Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Training: The Prong Collar

Since we have been having some obedience problems with Bruno- we have been searching for low-cost temporary training solutions until we can afford a behaviorist. Through searching other blogs and resources, we came to find that, not only do all the pit bulls in our neighborhood wear pring collars- most large breed dogs do also.

We noticed that all of our favorite bloggers have been using them as either training collars or as permanent obendience solutions. Even though I thought they looked terrifying and painful, I asked around.

Our blogger-friend Corbin told us,
"I highly recommend the prong training collars. Unlike the choke collars, the prongs don't allow a dog to choke if they pull too much, instead they get a quick pressure around their necks - similar to a correction they would get from their mom as a puppy. I have been able to successfully leash train foster dogs in 5-10 minutes. We had a trainer come out to work with Corbin last year, and that's how I was introduced to them."

Notice Corbin and his pit bull friends are all wearing them:

Watch here how to properly fit a prong collar:

Fitting a Prong Collar from on Vimeo.

Pit Bull Rescue Central reminds us that while they are useful tools, prong collars should not be used during dog introductions. In addition, if they are used improperly, they can be harmful to your dog.

In this article by Suzanne Clothier, Suzanne explains that dogs learn how to act by understanding (very clearly) that there are advantages and disadvantages to different actions. The advantage to sitting when asked is the potential of getting a treat or a pat on the head. The disadvantage to barking when on a walk is a slight pinch on the neck. With continuous training, it becomes clear which behaviors he or she can and can't do- which actually reduces stress and confusion over time for the dog. Walks ideally become more enjoyable because they know they will not be punished if they avoid unwanted behaviors.

Problems arise when it is not made clear to the dog which behaviors result in positive outcomes. Inconsistent or overly-harsh training may have the reverse effect and cause the dog to act out. Pulling the dog while he is sniffing the sidewalk nicely may confuse him by making him think that that is an unwanted behavior. By only pinching the neck when the dog pulls or barks or behaves inappropriately, he will understand what not to do. We have been letting Bruno sniff and explore and meet other dogs, and getting his attention to continue to walk with other methods- like using treats, toys, and praise.

In addition, the prong collar should not be worn in-doors or left on for extended periods of time, and under no circumstances should the dog be tied or chain with a prong-collar on.

Bad Rap/Facebook
So far, Bruno has been responding to this very well. He has been able to go on longer walks and wait more patiently in the elevator bank. He even is making some friends because he has been barking less.

Hopefully, with time and consistent practice, he will be able to enjoy a walk without agitation and anxiety.

And  remember- Just because a dog is wearing a scary metal collar, it doesn't mean he is not friendly... see?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pitties of the week: Mamas & Alfie

One of my favorite shelters is Best Friends Animal Society in Utah dedicated to a world with no more homeless pets. Even though they are located in Utah, they make it possible for people all over the country to adopt their animals.

Best friends has 50 Pittie mixes waiting for homes- some from the Michael Vick cruelty case, some victims of hurricane Katrina, and many others. Scroll through and you'll find yourself falling in love more than once.

This week there are two Pitties of the Week:

First up, Mamas:

She's a 6 year old Lizard hunter, loves people and other dogs, loves to play and snuggle!

Mamas was found tied to a tree and starving in the hot Arizona sun with no food or water. She is healthy now, but is very active and needs a home that can keep up with her. Read more about her here.

Next up, Alfie:
This tiny puppy was born in Janurary of 2011. A bout of distemper has left him with little strength in his front legs, so he falls flat on his adorable face whenever he tries to walk. He is adoptable to the right family, but would need a family with patience as his condition improves. For now, he has a chin guard to protect him when he falls. How could you resist this face??

Here's how you can adopt from Best Friends:
First check out the adoptable dogs (or horses, kittens, farm animals-- they have them all!). If you find one you absolutely love, add their name to the adoption application you fill out. (Or email an adoption specialist to help match you.)
Next, after they check your app, you'll get a home check by a Best Friends member in your area.
Finally, all adopters are encouraged to visit the sanctuary- an experience I simply would never pass up (learn all about planning a visit to Angel Canyon here) - but if you can't, they will fly the dog to you for $300-$475.

Learn more about Best Friends' campaign for Pit Bulls- Save America's Dog.
If you have no room in your house to rescue, consider sponsoring- read about how I sponsored a "vicktory" dog, Squeaker, and catch up on Squeaker and the other vicktory dogs, here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Animal Farm Foundation Posters

Thanks to Animal Farm Foundation to reminding us all not to group pit bulls together-- they are all different and unique, all of them when through different experiences and have different reactions to other dogs and people.

One way I'd like to generalize however, is to assume that they all like love- they all are capable of receiving and enjoying human love and companionship- no matter what they have been through.

Enjoy their new poster-campaign:

Pettie Awards-Vote for a Great Cause!

As pet & rescue bloggers, we don't do what we do for recognition- but we do it to reach as many people as possible about our cause. In order to reach more people- I've redesigned my blog and integrated with facebook to try to get the word out even more about

a) what great pets pit bulls can be,
b) how many pit bulls are suffering in shelters and living with cruel owners, and
c) how unfair this disparity is.

I try to show this though my city's mismanagement of the public shelter system as well as through my fun and sometimes difficult times with my two rescued Pit bulls, Winnie & Bruno. Animal cruelty and abuse, especially at the hands of a shelter really upsets me- but the more people who know about it- the closer we get to seeing it end.

I'm excited about a competition I heard about called the Pettie Awards, hosted by It is such an amazing competition because the winners actually get to donate $1,000 to the shelter of their choice while increasing awareness for many positive causes. No matter who wins, the animals win.

So go ahead and vote!!! It is such a great cause and will result in $8,000 total going to various shelters.

Read about last year's winners here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Not-So-Public ACC Board Meeting Prompts me to feel Grateful...

As I sit here on my couch with Winnie and Bruno on either side of me, as they try to avoid the heat by laying as still as possible, I am so grateful that neither of them ever have to live at the mercy of cruel and negligent people ever again.

Unfortunately, many animals in New York City are surrendered to Animal Care & Control by their owners who are moving to public housing, who are going away on a military deployment, or who can't pay for their medical costs-- only to find that they have a very slim chance of finding a new home and family. The end comes after what was once a family dog is reduced to a depressed and fearful dog- sick from kennel cough and living in its own feces- is killed by a needle in the arm by a brusque stranger.

This is not unusual-any animal advocate following what is happening in New York City- a city I am furious I pay taxes to- knows that this is not an uncommon story. Dogs have only a few days before they are sick and are placed in the sick-ward, up for "disease-euth." We all know that the images of empty water bowls and filthy blankets are all too common--

(Read more about the filthy conditions in my blog post here.)

We all know that reputable shelters that can attract volunteers do not operate this way. (Animal Haven in Soho for example has more volunteers than it can accommodate and therefore, there are walks almost every hour for the dogs and no outbreaks of kennel cough or any other shelter-borne illnesses.)

Today at 3 pm, Animal Care and Control had a Public Board Meeting at 125 Worth Street. A crowd of about 50 people showed up to protest before the meeting, but were never allowed in. What is worse- a reporter from the press arrived 15 minutes early, only to be told the meeting was full and was denied access. While waiting outside, I heard from one lucky observer that the room was in fact- not full- and that the room chosen was too small to accommodate the amount of public interest.

In fact, some advocates in the crowd had come from as far away as Boston to hear Ms. Bank (executive director of the AC&C) herself explain the recent mistakes, errors, and euth statistics, as well as the recent causeless firing of employee Emily Tanen. ( See the video at the bottom for more info)

In addition, it is clear that the organization is understaffed- No time is given to determine a dog's breed-- all dogs with a square-ish head whether 100 lbs or 15 are labeled pit mixes, shutting out potential breed-specific adopters and rescues who may be looking for a boxer-mix or a lab-mix or a bull-terrier.
For example, Steven is clearly an American Bulldog, but the uneducated staffer quickly labeled him a pit-bull mix:
And it couldn't be more obvious that Sully is a Bull terrier, but again, they labeled him a pit bull mix.

If they can't even identify breeds- how are they going to find them homes??
In addition, they show their lack of care by giving the same names over and over-- Star, Diamond, Bruno, Boy, Nice, and Linda among them. They are too busy and careless to fix typos, like this poor boy- who may die named "Rexz"...
...or this one-- "Rubdy" clearly a quickly-typed Rudy...

Recently, there have been a number of animals simply named "Dog" (One is below.)
(Yes, I am serious... they named this scared little guy "Dog")

Unfortunately, change feels far away--even as so many are demanding more taxes and resources go to the No-Kill cause. I am sympathetic to the idea that AC&C is cash-strapped - but a good charity/ a good city office with the right intentions explains that they need all the help they can get- and in the face of criticism, ask for help. This Board has been heralding its successes while shutting out opposing views. Firing Emily Tanen for being out-spoken, hiding the sick-ward so rescues can only view sick animals while accompanied by a AC&C employee, and continuing to say that no healthy animal is being euthanized- is proof that Ms. Bank and the rest of the board are running from the problem. By turning away from criticism, they alienate their donation & volunteer base even more. Rather than explain that they need more money, more space, more time, more help-- they bury their heads even deeper in the sand.

It is a sad day for the animals that lose their lives every day- adoptable animals that could recover in 10 short days from kennel cough (like Bruno did)- dogs like Charlie, a 6 month old 19 lb Pit mix who will miss out on all the kisses, hugs, games of fetch and snacks under the table that life had in store for her-- just because she had a curable cough....

I am so glad I got Bruno out of there just in the nick of time.

See Minutes and Video from AC&C's last board meeting here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pittie of the Week: Sweet Belle

This week's Pittie needs a fur-ever home- she is currently living in a foster home and is available through Posh Pets Rescue.

She is as beautiful as can be and would make a perfect family dog.

Her foster family says,

"I love to tousle, run  and play with other dogs.  A poodle was pretty rough with me when we were playing in the dog run, off leash, in Carl Schurz Park.  I let him pull me by the collar, and just gave him kisses, because I am a gentle creature.

  Besides loving dogs I am great with human animals and walk nicely on a leash.  Although, I might take you by surprise sometimes because I do like to chase the occasional pigeon or flyaway plastic bags and paper.  

They say stop and smell the roses, well, I like to stop and bark at statues. I am a true ambassador to my breed, I‘m told.  All I know is my foster mom tells me all the time what a good girl I am.  I’m really happy when she lets me sit in her lap."

Spayed, Up-to-date with shots, and heartworm negative.
Won't you give this little beauty a chance? 
Call: 917-319-4304

AC&C - Double standards for publicity

Why is it that cruelty cases always find homes? So many healthy, otherwise happy dogs, die in the shelter every single day because they have a treatable cold- but when a dog like Ella comes along, as the news caster says "I know of so many people who are going to want that dog."

Unfortunately, the AC&C has been able to use this case to showcase their "rescue efforts" -- that they are rehabilitating this dog and she will be available for adoption in a few weeks.

Why do they spend time and money on Ella (who was thrown away in the garbage - like Patrick a couple months ago) when they are willing to put little Lucky & Miggy to sleep for being sick???

Luckily, little Lucky & Miggy were saved by rescue groups (Lucky is at In Our Hands & Miggy is @ Post Pets)- but not thanks to Animal Care & Control. It is so sad that they are willing to treat dogs differently when they see the potential to raise money and get positive press. They should be working tireslessly to make sure every single dog- emaciated or not, goes home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Working with Difficult Dogs

Recently, we have been going through a tough time with Bruno. When he first came home from the shelter, he was so scared that he didn't show his true personality. Now that he is becoming more confident (and gained 15 pounds!!!) he is starting to display some concerning behavior. He has been barking at strangers for many months now, but we were unconcerned because when people approached him, his anxiety would cease as soon as he realized they were friendly.

(Read my May entry on Bruno's anxiety issues.)

Lately, however, even friendly strangers distress him. In the past week, we saw the first behavior that truly tested us-- he growled at strangers. People who wanted to approach him were terrified as he growled and barked at them, and lunged.We realized that this was a stress-response, because his blood pressure would increase- his eyes would water and his ears would turn bright red and blotchy. We decided to take him to the vet and see if they could prescribe him some canine anxiety medication.
Unfortunately, the two vets that Bruno knows were not in because it was a Saturday. The vets he knows are females and this vet was a male. He was reasonably comfortable in the waiting room- barking and whining only to get closer to other animals. Once we brought him into the room with the vet and the vet-tech, he completely freaked out-- he barked and growled at them both. Usually Bruno can acclimate to strangers eventually, and he has ALWAYS been docile and friendly at the vet's office in the past (it was the exact same room he has been in many times), so we gave the vet a treat to offer him. Bruno sniffed it and actually lunged at him! We were terrified he was going to try to bite the vet! I've never feared Bruno would ever bite anyone- we can put our hands in his mouth while he is eating or chewing a bone and he will just lick our fingers! All of a sudden I lost my confidence that I could promise people that he wouldn't hurt them.

We know we have to work on these behaviors and nip them in the bud before he becomes more aggressive strangers. Has anyone worked through issues like this before? Have your dogs ever threatened to bite?

The vet suggested a behaviorist and when we can afford it, we may try that- but in the mean-time he suggested a muzzle. We talked very seriously about this, and I've ordered one for certain occassions, but we decided after a lot of thought that Bruno gives us and strangers a LOT of warning before he becomes agressive. He warns us that he is uncomfortable with his voice and his posture and if we continue to allow people near him- we are asking for trouble. We are pretty confident that if we explain to people that he is not friendly to strangers, he won't need to be muzzled on an every-day basis while we are working through his issues. (After all, he has never bitten anyone, even under extreme circumstances.) On routine walks, he sits very nicely by our side and as long as we can keep his attention on us- he is comfortable.

Unfortunately, we know that Bruno may not be a good mix with children-- we know that in the next 5-10 years we will want to have a family- but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

For the time being- I am going to take advice from this article about training a difficult dog named Feebe- that really touched me:

"There are no words to describe the amount of gratification we feel knowing we have helped Feebe live up to her greatest potential to become the best dog she can be.  Bad habits have been curbed because we did the work with her.  Good habits have replaced them.  She is not perfect – neither are you or I however, nor any other dog.  But she is good enough just being her goofball self, doing the best she can with our help, and she has enriched our lives exceedingly.  We did the work with her, and that is always what it takes every time.  We cannot expect these animals to teach themselves or to come knowing how we want them to live in our homes – and thankfully, we get to build our own personal characters as human beings because we help them flourish.

The best gift for me in having a challenging dog has been that she taught us the true meaning of unconditional love.  We have learned to love Feebe no matter what.  When she slips up, when she digresses, when she is imperfect.  She has taught us that she is worth loving no matter what, worth fighting for and working with despite her challenges.  We still separate our dogs when we are not home, we still have to give a little extra care when it comes to Feebe – and it is always worth it.  Its not that bad, it’s doable, and in the end, we get to fulfill the promise we made to her when we walked her out those shelter doors.
In exchange, Feebe loves us unconditionally too, when we mess up or are anything less than our best selves.  Maybe if we looked at it another way, she’s not a challenging dog but we’re challenging people?  If you can help a homeless pet in need recover and rehabilitate, if you can offer love and benevolent leadership to help them thrive, I guarantee you the challenges will be meaningful.  You just might be able to surpass your wildest imagination in terms of what you can do for another being, learn what you’re really made of, and expand your heart beyond belief."

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Rawrrr my giant ball!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Animal Abuse & Neglect - Worse than you thought.

You've all see the Sarah McLachlan commercials raising money for the ASPCA (which alone raises 30,000,000$ a year for the organization), but the more you take time to learn about what is happening to animals in the shelter system and in back yards and basements across the U.S. is even worse than the saddest things shown in the commercial.

Just take a look at these emaciated dogs- living at Animal Care & Control RIGHT NOW, desperate for food and comfort, but likely only to catch a bad cold and be put to sleep. Their owners should be arrested for neglect and allowing their dogs to wither away.

Luckily, many abused and emaciated dogs do find rescue (like little Eloise, 10 months old and only 18 lbs)....
because of the extremeity of their conditions, however, these are just a few who did not make it out and were killed by the ACC before given a chance.

Bait dogs and chained dogs often fare far worse. Many of you have heard of Sprout- a dog used by dog-fighters for practice for the others. He was saved and now is looking like 100%.
Tofu was another bait-dog recently saved from ACC:
Thanks to diligent rescuers, he is looking better already:
However, there are still brutal people in this world who own dogs despite their lack of care and consideration for animals as living beings. The most horrifying example of this that I have EVER seen is the story of Pheonix. He was chained in a back yard with no shelter from the 100 degree heat and beating sun. He survived to be rescued two days after his companion (also chained) died. He was covered in flies and maggots as the flesh on his back rotted away.

Amazingly, he was rescued- never again will he have to hide his water and save it for later as he does in this video, which has already brought me to tears.

I warn you, it is EXTREMELY hard to watch, but in my opinion- very much worth it because it inspires me to do more for abused animals.

I am so grateful for rescue groups that take on these hard cases, but so disheartened by the sorts of people that would allow animals to live and die like this. Visit Pheonix's facebook page to watch his progress.

Learn more about animal cruelty and what you can do, here.


Please take 15 minutes out of your busy days to read this important article by No-Kill advocate, Nathan Winograd.

He tells the story of Ginger, a dog that was given a full-term abortion at NYC Animal Care & Control. Each of her puppies were killed by lethal injection after they were removed and their lives and deaths were never recorded. Ginger proceeded to bleed internally and almost died. (read more about Ginger, here.)

There are dozens of other stories of cruelty, neglect, needless killing and "mistakes" that cost lives of many animals. Rather than embracing social media and thousands willing to help, the ACC system has fired well-meaning employees to squash dissent.

It is so shameful that one of the largest, most wealthy, most animal-friendly cities on earth cannot sustain a No-Kill shelter system.

Today is a Animal Care & Control Board Meeting. Unfortunately, it is at 2pm so no one who works regular hours can attend. If you are able to- please consider going and make your presence a message to the Department of Health.

Location: DOH offices, 125 Worth Street, 3rd Floor NY, NY
Time: ‎2:00PM Tuesday, June 21st

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rescue Spotlight: Bully Breed Rescue Inc

Rescue Spotlight: Bully Breed Rescue Inc

Bully Breed Rescue Inc is a small connecticut based rescue group dedicated to rescuing and rehoming pit-bull type dogs. Although they have no actual shelter, they are able to offer more hands-on training and family time with their rescues by finding them foster homes.
When you adopt from BBRI, you know that the dogs have been loved and cared for while they were waiting for you to find them... just check out how happy these guys are in their videos!

Look at all the BEAUTIFUL bullies they have saved this year alone.

Here are the dogs available for adoption now. (Including Kenga and Chance!)

Pibble Puppies!

Its finally spring and that means its time for PUPPIES!

If you are in the Bay area, and want to give a sweet puppy a home before it ever gets the chance to end up in a bad home or a shelter-check out the facebook page "good homes for good dogs".
These cuddly brindle cuties are mal-nourished and may need de-worming treatments (only $11 at Pet Food Express).

email if you are interested!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Video du jour-The Royal Treatment

What every pitbull deserves!

Pittie of the week: Mr. Pink

So excited to unviel my new Friday segment: Pittie of the week!

Each Friday I'll share with you a dog (who I wish I could take home with me!) who needs a temporary ot permanent home.

Through this I'll be able to share with you many of the amazing organizations that rescue pit bulls from horrible situations and give them a second chance. I won't be posting animal care & control pitties because I feel that through the amazing work on the fans on the Urgent facebook page, those dogs get a lot of face-time each day.

I want to highlight the dogs that have been rescued (in many cases through the Urgent Page) but may have been forgotten while they wait in temporary situations (sometimes boarding) for foster homes or permanent homes.

Our first Pittie/Bully of the week is.... (drummm roll please...)

Mr. Pink!

Mister Pink- a five year old American Bulldog mix was found in an abandoned apartment when his owner was arrested and brought to the City Shelter. Because he was scab-covered and skinny, he was placed on the euthanasia list. Thankfully, he was saved by Amsterdog just in the nick of time.

He is neutered, up to date on his shots, micro-chipped, housebroken, good with kids and dogs-- what more could you ask for!

Of Mr. Pink, Amsterdog writes, "In his new foster home, he is blossoming into playful, endearingly goofy pup that has made people say "What a beautiful dog!' When they pass him in the street. Mr Pink is anxious to please, tries hard to be obedient and has mastered basic commands, including the art of walking quietly on the leash and taking food gently. He is also people, child and dog-friendly, but alas, likes to chase cats. If you could spare a soft place to lie on, the occasional massage for his irritated skin, Mr Pink would be your grateful and devoted friend."

Believe it or not, this is what Mr. Pink USED to look like:

You can read the his old Euth. memo and the thread of fb users dedicated to rescuing him here.
Be part of Mr. Pink's happy ending! Call or text: 917 689 8414 or click here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Filthy Conditions at NYC Animal Care & Control

NYC AC&C has been doing everything it can lately to make it harder and harder to save dogs lives. Rather than utizile social networking and encourage people to meet their dogs, they are firing their best employees, casting doubt on facebook groups, and now have enacted a new policy of not allowing rescuers to view the animals that are not on the adoption floor (sick or injured or euth list animals) without being escorted by an AC&C employee.

Unfortunately, after this picture was taken of a pit-mixed named Ebony laying in her own filth- even though thousands were trying to mobilize and call the shelter to save her, the AC&C still put her to sleep for having a curable case of Kennel Cough-- gee I wonder how she caught Kennel cough is such a clean environment??

This is NOT acceptable. No-kill advocate athan Winograd sumed it up when he wrote on his fb page,
"This is Ebony. She is scheduled to be killed in New York City’s pound, right down the street from the richest SPCA (the ASPCA) in the nation which last year took in over $100,000,000, despite the Mayor’s Alliance receiving over $20,000,000 in Maddie’s Fund grants, despite the largest adopter pool in the U.S. (8,000,000), and despite a per capita intake rate 1/7 that of No Kill Reno, NV. And while she waits for her death, she is kept in the filthiest conditions possible. NYC’s claim to be a ‘national model’ is a cruel hoax.”

In addition to this loss, the AC&C also recently killed a dog named Jan only to find out from vigilent rescue groups that Jan was very much alive and a shelter employee (AGAIN) killed the wrong dog.

This is Jan-- notice she is NOT in a freezer. Jan still needs a home, visit her fb link here.

Tell the NYC AC&C to get their act together: Send this and other letters to the Mayor, the Mayor's Alliance, and the City Government.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Pet is a Huge Responsbility...

Appologies and excuses won't save lives.

Scroll through the dead faces in this Urgent Part 2 album to see the excuses the ACC lists like "NEWBABY"  "LLORDPRIVA" (land lord won't allow) "NYCHABan" (NyC Housing Ban on pit bulls) "PETHEALTH" "TOOMANYP" (too many pets) "OWNEVICT" (Owner Evicted) "MOVE2PRIVA" (Moved) "TOOSTRONG" "PERSPROB" (Personal Problems) "NOTIME" "TOOACTIVE" or simply "ABANDON".

These six dogs were put to sleep recently for similar reasons- unfortuntaely, their owners probably thought they'd find homes somewhere when they dropped them off.


Monday, June 6, 2011

San Francisco

This past week I took a 3-day trip with my friends to San Francisco. I had never been to the West Coast at all and enjoyed seeing the Pacific for the first time, biking the Golden Gate Bridge, and eating amazing food.

Of course I visited what I consider to be the dogs of the sea-- Sea Lions! They are super social creatures, who love lazing around all day, barking at each other and growling when their sunny sleeps get interrupted.


As I am an obsessive dog-watcher, I looked out for dogs everywhere we went. I loved watching the dogs romp on the beach and play off-leash at Alamo Square. We came across this lovely girl, Luna- who hammed-it-up on the grass by rolling onto my feet and gently nipping at me to get more affection-- Look at that smile!

We also met bunches of other Golden Retrievers, Labs, French Bulldogs, Collies and other great dogs- Unfortunately, I was sad to find that there weren't many mixed breed dogs or pit mixes around. I figured that this meant that there are fewer unwanted/unplanned litters in SF and therefore, fewer shelter dogs. In New York, pit bulls are everywhere- when I stepped out of the path station I was excited to see not only more dogs, but more mutts and more pitties- I guess I am a little biased against pure-breed dogs because I figure they need less help in this world.

I did run into one Pit bull while in San Fran and happily sat down with his owner, a homeless ex-U.S. marine.

San Fran has a surprisingly large homeless population- I've been told because of the nice weather and friendly people. When I met this man and sat next to him- his dog (Tyrell), instantly climbed out of his owner's lap and gave me plenty of kisses. He laid down (belly-up) next to me on the side-walk and enjoyed getting his belly scratched.

Tyrell's owner told me that he gets all the vet care he needs because in SF, it is illegal to turn away an animal in need, just as it is illegal to turn away a person who needs emergency care. This makes it financially possible not only for Tyrell to have a "home" of sorts, but also for his owner to have companionship. He told me that Tyrell is his best friend in the whole world, and inspired him to get off the streets and to buy a van for them to sleep in. Together, they share a sleeping bag. Tyrell even protects his owner at night and has bitten another homeless man who tried to steal their things. It seems like a wild life, but the more I heard about this duo- the more sure I became that they really needed each other- and that neither of them would get by without the other.

Fortunately, due to a law that forces pit bulls to be neutered- Tyrell was neutered at the age of only 2 months to prevent over-population and he cannot contribute to more homeless pets, although the law apparently does not apply to other breeds of dogs. I gave his owner $20 for dog food and wished them luck and was so happy I saw a pit bull before leaving San Fran.

Does anyone know more about the shelter system there and why pit bulls must be neutered so young?
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