Monday, March 09, 2009

the fun of living under a microscope

Media interest in our Vick dogs has not stopped. A reporter asked me recently about placing Vick dogs in new homes -- Like, "is everyone and their brother scrambling to adopt one of these famous dogs?" I choked on my coffee. "No way, man. Most people want nothing to do with living under the media's microscope."

Imagine, as gratifying as it is to show off these wonderful dogs, you may as well paint a big red X on your forehead and on your dog, too. People recognize these dogs, and while most are more than supportive, the world is still sprinkled with haters who expect the worst, including some who would salivate over news of a bust dog who - dog forbid - commits a very dog-like act, like a loud public snarf at an offensive dog or an argument with housemate dog.

Above, a scene from Pit Ed class two weeks ago. Stay tuned for updates on this latest news magazine story.

Our bust dog adopters and foster homes have thick hides and backbones made of steel, but to be honest, plenty-o adoption candidates have been scared off by what could be a lifetime of scrutiny focused on this particular group of dogs. Who can blame them? Would you be able to deal? A recent applicant for our orphan girl, Zippy, did some soul searching and decided to withdraw his application:
After careful thought and deliberations over the weekend I have come to the conclusion that I am unable to adopt Zippy. The pressure of being her owner is just going to be too much for me to deal with at this time. I am still breaking in my new house and have plenty to deal with right now and to try and take on a dog as important as Zippy is, would not be fair for her or me. I will always support and admire the work your organization does for the breed. I am going to try and get settled in my new house and when I feel I am ready to take on the resposibilty of dog ownership I will address it at that time. I am sorry I cannot be of help to you at this time and wish you and all of your dogs and owners nothing but the best.

Thank you for your consideration,
GOOD LUCK ZIPPY ( I am rooting for you)

We don't blame Rich, btw. In fact, we were really proud of him for staying true to himself with his decision.

Grace - our latest Canine Good Citizen recipient! - is tapping her toenails along with Zippy while waiting for her strong backbone owner to appear. They will, and the wait will be worth it. If you haven't seen this new post on the Vick Dog Blog, watch how she's biding her time with Jonny while she waits. I just love this post: Friday Funnies (And no, Jonny can't keep her...altho we're sure he's asked.)


Unknown said...

I fully support you guys and the work you are doing. I have a question, though. Do you have to protect yourselves in some way before adopting out any of these breeds that people have hang ups about? For instance you rehabilitate and train a dog and adopt him out and he's put in some sort of threatening situation where he feels he has no choice and he puts his teeth on someone. Are YOU liable for that for "putting him out there" so to speak. I should hope not (at least not simply because they are pibbles) but I was curious. If you think this question is better answered over email or if it's not appropriate, please feel free to remove it.

Donna said...

Hi Giggler -Great handle!

We actually haven't had to worry about that - knock on wood - because we're careful to select sound, 'people-soft' dogs and we look for smart, responsible families who demonstrate to us that they won't set their pet up to fail. To cover the possibility of future unknowns, part of our contract asks adopters to contact us if their dog ever starts showing problems or odd behaviors. But ultimately, whenever an adopter takes a dog home, they assume all liability for their dog from then on out -- this is true for any breed from any agency, shelter, rescue, etc.

With the Vick dogs, homes assume the burden of knowing that their dog has to act 'perfect' in all situations. It's a tough thing to ask of any dog and any dog owner. These folks are brave though -- we're so grateful that they're willing to stick their necks out to show people that their dogs are as normal as the dog next door.

Unknown said...

Thanks for answering! I'm glad that's the way it is. And a million doggie kisses to the people that are willing to live under that microscrope.

Mary said...

If I didn't work ten hours a day, live on the East coast, and have an already bossy and sometimes territorial pup of my own, I would totally put in an application.

I absolutely love what you guys do and I love following all of your beautiful pits.

Anonymous said...

You know I`m sure the power of the microscope on the owners,foster families of the Vick dogs is set at 1,000,000 X but what I don`t think owners of other types of dogs realize is that owners of ALL Pits are under the microscope every waking hour.
The magnification may not be as high but it`s still there.

Owners and their dogs are held to a standard that NO other owners could possibly meet.

Pit Bull chases and kills cat...
What if it had been a child?
Dog is a murderer.
Owner should go to jail.
Owner should be sued.
All other Pit owners around the World are blamed.
Story is picked up around the World.
More calls for Bans.

"normal" dog chases & kills cat.
Who cares other than the owner of the cat?
Press coverage?
Are you out of your mind?
Why would there be Press coverage of a dog chasing a cat,catching it and doing what a lot of dogs do when they catch a cat.

There was a little boy critically injured on the weekend.
I`ve seen 2 News reports.
One didn`t mention the Breed at all.
One mentioned the Breed at the bottom of the story.
It`s being called a tragic accident.

It was a German Shepherd.

Has anyone ever heard of any incident involving a Pit Bull or pit type dog being called a tragic accident?
That type of reporting says it all about the standard that Pit Bull owners are held to.

CNN and Fox haven`t picked up the story of this critically injured child.
No Pit story

I pray this child recovers.

I hope some day Fight Bust dogs like Zippy can just go home and be dogs and Reporters will have no interest in them.
That truly will be success.

Donna said...

> I don`t think owners of other types of dogs realize is that owners of ALL Pits are under the microscope every waking hour

Very very true. Thanks for expanding the microscope analogy to show how every one of us is in the cross hairs of public criticism, unlike other breed owners. Anonymity is a luxury pit bull owners can't enjoy.

Speaking of anonymity, I'm curious about so many posters' decisions to stay anonymous when commenting. Is there a reason for this? It seems to me that the less anonymous we are, the more others will realize how many of us there are. Power in numbers, and all.

Anonymous said...

I'm annon because I don't have a google account (and *honestly* am too darn lazy to figure out how to set it up, etc.). I LOVE pit is just not my forte.

Susi & Bunny in Monterey :)

Donna said...

ahah! smart lady de-cloaked!

yes, sign your name and own those wise statements.

Anonymous said...


Breed Specific Legislation


"Fred" on behalf of an illegal family member

Anonymous said...

Ok, add me to the lazy list! I fly my Pit Bull flag with pride, including the stickers that I swore I would never have on not just my truck, but also my husbands!

They can keep me under the microscope as much as they would like, but I will always stand up for what is true and fair about my dogs, whether it be the Pit or the Lab.

Call me a freak, and I will fly the freak flag too! Ha!

Natalie and Osa too

Pit bull NM said...

Wish there were more like Rich in the world. And don't lose his number, anyone that respects animal ownership like he does, is worth keeping in the loop!


Anonymous said...

I can't remember if I have commented before but I know I am usually anonymous when I comment anywhere. I've been following this blog for a while and the Vick Dogs Blog as well. I don't have a pibble but they are some of the nices dogs at the shelter I have volunteered at here in Montana and I wouldn't hesitate to offer to take one in if I didn't already have three dogs.

We just fought off BSL here a few weeks ago and I was proud to be one of the hundreds at our state capital to testify against BSL.

Robin Layton
Helena, MT

Anonymous said...

i have been fortunate enough to fall in love with pitties about 20 years ago. even the sweetest most gentle dog i have ever had who was a 75 lb pit was discriminated against when we enjoyed our frequent outings. i knew then and during the amazing years i had with her that i would have to be thick skinned and reply intelligently to the public's ignorance. i love the sticker, "Resist ignorance, educate, inspire." i have that one on my car bumper and i live by it. dogs are individuals, we as humans must embrace that and know what our dogs are ok around and supervise when necessary and be prepared for prejudices. use those prejudices as opportunities to educate. i would embrace the chance to adopt any adoptable pittie, including the "vick" dogs of course. unfortunately my two i have in my life now don't leave room for any others.they are like 5 dogs wrapped up in 2 at times. and thats ok, but if i thought they would tolerate another dog in our home, i would surely take a third and a vick dog would be my first choice, because they are still individuals after all. just ones with more media baggage attached. but all the more reason to adopt one if you are able, as that can be such an educational opportunity to show the world how great these once condemned dogs are. not to mention they all seem like amazing dogs. how proud the people must be who have taken any of them into their lives! many of the dogs (and their humans) have already proved the prejudiced public wrong with their wonderful therapy jobs and outstanding personalities. how proud we all must be! i know i am.

Donna said...

Congratulations on your BSL win Robin. And thank you for standing up for the dogs in your state. We're proud to know you.

german shepherd said...

What a great site you have here. I truly enjoyed reading several of your other posts and looking at all the great pictures you have here. As a German Shepherd owner I can understand the bias many people have against certain breed of dogs - but education is one of the best ways to knock down this wall and you're doing it right here. Keep up the great work!