Thursday, April 28, 2011

New about Pits

A brief google news search yields many unfortunate stories about "Pit bull attacks." But many of them are misleading, and many of the dogs alleged to have "attacked" are mis-labled.

Take these two stories:
A lost American Bulldog wandered into a school in Fairbanks Alaska- where the staff reacted by locking the animal in a bathroom for "fear it was a pit bull." The family dog (identified later by microchip) was not threatening anyone, was retrieved easily and called "friendly" by animal control. Because the staff thought it was a pit bull- they locked it in a bathroom. (read more here.)

In 2003 one of the Queen's many welsh corgis was bitten by Princess Anne's bull terrier- the bites to its legs were severe and the dog had to be put to sleep. Not surprisingly- this article reports the corgi was "killed by a pitbull." Firstly, the bull terrier only injured the dog- and the dog had to be put to sleep later that evening by the vets- the bull terrier did not kill it. Secondly, the dog was a bull terrier!! a completely different breed than a pit bull. Thirdly, it was later disclosed that the bull terrier wasn't even responsible!! The media jumped to the conclusion, but it was one of Princess Anne's other terriers that bit the corgi.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First item sold on Etsy!

I am officially in business- and with a little help from friends and family, we feel we might be ready to schedule Winnie's surgery for next week. (We are hoping that the vet's office is going to try to set up Care Credit- which will allow us to pay it off over time.)

My first order from my Etsy shop is shipping out today!!
Now that I have sold something- I can start thinking about other items people might like: dog toys and dog beds were suggested- any other ideas? Anything you'd love to have for your dog (or other pet) that I could include in my shop?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Designer Pit Bulls

As you may know- many different types of dogs masquerade as "American Pit Bull Terriers" or "pit mixes" or "pitbull type dogs." Winnie sometimes looks more like a lab than the 1/4 Staffie terrier that she is, but I think of her as a pittie-mix. Bruno is mostly mutt (maybe some Dalmatian and boxer) but he is certainly a pit-mix (my mother says "its the shape of his head!" and apparently that's all that matters.)

Last weekend was Easter weekend: we were home with Bruno and my Mom asked- What is a pit bull after all? Can you have a pure-bred pit bull?

I answered no- there is no such thing. I decided to write a post about the different types of dogs that are considered pit-bulls and the ones that really shouldn't be.

To me- a "pit bull" is a type of mixed-breed dog that looks a certain way and has a particular affection for people, they tend to have smooth coats, have short folded- or up straight ears, be 35-55 pounds and somewhat muscular with a short snout and a square-shaped head. A lot of shelter dogs fall into this category. (As I showed in a previous post, all of these dogs are considered Pit mixes at Animal Care and Control of NYC:) reminds readers: "A "Pit bull” is NOT a breed. It's a generic term often used to describe all dogs with similar traits and characteristics known to the public as "pit bulls." When we use the term “pit bull” here, it should be understood to encompass American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers." Here is some more info on pit bulls at Pit Bull Rescue Central.

The Animal Farm Foundation writes, "Over time, we realized that the dogs we were helping were not necessarily pure bred American Pit Bull Terriers, but dogs that people called "pit bulls." "Pit bull" is not a breed or breed mix, but an ever expanding group that includes w...hatever an animal control officer, shelter worker, dog trainer, politician, dog owner, police officer or newspaper says it is."

However, Backyard-breeders and people who have developed the breed for its tough-look, large head, muscles and sometimes fighting ability do advertise their dogs as "American Pit Bull Terriers." I do not consider these dogs to be "pit bulls," they are often double the weight of an average pit-bull type dog and have very specific characteristics that would be better categorized in their own new breed. Backyard breeders are breeding their dogs based on what is trendy- like this new "tri-color trend."

This dog's puppies are being sold for $1000 each online as "ABPT"s:

It would take genetic analysis, but I would venture to say that a dog like this is as different from a typical "pit bull type dog" as a pit-bull is from a bulldog.
These dogs' (probably actually mixed with bulldogs) puppies are going for $2000 each:
This one is advertised as being "XXL" and "Extra Wide" with "thick bones, wide chests" and somehow "pure bred, top of the line, blue ribbon"
This 92 lb monster with his "26.75 inch head" is somehow considered a pit bull terrier even though he is 2-3 times heavier than the standard pit-mix.

These dogs are bred to look as beefy as possible-- like this when they are only 2 weeks old (this one goes for $3000 by the way.)
It only takes a brief online search of "pit bull puppies for sale" to find horrifying pictures like this-poor dogs treated like masculine extensions for their owners' self-esteem.

Breeders of all types of dogs evolve the breeds they work with through generations of selective breeding, and the same thing is happening here- pit bulls selected and inbred over many generations are being bred to be bigger, tougher, and more serve-looking.

This practice has gone on for centuries to produce guard dogs and working dogs, but the problem here is that these dogs are being sold to people who do not know how to handle them- who often refuse to neuter them- and who want to breed them themselves to make money. This ends up putting more genetically aggressive dogs into the stray and unwanted dog populations and floods many city shelters. It also hurts the reputation of "pit bull type dogs"- dogs that may be smaller, better with children, and less dog-aggressive like these:

How exactly are these dogs considered the same breed? I think it might be time to gather the "real" APBT "breeders" out there who seem to be merging their dogs with bulldogs and selecting for large/short characteristics and form a new breed, a breed that can be standardized like all the others. That way, these pittie mixes and be recognized as different and unique from this other "designer" breed of dogs.

What do you think? What do you consider your pitties to be?

"Its Me Or The Dog"

I really recommend watching this episode of "Its me or the dog" with Victoria Stillwell on Animal Planet. In this episode (clip below) she helps a young man with a completely out of control Presa-Canario. Unbelievably- the man wants to breed his dog. Luckily, Victoria talks him out of being a back-yard breeder adding to the shelter-crisis by taking him to Manhattan Care and Control (where we adopted Bruno on the day he was to be put to sleep.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Story of Sprout

I love and hate this story at the same time-
This dog (Sprout) was left at the municipal shelter after being dumped- bloody and disfigured at a police station. He had been used as a bait dog, was emaciated, had his lip split open and his left eye hanging out of its socket. Luckily ProjectPet decided to care for him, despite the medical costs and mandatory 6-month quarantine.
I've included here images of Sprout's Progress-- look how far he has come with love and care!! Someone is going to be very lucky when Sprout's quarantine is done.

You can help by donating to Sprout's care here.
Watch Sprout's amazing progress on FB page "Save Sprout"

You can be part of your own amazing rescue story, just by having a huge heart. Don't have room for a big pit bull in your NYC apartment? worry about aggression? medical bills holding you back?? None of those worries apply to this tiny girl that needs a home more than anything in the world.
Her name is Eloise, she is only 10 months old and a precariously thin 18 pounds. All this girl needs is love and LOTS of food. She has been rated completely mild and has been at the shelter since April 12th. Click here for more info.

Bruno & Winnie Watch Elton

Last night the Tribeca Film Festival came to our backyard- we were watching tv with the window open when around 10:30 there was a big surprise as Elton John began singing after the documentary about him finished.

The dogs had a blast listening to it- I had no idea they were Elton fans.

This is the end of "Rocket Man" (look how tall the freedom tower is getting at the end!)

Read a little more about it here. Also attending the festival were Martin Scorsese and the Olsen twins.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Save Our Breed

I hate the fact that a dog born as a pit bull has been born into a life of prejudice, fear, and abuse. People are so scared of Bruno- which makes him scared of them. He lives his life in fear of people because he knows they can and have hurt him. We have recently stopped allowing him to sleep in the bed with us (he is a big boy now)- but he still sits by the bed and whimpers for human contact- to snuggle under the covers and keep us warm.

These dogs have so much loyalty, bravery, love and forgiveness for humans that they should be heroes- they have the potential other breeds may not to do search and rescue, bomb sniffing, to save people, to comfort people, to change lives. They have a spark of life and a gift of strength and loyalty that a lot of breeds lack. Unfortunately, they are also the most likely breed of dog to endure animal abuse and the number one breed killed in animal shelters.

This first video is hard to watch but it really helps show how abused this breed really is- how these dogs didn't ask to be born scary and used for sport- they were born soft and cuddly like any dog. They deserve so much more from the people that bring them into this world.

Pit-bull ownership is not easy- having a dog that looks anything like pitty means you often can't rent an apartment (more on this later) or get home-owners' insurance or can't even live in certain jurisdictions- see the varying and ridiculous definitions here. (When else does a "I know it when I see it" description really hold up legally?)

But it is worth it-I would never abandon my dogs so that I could live in a specific place- they are a part of my family now and all I want for them is to be accepted enough that they don't have to be scared of strangers.

Looking forward to this Documentary:

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Weekend in 5 Pictures

It was the first nice Sunday in a while in NYC (Saturday it rained)- finally warm enough to venture outside without a jacket.

We strolled to Unleashed to pick up this new toy for the pups- it is a hedgehog that makes a sort of honking sound. 9Of course despite trying our hardest not to let the dogs play with him unsupervised, he is now "Nose-less Hedgie" the Hedgehog.

And we took Bruno to the dog park (Winnie isn't supposed to be getting too much exercise due to her ACL tear so we left her home with her new toy.)

Bruno had a fantastic time fetching his ball (and slept the rest of the day)-- Of course the second we got there, 4 little dogs and their owners immediately evacuated so we had the place to ourselves. Unfortunately, Bruno barks at strangers so he is not the best dog to bring to the dog run- but he deserves a little fun outdoors too so when the run it empty we take advantage of it. He also loves playing with other dogs so we are going to try a couple more times to see if we can slowly ease him into being around strangers.

We also took him over to the fountains- he hasn't seen them yet since they had already been turned off when we got him in November- he didn't seem to want to swim in it like Winnie did last summer but instead sat regally enjoying the breeze off the river.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A New "Leash" on Life-

A video I made to show all of the good work and happy endings that have come out of the rescue group Urgent Part 2 on facebook.

Adopt a shelter/euth list dog today!! These dogs have been given warm cozy beds, food, toys, hugs and kisses but they will give back so much more to the people who rescued them--everyone can agree these are better endings than what would have been.


OMG Couldn't help but share this:

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Louis V. (burn victim) glad to see his abuser still in jail...

In 2009, an Alabama man doused his mother's pit bull with lighter fluid and lit him on fire because she wouldn't let him use the car.
That man received nine and a half years in jail- but now wants parole. Luckily, the dog- since rescued and recovering- came to the court room to remind everyone of the cruelty inflicted on him.

Read the full story here.

Unfortunately, more than 20% of animal abuse is inflicted on pit bulls.

Like this horrific crime four days ago, this dog fighting bust two days ago in Philly, and of course everyone remembers Patrick- the dog that was found in a trash bag. Luckily these horrible stories can encourage people to adopt pit bulls and also encourage law makers to improve the laws on animal abuse.

Here we see Patrick recuperating:

Etsy Shop!

I've finally got my Etsy Shop up and running! I am selling personalized dog treat jars to help pay for Winnie's ACL Surgery.

Please check it out and me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rescue of a Pit Bull named Valor

Here is a chance to see a real rescue of a dog that desperately needed love, medical care, and a home:

Valor is currently recovering but in a boarding facility in Los Angeles- if you are interested in adopting, go to A Day in A Dog's Life Rescue Group's facebook page.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Funky Mixes in the USA

Hello bloggies--Strut your Mutts!

I was inspired by some of the beautiful mixed breed dogs in my neighborhood to highlight the mixed-breed dogs in shelters-
Mixed breeds have a lot going for them:
1) They are unique
2) They are less prone to genetic diseases
3) You will get lots of questions about them, which helps you make more friends
4) They are often really beautiful combinations of other breeds
5) You won't have to own a "pure-bred"- sorry if you have one (my parents have a "pure-bred" Wheaton terrier) but people who use the word pure-bred as if it matters or somehow makes their dog better than mine  really bother me.
6) You get to do their DNA tests, which is fun

So I decided to highlight some funky and beautiful mixed dogs available for adoption!

Max- A Rhodesian/Lab Mix in New York

Honey - A Blood hound and lab mix in Liberty Center, OH

Scrappy - a Wheaton Terrier and Border Terrier in Chicago

Strauss- an Afghan Hound/ Smooth Collie mix in Atlanta

Basil - a Basset Hound Pit Mix in Chicago

Miniature Pit-bull anyone?
Beacon - a smooth coated Chihuahua and Pit Bull Terrier in Los Angeles

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 & Affordable Pet-Ownership

Since adopting Winnie and Bruno at the ages of 23, Chip and I realized how expensive dogs can be. Together, we make a decent income - not above average by any means - we are both paralegals at reputable law firms in New York City- but lately it feels like you need to be rich to own a dog here and keep it healthy.

So many of the dogs that come into the shelters in NYC are mal-nourished, injured or geriatric and need vet care their families cannot afford. Here are number of dogs I've seen in the last few months. Each one was either starved, had mange, or had a condition that needed expensive care. The expenses needed to rescue these dogs make it impossible for anyone other than Rescue Groups to adopt them:

(luckily-each of thses dogs was rescued by a rescue group- you can find out more about each in the safe folders at Urgent Part 2, but many are not so lucky.)

The story of Patrick(the pit puppy starved and thrown away as garbage) is of course a horrible one of cruelty and neglect, but it has shed light on the fact that many pet owners cannot afford care- and many cannot even afford adequate food. Please don't get me wrong- I hate people who don't take care of their dogs- I will do anything to make sure my dogs are fed and healthy and happy- and let's face it, people in this city adopt dogs they cannnot afford and that is wrong, but I do feel that something can and should be done it make it more affordable to own a dog.

That is where Pet It Forward comes in. It's CEO, Jenna Dreher, really believes in the mission of lowering the costs of pet-care- so much so that she donated generously to Winnie's ACL-repair surgery.

Jenna writes, "Pet care can be expensive and it doesn't have to be. Pet It Forward is like for pet care, freer and more fun. We put the power in the hands of pet owners, giving them the ability to network online with those in their community, such as other pet owners and care professionals, to find more affordable or even free care for their pets."

I am really excited about this site; it connects pet owners with other pet owners in their nieghborhoods, makes booking and paying for pet-care online quick and easy, and can save us up to 50-100% on pet care. When you sign up for an appointment, the providers are sent the scheduling details, you are sent a reminder, and you can even review the provider- this means gaining insight from your neighbors about the vets, groomers or the dog-walkers in your area. It also puts you in touch with other dog owners so you can even set up "dates" for your pet.

The potential for this site is huge- if this site can generate enough users and pet care providers- it could save lives at city shelters by keeping dogs out of shelters in the first place. It would also open up homes for dogs with people who think owning a dog would be prohibitively expensive- like young, busy people who need to use dog walkers and expensive boarding facilities. The cheaper pets cost to own, feed and care-for, the more pets can be rescued and live fufilling lives.

The site is still in development, and accessibility to low cost vet-care is not yet available, but users will be able to save on boarding, walking, feeding, and cleaning service costs.

Please consider signing up-you will get an email when it is fully-functional.

To sign-up for an invitation to join Pet It Forward, click here.

Winnie- First Fundraising Update

Winnie is feeling a little better since the vet started her on rimadyl (for swelling and pain) but still has trouble walking and standing up after any sort of physical activity...and OUR spirits are certainly up since we have recived so many well-wishes for Winnie from friends and help from the internet rescue community.

Our neighbor (who has a rescued pit himself) has given us all of the info he possibly can about reputable surgeons in the area as well as what vitamin supplements to give her.

Our family friend in DC has reached out to rescue groups there for donations and support.

And we have recieved an extremeley generous donation from the CEO of Pet-It-Forward, a great new networking site that helps keep the costs of owning pets down--which I'll tell you all about in another entry.

In addition, the folks at Second Chance have offered to sponsor Winnie in an online fundraiser, so we are crossing our fingers that this will be successful.

Thanks so much for all the support and we'll continue to keep you updated on her progress as she goes through sugery and recovery.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Winnie needs Surgery.

Bad news everyone...

Winnie has a torn ACL!

This explains her persistent limp, why she sits in uncomfortable positions like this:

and why she always seems to be sassy or in a bad mood:

"i is sassing you..."

We are glad to have finally found out what was wrong with her leg (actually her knee, read more about it here) but we are blown away by the price-tag.

The estimate we were given by the Vet was $3,284. ($2,200 for the surgery itself and the rest for injections, check-ups and medications.) She said that people often wait longer to get it taken care of but that more scar-tissue and calcification builds up and making the chance of her being permanently lame and arthritic much higher. As it is now, she will probably always favor the other leg, but if the surgury goes well she could be a lot more comfortable in a matter of months.

I am really sad that my young dog (only a year and a half) already has a problem that usually faces elderly or overweight dogs. 
To finance the surgery, I am going to begin selling personalized dog items on Etsy. I am pretty artisitc and crafty, so hopefully it will go well. I was thinking of staring with personalized glass treat jars, labeled with the dogs' name(s) and filled with treats and decorated with ribbon. I doubt I'll sell much but any way we can chip away at that price tag will help.

Do you all have any ideas of some other items I could make and sell? Or other ideas of fund-raising for her surgery? What have you all done when facing high vet bills?

I have posted a chip-in in case any of you feel particularly generous, any tiny bit will help as we are two recent college grads living in NYC with two rescue dogs on paralegal salaries. (or wait until I've got my little craft business up and running!)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Great Etsy Finds for Dogs

As you may know- I LOVE, it is a fantastic way to decorate on a budget and even get your hands on some one-of-a-kind art. We got our dog collars for our Petco Photoshoot from PecanPiePuppies and our dog tags from UrbanPuppy.

Here are some finds I love in the "Pet Section."

What are you favorite etsy finds?
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