Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What? Excuse you... I am not a pit bull!

Sadly, despite their sweetness, Pit mixes have trouble getting adopted everywhere. The result has been resorting to different names for pit mixes looking for homes.

The no-kill-Shelter where I will begin volunteering on Saturday has a lot of trouble adopting out dogs the moment they label them with "Pit-mix" on their website. Our pit-rotteiler-bulldog-chow-terrier mix, Winnie, came from Animal Haven and was labeled a Lab/Shepherd Mix.

We completely understand the need to do this- and I have watched the Animal Haven website so much that I have seen dogs go from "Pit Mix" to "Shepherd Mix" in an attempt to get them homes.

For example:
Notice that not one of these dogs is labeled a pit-mix. I know that Cha Cha, whose puppies have all found homes, has been at the Shelter for months (more than 3?), which is extremely rare for Animal Haven, which usually places dogs within a matter of a 2-3 weeks. The team has tried everything with these three dogs, such as changing their pirctures and giving them cute sweaters, to get them some attention. Luckily, they won't be put down just because of their size and pit-bull characteristics; if a home is not found in a certain length of time, they will go to another rescue group with more expertise. Cha Cha gets lots of attention from volunteers and is given as much stimuation as possible while she waits.

I have found that Animal Haven is more willing to label a dog a "pit-mix" when it is a small puppy because people are much less afraid of a baby. Although I have a feeling that once they grow up, if they are still at the shelter, their breeds might change to something like a "lab mix" or a "boxer mix" perhaps. See below:

Is this ethical? Well it has been done at a lot of shelters and even the DNA testing we have used don't even have a category for Pit-bulls. I guess they figure that they don't want to sell someone a $80 DNA test just to have them find out something they didn't want to know. Insted they tell you that your dog is a "American Staffordshire Terrier," which a lot of groups have tried to encourage lately.

The frustrating thing to me is that while some groups actively avoid the word "pit," Animal Care and Control seems to embrace it. Even when a dog doesn't even look much like a pit bull, it is a "pit mix." 90% of the dogs are pit mixes, and I'm sure they could come up with some creative names that might help save their lives. This is especially important because AC&C allows you to put in a "pure-bred request" so that if a Golden Retriever for example happens to come in, they will let you know. Adding that a dog might be a "Boxer Mix" would bring in all of the boxer-people just to look, which is all these sweet dogs really need to get adopted.

Too bad every dog can't get a DNA test to help show their genetic diversity. Too bad people are so focused on breed and so un-focused on heart.

How to be a good Pit-Bull owner

Let's face it- it is so hard to be a pit bull owner.

That problem gets multiplied when you have two.

Walking around New York City, it brings tears to my eyes to see people actively avoid Bruno by turning around, crossing the street, or waiting for another elevator.

It is especially difficult because of how well behaved he is-- He happens to be better at leash walking and more dog-friendly than our other dog, Winnie, but surprisingly, we never witnessed this prejudice with her. She looks more like a black lab and so people aren't immediately afraid, but Bruno's brindle pattern and large head make him look scary to others.

This past weekend we brought both of our dogs home for the holidays. It was one of the hardest experiences for me to watch him be so outcast without even being given a chance to show his sweet personality. While other dogs went into the house for dinner, it was implied that ours stay in the car- and then when it was too cold, stay on the leash inside. The problem is, keeping one dog on a leash while the others run around makes Bruno reasonably agitated and his barking doesn't help his cause. Finally, once we let him off the leash he got along with everyone and slept nicely under the table while we ate.

It was so hard for me to feel the prejudice that came from my & my boyfriends' families. My mother reacted like he would bite her our our family dog at any moment, even though he was completely docile and sleepy while he was there. I felt such pressure to defend him and felt attacked myself. The jokes and comments about him didn't help, but really hurt, like "for god's sake who would own a pit bull" and "I know Michael Vick, buddy!" and "He looks like he could eat my foot!" and "he has demon eyes!"

I couldn't ask for a better breed-ambassador, except for Bruno's intense fear of small boys (I have no idea where it comes from but he is really scared of little boys and will bark at them in a really scary way.) It was great to see everyone warm up to him at the end and allow him up on the couch to snuggle, and that made me hopeful, but so few people get to spend days with him and instead only make rash judgements based on his looks.

I know that every time he walks nicely on his leash and licks someone's hand when they go to pet him, that it gets better for him, but it doesn't seem to be a problem that is going to go away, and I just have to be more confident in my dogs and their friendliness.

It also doesn't hurt to be an educated pit bull owner. I know that people can get caught up in defending the breed, but the truth is that we have to be realistic. These dogs can have difficulty with other dogs and sometimes people. To protect the breed's reputation, you have to be proactive. Know your dog's short-comings. For example, when we see small children coming, we distract Bruno, have him sit, and reward him if he ignores them.

Ultimately, by being a proactive pit bull owner, you can help change the breed bias and that is ultimately what needs to happen before we can save pit bull lives.

Also, you have to protect your dogs from each other. We keep Bruno and Winnie separate during the day while we are at work and oversee all play time. We are currently training them to enjoy playing without teeth or growls. Getting a giant tug toy is actually a great way to distract their attention from each other's legs and neck and towards a toy. In fact,  they get more energy out by chasing each other around and tugging than they do by constant wrestling.

For more resources on having a Multi-Dog Home, see Pit Bull Rescue Center's resources
They highlight that it is important to:
1) Know your dogs
2) Set them up to succeed
3) Train your dogs
4) Never leave them unsupervised with other animals
5) Spay and Neuter
6) Monitor Playtime
7) Always leash your dog
8) Avoid Off-Leash dog parks
9) Encourage early socialization

I recommend Tuffy's Ultimate Tug-of-War to get out some energy more productively:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our First week with Bruno

Bruno is an amazing dog.
So sweet and loving, and the more he gets to eat and rest and play with Winnie, the more at home he becomes.

Bruno happens to be much better behaved than Winnie--
Here I am about to hand them their rawhide bones:
Notice Winnie cannot keep still. :)

 (Here lies the remnants of "Puppy," Winnie's little rotweiler tug toy... he didn't stand a chance against two dogs with big teeth :))
They do love their rawhides, but Winnie can be a bit of a bully, and usually will finish her bone before Bruno and try to steal it.

Of course, like good puppy-parents, we always try to even the score.

And luckily, Bruno is starting to stand up for himself, trying to steal toys right back:

And sometimes they will just lay together and give kisses :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010


The great thing about pitbulls it their genetic diversity. People don't realize it but most dog breeds look 95% alike (think of all the Golden Retrievers or yellow Labs you have ever seen.) But since Pit Bulls have been allowed to breed at a faster rate and make up a large portion of the stray population, pit mixes can be not only extremely genetically healthy but so interesting to own. Think about it, pit mixes can be any color, any size, but they all have that loving wiggeling charm and loyalty about them.

We had our dog Winnie tested when we first got her; (see image below) it said that she was 25% Staffordshire terrier and some parts Toy Fox Terrir, Bulldog, Chowchow and Rottwieler. Not sure how much I trust it, but we're pretty sure she's a Pitador/Labrabull, at least she looks/acts that way. I found out recently that she came all alone with a rescue from Georgia to Animal Haven in Soho (I have all along thought that she was part of a litter rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri).

I had assumed Bruno was all pitty, not knowing what a 100% pit bull would even look like, I came across a Brindle-colored Great Dane on the web and decided that Bruno HAS to be part dane-- I see it mostly in the coloring, the dark black leathery lips and the giant head and long neck, but see for yourselves. Do you agree?

Monday, November 15, 2010

I am on the news!

Lost pets can be euthanized in as little as 48 hours in NYC-- Click here for a video of the CBS local news report featuring ME @ around 44 seconds.

Click Here

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A darling dog survives being hit by a car, abandoned, and almost put to sleep!

I've been following "Urgent Part 2"'s posts on dogs to be put to sleep for about a week now.  I've been pretty concerned about the dogs I've seen and tried my best to spread the word for them, but I never thought of fostering them myself- my boyfriend and I are so busy lately and our priority is taking the best care we can of our dog, Winnie.

But then I saw Bruno on the euth list. I didn't expect this 2 year old Brindle boy to capture my heart the way it did, but I read his description and instantly knew I HAD to rescue him. My whole body reacted and I went into rescue mode! I freaked out and tried to contact my boyfriend for the 'ok' to foster (I knew he wouldn't appreciate me showing up with another dog...). I was about to go down to ACC Manhattan when I finally got through on their phone line. They were surprisingly helpful! I found out that Bruno's owner (who had called for him) had until 8 pm to claim him or else he would be at risk to be put to sleep tomorrow. I was told to wait until noon the following day and ran home to explain my scheme to my boyfriend.

Then I got to experience the wonderful people on this facebook group-they instantly supported me in every way possible-- offering leashes, food, supplies, shelter groups to pull the dog asap (tonight), and even help finding Bruno a home after us. I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of help and support! Everyone got together and mobilized to help this dog. Together a network of people can do so much more to save these lives than any one person could ever do. And because of that, hopefully tomorrow morning I'll be able to get this boy out of the slammer!

Now for what is so special about this boy.

Bruno was found tied up and abandoned. Not just abandoned, but he couldn't walk because he had been recently HIT BY A CAR. What kind of person leaves their dog stranded in that much pain? I was shocked. And not only 4 days after he was brought in, he was re-evaluated and miraculously improved and was not falling down but could actually walk again! Of course, this dog who was never given an official behavioral evaluation, was rated "question" at first because he was in so much pain he went to bite the vet (I am not surprised, I probably would too...) Later, when he was all better, the vet gave him a "no concern"--even better than "mild." So why is he being put to sleep when his owner and potential adopters have far less than a week to find him? All his second medical evaluation said he had was "a bruise." I don't think dogs can legally be put down by ACC for a bruise.

This poor boy has been through so much and I the pleasure of rescuing him and helping him recuperate in a loving place. This is the volunteer memo that made Bruno impossible for me to refuse:

11/10/2010 WEB MEMO
A Volunteer Wrote: There is nothing, not one thing, that isn't completely, crazily lovable about this extraordinary dog. He has hearts drawn on his kennel card, for goodness sake!!!! Everyone, men and women alike, swoon over this 2 year old. "What a beautiful dog!" said one vet tech walking by, who then of course had to stop and pet him. Because he is THAT impossible to resist. Our beloved Bruno, who adores other dogs and is the diplmat of his ward, eliciting kisses from all the other dogs through the bars, was found tied up on the street. Now, he is quickly running out of time at the shelter, which makes us absolutely crazy with sadness. Bruno, who is leashtrained, appears housetrained, loves to snuggle and curl up and give kisses and just hang out with human and canine companions, could be a diplomat in the world, not just his ward. PLEASE, don't let this extraordinary dog down. He is one of those pups who will change the lives of everyone around him with his love, generosity, and noble spirit.

Isnt he gorgeous?? I am so excited to bring him home tomorrow morning to meet his foster sister Winnie :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Budget Cuts for AC&C- It got worse.

If you already though that Animal Care and Control was a joke--get ready for a shocker- It just got worse!The city cut funding for AC&C from 7 million to 5.5 million. Night and weekend hours are being eliminated for animal control officers who look for strays (maybe this will give them a better chance of avoiding being caught and put to death in a week, but it also means more dogs coming in looking like this---).

With $ 7 million in funding, the ACC still didn't do well enough to stop using Bullsh*t rating systems to claim that dogs have "Moderate Behavior" (what they use to excuse euthanasia if the dog is not yet ill from the shelter). What gets you slapped with "moderate" you ask?
Well, eating to quickly, not paying enough attention, paying too much attention, being lethargic, being hyper, enjoying toys too much, not enjoying toys enough, making no eye contact, making too much eye contact, being territorial over the crate... Sadly, I'm sure my amazing puppy Winnie would fail these behavior test if she was scared and alone for even a day.

Here is an example behavior test for an 8 year old dog (Lexus)  that was put to sleep. She was "geriatric" and her behavior memo was "moderate." Are you as shocked as I am by this? This old girl is just scared because she was abandoned by her family of 8 years!
Look 2 :Eyes averted with stiff body ,tucked tail and ears back
Sensitivity 2 :Dog stands still while stiff in body with tucked tail,closed mouth and ears back
Squeeze 1 :Gently pulls paw away
Squeeze 2 1 :Gently pulls paw away
Food 1 :No interest
Toy 1 :No interest
Rawhide 1 :No interest
Dog to dog 2 :Does not approach the helper dog ,body is stiff with low
tail,then turns to side in relation to the other dog

Also, if a house pet who is abandoned in perfect healthy shape can be put down 5 days later for developing kennel cough. Surprised?
I'm only surprised that they can't do any better than this and are going to get even worse. Signs are already showing of the Budget cuts that took effect Nov. 1st. The phone lines are officially down 99% of the time, making it nearly impossible to rescue an animal on death row.

For more infomation, read this article.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On the Kill list- Spread the word for these guys!

(These 4 are Safe: Bear, Lulu, Missy, and Nena, 1 senior and 2 ill/injured)

RIP Rocky :(
1:15 PM: UPDATE, Nena is SAFE
4:25 PM: UPDATE, Bear is SAFE but needs donations for his medical expenses, Rocky was put to sleep due to his treatable mange, RIP Rocky
2:26 PM: UPDATE, Lulu is SAFE(and awaiting a more masculine name), Missy is SAFE

Click for info on the following dogs:

Many of the previous dogs are still on the euth. list.
with the addition of these dogs, not surprisingly ALL pittie mixes.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

To DIE by tomorrow morning- Act Fast!

All of these beauties are on the Euth. List for tomorrow morning at Manhattan ACC, many of them I saw with my own eyes and fell in love with. Please call a rescue group, donate a couple of dollars to the dog's potential foster on facebook if they are collecting, or consider fostering yourself. At the very least share this page or the Urgent groups posts in hopes of getting the word out.

(Diamond)                                            (Antonio)

 (Lani)                                                   (Whitney) -See my picture on 11/1/10 Post


(Joyce)                                                                                                         (Lexus)

Tisha, Larry and Emperor tug at my heart a little because I was sure when I left the ACC that at least these dogs would be saved-- they were so full of life and kisses, I couldn't imagine them getting passed up. I really think it will be a tragedy when these dogs pass on, they are not ill or dangerous and ACC has no reason to put them down other than needing space.

An effort will be put forth by the wonderful people on URGENT Part 2 (Facebook group), comment on the dog's page if you can help.

Also, for more pictures and more information, visit these classified ads on Ebay-dogs on kill list are updated daily.

11:57 pm UPDATE! Little Emporer is safe! :) 
1:23 pm UPDATE! Larry and Whitney are safe! (Larry will live out his days in Florida on the beach) Antonio appears to have been pulled by Joanne who rescued Larry, also Diamond appears to have been pulled by a rescue group! (5/9 so far look safe for today)
5:59 pm UPDATE! Larry, Whitney, Emporer, Tisha and Joyce are 100% SAFE, no word yet on the others, 8-year old owner-surrendered Lexus was put down (not sick or aggressive). So incredibly cruel.
11/9/10 Update: Emporer's adopter backed out (can you believe this?) and he was placed back on the Euth List. Luckily, he was saved a second time :)
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