Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Watch your language!

"Bully"; "bully breed"; "pit bull-type dog"; "APBT" "Pit Bull".

People are confused about terminology, and we want to help you make some sense of it all.

Over the past decade or so, many new terms have gained widespread usage in Pit Bull circles. Most of these terms have no official definition and the user can ascribe whatever meaning he or she chooses in the moment. It's pretty common to see one term used in multiple, contradictory ways.
A prime example of misleading, confusing term-usage is "bully breed". It gets used:

* to refer to a group of similar breeds with no clear boundaries or definitions
* interchangeably with "Pit Bull"
* to reference a breed, as in "the bully breed" (what the heck is "the bully breed"?)

"Pit bull type dog" is being used in much the same way as "bully breed" is now. People are using it to refer to a myriad of breeds not even closely related to Pit Bulls. It's causing mass confusion and the side effect is a LOT more dogs are being described as Pit Bulls when they are anything but (we've seen Dogos repeatedly lumped in as "pit bull type dogs" lately, for instance).

For these reasons, RPB uses neither the term "pit bull type dog" nor "bully breed".

The mixed up, mish-mosh of words being thrown around, misused, misapplied, and improperly defined is really grating, and has resulted in a lot of *head-on-desk* moments for us lately. A huge stumbling block to creating united efforts to save and protect Pit Bulls is a complete lack of a common language amongst guardians, advocates, and rescuers. It's pretty difficult to do your job when communication is hampered due to language barriers.

The Real Pit Bull is here to educate, encourage, support, and yes, learn, too! We've upgraded our vocabulary over the years, tweaked our use of certain terminology, and dropped certain idioms altogether. Why? Because words are powerful and important; they are never "just words". Words can hurt and words can heal. Misuse of terms, vague definitions, and sloppy wording make everyone's job more difficult; common, positive, precise language brings people together and helps facilitate beneficial change.

With these thoughts in mind, here are some entries from our Pit Bull lexicon:

-Pit Bull - We only use it to refer to the AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIER or dogs thought to be purebred American Pit Bull Terriers. It is ridiculous to call anything but APBTs "Pit Bulls", and we've got plenty to say as to why, but we'll save that for another blog. For now, let's just leave it at this: if you insist on using "pit bull" as a group name for a variety of breeds and dogs with certain overly-general physical traits, PLEASE DON'T use APBT-specific breed info (such as history, breed personality traits, famous APBTs, and so on) when refering to said group.

Example: don't say, "Pit bull is just a category and not a breed and there is no such thing as a 'pit bull' ", then go on to quote a bunch of APBT-specific facts, features, and figures after you just got done insisting "pit bull" does not refer to a specific breed.

-Pit Bull mix - Breed rescue is guess work! Period. Most of the time NO breed rescue group has proof that the dogs they are pulling into their programs are bonafide, 100% purebred. That doesn't mean that experts in their breed of choice cannot make good guesses as to whether or not a dog brought into rescue is or is not the breed its supposed to be. Sometimes a dog kinda-sorta looks like its all or mostly Pit Bull, but just not quite. These are the dogs we call Pit Bull mixes.

-"There are many breeds mistaken for or incorrectly called Pit Bulls (APBTs)" - we use this phrase when addressing the fact that lots of breeds through the years have been misidentified or incorrectly called "Pit Bulls". The widespread misapplication of the shorthand form of the APBT's name started mostly with the media and subsequently with legislators who, when drafting BSL, wanted to make sure they included the two breeds - the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier - that looked very similar and had similar histories to the American Pit Bull Terrier (and arguably, the AmStaff IS the same thing as the APBT, anyway).

-Dog-sensitive - as a breed temperament trait. We define dog-sensitivity as, "The tendency to become stressed, anxious, fearful or defensive around other dogs." Yes, we are *gasp!* generalizing! If we can generalize that this breed is great with people, we can generalize that this breed is also prone to dog-sensitivity.

-Cruelty/abuse victim - the term we use for dogs who have been abused - regardless of that abuse (including dogs that have suffered at the hands of dog fighters).

Terms and phrases we strongly urge you to avoid:

-Bait dog
-"Pit Bulls are great dogs when raised right!"
-"It's all how you raise them."
-"Pit Bulls are a dog-aggressive breed" or "Pit Bulls are genetically prone to aggression" (aggression is a behavior, not a trait!)
-"There is no such thing as a pit bull"
-Bully breed or Pit bull type dog (meaningless terms with no clear definitions or usage-boundaries)

Radio Interview on Fight Bust Dogs w/Mary Harwelik

Listen to this interview conducted by our friend The Jersey Dog Trainer. Thanks Renee, for allowing this subject to get air time!

Link to Audio.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a website called realpitbull.com

Once upon a time, circa 1997, a website called The Real Pit Bull (RPB) was launched by a dog trainer/behavior specialist who was also a breed guardian. The goal of this website was to provide factual information on a breed officially known as the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), but called “Pit Bull” for short by its fanciers. (Just like Labrador Retrievers are called “Labs”, Rottweilers are called “Rotts”, German Shepherds are called “Shepherds”, and Golden Retrievers are called “Goldens”, the American Pit Bull Terrier is called “Pit Bull” for short. Most breeds have a nickname that breed fanciers use to refer to their dogs. “Greater Swiss Mountain Dog” doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as “Swissy”, nor does “American Pit Bull Terrier” come out as easily as “Pit Bull”.)

The name “The Real Pit Bull” was chosen for two reasons: “Real” because the typical portrayal of the breed in the media and the idea people held about the dogs in general (both pro and con) was so often so far from reality that it was basically fiction; and “Pit Bull” because it was easy shorthand used to refer to the breed. The Real Pit Bull seemed like an apropos name.

The original RPB website was bare-bones and consisted of the usual basics: breed history, debunked myths, and temperament information. The website quickly became a go-to source for information in the online community and as word of the site spread – and the site itself grew – it also became a contact point for the media, general public, and Pit Bull guardians seeking more information about the breed, behavior, care, and training.

Somewhere along the way, RPB became much more than a website. It morphed into an IRS-recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, with real-world services in the form of dog training and behavioral help, lectures, hard copy educational material, hosting of educational booths at fairs, rescue and placement of Pit Bulls, and more. Meanwhile, RPB has continued to provide a constant stream of free information online to anyone who needs it. Today, www.RealPitBull.com is one of the oldest and largest breed information websites on the Internet and we’re pretty proud of that.

Through the years, the breed education and advocacy landscape has evolved, in some ways changing drastically: in many ways for the better, but in some ways not so much. RPB has always kept its proverbial finger on the pulse of the Pit Bull education/rescue/advocacy world, and as such we’ve evolved as necessary as well. Evolution in our case comes in the form of learning through experience, always striving to do what is best for the dogs and the breed as a whole, and adapting to the needs of an ever-growing community of breed guardians. But most importantly, we strive to live up to the name The REAL Pit Bull – our main goal is to represent the truth, reality, the real-deal story on the Pit Bull breed. Never sugar-coated, never watered down.

RPB was originally created to help preserve and protect a breed of dog; we saw a need and we jumped in to help. RPB is a purebred rescue, advocacy, and education organization. We will continue to work to save a breed that continues to be ostracized, misunderstood, and ignored by many (even those, ironically enough purporting to love and advocate for ‘pit bulls’).

There are many organizations, groups, and individuals whose focus is on saving dogs in general, or dogs that happen to look a certain way, or mixes of all sorts, or dogs lumped into arbitrary/unofficial groups. RPB is dedicated solely to the American PIT BULL Terrier breed. And we are so proud to stand up for and next to these amazing dogs who continue to inspire us every single day.

We have always been, are, and always will be APBT and PROUD.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fight Bust Dogs Demystified

We often get asked about dogs rescued from “fight busts”: what are they like? Can they really learn to live as “normal dogs”? Isn’t there a worry that they are going to “snap”? Ex-fighting Pit Bulls have always had their own set of myths surrounding them. RPB has been working hard for many years for ex-fighting dog equality and it’s only been in recent years that these victims of abuse have begun getting second chances at life through rescue initiatives. Here we’re happy to present some responses to common questions about these misunderstood dogs.

Can dogs rescued from fight busts live safely with people and other dogs?

There are quite a few dogs rescued from fight bust cases that are currently living in homes across the country, with other dogs, very successfully. So the simple answer is, yes. There is a big misconception about ex-fighting dogs, that they are somehow different than your average shelter-pulled Pit Bull. But the fact of the matter is, just like with dogs from shelters, there is a wide variety of personality and temperament types in fight bust dogs – and a large number of Pit Bulls rescued from fighting cases end up having really excellent temperaments that make them great companion animals.

The Pit Bull breed is very resilient; they can bounce back from even horrible abuse or neglect. Traditional American Pit Bull Terrier temperament is human-friendly; they are big-time people pleasers. When a dog has a good temperament, he’ll have that temperament for life, even after experiencing extreme abuse. The essence of the Pit Bull is soundness and stability around people and the ability to co-exist with other dogs. That essence doesn’t evaporate even after the dog has experienced abuse or neglect. The dog just needs an environment that will provide nurturing and allow him a chance to shine, and be who he really is. That’s what we do when we pull dogs from fight situations and bring them into our rescue program. We give them the opportunity to show their true essence.

Do the dogs have to be trained to fight or is it something they do naturally?

Dogs fight – it is common behavior across all breeds. Fighting is defensive behavior; all dogs have teeth, all dogs can protect themselves if need be. So no, dogs do not need to be trained to fight; working with dogs in our classes, dog-sensitivity or outright defensive aggression towards other dogs is a common behavioral problem. It is not something that is specifically “trained” or “taught” to the dog, but inadvertently or, in the case of fight bust dogs specifically, conditioned into the dog by the environment.

Pit Bulls that are used for fighting are living in an environment which encourages – conditions - fighting behavior. The dogs are not given proper socialization so they do not learn how to interact appropriately with other members of their species. The only exposure they get to other dogs is from being chained in close proximity to each other: they can see, smell and hear each other, but cannot interact. Or else they are facing off in the pit. So you have dogs that are constantly in a state of frustration and stress; then when they get a chance to actually interact with other dogs, it’s in a combative situation where they are literally fighting for their lives. This is not an environment that is conducive to building friendly, happy-go-lucky intra-canine relationships.

But here is the interesting thing: many of these dogs, when taken out of the fighting environment, morph fairly seamlessly into the role of companion animal and learn to have canine friends. It’s like they are just waiting to be given a chance to show who they really are. They are just domestic dogs that were born into horrendous circumstances. When you place them into a sane environment, you get a sane dog. It really is that simple.

Fight bust dogs need the opportunity to learn that they can be peaceful with other dogs and that they do not have to fight for their lives. These dogs don’t want to fight; they were just never shown that they don’t have to. They have to learn new behavior, to learn that they have other options.

But can you ever really trust one of these ex-fighting dogs?

No human is infallible, and neither is any animal. If you say that rescued fight bust dogs cannot be trusted, you’d have to say NO dog can be trusted. No one can guarantee ANY dog would never bite or attack, no matter where it came from or what its background.

So let’s rephrase the question: “Can rescued fight bust dogs be as trustworthy as any other dog?” The answer is, “Yes, absolutely.”

What sort of temperaments do fight bust dogs have?

In general, the dogs coming into rescue show temperaments that are typical of the breed: they love people, they are friendly, they learn quickly, they make great companion dogs, they need to be managed appropriately around other dogs because they may be dog-sensitive but no more so than Pit Bulls coming from any other situation. The thing that may surprise people is that some dogs come off yards already really liking other dogs. Sedona, who is currently undergoing socialization and training through our Karma Dog program, is from a suspected dog fighting situation, and she really likes other dogs. She has shown nothing but sociability with other members of her species, right from day one.

Sedona is currently living with a retired show AmStaff, who is not dog-social at all. Sedona is actually helping him come out of his shell and learn to interact with another dog. How amazing is it that the fight bust dog is helping the retired show dog with his canine social skills? This is a prime example of the fallacy of labels being predictive of behavior. Put any label you want on a dog, but labels don’t dictate behavior; the situations dogs come from aren’t necessarily predictive of future behavior, either. Every dog needs to be taken on a case by case basis.

Do fight bust dogs need a lot of training and socialization when they come to you?

Yes, they do. Where they come from, the dogs don’t get socialization, they do not undergo any sort of companion dog training. They are basically left chained up in a yard, bred, and fought. So when we bring a fight bust dog into a foster home, that dog is initially shell shocked and has no clue what domestic life is all about. They don’t know what a couch is, they don’t understand sounds coming from the TV, and they don’t know how to navigate stairs. They require a lot of remedial socialization. That is the biggest issue these dogs face: remedial socialization.

The ideal socialization period for dogs is up through the age of 16 weeks. That is when they are most receptive to learning about their environment, what is and is not safe, and how to navigate a human world. With fight bust dogs, we’re dealing with dogs that are 1 year, 2 years, 6-plus years old that have never been off the dog fighter’s yard. They don’t know what life is like past the end of a chain. So when they come into rescue, we are definitely in for an uphill battle in terms of making up for lost socialization time. We need to start from the ground up.

When Sedona came into our program for instance, she did not have any understanding of human gesturing, how to follow a treat to be lured into position, and the sound of a clicker caused her to tremble and retreat in fear. But she is learning, and starting to get that life can actually be fun and enjoyable, and training time is now a game she is getting into. Figuring out that she can sit for treats was a huge epiphany for her. We celebrated big time when she figured out “Oooo butt-on-floor equals something yummy! I get it, I get it!”

How are Pit Bulls rescued from fight busts different from dogs saved from other sorts of abusive situations? Are there similarities?

Mostly, fight bust dogs are the same as any other dogs coming from extreme abuse situations like hoarding, puppymills, etc.: they experience pain, receive no love or kind words from a human, are kept in relative isolation, and experience extreme neglect. All the symptoms that go along with that sort of cruelty are present in fight bust dogs: fear, withdrawal, avoidance, lack of trust, physical and emotional trauma. Fight bust dogs need to learn to trust, they need to physically and emotionally heal, to learn that life can be beautiful and enjoyable.

One thing that does make fight bust dogs stand out from dogs from other abuse situations is that Pit Bulls tend to be more resilient than your average dog of another breed. If other breeds went through what fight bust Pit Bulls go through, there would likely be a lot fewer that could be saved, socialized, trained and moved into a home life as companion dogs. Pit Bulls have good bounce-back. The breed is just such a human-oriented and intelligent breed that they can withstand so much abuse and neglect and as soon as they are given a little bit of love and care, they just go, “Oh hey, this is awesome, I love everyone now!” and they are off and running.

The main point that needs to be driven home is that fight bust dogs are VICTIMS of ABUSE. They should be afforded the same care and consideration as dogs coming from any other abuse situation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why we do what we do.

Remember this doll? Tess was the little stray bulldawg girl found wondering around an area know for gang activity and epidemic Pit Bull breeding. Tess eventually wiggled and bully-smiled her way into the hearts and home of Stacey and Dave (we wish every application we received led to a home like this). Stacey recently sent us an update on Tess:

Tess is absolutely amazing. She is the missing piece to our canine family. Tess settled into life with us almost immediately. She quickly discovered that there was plenty of food, treats, and toys to go around. She and Mickey are now completely inseparable, as you can see from the attached picture. Tess loves her "Daddy" above all else. She loves to stand up and hug him when he walks through the door in the evenings. She is super friendly to everyone she meets. Tess has just completed her first round of training and will be continuing on after the holidays. I believe with some work, she will be able to pass her CGC and Temperament tests, in the hopes that she and Mickey can become therapy dogs and even better representatives of their amazing breed!

Thank you Stacey and Dave for giving this wonderful girl the home she deserves!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's T-Shirt Tiiiiiiiiiime!

T-shirt Slogan Contest time, that is!

Now through November 30th, submit your unique Pit Bull-related slogans (as many as you wish), and the favorite will be printed on new RPB t-shirts. The author of the winning slogan will receive a t-shirt and other goodies.

So get those creative juices flowing, and send your slogans to: Info@realpitbull.com.

Slogans submitted become the property of RPB, Inc - and we may very well use your slogan in another manner if it is not the one selected to appear on our t-shirts.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kong stuffin' season!

Stuffed Kongs are always a favorite around here. Now that the weather is getting cold and the days are shortening - which probably means less outdoor exercise for the dogs - it's a good idea to have some Kongs ready to go to keep boredom at bay. There are a bazillion Kong stuffing recipes online. Some simple, some quite elaborate. But here is the "Pit Bull Special" that we use - quick and easy and totally nom!

Take some kibble and soak it in water so it's kind of mushy. Then mix a nice scoop of peanut butter (use a brand that doesn't add refined sugar) with the soft kibble and mix/mush it all together. Fill the Kong with the mix, and lastly, as a garnish, stuff a biscuit down into the Kong but leave part of it sticking out the top. Put the Kong in the freezer and let the filler get hard but not TOO hard - frozen but not rock solid/icy. Lastly, give to your Pit Bull and watch him or her enjoy!

That Kong is STUFFED - but not for long! The "Pit Bull Special" - 100% Luca Approved.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cruelty is cruelty, regardless of breed.

It was only earlier this month when we read about the chainsaw decapitation of a Pit Bull in New Mexico, which resulted in an 8 year prison sentence for the man responsible.

This past weekend another dog was found dead, this time cut in half and left morbidly on display on a porch in Northeast Philadelphia. The dog, named Chico, was a Siberian Husky.

These are absolutely horrifying stories of dogs who were brutally murdered at the hands of human beings. Breed should be irrelevent when such attrocities are commited against dogs, and we should all rise up as one and demand justice any time abuse is brought to our attention.

Everytime we read stories like these it becomes a little more difficult to comprehend how dogs get labeled as the "bad guys", how anyone could believe targeting and banning dogs that look a certain way will somehow make society safer, the idea that humans need more protection from animals than they do from us, a little more laughable. When is the last time you heard of a dog sawing off a human's head in retaliation?

Sedona! Taking prelim apps

We've had Sedona - one of the Ohio200 - in our program since Oct 1; per RPB policy, after the initial on-site evaluation, Sedona's been undergoing a more extensive 30 day evaluation in a home environment and is almost ready to make her debut as an RPB "Karma Dog".

Sedona is being heavily socialized - life on a chain has cost her some points in the social butterfly department but she tries so hard to be brave and is learning every day to trust a little more. She's a little flower that just needs some help blooming. She is about to begin CGC training and ready to start thinking about choosing a lifelong human partner.

RPB is now accepting preliminary applications on Sedona. She is not ready to leave our program just yet, but if you've fallen in love with Those Ears and are considering adoption, please feel free to email us for the necessary paperwork to get the ball moving.

For more information on RPB and our Karma Dog program which matches APBT "Spokesdogs" with exemplary human guardians, visit: Karma Dogs!.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Silly little bulldawg.

Here's Sedona, one of the "Ohio 200" Pit Bulls from a bust back in August. She's been here in Jersey for less than 2 weeks, but she's quickly figuring out how to turn on the cute full blast.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October is an Event-full Month for RPB

Fall is the perfect season for events, and there are two fabulous dates that you'll seriously need to add to your calendars.

First, on October 10th, Bark in the Park takes place at gorgeous Liberty State Park right on the Hudson. We host a booth at this event every year; it is a wonderful, Pit-friendly day that should not be missed.

Then on October 23rd, it's the 4th annual Pit Bull Awareness Day. A great event to check out is the Pinups for Pitbulls Awareness Day and 2011 Calendar Release Party in Philadelphia at Shampoo.

Don't forget to celebrate Pit Bulls all month long in honor of Pit Bull Awareness Day, and let us know how YOU plan to celebrate, support, and bring awareness to Pit Bulls on our Facebook page. Pit Bull Awareness Day was founded by Bless the Bullys, and we wholeheartedly support and thank them for the work they do for Pit Bulls and bull breed-type dogs.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Say "Hi" to Sedona!

Meet Sedona, the newest addition to the RPB "Karma Dog" Pit Bull rescue program. Sedona comes from a cruelty case, one of many dogs that have been pulled into rescue by groups from a recent out-of-state bust. She's got an absolutely FABULOUS smile, if you can't tell from her picture.

We picked her up on Saturday from Animal Farm Foundation, who temporarily housed her for RPB. Right now, she is chilling out and decompressing after her trip. She's had a rough start in life, but is settling in nicely and already learning the basics: like how to walk on leash and the joy of stuffed Kongs.

Sedona will go through training with RPB volunteers, work towards earning her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification, and then will be placed into a lucky home.

Follow this blog to read about Sedona's new life, her training, and for continued updates on how she is doing.

Want to make a donation to RPB on Sedona's behalf? Click the ChipIn below! Your donation will help cover veterinary costs for Sedona's care.

Friday, September 17, 2010


The other night I watched a clip from a well-known trainer’s TV show, cringing the entire 7 minutes, wanting to run screaming from the room – no, better yet, reach through the computer screen and do whatever I needed to do to get this guy to quit hurting this poor dog. By the end of the clip, my fists were clenched and my heart was pumping. “Chill out”, I thought to myself. “Getting this worked up isn’t healthy or productive.”

Later, in response to this same clip, some comments were made on Facebook. One comment, echoing an opinion repeated time and again, said something like: “Everyone has their own methods, [this trainer] is only trying to help this dog and his people – who are you to judge!”

The techniques I witnessed in this clip, commonly used by Mr. TV Trainer, were muzzling, a tightly noosed-leash, forcing the dog to the floor, flipping the dog on his back and holding him down, and general psychological brutalization until the dog becomes exhausted physically and mentally, and just gives up. These are techniques stemming from an archaic and brutal mindset that was essentially the ONLY mindset in dog training for a long period of time: use force, fear, pain to get the dog to “submit”. At any cost.

I took my first obedience training class around 1988. Every dog wore a choke collar in class. Every dog was supposedly “bad” because he was trying to dominate his human. Every dog supposedly "needed" to be jerked, pushed, and pulled into compliance and “submission”.

Over the course of the next 10 years, I worked under 5 trainers, all who used the same method, all of whom scoffed at the idea of using food to “reward” a dog’s behavior. I will never forget what one trainer said to me, “I want my dog to work to please ME, not for a FOOD BRIBE!” It made sense at the time, but my training mindset hadn’t yet evolved to the point of being able to comprehend that my dogs weren’t working for me when they sat-heeled-stayed-downed-performed a nice recall; they were only working to avoid the inevitable leash-jerk.

The problem was that this training method often didn’t work. Dogs remained aggressive, got worse, and sometimes were euthanized. When I came face to face with the “euthanasia suggestion” made by a trainer regarding my OWN dog and some behavioral issues that weren't responding to the "jerk til he behaves" technique, I launched into survival mode – my DOG’S survival – which started an evolution of my training mindset.

Something wasn’t right, here. I didn’t think my dog needed to die. Maybe I needed to evolve and try something else.

Right around the time the limitations of this jerk-push-pull method began to become clear to me, I started hearing more about training with the dreaded “food reward” and something called clicker training. More information in the form of books and videos was becoming available. I started reading, watching, listening, and experimenting with these evolutionary training techniques. And guess what? They worked! In fact, they worked so well that eventually I completely gave up everything I had been previously taught about dog training, and put this new education into fulltime practice. Talk about a mindset evolution.

I’m honestly not sure what happened to those original 5 trainers I once worked with. Whether they, too, eventually evolved, or instead continue to metaphorically dwell in the Dog Trainer Dark Ages, I may never know. The method they once taught me has not died out, that much is known. All I have to do is turn on my TV, and there I see Mr. TV Trainer using those same, un-evolved, archaic techniques (albeit explained in more sparkly, New Agey language, suitable for wide-scale public consumption).

If those techniques employed by Mr. TV Trainer and my original 5 trainers are so un-evolved, limiting, and non-functional, why are they still around? Well, hmmm. Why do some people refuse to be educated about Pit Bulls, and why, despite all the information and evidence to show they aren’t a “dangerous breed” do some people insist on banning and killing them?

Educating oneself – in effect, evolving one’s mindset – is not always a comfortable process, especially when you are married to ideas that you’ve been acting upon for a long while. There was a time that I thought Pit Bulls were a “bad breed”, just because that’s what I’d been told. But I wasn’t attached to that idea; for a while I didn’t think much about the breed at all. Eventually I came upon information that lead me to became a huge breed advocate; it was an easy transition. Evolving my mindset about dog training methods wasn’t so easy – I had been using with some measure of success a specific method for a long time. It took probably a period of 4 or 5 years before I completely gave up the “old” method, and my training mindset evolved to the point of fully accepting the new.

An evolved, enlightened training method brings with it a new respect for, understanding of, and appreciation of dogs. That training method I once used now seems not only old-fashioned, but downright cruel – and totally unnecessary. When I watch Mr. TV Trainer and others like him, a sense of frustration builds: why can’t they just evolve, too???

One day, perhaps, all mindsets about training – and about Pit Bulls – will evolve to a more enlightened state. Many people already have enlightened attitudes about training and about Pit Bulls; they are setting good example, educating, and encouraging elevated thinking. I’m hopeful and optimistic; just like the breed I work with on a regular basis, clicking and treating them towards better behavior.


My dog – the one my EX-trainer told me needed to die – went on to live a long, happy life following the evolution of my training method. That problematic behavior went away. As it turns out, he was the most amazing dog I have ever had the pleasure of sharing my life with, and the inspiration behind The Real Pit Bull, Inc.

The dog that Mr. TV Trainer was trying to “help” in the clip I mentioned above ended up back in a shelter eventually; I’ve heard he was subsequently euthanized.

Refusal to evolve has its price – and in dog training, as in the "Pit Bull Wars", the dogs are the ones who sadly have to pay it.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BSL Beat-down! Go Garfield!

Concerned Pit Bull parents in the city of Garfield came out in droves last night to defend their dogs in the face of a restrictive proposed Pit Bull ordinance that would have required high insurance, muzzling, special leashing requirements, among other things. I attended the meeting to introduce RPB to the council members and let them know that we are here to help educate and address responsible dog care and public safety concerns involving Pit Bulls and dogs in general in their city.

The breed specific legislation was defeated unanimously; in fact the Mayor made it known from the very start of the evening that they would defeat the BSL during this meeting. Regardless, even after the announcement was made, for 2 hours, the public was allowed to step up to the podium and talk about why they believed singling out Pit Bulls was the wrong way to address the very real public safety issue of dog attacks.

There was such a wide range of attendees speaking up for the breed. From NAIA, NJ Federation of Dog Clubs, and American Rottweiler Club reps, to dog trainers, to an adorable young boy who stood before the council and proclaimed his love for his Pit Bull - people from all over, not just Garfield, took to the mic and articulated many reasons why BSL is discriminatory, prejudiced, unfair, and ineffective.

I think my favorite part of the evening was when one councilman stated that this proposed Pit Bull ordinance was a "knee jerk reaction". After the deluge of emails, letters, phone calls, graphs, pictures, etc that rained down upon the council, they realized how misguided that knee jerk reaction actually was. And their eyes were opened. Someone on the council used the term "enlightened". How wonderful it was that not only did a bunch of people come together for the breed and make a difference, but the city council itself was open and willing to be educated and listen.

The point driven home to me was that our elected representatives need to hear from their constituents. They need to know what the public wants, and why they want it. If you don't want anti-Pit Bull laws cropping up in your city-county-state, GET INVOLVED. The city council of Garfield admitted that they had received bad information and had no idea that NJ's state law preempts any local law that would attempt to regulate specific breeds. Because concerned citizens spoke up, the council realized that not only was the proposed Pit Bull ordinance a bad idea from a practical standpoint, it was outright illegal.

I left the meeting feeling an overwhelming sense of pride at being part of the Pit Bull world. Here, people from all walks of life, with many different stories and experiences, came together to support a common goal: preservation of the rights of the breed we all love. Professionalism, courtesy, and gratitude were pervasive. It was obvious the city council was grateful and impressed by the caliber of the attendees, and they thanked everyone for sharing, educating, and for being involved in the process.

On May 27th, at 7pm, another meeting addressing animal welfare issues will take place. One subject will be how best to deal with the issue of dangerous dogs, enforcement of laws, and possibly drafting new laws that would target irresponsible behavior of HUMANS and not punish dogs based on what they happen to look like. Councilwoman Tana Raymond (who proposed the Pit Bull ordinance in the first place) will be in attendance and very strongly encouraged the public to attend and offer alternatives and feedback. She wants people in her city to be safe. Now, because of the input of many, she wants to help make them safe withOUT a breed specific ordinance. It is imperative that the public attend the May 27th meeting and help the Councilwoman and city of Garfield in their admirable mission of increased public safety.

RPB would specifically like to thank: Maryellen Errigo and Rufus (who was our Pit Bull spokesdog for the evening), Debbie Viney from Liberty Humane, Little Darling & Pin Ups for Pit Bulls (who sent a massive amount of information to the city council prior to this meeting), the American Dog Owners Association, Amanda Sheldon who organized the Prevent BSL In Garfield, NJ Facebook group and did wonders to keep people informed and bring everyone together to fight for the dogs, several concerned area residents who met me at the meeting to offer their support and voice their opposition to the ordinance (yo, Diana and Herminia!), and to everyone else who came out, spoke up, and MADE A DIFFERENCE! - thank you!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

JAC's Paws for a Cause

An event report from RPB volunteer, Elise Linden:

On Sunday May 2, 2010, The Real Pit Bull participated in Jersey Animal Coalition's Paws for a Cause event in Maplewood, NJ. Though there was initially a threat of rain, it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. The event was fun and lively with music, games, food and vendors. Lots of families, lots of dogs. During the event, we met many of JAC's wonderful Pit Bull "alumni" and current adoptable Pit Bulls. All the dogs enjoyed fresh water and treats at our table. Their people received lots of information including a copy of our free booklet, Introduction to the Pit Bull. The doggies also got a tennis ball/sock toy take home surprise! Folks seemed to truly appreciate the existence of RPB and there was a strong sense of camaraderie centered around the need to stand up for the breed. It was uplifting to be around so much positive energy; we had a great time and are grateful to JAC for allowing us to participate in this event.

Jersey Animal coalition (JAC) is an all volunteer, non-profit, no-kill rescue organization, founded in 1989 whose mission is "to preserve life." JAC has its own shelter in Maplewood. JAC rescues and cares for many, many Pit Bulls.

We are so grateful to Elise for manning the RPB booth at the JAC event!

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's time to paaaaaaaaaaaarrrr-TAY!

Hey you Pit Bull-lovin' party animals! Sunrays Pit Bull Rescue is hosting a for-humans-only event this coming Saturday, May 8th at 7pm at Cold Nose Lodge. RPB will be there presenting the All About Pit Bulls lecture, and providing training tips and tricks.

Join us for a night of education, food, and fun! The event is pot-luck, so bring your favorite foods to share with the group. Email Sonya @ SunRaysPitBulls@aol.com to RSVP.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Get a cool tee, support RPB!

Go to www.pitbullshirt.com to order your shirt. Through the month of May, when you mention The Real Pit Bull at checkout, we'll get 10% of the purchase price! Several designs to choose from.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pit Bull School! New Classes Starting

On June 5th, two new classes begin -

  • Click Bulls! - our 6-week basic manners and Pit Bull education class @ 10am

  • CGC Prep - the follow-up to the Click Bulls! class (and for those dogs and humans who are already clicker savvy and want to prep for the Canine Good Citizen test), @ 11am. This is a 4-week class and culminates with the dog/human teams testing for the CGC.

    Classes are held in Garwood, NJ at a public park.

    To sign up, please email: Training@realpitbull.com

    You can learn more about Pit Bull School at the website!

  • Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    NJ BSL

    The town of Garfield is proposing breed restrictions despite the illegality of such laws in the state of New Jersey. A public hearing will be held on April 27th. If you care about your freedoms and your dog's right to live side by side with you, please attend and speak up for our breed! Don't worry about having to be eloquent or knowing all the ins and outs of fighting BSL. Just showing up and opposing these measures is important. RPB members will be present as well, and if you'd like to join us, please let us know.

    If you cannot attend, please write or call the Mayor's Office:

    Mayor Frank Calandriello
    Garfield City Council
    111 Outwater Lane
    Garfield, New Jersey 07026

    Contact the City Clerk's office at (973) 340-2001 for more information.

    And for some great information on defeating anti-dog laws, visit

    Can We Talk? - The need to breed

    We've chosen a real hot button issue as the first installment of
    our new occasional blog feature called "Can We Talk?" which will
    encourage open but polite discourse on a number of pressing topics.

    The breeding of Pit Bulls can stir up fiery debate at the drop of a hat - is breeding across-the-board bad, or is it something that under some circumstances is okay, but mostly and usually is not? For most of us involved in the rescue side of things, the answer to the "how do you feel about breeding" question comes as quickly as the words can leave the lips (or get typed on the computer screen): "NO to breeding! TOO many Pit Bulls are homeless and dying!"

    The Real Pit Bull does not promote nor encourage breeding. That is the organization's official stand, all of our board members and volunteers concur that there are too many breeders, too many Pit Bulls, and we'd be so much better off if 99.999999999999% of those producing puppies just STOPPED already, goshdarnit! (We'll concede the rare ethical breeder - in fact, we'll even applaud them!)

    Although there are no exact numbers, by some estimates, hundreds of thousands of Pit Bulls, or more, die each year because no on wants them, they are abandoned or neglected, or tortured to death. All of these dogs end up in bad situations because of careless breeding practices and subsequent bad placement with irresponsible people.

    Stop for a moment and imagine a pile of dead Pit Bulls: hundreds of thousands, or a million of them. Their limp, lifeless bodies wasting away. And that is exactly what it is: a huge, deplorable waste.

    If that image of a monstrous pile of decomposing Pit Bulls stirs anger and disgust - good! That's the whole point. And just in case you missed the point: there are TOO MANY PIT BULLS and they are DYING in humungous numbers. Just being tossed out like garbage in a landfill!

    Yet there seems to be some incorrigible need amongst a certain segment of Pit Bull caregivers to breed their dogs. This is such a head-scratcher, and one reason we've chosen to do this blog post - we really want to know WHY? WHY breed??? (That’s not a rhetorical question!)

    We've probably all had the experience of walking down the street with our neutered or spayed Pit Bull, only to have some random person pull up in a car beside us and say, "Nice pit, do you wanna breed him?" And how many times have you had to suppress the need to scream, holler, stamp your feet, and pull your hair out as, for the billionth time, someone's just told you how much they love Pit Bulls and plan on breeding their dog. And those are just the casual backyard breeder encounters.

    Only the brave and truly strong-of-stomach dare embark on a "pit bull breeder" search on Google. The number of breeders out there is truly staggering.

    For a couple grand (or six!) you too could become the owner of a rare, special, awesome-tastic, blue-nose Pit with a 30 inch head. Titles? Health certificates? Who needs 'em! These pups will weigh 100 pounds at 6 months of age! Git ‘em while they’re hot!

    And there are hundreds of breeders producing the same thing. Rare? As rare as pebbles of sand on a beach. Don't believe it? Visit a shelter - you'll have no problem finding one of those "big blue pits" and for only a mere fraction of what breeders will charge you. In fact, name any color-size-style-sex-height-weight-personality Pit Bull you want, and we can point you in the direction of exactly what you are looking for, currently available at your local shelter or rescue.

    Have you ever come across a breeder who told you, "I don't really love my dogs or the breed as a whole, and in fact I know I am part of the problem but I don't care, I'm going to keep breeding anyway"?

    If you are a breeder reading this, surely you will proudly state how much you love Pit Bulls and that all your puppies get good homes and offer up a million reasons why you aren't like those other, "bad breeders".

    Trouble is, everyone thinks what THEY are doing is "different" and "okay". Trouble is, from where us RPB folk are standing, you all look the same.

    So help us - RPB, all of the people in rescue - tell you apart. Why, as a breeder, are YOU different? Why is it ethical for YOU to breed? Why breed at all?

    Why do YOU feel the need to breed?

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Happy Springtime News Updates!

    Spring came bright and early in New Jersey this year, and the blooming flowers brought with them all sorts of Pit Bull goodness. While we've been enjoying the blue-skied 80-degree days, we've also been plugging away to bring some great new programs to the Garden State.

    By far, the biggest news we've got to report is that we are about to launch a unique and exciting Pit Bull foster slash placement slash advocacy program. We're not gonna give the details just yet - we'll let the excited suspense build for a little while, first.

    Pit Bull School is back in session, totally revamped and with some completely new classes. The 6-week Click Bulls! breed basics and manners class has start dates set for 4/10 and 6/5, and new start dates will be added all the time. We've also got the CGC Prep class, the all-new Strut Your Stuff socialization and distraction 'round town class, and an end of season fundraiser walk for grads and others we're calling Pit Bull Promenade. You can learn more about Pit Bull School and how to enroll by visiting the website.

    If you are in the Pit Bull rescue and advocacy field and would like to connect with other like-minded, kindred souls, please be sure to register and participate on The Pit Bull Roundtable on the RPBF forum. We brainstorm, laugh together, cry together, and are just *there* for each other. We all know how difficult and sometimes draining this work can be - this board is a way we can ease the burden and give back to each other, not to mention LEARN (we've got some exceptionally bright bulbs who participate). It's fun, informal, and really informative. Drop us a line and let us know you'd like to join the 'Table after you've registered on the forum and we'll give you the easy details on how to proceed.

    Our free All About Pit Bulls lecture which covers breed basics and beyond in a fun and question-encouraged setting is making the rounds; we have a lecture planned for 4/24 in Berkeley Heights NJ at the public library on Plainfield Ave (please RSVP to attend, by emailing: Info@realpitbull.com ), June 8th in Jersey City, plus we have plans-in-the-works for lectures in south Jersey as well as the Philly area.

    Can We Talk?

    There are a bazillion issues Pit Bull advocates care about and would like to address, and just as many ways we all think those issues should be addressed. Sometimes it's difficult to come to grips with the really tough stuff, especially when we all think there are different means to the same end.

    The new RPB Blog feature called Can We Talk? will attempt to wrestle with some of those aforementioned issues by opening up a dialog with you, the Pit Bull lover and adovacate, as we dissect various topics and create an atmosphere of friendly, open chit-chat.

    What does it mean to be a responsible Pit Bull parent? What can we do about over-breeding and related fads? Does it really matter what training method you use to train your dog? What's the difference between breed "promotion" and "positive advocacy"? We'd like to talk!

    Foster Parents Needed!

    Interested? Please let us know. Snowflake's such a trooper, and her bright, sunny attitude remains intact even though she's been at the shelter for close to a year now.

    Snowflake is the real deal, with a temperament to die for and she just needs someone to give her a chance to bloom! If you are interested in fostering Snowy, contact us!

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Beautiful Faces - pt 1

    Some pix from our friends on Facebook. These dogs are too lovely not to share.







    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Spring is in the Air - Time for some training!

    It's 59 today here in NJ today. The blue skies and warmer weather are a big relief after a long, cold, messy winter. If you've been feeling cooped up and your dog's manners could use some refining after an extended bout of cabin fever, consider signing up for our Click Bulls! course. This 6-week breed-specific course covers all the basics of humane, science-based clicker training, management and preps your dog for the next-level CGC course. If you are looking to lay the foundation as you work your dog u p to breed ambassador-status, this class is for you. Spots are limited to 5, and the cost for the cost is $50, paid in full no later than 3/3. Classes are held in Unami Park in Cranford. If you'd like a sign up form or more information, please email: training@realpitbull.com

    Sugar says "Yayyyy! Warm weather has arrived!" This sun-lovin' darlin' is available for adoption. Please contact us if you are interested.

    The Click Bulls! course is for dogs who just need to learn some general leash manners and foundational skills; if you are having behavioral issues like dog-directed aggression, or other problems in your home, you may consider a private, in-home session. These sessions are offered courtesy of Peaceable Canines Dog Training, and the cost is $125/single session, or $300/three sessions. Email: realpitbull@gmail.com for more information on private sessions.

    We have tentative plans for our first Pit Bull Fundamentals lecture in May. If you are a new Pit Bull parent, considering bringing a Pit Bull home, or are curious about the breed in general, this lecture will give you a good basic understanding of what these dogs are all about. We'll post more details as soon as we've firmed something up.

    Are you interested in getting involved? Now that the weather is warmer we could use help manning tables at events, assistants for classes, and free-lance fundraisers. If you are in the Union County area and would like to be a foster home for a needy dog, please let us know.

    Questions, comments, suggestions? Hit us up! info@realpitbull.com

    Saturday, March 6, 2010

    They make it so easy!

    We hear a lot of really whacky comments from people who are understandably upset about dog attacks, but don't really have all the facts as they relate to the Pit Bull breed and dog bites in general. Here, we tackle some of those comments.....and offer some easy, sane responses up in exchange.

    "Pit Bulls are bred to be dangerous". First of all, none of us at RPB ever recall reading a history on or standard for the breed that included the need for the breed to 'be dangerous'. As a breed, they are actually required to be extremely GOOD with people, very biddable. Second of all, what does 'dangerous' mean, really? According to the CDC, playgrounds cause more injuries and deaths than Pit Bulls. Are playgrounds 'created to be dangerous'? Are they an acceptable risk? Or are they just too dangerous to exist? Hey, life is dangerous. That's just.....life.

    "Pit Bulls have a gene that causes them to 'snap' at any time". Hmm, really. Research to substantiate your claim, please? It's ok, you can get back to us on that one.

    "There are more fatal attacks committed by Pit Bulls than any other breed". This is an oldie but goodie - it's been bandied about forever. We recently sent a notice debunking this claim to the Huffington Post in response to a REALLY silly (even by over-the-top media standards) essay. Here's what we said: the Centers for Disease control have ceased compiling dog bite statistics based on breed because they recognize that such data is impossible to gather accurately. Statistics on dog bites based on breed have been called into question by many, including the American Veterinary Medical Association. Not to mention, for the purposes of bite statistics, the term "pit bull" doesn't even reference a single breed of dog: it references AT LEAST 3, along with mixed breeds and dogs merely looking a certain way. To compare "pit bull attack fatality stats" against those of "any other breed" means you are comparing attacks by MANY breeds and "types" against the bite stats of just ONE other breed. Hardly accurate or a fair representation of the American Pit Bull Terrier breed, aka Pit Bull.

    But let's put the whole "dog bite deaths" thing into perspective for a moment, huh?

    In 2008, there were 376 murders in our home state of New Jersey. Here are the NJ stats on dog bite deaths. Between 2000 and 2009, there were 2 deaths related to dog attacks.

    Annually there are typically around 30-something dog bite deaths NATION-WIDE (in 2009 there were 33).

    Here are some more numbers: In 2000, there were 435,000 tobacco-related deaths; (18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity accounted for another 400,000 deaths; (16.6%), and alcohol consumption 85,000 deaths (3.5%).

    Humans continue to be the biggest threat to themselves and to each other. You're worried about a Pit Bull killing you? You are a WAY bigger threat to yourself.

    So pardon us if we are scratching our heads over all the hysteria. The chances of being killed by ANY dog, let alone a Pit Bull are so small as to practically not even warrant consideration. It should also be noted that non-fatal dog bites in general are on the decline. We as well as other groups continue to work hard to ensure safe, happy interactions between people and dogs, and apparently what we are all doing is working.

    "Pit Bull bans don't cost us anything and would make us safer!" This was an interesting comment from someone who seems to think laws and their subsequent enforcement appear out of thin air and cost nothing to uphold. There was some interesting data gathered on the expense of enforcing a breed ban in Prince Georges County, Maryland. It cost $500,000 a year to enforce the ban. Maybe an acceptable expense? But the data determined “the public safety benefit is unmeasurable.” In other words, it was impossible to tell if a ban had any effect whatsoever, although it was determined that the ban impeded animal control's ability to appropriately respond to complaints in general, so there is reason to believe bans actually make people less safe not more.

    Baltimore's BSL cost is $750,000/annually; the UK's Dangerous Dogs Act (which is a laughing stock in its inability to have controlled and eliminated the problem of the country's vicious dogs) cost $14 million to enforce between 1991 and 1996.

    Breed specific legislation does NOT make us safer, and the costs of useless laws could be better spent on improving other areas of public safety. Calgary has a very interesting dog law that does not single out breeds and has been shown to be incredibly effective. They have seen a 70% drop in dog bites overall. They are at their lowest level in 25 years.

    Bad information tends to get passed around quite easily, especially so when the subject matter is gossipy or fear-inducing. With the subject of Pit Bulls, not only do many urban legends refuse to die (although advocates are slowly but surely beating them down), and get passed back and forth between family, friends, neighbors and beyond, there are some really out of control organizations with dubious agendas that are nothing more than irrational fear mongers when it comes to the breed. Groups like PETA (an extremist animal rights group that actively works to outlaw pet ownership) and another org that concerns itself with dog bites (run by a disgruntled attack victim with an axe to grind), are great for spouting debunked myths, and unscientific "stats" that were simply compiled by scouring newspaper headlines. If the CDC couldn't reliably collect breed-based bite stats, what makes the untrained members of certain agenda-pushing groups think they can do any better?

    Sometimes people are so blinded by their anger, ignorance and fear that they are unwilling to see the facts or listen to reason. With the sheer number of Pit Bulls out there, logically if you follow the rationale of the "anti's", we should be reading about attacks every hour on the hour. I mean if they really are this vicious then surely people would be killed left and right, Pit Bulls would be running rampant in the streets attacking people. But that clearly isn't the case.

    Some days ya really just have to ask, "If you don't know what you're talking about can you please just STFU?"

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Let's expand our compassion footprint.


    From a blog on PsychologyToday.com, by Marc Bekoff.

    Animals say, "Treat us better or leave us alone."

    What do animals want from us? Their manifesto.

    In Light of Recent Attacks: Sympathy for the Victims & Some Important Points to Consider

    Over the weekend, three Pit Bull attacks in Philly made headlines. A woman's wrist was severely injured when her neighbor's dog bit her. Philip Sheriff was attacked by two Pit Bulls his friends were walking; doctors are fighting to save this poor child’s arm. And most tragically, Christine Staab lost her life when her mother's Pit Bull attacked her after she fell during a fight the two were having in her mother's home.

    One attack is bad enough, three is just unbearably heartbreaking on so many levels. As Pit Bull advocates, we are quick to jump to the defense of a breed, argue against breed bans, and to point out irresponsible human behavior. But what often gets lost to the point, is that part of the anger and upset felt is due to the fact that humans are being needlessly hurt. Lives forever changed. When the finger is pointed at the wrong suspect, the real "bad guys" get away unnoticed. And go on to cause more harm down the road. We want less attacks, not more – and so we are angry; angry that a breed gets blamed, and attention is taken away from real solutions that might actually have a real impact.

    In cases of "pit bull attacks", when the finger is pointed at the breed for being the 'bad guy', the real issues (irresponsible, ignorant humans and negligent behavior) get overshadowed, nothing gets solved. And more - not less -attacks are the result.

    Let's take the Sheriff case for instance. In the above report, there are some very glaring red flags - namely young children unsupervised walking two dogs much stronger than they, dogs that were found as strays merely 3 months prior to this attack. That hints at an unknown history, new dogs that might not have been properly evaluated for temperament, nor received proper training or socialization. The dogs, obviously out of control since one broke free and began to run off, ended up fighting. When two dogs fight, a young child can very easily become the initially-unintended target.

    In the case of Christine Staab, there was a dog placed in the confusing, frightening situation of his human facing a perceived threat. Dogs allowed free reign in the midst of domestic disturbances - which can be extremely agitating to dogs – dogs who can very easily in the midst of confusion, yelling, and thrown objects, act in defense by attacking one of the involved humans.

    We expect dogs to protect us when there is a threat, be docile and our best friends at all other times, and remain calm and collected no matter what chaotic situations we place them in as long as WE personally deem the situation "non-threatening". That is an awful lot of pressure placed on dogs, and when dogs make "mistakes", instead of owning up to human fallacy (hey parents, kids shouldn't walk dogs they are physically incapable of handling, and adults shouldn't scream and throw things at each other in the presence of dogs who may feel a need to defend self, human guardian, or property), we point the finger at the easy target: a "bad" breed.

    Why exactly do dogs act aggressively, or attack? The underlying factor is fear of harm: a need to protect, defend, remain safe. This is true of ALL dogs. When dogs are placed into situations where a human is incapable of providing a safe, controlled environment, the dog is set up to fail and the humans are left in a vulnerable position. But this is what humans consistently do with dogs: set them up to fail. Dogs are not socialized yet forced to exist in a world that demands they always "act nice"; don't receive proper training but are expected to always behave; are mismanaged and abused and expected to "take it"; do not receive health care; are not spayed and neutered (intact male dogs are the biggest culprits in attacks); kept on chains (which are another factor implicated in attacks); kept by humans who lack even a basic understanding of dog behavior and can very easily miss warning signs that their dogs are presenting signs of potentially dangerous behavioral issues; left alone with children and the elderly; [omit a myriad other examples for sake of space and time].

    Erasing a dog breed as if it alone is the problem – or even just PART of the problem – will leave ban supporters clamoring unsatisfied when the next wave of popularity sweeps dogdom and another breed becomes victims to the whims and ignorance of humans. What then? More breeds banned? Where do we draw the line? When do we expect humans to take responsibility for what is, in fact, theirs to be responsible for? Instead we lay blame at the feet of an animal; ban a breed, as if that will suddenly solve all our problems. So we can keep attempting to wipe out dog breeds until we are left with none, or we can begin to address societal issues that bring us to these discussions in the first place. And we can start expecting people to actually be responsible for their dogs, to engage in proper management, care, training. To educate themselves on at least the basics of dog behavior and learning. And to face the consequences when they fail to live up to their responsibilities.

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    Paws For Change

    Remember that heart-string-tugging anti-BSL vid we posted a little while back? How about a whole website of similar videos, dedicated to bringing awareness to important animal issues, including BSL? Our friend and animal advocate Aubrie Kavanaugh has created a wonderful website showcasing her work. Please check it out and be sure to share it with any and all who could benefit from this important effort.

    Thank you for doing this, Aubrie. The animals have a wonderful friend in their corner!


    Monday, February 22, 2010


    3 dog attacks made the news this weekend in Philly and South Jersey papers. All 3 were reported to be "pit bull attacks". The BSL hysteria is already in the air.

    The after-effects of these attacks remain to be seen, but RPB would like to take a moment to remind everyone that dogs are animals, with instincts and behaviors unique to their species. As a whole, dogs have much more to fear from humans than humans have to fear from dogs. Having said that, dogs can and do bite, and oftentimes cause serious harm or, extremely rarely, even death (there has not been a fatal Pit Bull attack in PA in the past 45 years; there HAVE been 19 other attacks, but NONE were committed by Pit Bulls). An argument between humans, erratic behavior, unsupervised children and dogs, can all be contributing factors in attacks. Spending time researching attacks, and gaining even a rudimentary grasp of canine behavior, can help one make sense of such incidents, and shed much light on the how's and why's, and more importantly the prevention of dog attacks.

    Using a breed of dog as a scapegoat while ignoring normal dog behavior, contributing abuse/neglect, and human-canine interaction patterns, as well as the usual common denominators in dog attacks, will simply mean more human pain and suffering, not to mention persecution of innocent animals.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010

    New Book Showcases Inspiring Rescue Stories

    NEW LIVES: Stories of Rescued Dogs Helping, Healing and Giving Hope is by Joanna Wannan. It tells of 18 dogs from rescues, abusive situations, and the streets, who are now working in animal therapy and as service dogs. One of those dogs is Our Pack's Vick Dog, Leo. You can get more information on the book by visiting, 3 Black Dogs.

    The organization is also running a contest where people can create a short video telling their own rescue stories. Details are at: Inspiring Rescue Stories.

    This is a great opportunity to showcase your rescued Pit Bull's life, and expose the breed to some really positive press.