Pit Bulls are lovers not fighters, unless…

…they’re trained to do so by unscrupulous owners.

Nearly every time someone is attacked by an animal it seems as if it is a Pit Bull. No matter that they happen to be the most popular breed right now (as was the Rottweiler last decade and the German Shepherd the one before) if they are involved in any way in an altercation with a human, they are featured at the top of the news with aplomb. I have owned each one of these breeds and I am here to tell you that it absolutely depends upon how the puppy was raised and how it’s treated by it’s owner.

I love all animals. OK, so I don’t get all warm and fuzzy when I see a python, but they are living beings so I have to include them. (There is, however, a complete disconnect for me when it comes to cockroaches and I won’t bend on this!!) But this piece is about Pit Bulls and how they’ve been swift-boated by the media, so that every time someone hears anything about the breed, they cringe and fold into the fetal position.

People’s perception is that Pit Bulls are dangerous. Of course, not all pit bulls are dangerous. Most don’t bite anyone. Dobermans, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Great Danes are frequent biters, but the dog that mauled a Frenchwoman so badly a few years back that she was given the world’s first face transplant was, of all things, a Labrador retriever. Shocked? You should be, because statistically, the ONLY breeds with NO bite records are the Bassett Hound and the Beagle. But, come on, Snoopy would never have bitten anyone!

So yes, French Poodles bite. Chesapeake Bay Retreivers bite. Chihuahuas bite (a lot). And ANY dog who is afraid has the potential to bite. But I’ll bet you have never heard about any dog bites lately that weren’t Pit Bulls, have you? So in the interest of dispelling the negative profiling about this breed, I invite you to view a short video about Pit Bulls.




Verizon heard us!

Earlier this week I wrote about the offensive Verizon LG Dare wireless phone ad that featured two chained and seemingly aggressive Pit Bulls charging a man who jumped a fence to try the new phone. The country mobilized! ASPCA (American Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals), HSUS (Humane Society of the United States), PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and thousands of county shelters, grassroots rescue groups, and the general public converged on Verizon via email, phone calls, and letters, to convey their outrage.

As Margaret Meade once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Our collective actions proved Ms. Meade right and I am happy…no thrilled…to report that Renee Brace and the ASPCA Online Community spoke with Verizon Executive Coordinator, Steve Schwartzman, and the offensive ad has been pulled in all markets. Mr. Schwartzman was very understanding of everyones feelings and admitted that they have received quite a bit of heat over this commercial.

Can They Hear Us Now?

The July 21, 2008 issue of the trade journal AD AGE, published the story “Verizon Pit-Bull Ad Unleashes Flurry of Complaints” and reports that the LG Dare phone ad has infuriated everyone from national animal welfare organizations to grassroots rescue groups. The attack is unofficially called Can They Hear Us Now?

Petitions are circulating and animal related message boards are lit up like fireworks across the country.

The spokesperson for Verizon is Brenda Raney, who said “the ads were never intended to offend. There are two ads that focus on the Dare, she said; the other depicts a woman on a ledge. ‘These are fictional ads, designed to be over-the-top, to break through the clutter and get our message across.’ Verizon is not pulling the spots.” You can email Ms. Raney at brenda.raney@verizonwireless.com

Perhaps with enough pressure and outrage from the public, this will change. Make your voice heard. Hit them where it hurts – change service providers!!

You can sign one of the petitions by going to:

Shame on Verizon

Readers of my blog, please view the Verizon ad (link below) that features two Pit Bulls CHAINED and acting AGGRESSIVE and then PLEASE sign the petition so Verizon removes this hideous and thoughtless ad which profiles a breed with enough negative press.

Here is a link to sign a petition to have Verizon remove this ad immediately – “Make Verizon Accountable. Can They Hear Us Now?“ It’s the least we can do to protect the image of these wonderful, and often maligned dogs.


My Pit Bull Rosie thanks you!

Sweet and loving pets

Every year over 60,000 companion animals are put to death in Maricopa County, Arizona! This is a chilling number, and becomes even more overwhelming when you consider that Maricopa County is only one of 3143 counties, parishes or independent cities, in only one of the fifty United States.

Why am I telling you this? I work in the animal rescue community and today I was copied on yet another request to help find a home for “…a very sweet and loving cat who has been in my family for many years and, with great sadness, we cannot keep her anymore…” Blah, blah, blah…I hear it all the time.

People, at what point does your “sweet and loving pet” become excess baggage? At what point do you pack your clothes, knickknacks, family photos, and appliances, and move away without your animal? Some people try to find homes for these living beings who have become a burden, some just dump them on the street in the hope that some kind person will pick them up, some take them to shelters, where they are usually euthanized due to over crowding, and some just leave them in their empty home and hope for the best. A percentage (that is so small it’s not visible on any chart) of these discarded souls find new homes and wonder what they did to be passed off to someone else. The rest die slow deaths on the street or in the home where they were left behind; if they’re fortunate, they are humanely euthanized.

But think about the numbers! Maricopa County is an extremely large county, so let’s just reduce the numbers to be fair. That means that 8 million pets are killed each year because there are not enough homes for them all.

Realtors and landlords routinely enter vacant homes to find animals left behind who are emaciated or near death. One Animal Planet Animal Cops episode featured the animal control agents entering a home to find a dog, so thin, that it could barely stand. On the wall was a list of things the former tenants were to take along to the new house…the dog was not on the list.

Some issues that send people searching for a new home for their pet are behavior related. Others are because there was little or no thought to the temperament of the breed, and how it will fit into the family dynamic, before they chose their pet, and still others are simply because the kitten or puppy has now grown into an adult that is no longer cute. It’s sort of like dumping your husband when he gets a beer belly. To some of you, that may sound like an idea to ponder, but at least HE will be able to care for himself without you!

Seriously, there are way too many animals and not enough homes. Know this:
• You don’t need a dog just because you have a back yard
• Learn about the breed, or the animal’s temperament, before choosing
• Make a lifetime commitment

Remember Woody

My rescued Rosie

My rescued Rosie

He had red hair, amber eyes, and a heart as big as the sky. When he was just four months old he was brought in to the Humane Society shelter in the city where I used to live. His name was Woody, and like his fellow inmates, his home was a 3′ by 6′ cell.

Woody had issues. Woody had lots of energy. Woody needed to be adopted by someone who was willing to spend time running and playing with him every day. Woody was a Pit Bull. For months no one offered to commit that much to him. He waited.

I met Woody when I began volunteering at this shelter. I started by walking dogs a couple of days a week, but I soon realized I’d have to do more when I found that at any given time there were over 100 dogs living in that shelter, and there were only a handful of volunteers. There are a total of 15 shelters in the county where I lived then, and about 58 counties in that state. If every shelter housed only half the numbers mine did, the number of dogs living in shelters across the country every day is staggering

Because there were so few volunteers sometimes 10 days would pass before Woody could be taken out of his cell; over time he slowly lost his mind. For exercise, he used to run up the sides and over the top of his small space…over and over and over again.

Every animal, human or otherwise, reacts differently to incarceration. Some have been so abused that a kind voice, a safe place to sleep, and food and water is a huge improvement in their lives. Some animals are adopted quickly, especially the kittens and puppies. Some are adopted and then brought back because, for one reason or another, they didn’t fit into the family dynamic. And some, like Woody, get up every time someone comes down the row and wonder, is today my day? Will someone want to take me home? Will someone love me now?

So, I asked myself over and over again…what will change this situation? What can I do?

I’d like to see children and adults educated on the depth and breadth of the responsibility of pet ownership. I’d wish it could be mandatory that anyone who wants to adopt a pet has to work in a shelter for a month before they can. I’d like all people to know that every dog’s personality is different and not every dog will get along with every person. I’d like people to know that each dog requires different attention; some need lots of exercise and personal care, such as daily brushing or weekly grooming. I’d like people to learn the breed characteristics before committing to a dog (the Dalmatian or the Jack Russell Terrier, for instance, are extremely hyper dogs and requiring lots of play). I’d like people to know that, just because you have a back yard doesn’t mean you need a dog, and that all animals are born pure with no preconceived ideas as to how they are to act. As their owner…their pack leader…YOU influence who they become.

Let’s take the infamous Pitt Bull. I have a beautiful rescued Pit named Rosie. She wasn’t born knowing how to fight viciously, and if she were a fighter, she would have been trained to do so. Naturally, she did not learn that behavior from me. We set the tone for our animals’ temperament through the amount of love and attention we give them. We are responsible for their health and safety.

So what happened to Woody? It was inevitable; he ended up snapping at a shelter worker and he was euthanized. I believe that he’s in a better place, but I can’t help being sad that he spent nearly all of his entire time on this planet in a cage. I am sad that he never got to sleep at the foot of his owner’s bed. I am sad hat he never knew the joy of greeting his master at the door – that he never experienced the warmth of his own home – that he was never part of a family.

In my opinion, in order to prevent the fate of thousands more Woody’s, the solution to the millions of unwanted, abandoned, tortured, and discarded animals, is to have your pet spayed or neutered by its six month birthday. Puppies and kittens are adorable, but they grow into adult animals, and they require daily love and care and a lifetime commitment.

Shelters and rescue groups require that your new family member is spayed or neutered before it can go home with you. That helps with those animals, but you should know that one intact female dog can start a cascade of over 11,000 dogs in one year’s time, if she and her offspring remain unaltered. Unless you are a responsible licensed breeder, there is no reason for your dog or cat to produce more animals, some of whom will become a Woody right in your town. There are hundreds of abandoned and unwanted Woody’s being picked up or owner-surrendered every hour of every day right in your backyard, and thirty-five percent of them are pure bred. So, make a pledge today to have your pet spayed or neutered before its six month birthday, or if your pet is an adult and still intact, get it done today. Many municipalities and counties offer low cost or free spay and neuter services…and free surgery if they are a Pit Bull. If there is nothing like this available why not start a Spay and Neuter campaign of your own? Begin with your own veterinarian; he or she may be willing to charter a non-profit group under your lead. Or, if you wish, donate your time, money, or both, to your local Humane Society, animal shelter, or rescue group.

And please do it in Woody’s name.