Tuesday, June 23, 2009

High price tags don't keep these dogs out of the system....

As a follow-up to our "American Bully" blog, we thought we'd post some pix of bully-style dogs that showed up in rescue recently. These dogs are often paraded around like expensive accessories by their humans. But despite paying wads of cash and status earned among peers, at the end of the day, when the person at the end of the leash decides a dog is too much work these pricey "American Bullies" often get dumped in the shelters like trash. This is happening at an alarming rate - but considering how many bully-style breeders there are out there, the numbers are not surprising.

If you are looking for a nice companion, maybe you'll consider one of these sweet mush-faces. And remember, Don't Feed The Unethical Breeders - keep your money out of their hands.

Guiness was heartworm positive and very sick when he ended up in the loving care of Bama Bully in Alabama.

Odie wasn't far behind - pneumonia-stricken, this boy needed help, and he got it, once again thanks to Bama Bully.

Sassy was emaciated when she came to New Hope Pit Bull Rescue in South Carolina. She's filled out a bit since then, as you can see.

Both Bama Bully and New Hope PBR are members of the Pit Bull Rescue Alliance, founding members along with The Real Pit Bull.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Guardians of the Breed's Future

What's the difference between an owner and a guardian? Anyone can choose to own a Pit Bull, but someone who takes it upon themselves to be a 'breed guardian' is going the extra mile to not only properly look out for their own dog, but for the future of Pit Bulls everywhere.

The term 'guardian' in animal circles is a controversial one. Legally, the designation 'owner' gives a person more leeway as far as what they can do to their dog and how exactly they care for it. Some feel that removing the legal term 'owner' and replacing it with 'guardian' puts too much power in the hands of the state - and that too many restrictions will be placed on how people can care for or train their dogs. Dogs are currently viewed as property that one 'owns' under the law. What humans can legally do to their 'property' is pretty wide open - and there are limited legal means available to prosecute all but the most heinous animal abuses, as discovered by anyone who's been in the frustrating position of trying to get something done about a starving, neglected dog chained out in a yard somewhere. In the eyes of some, a legally changed designation for companion animals might be a leg up in the fight against animal abuse.

RPB chooses to use the word 'guardian' to drive home a very important point: anyone can OWN a dog, but being a true guardian of your dog, and its breed as a whole, takes something more. Pit Bull owners who take on the added role of breed advocate - unceasingly educating themselves, always uber responsible, going the extra mile for their own dogs and other Pit Bulls, continually assuring they positively portray the breed to the world, and taking the time to educate others - are, in our opinion, deserving of a title a little more extravagant than 'owner'. Such people are the true guardians of the breed and its future, doing all in their power to contribute to a bright and beautiful world for the dogs we all cherish.

In a perfect world, all Pit Bulls would have guardians – heck, all dogs regardless of their breed would! In this world, the guardians are the ones who are paving the way for the breed's continued, bettered existence in this world.

Whatever you choose to call yourself - owner, guardian, parent, caregiver, dogmom, dogdad - it is you, the responsible, caring, ethical advocate, who is safeguarding this breed. And for that, we recognize, admire, and applaud you. The breed would be lost without you!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fad Alert!

The 'bully movement' is yet another exploitative subset propagated by unscrupulous individuals in the Pit Bull world: unethical backyard breeders, abusive 'gamedog' breeders, puppy millers under the guise of 'show dog producers', and now the 'bully style' or 'American Bully' breeder. Each of these groups are uniquely problematic from the standpoint of Pit Bull rescue and advocacy, but share commonality in that the dogs suffer in the name of selfish human endeavor.

The American Bully fad is the result of breeders wanting bigger, beefier Pit Bulls that are meaner looking and carry a higher price tag. The American Bully breeders blatantly ignore APBT breed history and standards, breed whatever sort of 'look' best suits them (the Pocket Bully is another version of the bully style dog - what comes next is anyone's guess), and then peddle the dogs to the public. The dogs are simultaneously represented as Pit Bulls through registration with the UKC, and as a 'new breed', the American Bully, through registration with the American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC). And although the fad claims that the American Bully is just a 'cross' of AmStaff and APBT bloodlines, it seems obvious that many of these dogs are actually mixed with mastiff and bulldog breeds to create the huge heads, and short, fiddle-fronted bodies seen on many American Bullies.

American Bully breeders that we've talked to have made a lot of claims. The ironic thing is that they have ALL quickly admitted there are MANY unethical, irresponsible bully style breeders out there who are giving the 'movement' a bad name. These same breeders have all insisted they were 'different'. Still, none of these breeders were able to offer proof of health certifications from organizations like OFA or PennHip, none of their dogs had legitimate all-breed titles (from AKC, UKC, ARBA, or any other legitimate all-breed registry), and while all of these breeders registered their dogs as American Pit Bull Terriers with the UKC, it was obvious they were blatantly snubbing their noses at the UKC standard for the breed – of course, because by definition, the American Bully does NOT conform to the APBT standard. If it did, it wouldn’t be an ‘American Bully’.

But confusingly, all of these breeders seemed to think of their dogs both as APBTs *and* as this supposedly new 'breed', the American Bully. No wonder the public is confused!

"BULLY, WHERE'S YER BREEDER?" This guy would be considered an 'American Bully'. He ended up in a shelter, but thankfully was adopted into a wonderful home where he is spoiled and loved.

Despite the huge price tags these dogs carry, they are still ending up in shelters in record numbers. From single dogs to whole kennels-full, American Bullies are finding themselves homeless and on death's doorstep. These are nice dogs, who, through no faults of their own, are ending up in bad situations. No need to spend thousands on a dog from a bully style breeder - you can adopt your own American Bully from your local shelter or rescue group.

For more on the 'bully style' fad, please see the RPB article, Bully: This, That and the Other Thing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It was a blast!

Pit Bull-palooza was this past weekend, and we're just now recovering. It was a crazy, wonderful event that showcased the diversity of the Pit Bull community, and a willingness to come together to support a common cause: the dogs!


A CGC test was held in conjunction with the event and out of 10 Pit Bulls tested, all 10 passed! Other highlights include a raffle, our Ask the Trainer Booth (headed by positive trainer-extraordinaire Inna Krasnovsky from Wag the Dog of NYC), bake sale with incredibly yummy homemade goodness (RPB's own Michele Ursino slaved for long hours in the kitchen to support this effort), and of course some amazing Pit Bulls in attendance.

An event like this could never get off the ground without oodles of support, and we'd like to extend special thanks to all our vendors, who braved mud, troublesome unloading-loading conditions, and impromptu changes to the set up area. You are all heroes for the bulldawgs!

The guys from Rescue Ink pose with Rufus, our CGC helper dog for the day.

The RPB Booth

Restin' up after some weight pull practice.

Our DJ, Anthony, taking a break with Rocky.



If you have any memorable pix from the event, please send em on over: realpitbull@gmail.com

Monday, June 8, 2009

Academic Home Run for the Breed

Early this year, RPB was contacted for help with some questions being posed by a Masters student from the University of Maryland named Bethany Gibson. Bethany was working on her thesis. The subject? BSL and the Pit Bull - which was interesting because, despite being a dog lover, Bethany was not knowledgeable about Pit Bulls or BSL. Yet she felt compelled to write about the important subject of public safety & dog attacks, breed discrimination, and how such things impact people and Pit Bulls. We just received a copy of the finalized thesis (which won Best Thesis in her graduating class - congrats, Bethany!), and were so impressed! It is a wonderful piece that would certainly prove beneficial in the fight against discrimination and ineffective laws that do little if anything to protect the public. Bethany hopes to take her thesis - titled Demonizing the Pit Bull: Breed Specific Legislation & the Circuit of Communication - further by having it printed in academic journals.

The work of people like Bethany is so important in that it legitimizes what all of us breed advocates have been saying: deed not breed. Sound examination of the topics at hand prove time and again that the breed is not to blame, and that BSL is not the answer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

CGC Testing for Pit Bulls

The AKC Canine Good Citizen test (CGC) is a great way to showcase your dog's good manners - and then have them officially recognized. AKC started the CGC program to help encourage responsible dog guardianship and promote dogs as safe, reliable furry citizens. The test - which is officiated by certified evaluators - is open to all dogs, regardless of age, breed, or mix. A dog will be tested on ten items, each designed to show basic manners and the guardian's ability to control their dog.

For formally abused, rescued Pit Bulls, the CGC has become a bit of a badge of honor - sort of an 'nah-nah told ya so' in the face of the naysayers. Dogs like Leo, rescued from Michael Vick's dog fighting operation, as well as countless others, prove to the world that abused dogs CAN learn to trust and go on to live normal lives. For many of them, the CGC is the official 'stamp' of approval proving it's more than just talk - these dogs really ARE as good as we all say they are. Guardians of all Pit Bulls, regardless of where they came from, can take that extra important step to show they are committed to being responsible and show the world that Pit Bulls are sound, stable, wonderful dogs. The CGC is that step.

The CGC test items are:

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
Test 3: Appearance and grooming
Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
Test 5: Walking through a crowd
Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
Test 7: Coming when called
Test 8: Reaction to another dog
Test 9: Reaction to distraction
Test 10: Supervised separation

Get your Pit Bull CGC certified through Pit Bull School. Or come out to Pit Bull-palooza this Sunday, June 7th, to have your dog tested.

Monday, June 1, 2009

What's love got to do with it?

So after a recent conversation with yet another breeder whose love for his dogs and the APBT seems to manifest itself in a need to breed them, I had to stop and wonder what exactly makes people believe that love for Pit Bulls means they have to produce more of them.

Are these people unaware of all the dogs in shelters, themselves having been produced by people who 'loved' them? Do they mistakenly believe that there is a shortage of Pit Bulls and that the breed is in danger of dying out? Doubtful, since I have yet to come across one such breeder who denied 'caring about' homeless Pit Bulls and admitting there are lots of careless breeders 'littering' shelters all across the country. When love of the breed for me translates into saving homeless and abused Pit Bulls, teaching responsible guardianship, and educating on the importance of spaying and neutering, it is difficult for me to understand when others breed their underage, unproven, un-health tested dogs in the name of 'love'.

Love for me means looking past oneself and considering fully the life and well being of the loved one. Love is about making decisions after considering long and hard the impact those decisions will have on the welfare and future of a loved one. When you do something in the name of love, ask yourself if that love translates ultimately into a better life for the one you love; and whether they would choose for themselves what you are choosing for them.

Dogs are at our mercy. We make decisions every day for our dogs that they cannot make for themselves. Dogs can't say they don't want to go through the stress of producing puppies, or expose themselves to the health risks. They can't tell you they are worried sick about where their babies will ultimately end up, or that they think too many of their kind are already dying in shelters. Our dogs don't know about BSL and how Pit Bulls in the wrong hands put them all at risk every day. And thank doG they cannot see or dwell on the horrific abuse suffered by their brethren, the carelessly produced dogs of breeders and those who thought it would be ok to 'have just one litter'.

And it is because our dogs cannot make decisions about their own lives, can't give us input about what THEY want, that we owe it to them to look deep within ourselves each time we make decisions that could seriously effect their lives, and the lives of other Pit Bulls.

Love is a tricky thing - it's not so much a word as a concept with actions balanced on top of it. Anyone can use the word, but it is action that demonstrates the essence of what love is. And while I do believe that many breeders DO love their dogs, I think they have a misguided understand of how that love should translate into action. And when every action a breed guardian makes ultimately affects all of us and our dogs, it's a desperate hope on my part that someday, very soon, those breeders will come to understand what love truly is.