Thursday, April 01, 2010

puppy pride, prejudice, and a shock jock who needs a muzzle

Meet our newest family member on the right, now named Elliot Scandal Dooley. (That name could totally change six times before we settle on it for keeps, btw.) He came from a big-hearted sled dog rescuer in Idaho who snagged him from a bad situation in early March. We've been fabulously distracted by his arrival this past week and it's been a welcome brain break. We're over the moon, actually.

Elliot is a malamute/husky mix and he's going to be 70-80 plus pounds huge. What's in store? True to his breed(s), we can expect this wonderfully people-focused boy will have some prey drive that we'll need to monitor. And we'll have to keep our fences in good repair and make sure he doesn't get escape fantasies. We know he's intelligent, super impressed with obedience work and he seems ready to enjoy being part of our pack of dogs - even so, he's going to need to be socialized to the nines with all kinds of other dogs while he's young, then will need measured intros as he matures, especially with other male dogs. Since he's a confident fellow, we'll have to learn what his hot buttons might be so we can prevent arguments with other dogs (it's looking like one of his buttons could be TOYS) and we'll have to stay on our toes and remind our friends not to stir things up when they come over to play with everybody. Sound familiar, pit bull owners?

Having this joy boy in our lives is like having all the responsibilities of a pit bull but with none of the baggage that comes along with that bad-word-name. I didn't have to think twice about which airline to use when I brought him home since none of them ban his breed, and everyone I talked with from here to the baggage claim was thrilled for me ... "A husky dog! Congratulations!" Random strangers at the airport rushed over to pet him and offer their best wishes. Not one dirty look, ignorant, insulting comment or mention of harm caused by irresponsibly owned sled dogs. It was like the whole world was supporting me; wishing us well. Wow - What a vacation! So this is how other dog owners live? Having Elliot is going to remind me what it should feel like to own a pit bull, and I have to thank him for that ongoing and much-needed reality check. We sure have a long ways to go, pit bull people.

Stop the Shock Jock

While I was blissing though air travel with my new heart throb and soaking up all the love, his soon-to-be pit bull siblings back home were taking a beating from a dipshit shock jock attorney on a popular radio show. If you're from the SF bay area you probably already know that long-time pit bull hater Len Tillem on KGO radio advised a caller who was worried about unruly neighbor dogs to toss poisoned meat over the fence to solve her problem just this last Monday. Why? One of the dogs at the home was a pit mix and good old Len doesn't like him some pit bulls. So this brilliant attorney recommended malicious animal cruelty to a radio listener.

A transcript of the conversation, and audio:
Len Tillam: Let me ask you a question. I'm not encouraging it. Have you already started thinking about rat poison wrapped in hamburger meat thrown over the fence?
Caller: Uhm...No
LT: Well you should
Caller: Well I thought of something but I have a cat...
LT: Oh wait til they kill your cat. Pit bulls love to kill cats. Wait and see what and your 3 year old kid will have to go to therapy because he saw his dead cat being chewed up by the pit bull.
Caller: Oh I hope not.
LT: Welcome to pit bull world. And everything I'm saying about pit bulls I mean and I know with all my heart is true and if you own a pit bull you're an idiot.

After phone complaints to the station, Tillem offered a half-assed apology, but we're less than impressed. Care to join us in calling him on his actions? We'd like to see stronger repercussions. For one, you can join us in filing a complaint with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for actively promoting an act of animal cruelty to a radio audience (maliciously poisoning an animal in California can be charged as a felony).

Phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)
TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
Fax: 1-866-418-0232 e-mail:

You can also file a complaint and ask the State Bar of CA to investigate this unethical attorney. They certainly will, if they get complaints.

For the pit bulls. Thank you.


Bethany said...

The "investigate" and "apology" links aren't working :(

I can't believe a lawyer would be dumb enough to say this crap on air. Too bad dogs can't sue for slander (or is it liable when it's vocal?)

Donna said...

Thanks for letting me know Bethany -- all fixed.

Unknown said...

Argggg... My pit bull (CGC, pet therapy) was poisoned by (I suspect) my paranoid neighbor several years ago. Luckily (and a large bill later) my Veterinarian was able to save her. I wondered where my neighbor got the idea...

Anonymous said...

I'm calling...and I'm going to place a complaint with the FCC. Idiot. And let me just say, having shared my home with a husky for 14 years (until Lil passed) they absolutely rival pitties for attention and destruction :) I even bought her a hard hat to have her pic taken in!!!

I wouldn't have traded her for the world.

Dianne said...

And I am over the moon to know why there have been no blog updates! You guys have been through so much heartbreak this year, you deserve to be oohed and awed at the airport.

My sister's cat was poisoned when she lived in red neck country. She recovered and lived a long life. But it's a horrible thing to put an animal through. I hope he loses his license.

J.M said...

Elliot is a very handsome fella.Congrats on the new family member.
Love his name.There must be a story behind that.I thought of K9 Elliot Ness and even went back and looked up the Sheriff`s name but it`s Tom Dart not Tom Dooley.

Will be writing a letter about that comment.

Pab said...

I just emailed him directly to his KGO address and told him how I feel about his comments and also that I will be filing a complaint with the State Bar.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on your new addition he is a beauty. Your post was eye opening to me I hadn't thought in years what it must be like to own a breed other than my pitties. Your right it must be a wonderful feeling to meet with approval over your dog from a stranger, rather than them grabbing their child by the hand and running down another aisle at Petsmart or running in doors when they see us coming on our walk. The sad part is it hurts the pups feelings so much, they don't understand why people ignore them. Just about 2 weeks ago I tool my Pittie Gracie to Petco with me to pick up treats. After the checking out I couldn't find my keys so as I stood there looking for the keys, 4 or 5 people finished checking out and walked by us, as each person passed she looked at them with those brown pittie eyes begging for a greeting, they all IGNORED her! On the last one I couldn't take it anymore I said loudly to her to just ignore the VERY ignorant people that hse was the good girl and they were the idoits! I will call and file a complaint both on the idiot radio jock, what is wrong with people it makes me so mad I want to bite them, don't worry about my dog, she's sweet I'm the one with the deadly bite!!!!!!!

georgette said...

wow! that's the lamest apology in the world. he misquotes himself and the caller (i listened to the whole exchange the other day) and says he'll do whatever he can to make the complainants happy. not to rectify the damage done, but to make the complainants happy. lame. it's not a real apology. he should have to do an entire show on the reality, not his myths which he "knows with all his heart to be true", of pitties.

all i could think when i was done listening to the show was "wow! what an a$$#@%&!"

Katie said...

I've already called KGO to complain, and now I will file a formal complaint with the state bar. I don't have pitties, but I do have 3 dogs. The last thing I need is some moron with a microphone telling people to poison their neighbors' dogs. A lawyer who is on the radio encouraging people to break the law in a violent and malicious way deserves to have his judgment and professional ethics called into question.

Anonymous said...

I called the FCC to express my disappointment, and the operator advised that I contact the station directly, so that is what I'll do next.

Hey BADRAP - while I'm disgusted by Len Tillem's malicious "advice" and uneducated views regarding pit bulls, I'm glad you're on the lookout so people can take action when they hear things like this.

Unknown said...

Egad, Elliot is ridiculous and amazingly adorable. What a lovely smile he has - enjoy your many years together!

Unknown said...

hi - I called the FCC - they will not do anything because they say their duty ends at profanity (that is paraphrased but really what is up) - didn't care if this jock was advocating a crime... so the FCC said to call the station.

Donna said...

Thanks Dianne - We definitely went into hermit mode once the puppy came. It felt great.

The FCC may be getting loaded up with calls right now, but we phoned yesterday and we're happy to say that they did take this very seriously. We were told that a senior analyst would be reviewing the case and it will escalate to a statement to KGO.

If you call, you can request a case number (and they may tell you they've got it covered -- which is fine.)

Donna said...

Adding ... It's important to remind the FCC clerk that giving advice on the air that recommends felony cruelty is *illegal* -- the FCC clerk may not understand that. It goes beyond profanity. Sometimes we have to educate people what their job is. ;-)

Thank you Rinalia. Many years, we hope!

Anonymous said...

just sent my formal complaint to the California State Bar and emailing the FCC will call the radio station after work this afternoon. Don't know if a letter from Texas will make much impact but I believe that united we stand!
I'm still praying for a group like BADRAP to prosper here in Texas. Until then, I'll continue to do what I can, one day, one bully and one person at a time.

Anonymous said...

Simon must be smiling about Elliot's arrival! I am delighted for him and you, too! It has been so stinking sad about Nelly and SusieQ and Maude so the smiles and joy must be a welcome relief! I was over the moon to see a happy post! Hugs to all!

Anonymous said...

As an attorney myself and a proud pittie owner, I was mortified to read this transcript. Here is the email I sent to KGO:

I'm interested to know the station's view on Len Tillem's comments encouraging a caller to poison a neighbor's dog because it was a pit bull (or pit bull mix). Encouraging an act of cruelty against an animal? Really? Isn't your station's slogan "Listen more, know more?" Mr. Tillem's comments are far from knowledgeable. I have been a loyal listener for years but I do not tolerate ignorance. I probably would not have bothered to email had Mr. Tillem just made comments about the breed generally because many people are misinformed and uneducated. But taking the next step and encouraging a caller, ON THE AIR, to try to kill her neighbors dogs is beyond moronic.

As an attorney myself, my advice to Mr. Tillem would be to be careful before advising someone to break the law. But I didn't need law school to learn that. It would be interesting to see whether California law would permit an action against the radio station for comments of its commentators that actively encourage illegal behavior.

I hold your station to a higher standard than some others in the Bay Area. I would encourage Mr. Tillem to learn more about the breed. There are many groups in the area, most notably, BAD RAP, that I believe would respond to Mr. Tillem should he reach out to them for information.

To paraphrase Mr. Tillem's comments: I know with all my heart Mr. Tillem is ignorant and needs to educate himself and if you employ Mr. Tillem, you're an idiot.

Even if Mr. Tillem refuses to educate himself about the breed, my hope is that this incident will teach him a lesson most of learned in kindergarten--if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Anonymous said...

Just spoke with the FCC, they "don't handle such issues", contact the local police or radio station directly was what i was told.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. Thank you so much for being so on top of this sort of thing and keeping us all aware of such outrageous and hateful behavior.

I've just emailed a (lengthy) complaint to the radio station. I've also filed a complaint with the FCC and I'm about the mail off my formail complaint the State Bar of Calif.

After that, I'm going to hug and appreciate my 3 gorgeous pitties. I can't believe anyone can hate an animal (of any type) so much.

Diane said...

Elliot is adorable! What a little monkey face!!!

Donna -- interestingly, in my Oakland neighborhood Huskies are also feared by many. This is due to a recent incident where a pair of adult Huskies with a weak handler (the daily walk consisted of the two Huskies on-leash, way out in front, in hunting mode, choosing the direction, and literally dragging the owner along like a sled) attacked and nearly killed a miniature poodle. This happened while the dogs were on-leash, dragging their owner, who was yelling "pick up your dog!" to the poodle owner.

This is not to say anything bad about Huskies. This was the owner's fault and the dog could easily have been a different breed.

But now many people around here fear Huskies. I think people look for a simple way to identify "dangerous dogs", "problem people", etc. I largely blame the media for the reputation pit bulls have. The media for the stories they chose to portray, and the fundamental laziness of the human mind that makes these stories stick.

But I digress... Eliot is gorgeous and a lucky little guy! I love the picture of him napping with your other dog. All the best to you!

As for this Len Tillem, I never heard of him before. Can't say I was missing much. Outrageous! I will definitely add my voice to the chorus of complaints! Thanks for bringing this to light.

PS: Love the new shots of the OAS bust dogs on the "Available Dogs" page.

Anonymous said...

I just filed a complaint on-line with the FCC about Tillem's comment ( Individuals are directed to Form 200, which is quickly completed, then submitted, without an operator at FCC telling you that they don't handle such complaints. After submitting the completed form, a case number is also automatically generated so if you want subsequently you can quickly reference your particular complaint.


Kimberly said...

I need a date and time to complete my complaint. Having trouble finding it on KGO's page. Can someone forward me the date and time of the original broadcast? Thank you!!

Jen said...

I don't have a pittie, and I too enjoy folks fawning over the cuteness of my hound. I do try to be that fawner for any friendly pittie I meet. At the dog park, out for walks, in the pet stores- all pups deserve love and a little cooing.

Anonymous said...

I'm filling out the FCC form now & I need to know the date and time that this incident occurred. Please someone give me that information. I HATE people who use their power to destroy life. I love my Pit Bulls and I'm surely not an idiot! Thanks Sheila.

Keri (CA) said...

I'm a long time listener of KGO - occassional listener of Len Tillum. I turn him off whenever he gets a 'pit bull call'..... I started doing this after sending him an email about his violence promoting stance on Pit Bulls. I received a responding email from David Brown (his cohort on the show).... basically telling me, 'so sad, too bad.'

Anyway.... all that said, I too was appalled after his latest spewing of hate, and decided that was it, I would no longer listen to him. Then the next day I heard him apologize about what was said and how he needs to think before speaking. I truly feel that it was sincere.

My feeling is that all this is a good thing. This guy has been spewing this hatred and propagating the hysteria and negativity about Pit Bulls for years...... I believe he has been taught a very serious valuable lesson... Think before you speak!

I think that he will no longer be talking so thoughtlessly and irresponsibly about Pit Bulls.

This is a good thing!

Respectfully yours,
Campbell, CA

Donna said...

thanks for following up with the FCC form.

Tillem made this statement on Monday March 29, between 12-1pm.

Anneliese said...

I called the FCC, and was directed to their website to file a complaint. So I did. Glad to know they are taking it seriously, I imagine the more complaints they get, the better.

Oh, i listened to the entire podcast of that date, the woman called around 12:40 or so according to the podcast timer.

Also listened to his 'apology', didnt think much of it, doesnt work for me when you cant keep your own bs straight enough to comment on it yourself.

Theresa said...

I worked with Animal Control in Milwaukee, WI for several years, and the last thing people need is encouragement to commit even more horrible acts of animal cruelty. Len Tillem disgusts me.

And I found Form 2000 to be rather helpful in letting the FCC know my thoughts on this.

Unknown said...

Done. I'm all about the complaints on this one.

I could not believe what I was hearing.

And I'm the 'idiot' for owning two pit bulls? I don't understand how people like this guy get jobs where they get to preach to the open-eared masses.

Susan at Calm K9 Dog Training & Behavior Solutions said...

OMG - I am horrified by Len Tillem's comments. Prior to listening to the audio clip of the conversation he had with a caller regarding Pit Bulls, I was a HUGE fan of his, and made a point of listening to his radio show every chance I got. Not any more...

I am just SO disappointed - frankly, there were several irresponsible things said by Len Tillem including his assertion that Pit Bulls are "...hardwired to kill...babies...". He tells the caller that every time she sees the dogs outside, she should call Animal Control and tell than there is a "...vicious Pit Bull loose...". My God - he is so out of line...I currently have 2 Pit Bulls, both rescues, that I spend hours training every day of the week, and, in my small East Bay town, I constantly deal with simple minded people touting the same garbage Len Tillem said on his show. To his way of thinking, I guess it would be just fine if somebody in my town called in a fallacious complaint about my Pits to Animal Control, who would likely remove them from my home, label them (potentially) dangerous, and even possibly kill them. Do I need to mention that this would absolutely break my heart, particularly since both of them - but especially my newer Pittie - is just the sweetest dog ever ? But this could happen if Len Tillem's caller - and others - follow his advice !

Sorry to go on so long - I am very upset by this, as I spend a good two thirds of my time training my rescued Pitties and the other third dealing with stoopit, loud mouthed, ill informed, uneducated, slanderous people such as Len Tillem. Wow...he has lost his #1 fan big time. How dare he use his show as a platform for villifying PBTs.

Having said the above, I also believe that the owners of the 4 dogs are being grossly irresponsible by letting them all run willy nilly as they spill out of their vehicle.

However, it is no surprise that the Pit Bull is assumed to be a vicious killer on the verge of attack, yet no mention is made of the potential harm the 3 other dogs could cause. Stupid loy-yah !

Yep - I will be contacting everyone concerned. I will never be able to listen to Len Tillem again - I'm done.

Oh ! Just one more little thing - Tillem mentioned he has Labs whom he characterizes as gentle...really ? Let's not forget that one of the first recipients of a full facial transplant had her face chewed off by her Labrador. Just a little reality check here...I'm just sayin'...

Sincerely -

Susan, mom to Yang Yang (proud graduate of BAD RAPs Pit Ed class)
and new mom to the amazingly beautiful, wonderful Honey, former puppy mill prisoner, rescued out of the Martinez shelter...

Jess Galvin said...

I also filled out the complaint for the state bar of CA. I made sure to point out that this news has made its way across the country as I live in Massachusetts. Don't they understand that the pitbull network is tight? We all have to stick together to make life better for our pitties. I've been told more than once I'm crazy or an irresponsible parent for having two pitbulls around my young children. I laugh at people and tell them I have the best child protectors in the world. Heck I was having a party and my 4 year old was in the house alone having a snack. One of my friends walked in to the house to get a drink and he started yelling for me. My female had pushed him back in to a corner and was keeping him there. Never did she touch him with any part of her body, but he knew she meant business. I have no fears for my children with my dogs around. I can't stand people who criticize us for owning this wonderfully loving and caring breed.

Unknown said...

Love the pictures of Elliott, and I can just imagine how he is helping you guys heart heal after the hard losses lately. I like Dorado as a name too, (as in treasure)...

Lem Tillem's comments were just awful, and I wonder how he missed the story of the yellow lab last week that took a chunk of a litte girl ... it was in Concord...

Jennie Bailey said...

I really want to call him and pretend that my neighbors have an outdoor pit bull who has never done anything but still makes me nervous. I want get him to encourage the poisoning, go on one of his ignorant pit bulls should die rants and then say to him, "So when I get arrested for this felony, this show is taped, right? I can just tell the police that an attorney advised me this was okay to do because he knows pit bulls and this is how you handle them? I can drop your name and they can pull this transcript. That should get me off on the felony animal cruelty charge, right?" I'm just dying to see how he wiggles out of that one. "But you are telling ME and other listeners to do this."

He needs to be put in his place and know that if someone goes down for this, he is going down with them as the one who even suggested it. I think the eejit will learn to keep his mouth shut if he realizes it will hurt him in the end. This guy doesn't want to be educated, folks. Not in the least. Bozos like this have to be taken down a peg or two to realize their mouth is actually going to affect their livelihood and land their butts in court when someone simply waves a transcript stating "an attorney told me ON AIR that it was within my rights to commit felony animal cruelty and actually encouraged me to do so." I'm all about beating them at their own game.

Thanks for the links, Donna. Filing and forwarding to all my friends and family. It's funny how pro-pit bull my mom has become in her old age. I wouldn't be surprised to see her quilting group firing off emails and calling. Good help the operators because these old ladies are spicy when they get angry about something!

Jennie Bailey said...

I can't believe that I left out - CONGRATULATIONS on your adorable new family member! He is so handsome. A well deserved distraction for you both.

Anonymous said...

I just want to thank this organization for everything they do.
Bless you all.

Dee said...

My German Shepard was poisoned and killed by my neighbors in the 80's when we lived in Camden. Back then they were in the hot seat along with Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers. So the police didn't care when we reported it. Some criminal discovered our dog died (he was a good alert dog) and broke into our house while we were sleeping. Luckily, I woke my father up and he was able to scare away the intruder. Since our dog was gone, we no longer felt safe in our inner city neighborhood, and we promptly moved. Hearing anyone advocate for the poisoning of a dog makes me sick. I left a comment on his facebook page and will be filing a complaint. Thanks for following this. RIP Spike, the best German Shepard ever.

Marina said...

The number to call the California Bar Association complaint line is 213-765-1200. The link to the CBA is

I hope the link works, but if not, just google "California Bar Association Complaints." That is reprehensible that he said that. He was suggesting she commit a felony for heaven sakes, not to mention that it's just plain cruel and awful.

I'm going to call now right after I make a stop to kiss my dogs. Does anyone have the actual date of the interview? I'll go look to see if I missed it in the blog post.

Anonymous said...

Donna & Tim,
Congratulations on your new addition to the clan. Wow, you can tell he is a legend in the making by the sparkle in his eye.

There is so much to be said about Mr. Tillem's actions. But everyone has pretty much covered it. I will only say that we can only combat such ignorance through loving action. We go out and advocate, educate and allocate. That is the only way to combat the fearmongerer's.

Richmond, VA

EntropicUtopia said...

This man should be disbarred. I am going to law school next year and I am astounded that a supposed "man of the law" would say such inflammatory, untrue, and cruel remarks. What an ignorant twit. I've already written to the FCC and will be contacting the State Bar of CA.

No one that does any research on dogs or has the slightest sliver of intelligence regarding the canine species knows that pit bulls are not viscous and their owners are not ignorant (for the most part). Uninformed owners span all breeds of dog and the worst attack my dog was put through was from a Golden Retriever! My poor boy needed 28 stitches to his skull and never attempted to hurt the attacking dog.

Unbelievable. I'm tempted to be infuriated, but that would be the goal of this ignoramus. He should be disbarred for this and slapped with a massive fine/penal action from the FCC.

Envy Forums said...

Aww he looks like Liko this dog at my job.

EntropicUtopia said...

I just received a response from the FCC saying this disgrace for a human being is covered under freedom of speech. Advocating for animal cruelty is against the law yet they are willing to stand behind this man's comments????? Has anyone else received this email??

k b b said...

Curious if Sally had to put Elliot in his place like Lilly did for Elvessa...
It's always so nice having an older dog teach the younger dogs the house rules.

Alix K. said...

to ENTROPICUTOPIA: it is freedom of speech, BUT the California State Bar and the FCC should be aware of the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio which says that if someone's advice or words encourage an illegal act, and it is known that by saying these words, the person/s listening WILL go out and do it, then his words are no longer protected under the First Amendment.

This man should not be protected becuase the sole reason his show exists is to give LEGAL ADVICE for people to follow. So his LEGAL ADVICE for this woman to follow was to commit felony animal cruelty. If she goes out and does it, or someone else who was listening in does --- then i think his actions disqualify him from being protected by Freedom of Speech.

ingrid said...

Congrats on your new pup!
When I first started out working with animals, the Husky breed was my least favorite.

Then I met the most wonderful Husky and had a chat with the owner. I realized that this is how the breed was SUPPOSED to be!! Not crazy insane & insecure, but smart and independent. She explained about the Husky rescue she adopted him from, explained about the breed traits and needs, and I had no idea how much trouble there was in finding proper homes for what seemed like such a "basic" unproblematic breed!

I gained a whole new respect and admiration for the breed, and realized how much I didn't know about so many other breeds. My whole world changed.

That was well over 15 years ago and I'll never forget the stunning personality and beauty of that wonderful Husky! I wish you all the best with your new "little" mix! Very exciting.

And please do keep us posted!!!!

Picking up Women said...

While I was blissing though air travel with my new heart throb and soaking up all the love, his soon-to-be pit bull siblings back home were taking a beating from a dipshit shock jock attorney on a popular radio show.

Barbara said...

The "investigate" and "apology" links don't seem to be working still :(
Thanks for posting this!