Thursday, December 23, 2010

Behind Bars for Christmas

These sweet animals will be stuck behind bars for Christmas. They don't know that they are missing a warm happy holiday outside of their cells, but we do know that they are probably scared, cold and wishing for a pat, a treat or a hug from the people that pass by their cages.

Thanks to Don't be a Pit-Bully for this poem,

T'was the night before Christmas And the shelter is dark,
The whole place is silent, Not even a bark.
The dogs are all locked in their pens for the night, the staff has gone home and turned out the light.

As I lay my head down on the cold concrete floor, I fondly recall my home from before.
The family I loved, who loved me right back, we'd share everything --from secret to snack.
Things couldn't be better this time last year, but that has all changed and now I am here.

I won't see the tree, the lights, or the snow, I'm scared and alone, my spirits are low.
The others like me weren't put up for adoption, home for us isn't an option.
We've been locked up in cells as if we were crooks, we don't deserve homes because of our looks.
Diesel, or Bingo, or the young one named Percy, deserve to be loved but shown no mercy.

While families celebrate holiday cheer, I know in my heart that my end is near.
The vet will arrive, the lights will go on, by the time you awake, we all will be gone.
A stranger will come and take me away, I'll never wake to see another day.
As I close my eyes I'll shed you a tear, The fondest of memories I'll always keep near.

The only thing I've ever asked of Santa Claus, is to stop all these unfair and ridiculous laws.
You said without me, your life was not full, so why does it matter that I'm a "pit bull"?

In my dream Santa shouts when he's finished his deed,"MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL...REGARDLESS OF BREED"

Please consider rescuing one of these dogs from their certain lonliness on Christmas. Give them a warm place to call home and a family to snuggle with. See adoptable dogs at NYC ACC here.

 Precious - 5 years
Spud - 7 months

Ace - 5 years

Harry - 3 years

 Brandon - 2 years

Albee - 4 months

And in honor of my boyfriend's childhood deceased best friend, Golden Retriever Harry,
Harry - 3 years

Just because it is the holidays, doesn't mean the shelter stops killing. Click on Urgent's Facebook page to see the dogs in dire need TODAY.

Also, for the dogs that were put to sleep by the shelter just days before Christmas; they didn't find homes and never will, but I hope they inspire people to adopt in the future. Here they are below, I'm sorry no one came for them :(

RIP Rusty and Henry (2 mild boys who wanted to be home for Christmas but were put down for having treatable coughs.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bruno's DNA Results-

This morning we recieved Bruno's DNA results. After getting Winnie's, and seeing a variety of breeds that were very plausible, we were very excited about what we'd find out about Bruno.

Winnie's DNA Report:

Here is what we found out about Bruno-
Apparently he is so mixed, that they could only determine that he was part dalmation and part miniature poodle. I know a dog doesn't have to look like a breed to have that breed's DNA, but I wish I knew more about the "mixed part" of him, I am surprised no Staffordshire terrier showed up like it did on Winnie's.
What do you think?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Finally an Investigation...

Finally, an investigation into what we already knew-- That Animal Care & Control of NYC puts down healthy and behaviorally well dogs due to space limitations. I couldn't believe the story of the pregnant cat in this video. Our Bruno could have easily been featured on this clip as a dog with no time to get over his waning cough in a clean environment. What is needed? More staff, more branches in the other boroughs, and more rescues to help with placement. Not enough people are willing to adopt straight from the shelter, the reporter says, and most animals get out via rescue groups. Any ideas on how we can help increase the people going to the shelter for pets?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

NYC law keeps Pits in Shelters, or will it eventually keep them out?

While checking in with the dogs in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan Animal Control website, which I do frequently, I found a volunteer description of a sweet pit mix (1 year old Daddy, below) that said that he was brought in because of NYC's Housing Association ban.

Because little Daddy is a pit mix, he is not able to live in New York Housing Authority buildings. The NYCHA controls 8% of all rental housing in New York City and 5% of the city's population lives in their buildings. (See this 2009 article about the ban for more info.) The ban went into effect May of 2009, a year and a half ago, and does not allow any pit bulls, Rottweilers or Doberman pinschers to live in the buildings. In addition, no animal can be above 25 pounds. Many of these people can offer loving homes to neglected and abandoned animals, but are not allowed to.

This got me wondering how many of the pit bulls I see at Animal Care and Control are a direct result of this ban. Maybe the space and funding of the shelter has less to do with the slaughter of all of these pits than I thought. In the weeks before the ban was enacted, 100 out of 170 dogs that went from Animal Control to NYCHA tenants would have been banned. That means that NYCHA tenants were a significant market for the shelters, and an important part of saving animals' lives.

New York City does have a significant "pit bull problem" as the ASPCA referred to it in 2008. (Read more, here.) Because pits occupy 43% of shelter space and make up 82% of euthanizations in New York City, the ASPCA targeted young black and Latino men (the main owners of the breed) to attempt to sterilize as many pits as possible, for the small donation of $25. San Francisco even implemented a $500 fine for failing to sterilize one's pit bull.

While I feel that both of these laws are discriminatory, the second makes more sense than the first. Listen up, pit bull owners, if you don't spay and neuter your dogs, you had better know that you are responsible for any potential puppies, and you had better be damn sure that they will have healthy and happy lives with people who can and will care for them. Dog owners who have no business bringing puppies into this world for a quick buck are the ones to blame for all the torment and torture these dogs live through. Both of our pit bull mixes are altered, they will bring no unwanted baby pitties into the world, and that is the responsible thing to do. I don't think there can be any excuses for this when there are so many unwanted dogs out there dying when they reach maturity.

So many pits are put down after painful lives, starving on the streets or being fought or tortured by their owners. I would much rather prevent these dogs from ever being born than allowing them to be born just to live a live of torment to end alone and struggling on a cold table at the shelter.

Housing bans are preventing pits at the shelter from finding homes, and that is truly sad. But many residents of NYCHA claim that the pits that live in their buildings are being abused, trained for fighting, and bred for profit. The ban and the breed-specific neutering/spaying proposals would ideally save dogs' lives in the long run, while unfortunately creating more suffering in the short term. As much as I love this breed, I want to see them thrive with good homes. I want to stop seeing heart breaking stories about them. I think the best way to achieve this is to bring them back to being the reliable 'family pet,' and not allowing them to be abused, over-bred, and tortured by thugs. Without allowing them to over-breed, we can bring the pit bull back from the inner-city back into the suburbs, where I am sure they will live longer healthier lives.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Pittie News

This post is not as cheery as the last Pittie-News post:

Horrific mutilation of pregnant Pit bull

A woman in Oklahoma was arrested yesterday for Animal curelty and mutilation after she cut open a pregnant female pit bull during delivery of her puppies. The woman said she was trying to save the puppies lives when one of the puppies got stuck. The woman, who cut the uteris open and left it hanging out of the dog, thought she was cutting the delivery sack. The mother and all her pups were euthanized at the vet as a result.

Pit bulls stolen across the country- presumably to be sold for dog-fighting:

Friendly family pets are often stolen to be used in dog-fighting, which makes the loss of the dog almost impossible to bear for the owners who, as you can imagine, can never get over the pain of imagining their dog being used for bait or tortured to fight. A woman in Cumberland County, NC, continues to search for her stolen pet in bad neighborhoods even though it frightens her. "Cumberland County Animal Control investigators say that in many cases, dogs are stolen to be bred or used as bait for dogfighting. Dogfighting is a problem in the county, but it is often hard to make an arrest because under state law, dogfighters must be caught in the act, investigators said."

Other stories of Pit bull thefts:,0,4441227.story

Monday, December 13, 2010

In this season of Giving...

Give to the Animals who need your help.
I choose to donate to Animal Haven in soho, especially with my time, and I know that they use their resources wisely to save animals' lives. If you are from the New York area, consider giving to this Shelter-- if not, give to one near you.

Animal Haven's Holiday Video
Animal Haven rescue video

Find the Pittie!

20 dog breeds are commonly confused with pit bull terriers. Can you figure out which one is the pittie in this group? I got half way through before I found him. Pittie Quiz! (take it here)
(Thanks to Dont be a Pit Bully for the link!)

When people assume all these dogs are the same breed, actions by so many dogs are grouped together making Pitties seem more dangerous than they are.

Scary Vet Trip

On Friday night, my boyfriend and I closed the bedroom door and went to bed. We usually let the dogs into the bedroom, but we decided that they were happy outside and we were trying to set up some boundaries in our apartment.

Bruno whined for a while but eventually we didn't hear him and assumed the two were sleeping happily. At 3:30 am, my boyfriend and I were woken up by more whimpering, and my boyfriend got up to go to the bathroom. When he opened the door he swore loudly and I jumped out of bed.

Bruno had gone to the bathroom and thrown up ALL over the apartment. We searched quickly and found that he had gotten into a bottle of pills that I had left on the dining room table and had eaten a whole box of jelly beans and destroyed a number of other things, including my earmuffs that I had brought less than 12 hours before.

We were terrified. I was convinced he was going to die because he had eaten so many pills. We called poison control and ran outside to get a cab to the emergency vet. When we got into the cab, the cabbie said a dog had just destroyed his cab and it was brand new. We said we'd be careful, and we had a roll of paper towels in my bag, but Bruno threw up again anyway, and the cabbie was outraged. Luckily he accepted $40 dollars and we made it to the vet.

When we got there we explained everything to the vet and she counted the max. number of pills he could have eaten and called poison control again. They didn't have to pump his stomach because he had thrown up so much already. Strangely, the vet said the pills weren't here biggest concern- if a human had ingested that many, they would have OD-ed, but dogs don't react the same way. The bigger concern, she said, was the jelly beans. Apparently that amount of concentrated sugar and high fructose corn syrup can cause the whole body to become dehydrated and cause the cells in the brain to rupture, which could have caused neurological damage. They pumped him full of fluids, so it looked like the had a giant hump on his back.

Due to costs, we had to decline the stomach x ray (Pitties have such deep chests, the vet couldn't even feel his stomach to check if it was distended) and luckily, he didn't need one because we walked him all the way home in the dark (the sun rose on the way) and he was in perfect spirits and everything was fine the next day.

The only good news (or bad news) that came from the experience was that we found out that Bruno has some sort of kidney or thyroid disease. We explained to the vet that he drinks a lot (and seeks out water in the tub/toilet/knocks over glasses to get at a drop of water), and after viewing his blood work, she said he has hypercalemia and probably PU/PD. We will have to get Vet insurance and take him to find out what is really wrong.

Vet bills are so prohibitively expensive. Our total bill came to over $600, but they recommended x-rays and keeping him for observation which would have brought the total to over $1500. Especially now that Bruno has health issues, we will have to get insurance, I just hope his PU/PD won't be a "pre-existing condition." It is really too bad that there are no Not-for-profit vet clinics for people who are trying to keep their pets but can't afford their care. So many dogs end up dying at the shelter because their owners cannot afford their vet bills and have to give them up.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

News: Pit saves a Spaniel!

An Uplifiting Story of another Heroic Pit-mix!

On Monday in Oregon, a Pit-mix up for adoption pulled the volunteer walking her to a ditch where the volunteer discovered an elderly frozen cocker spaniel on the verge of death. The elderly spaniel had been adopted from that shelter a month before and being blind with no sense of smell, he seemed to have followed the sound of barking dogs.

Out of 5 dogs that were walked past the ditch that morning, onlt the pit-mix named Nala found the spaniel. The shelter says they hope this will help Nala find a home since she has been at the shelter for five months already.

Another set of adopted Pit-Mixes

From Buffalo comes the story of a family that adopted two pit-mixes who have turned out to be best friends. Their first had been starved when they got her and now has filled out and has a whole family and a big brother. The two are attached at the hip and "They like to dressed up and be under blankets and get all snuggly." And, she says, "Everywhere we take them, people say, 'Oh they are so cute!'"

Bruno, also, loves to be snuggled under covers, which we find completely adorable, we can never turn him away from a warm snuggle on the couch.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Training Updates

Magically, Bruno has responded amazingly to the muzzle-lead. It is called a "Halti" and doesn't give off the impression to others that he's scary.
It gives us control over him so that he can't lunge or bark too easily and keeps him walking like a perfect gentleman beside us. Also, the best thing so far has been using the "U-Turn" and the treats. Every time we go out, we take a whole handful and now he is trained to sit and wait for the elevators and sit in the elevator as well. People are very impressed with how our two dogs sit so nicely waiting. Its amazing what treats can do.

He hasn't barked at a child in days. Actually, we had to walk him through a crowd of kids and he remained completely composed. I wouldn't let the children approach or pet him and I think that gave him more confidence. Knowing that I will keep the kids away and that he will be protected has definitely done wonders for him.

Thanks so much to everyone who posted advice. I agree that fear agression and agression are two very different things. I know deep down that he is not an aggressive dog. Last night he slept with us the whole night and buryied his head deep under the covers to shut out all the light. He is such a sweetheart and a cuddler. I wish I had had him since he was a puppy to give him better socialization, but he is responding extremely well now.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fear of Little Boys

Bruno is terribly affraid of little boys-- and naturally, they are terribly afraid of him. I hate to think that he was abused by a child, but he only reacts to little boys of a certain age. His fear is not of children in general, which means its not their size or noise level or energy level, but the appearence of little boys. I feel out of my league in training him to not respond so negatively to them because I don't even know what he has been through.

We are not sure what to do, because now that Bruno has gotten more comfortable in our neighborhood and home and gotten better from his accident, he is showing much more aggression towards kids. In a neighborhood full of families and children, what could be worse?

It is a frightful thing because we don't want to scare children of course, and we don't want people to be afraid of Bruno-who we know to be a sweet and gentle dog. We don't want our landlord to even have to ask us to leave because Bruno is scaring the families. We want to advance the breeds reputation, not hurt it.

The ASPCA  has a great resource for all kinds of behavioral problems, including an entire page on Fear of Children. The ASPCA of course advises avoiding children, which is impossible for us where we live now. If unavoidable, they recommend a muzzel. The problem with this is that it makes him look scary, which is the last thing I want, but of course I understand that ultimately a muzzeled dog is less scary than a barking, lungeing dog.

The ASPCA also advises using the "U-Turn" technique, which actually works well for us outside (We see children coming and we either turn around or stop and make Bruno sit and pay attention to us for a treat.) But this is impossible inside. Near and among the elevators is actually where he is the most aggressive because of the surprise of children when the doors open. The surprise seems to be the worst part of it and the hardest thing to work around, which is why I am seriously considering a muzzel.

Muzzels, however, don't fix the problem but only cover it up. The ASPCA recommends psychological treatment called Desensitization and Counterconditioning (DSCC) and seeking the help of experts.

I am hoping that over the next few weeks the muzzel combined with the U-Turn and treats will be enough to help Bruno, because he is after all a very reslient dog who learns quickly.

The other thing that worries me is that breed profiles and specialists sometimes say that when pit bulls demonstrate any agression to humans and esspecially towards children, they may need be put to sleep, because they are not demonstrating typical or desireable breed temperment.

(See this Rescue Site- "Note: A pit bull that shows unprovoked human aggression, especially with children, is NOT typical of the breed and is showing very poor temperament. Such a dog should be thoroughly evaluated by a trainer or behaviorist experienced in the breed for a final determination of their temperament and recommendation on how to proceed.")

Statistics on Dog Bites/Children:
"Studies of dog bite injuries have reported that:
  • The median age of patients bitten was 15 years, with children, especially boys aged 5 to 9 years, having the highest incidence rate
  • The majority of dog attacks (61%) happen at home or in a familiar place. 
  • The vast majority of biting dogs (77%) belong to the victim's family or a friend. "
Interestingly, although Pitbulls and Rottweilers account for more than half of dog-bite-deaths, they do not account for the same ammount of dog BITES. This means that Pit Bulls are plagued with the quality of being able to cause much more damage than other dogs. (For example, while Pomeranians may bite people just as much as Pit Bulls or even more, they rarely kill. Also, only 1% of bite-deaths occured while the dog was restrained and off the owners' property. (Read more here)Pit Bulls are powerful and are extremely tenacious. We as pit bull owners need to remember that while they may be no meaner or fierer than other dogs, they are capable of much more damage when they do react- (why else would they be used to fighting?) and that is why I am taking Bruno's recent behavior so seriously.

Strangely, Bruno is extremely dog friendly and would never hurt a dog. He also snuggles with us on our bed and loves to lick our faces and gingerly accepts treats and shows no aggression to adults. After how much he has survived, I know that he is going to have a happy life, but I worry about 1) keeping him --because we plan on having children in the next 3-5 years, and 2) giving him up for adoption, because someone might not understand his unique needs and he could end up in the shelter again.

I love pit bulls and I welcome their good and bad qualities. Most of all, I want other people to love them as much as I do. I want to be a good owner who understands my dog's feelings and limitations. Hearing people say they are afraid of my pit bulls is the hardest thing for me to hear, so I need to to everything I can to help Bruno. If anyone has any advice or has dealt with a similar problem, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I am insisting on getting a good Holiday Portrait of Winnie & Bruno if it kills me!!
But these 2 just cannot cooperate...In fact, the longer we tried, the worse the pictures got....
 ok, one out of two, keep trying
Decent, I thought, but not nearly adorable enough...

Where did Winnie go??
I got in on the action, and Winnie laid down and refused to move in protest....
So I picked her up....

And she began kick-boxing Bruno because he was getting treats...

Getting there....

OH no.. they are jumping away from me...

and FAIL.

We will try this again another day.
Anyone have any ideas??
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