :)

Anonymous said...

What wonderful news! Does anyone know who to contact at SI? Someone else in an earlier comment suggested thanking them in an email, and I think that's a great idea.

Thank you for all the work you do for these dogs!

Anonymous said...

There`s contact info at the link for customer Service and the Editor.
I wrote them and received a letter back from Customer Service thanking me for my comments on their publication.
I also mentioned that this was the first copy I had bought since that "other" cover.


Anonymous said...

A portion of a comment just posted in a a Pro Pit/Anti BSL group

[quote]..That's what they were bred for. Fighting dogs isn't cruel, because they love to do it. Just like people have organized fights, because they love fight. It's a compitition. And it can be done right.Obviously, Vick had it all wrong.....[/quote]

Posted by a woman holding a baby BTW.

Who knew there was a "right" way to cause suffering to an animal?

Can you imagine a person like that raising a child?

Anonymous said...

letters@SI.timeinc.com is the official email of the letters page.

I noticed that, on the same page, they give instructions on how subscribers can request that the swimsuit issue NOT be sent to them. They really have come a long way--how funny.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this link. I'm a volunteer at the Washington Animal Rescue League in DC and we had several of the Vick dogs. It's good to hear how well they are doing, especially ing Jasmine. I'm still trying to find copies of SI to take in so the staff can read it. We always have pit bulls and work to teach them good manners.


Anonymous said...

Excellent news that stories like these are getting into the mainstream.

Anonymous said...

I'm a volunteer with Recycled Love and on behalf of Recycled Love, I thank Bad Rap for mentioning Jasmine and the link to our site.

Bad Rap has done wonderful work with the dogs that were assigned to their care after the Vick raid; I have watched the videos on-line. We thank ALL of the organizations who were a part of this tremendous endeavor and we hope that this positive press for pits will change the way they are viewed and handled by the animal welfare community and society at large.

Thanks again Bad Rap.

Best and Solidarity,
Recycled Love
Baltimore, Maryland

Anonymous said...

I`d like to say that as an Adult who was diagnosed as having autistic tendencies as a child, I`m glad that a certain group of Pit Bull "supporters" weren`t in a position to decide my fate back then.
I might not have been the perfect or best representative of my species or my Breed.
Thankfully my parents saw my good qualities and allowed me to grow up and live a happy life in spite of the fact that I might not have met the Breed Standard.

Thank you BadRap and others for giving the less than perfect ones a chance.

A lot of humans would be culled if we held them to the same Standard as these dogs.

BaltimoreGal said...

As a "BaltimoreGal" I want to say thank you to all the organizations like Bad Rap and Recycled Love who have done so much for these wonderful animals. I have a pit/lab rescued from the east side of Baltimore (her mom was abandoned just before she gave birth to 8 puppies) and she is the most wonderful thing in my life. What fool gave up such a gift? And who would have thought that such an ugly event like Vick's arrest could bring so much joy, to so many? Let's keep this momentum up!

Anonymous said...

Since adopting my handsome pit boy from a shelter just over two years ago, it is increasingly apparent that there is a wonderful connection and understanding among we pit bull parents. It's as if we have found the key to happiness-- well balanced, healthy, happy pit bull(s) will brighten even the worst of our days. With articles like Jim Gorants, blogs like Bad Rap, owners/pit lovers like you all who've posted comments on this site, we can hope that the rediculous and completely inaccurate assumptions about these big goofy, snuggly, totally affectionate animals will be dispelled once and for all.
Personally, I don't know how I survived before I had my big 80 lb love bug-- big vicious pit bull, yeah right...he can't sleep unless he's snuggled up, under the covers, head on his pillow. The most danger most pit bulls pose is that they'll lick you to death, or inadvertantly crush your legs as they attempt to sit on your lap!!!

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU, Sports Illustrated and Bad Raps dog rescue! SI hasn't let up on this story, bless them.

I've been a strong advocate against dog fighting and against stereotypes for YEARS. I'm a handler, a animal rescue volunteer, and very recently - the roomie of a pit bull/American Bulldog mix. I feel I am the lucky one. I had to put down my 110 lb Mastiff mix, and brought home this wiggly, smiling, happy little girl dog with so much love to give. My oldest cat, who loved the mastiff mix, sleeps with Harley the pit bull mix.

Micheal Vicks, there is a special place in Hell waiting for you. Your dogs would forgive you - they have bigger hearts than I do.

Anonymous said...

I have been an advocate for this breed since I was a little girl, living in SF next door to the most lovely dog named Molly. She was my first pit bull friend. She would run down the street and slam herself against my knees. She was amazing. Miles to go indeed but this article was a wonderful contribution to that despite one of the letters that the magazine received in response. Still much more educating to do.
Bless you all at BadRap for what you do.

Anonymous said...

AMAZING ARTICLE, had me welling up until the very end. and the ending was awesome.

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