Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tid Bits

The benefit yoga classes held last month, thanks to Sachiko Eubanks and the wonderful breed-friendly yoginis over at Prana, was a success! Our bank account is feeling a little fatter because of the generosity of spirit demonstrated by the yoga community in Geneva, IL. We thank you!

On Thursday, I spoke about the breed on a half hour radio program hosted by positive dog trainer Renee Premaza. The program, called Thursdays In The Dog House on Philly WNJC-1360 AM discusses all manner of dog-related topics on a weekly basis. It's really very excellent, so please keep your ears out for it!

You can listen to the program I was on here. I had a great time talking about my favorite subject, and Renee wants me to come back to continue our breed discussion. Looking forward to it!

RPB's fall fundraiser, Thank-A-Bull, is turning into more of a mini awareness campaign than a straight-up donation op. There are some lovely submissions from people whose lives have been touched by these amazing creatures we call Pit Bulls. Some of the submissions have been tear-inducers, like this one,

    "I would like to thank my pack of bullies for giving me a reason to live. I have been fighting an incurable form of leukemia and they are truly the reason I fight so hard to stay well."

....and all have been uniquely touching.

We'll keep adding to the page as the submissions come in, and we are hoping to see this page grow into something special.

You can submit your own thank-you note and photo by emailing us here: and then making a suggested PayPal donation of $1, 5, or 10. The deadline is Dec 1.

Friday, November 13, 2009

In Your Hands

Beautiful anti-BSL vid from Aubrie Kavanaugh. Aubrie, you nailed it, sister. Bravo.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The PEOPLE a KILLER response to a stupid question.

We are a little late in getting this up, but wanted to post this here, anyway. This Newsweek opinion piece by writer Joan Raymond touches on some central issues in the Pit Bull advocacy world. It also showcases Villa Lobos, and Tia's new show, Pit Bulls & Parolees (please check this out, and if you haven't seen the first episode yet, we warn you - it's tear-inducing!).

Whether there are points to agree or disagree with in the article, the central theme that PEOPLE are to blame for so-called "Pit Bull problems" is the main point to take away; more often than ever before, opinion pieces about the breed popping up in the media have taken an approach that suggests dogs are innocent, and people are the ones who need to get their acts together.

(The article also sparked this write-up).

In other news........

Our friend Gale from Mutts n Stuff in St Louis is receiving maaaaaajor props for the (polite but oh-so-effective) verbal smack down she gave a reporter who interviewed her and Smiley King Elvis recently. Is it any wonder we love this woman???

Monday, October 19, 2009

News & Updates

  • The REAL Pit Bull is holding a luncheon fundraiser on October 24th (which is National Pit Bull Awareness Day), at the Linden Chevys Tex Mex on Stiles Street/Rt 1.

    If you bring THIS FLIER with you, and indicate on your bill that you are there for the fundraiser, 10% of the cost of your meal will be donated to RPB. It’s that simple to help Pit Bulls! You can go eat any time during normal business hours, but RPB officers will be in attendance from 12 noon to 2 pm. Come out, have some food, and raise your glass to Pit Bulls! What a great way to come together and bring positive energy and awareness to Pit Bull issues.

  • We also are planning a Thanksgiving fundraiser, to be announced soon, that will allow you to speak your mind, share photos of your dogs, and express thanks for this amazing breed we know as the American PIT BULL Terrier. Keep checking the blog and our EVENTS page for updates.

  • Liberty Human’s Bark in the Park was held Oct. 11th in lovely Liberty State Park, and we had a blast. What a great day filled with caring people, fun events, and lots of bulldawg smiles. We are SO looking forward to next year!


  • The first frost hit this morning in northern NJ, and the temps are dropping steadily. For that reason, our weekly Pit Bull training classes – held outdoors in a local park – are on hiatus until we find suitable indoor quarters, or spring hits: whichever comes first! Ah the perils of Northeast living! In the mean time, if you have indoor space in the Union County area you’d like to donate on a weekly/hourly basis, please LET US KNOW.

    Our Click Bulls! and Pit Bull Fundamentals lectures will be going strong all year, so be sure to keep checking the HOME ROOM for new dates. Please SIGN UP for the Pit Bull School announcements list, as well.
  • Blissin' Out Over Pit Bulls

    Yoga’s all about being present in the moment, and let’s face it – Pit Bulls are pretty darn good at doing just that. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a human quite master the Savasana pose or Upward Dog the way a Pit Bull can. Somehow, Pit Bulls and yoga seem to go together. (Or maybe that’s just me!)

    Thanks to Illinois-based yoga instructor and dog trainer Sachiko Eubanks, RPB is using yoga to help bring awareness to the plight of the Pit Bull.

    Sachiko approached us about doing benefit classes after we put out the call on Facebook that we were looking for a teacher who’d be interested in combining yoga with Pit Bull education. Sachiko ran with the idea, telling us she wanted to use her yoga classes as a platform to educate. She is donating to RPB the profits from today’s class, plus ones on the 20th and 22nd. She also created a wonderful display in the studio, so students all week can view material on the breed.

      Sachiko: I have been studying yoga for 9 years and teaching for 5 years. "Karma Yoga" (giving back something to society through yoga) is a big part of practice. Last year, my dog of 15 years died (she was a Lab/Grey hound mix), and I then adopted Mac, a Pit Bull mix puppy.

      I wanted to be a part of educating people about the breed and especially BSL. I am hoping that more people will have true understanding of the breed and BSL through our event at the studio this week.

    Coincidentally (or does the Universe just work in mysterious ways?), the studio Sachiko teaches at – Prana Yoga - is located in Geneva – very close to Elgin, where residents are currently fighting to keep BSL out of their city. What a prime time to help bring educational materials and a sense of mindfulness to the public!

    We are SO grateful to Sachiko for her generosity and appreciative of her giving spirit. Ironically, she thanked US for allowing her this opportunity to educate. We are the ones who are thankful though, and we just know Sachiko’s karma is heading through the roof right about now.


    If you’d like to head out to Prana Yoga Studio to take a class or check out some educational breed material, please visit: Prana Yoga Center

    Sachiko's classes will be held on 10/19 at 1pm, 10/20 at 9am, and 10/22 at 5:45pm. There will also be a raffle with the prize being a 10-class card (worth over $100).

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Help! My Breed's Name Has Been Hijacked!

    I used to know what other advocates meant when they used the name "Pit Bull". Usually it referred to the APBT. Sometimes it encompassed the American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier as well (the former for all intents and purposes is an APBT anyway; the latter not so much - close enough, though!) But nowadays, as I browse the various "Pit Bull" education sites on the web, it has become increasingly clear that my breed's name has been hijacked!

    The name "Pit Bull" is ending up in the names of organizations that aren't APBT-focused. It is being used interchangeably with the term "bully breeds" (which is an unofficial, ever-changing category of breeds and mixes). One "educational" site told me "Pit Bull" is a derogatory term that essentially means "vicious dog". And another "Pit Bull" site actually included mastiff breeds in its statement of purpose.

    Oftentimes, under the guise of "Pit Bull education", APBT temperament and history is being appropriated for the use of educating on a number of related (but separate) breeds and even breeds that have completely different histories and temperaments.

    There is much confusion about what a real, sound, temperament-correct APBT is. If the guarding-prone American Bulldog, or the human-sensitive Dogo Argentino are "Pit Bulls", does that mean that guarding behavior and human sensitivity are acceptable behaviors in the APBT as well? When we talk about Pit Bulls being love bugs with humans, and uber-sound around friends and strangers alike, we cannot simultaneously be talking about a variety of breeds that might have very different temperaments. Calling that Dogo mix in your rescue program a "Pit Bull" when it has a very different temperament than an APBT, is harmful to the APBT breed as a whole.

      Responsible Rescue means proper breed-ID along with appropriate education:

      When New Hope Pit Bull Rescue brought Jasper (ABOVE) into their program, they went out of their way to make sure he got appropriately labeled. As he matured both physically and temperamentally, it became clear that he was not a purebred Pit Bull, and was most likely an American Bulldog or AB mix. Jasper is the perfect example of a dog that would have been mislabeled a "pit bull" by many people, but just happened to end up in a rescue group that knew what they were doing, and hence got a more accurate ID.

    RPB works very hard at educating on proper breed names, identification, and appropriate labeling. Misapplication of the name "Pit Bull" (which RPB uses as shorthand for "APBT") is something we are constantly fighting against. The APBT is THE ONLY BREED that has the words PIT BULL in its official name, and it is really aggravating that so many other breeds and mixes are inappropriately being called "Pit Bulls", too. Because what happens when those mislabeled breeds end up in the newspaper labeled as "Pit Bulls"? The American PIT BULL Terrier breed as a whole ends up being the fall guy. Just look at any piece of BSL across the globe - the first (and oftentimes only) breed mentioned is the APBT.

    Instead of leading the media and law makers, advocates have allowed the media and law makers to define "Pit Bull" for them. In the 90s, when Pit Bull Hysteria reached a fever-pitch, reporters were quick to use the label "Pit Bull" - even when the dog in question wasn't actually an APBT. Legislators followed suit with the whole "label based on looks" thing. For some reason, instead of insisting on proper breed identification, many advocates fell in line with the media and law makers and began using the term PIT BULL in just as broad a way. The pattern I've noticed is this: if a breed looks like an APBT, is a breed that might have been targeted somewhere in BSL, is a bull or mastiff breed, or has vaguely similar history to the APBT - call it a "Pit Bull".

    The "Pit Bull" that attacks someone and ends up a headline might not actually be an APBT. But the breed that is actually officially known as the (American) PIT BULL (Terrier) will get the blame. The actual dog could be an American Bulldog, a Boxer mix, a dog that looks similar to an APBT but has no papers proving it is such, or any number of breeds/mixes. But thanks to the insistence of many that "Pit Bull" really IS just a label to be slapped on a bunch of breeds and dogs that merely look a certain way, there really is no way to argue with the media. "Pit Bull" is being used in whatever way the user deems appropriate.

    It is wonderful that there are ever-increasing numbers of people willing to stand up for what is right, to fight against BSL and try to help save the lives of dogs. It is just a shame that the term "Pit Bull" is being misused to such a wide extent, as this is confusing, misleading, and even detrimental to the work we are all trying to do as educators and advocates.

    We here at RPB are PROUD of our breed's nickname, PIT BULL. We use the name PIT BULL *only* when referencing the American Pit Bull Terrier. We do NOT support the use of "Pit Bull" as a catch-all term, and we demand that the media use proper breed names when identifying dogs involved in attacks - and when a dog's breed cannot definitively be identified, reporters shouldn't guess! "Pit Bull" should not be the default! We encourage rescues to properly identify the dogs they bring into their programs. An American Bulldog is NOT a Pit Bull - it is a different breed, with a different temperament. The same goes for Pit Bull mixes, Staffy Bulls, 'American Bullys', Bull Terriers, the mastiff breeds, and so on. And education on the unique histories and temperaments of each of those breeds must go along with proper labeling and identification.

    We can't educate on "Pit Bulls" when we are actually talking about a wide variety of different breeds. "Pit Bull" should be used to refer to ONE specific breed. It is not a catch-all, not a category.

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    Another for the WTF Files

    Is it any wonder Pit Bull advocates are constantly up in arms over the way our breed is portrayed in the media?

    Read this report, headlined "Animal officer dies after pit bull encounter" carefully. Note the line that indicates the DOG had NOTHING TO DO with the ACO's death.

    Then tell me that the press doesn't bend over backwards to print the words "pit bull". No integrity at all. Such a shame.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    Chaos or Calm? The choice should be obvious.

    There was a video clip from a(n) (in)famous TV trainer's show floating around the internet recently. I had the misfortune of viewing this clip (oh, the 'joys' of needing to be up-to-date on all the news and happenings in the training and Pit Bull advocacy worlds!), and quite literally was horrified. This TV show had hit a new low. The clip showed two Pit Bulls fighting, one dog latched onto the other's lip. The people supposedly in charge were absolutely not, and I cringed in sympathy for the dogs involved in this disaster.

    While the star of the show is supposedly both a Pit Bull advocate and someone who knows about "rehabilitating" aggressive dogs, nothing about this clip should have convinced anyone he was either of those things. The dogs were completely set up to fail - a dog with known issues let loose among a group of other dogs, with the star rattling on about how such a situation was likely to trigger a fight (DUH!). Surprise-surprise, a fight breaks out. To make matters worse, the camera person makes sure to capture all the chaos, a close-up of one dog latched onto the other's lip, and "demonstrating" the apparent persistence of a Pit Bull once it grabs onto another dog. Just the sort of exposure the breed needs, right? I can't imagine any true Pit Bull advocate being ok with this sort of footage airing.

    I won't link the video here because the last thing I want to do is give this charlatan any more exposure (plus yes, the clip shows the breed in a really bad light), but it was just another in a long line of crappy "rehabilitation" efforts demonstrated on this dude's show. Time and again, this program demonstrates how to set dogs up for failure, teach them to practice bad behavior, then beat them for doing exactly what you'd expect them to do (bite or fight) in the given scenario.

    The reason I bring this up is to point out the WRONG way to do things, and contrast this with the RIGHT way. The right way may not be exciting or dramatic enough for a TV program, but it is humane and effective - which is way more important!

    Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending an Emma Parsons seminar. Emma is the creator of the Click to Calm method of modifying aggressive behavior in dogs (particularly dogs aggressive to other dogs). Unlike you-know-who mentioned above, Emma's whole goal as a trainer and behavioral consultant is to set the dog up to SUCCEED. What does that mean, exactly? It means the dog is put in situations where he or she has the opportunity to learn appropriate behaviors and NOT PRACTICE aggressive behaviors.

    Those who understand behavior and learning understand that the more an animal gets to "practice" (and hence gain reinforcement for) a behavior, the more difficult it is to eliminate that behavior. So the earmark of any good behavior modification program is that it always sets the dog up to 'do the right thing' and NEVER EVER purposely sets a dog up to fail (IE. practice aggression).

    The seminar also included demonstrations of the Click to Calm method on real, live aggressive dogs. During two days worth of demonstrations, there was NOT ONE aggressive outburst. Emma is so skilled at working dogs at their comfort levels while also teaching them new and better ways to behave as she gradually increases the difficultly level, that no dog felt threatened or the need to aggress or bite. All the dogs learned new skills and coping mechanisms, and none of the dogs got to practice aggressive behavior. They all stayed calm, and in a state conducive to learning.

    What many fail to realize, is that aggression is always about making some scary or uncomfortable thing go away. That old "alpha dog" theory has been thrown away, and we now know that dogs aren't trying to "dominate us" when they aggress. Dogs who aggress are seriously stressed, frightened, uncomfortable, in pain, or fearing for their safety. To put a dog in a stressful environment that actually induces an aggressive reaction, then yank, jerk, alpha-roll, or string up the dog for aggressing, is abusive and most CERTAINLY not training or behavior modification.

    Don't fall for the charade of a "rehabilitator" who is constantly pushing dogs to the chaotic points of extreme stress and aggression! Proper behavior modification is about making a dog feel safe, comfortable, and proving to him or her that there is no need to aggress. This is done through positive experience, gradual exposure, teaching new behaviors, and SETTING THE DOG UP FOR SUCCESS at each step along the way. Training and behavior modification sessions should be calm, gentle, and relaxed.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    A new beginning for one of the MoBust dogs....

    Many of you were aghast and saddened by the face of Fay, one of the dogs that was confiscated in the largest dog fighting raid in history. Missing her lips, her toothy expression is a stark, in-yer-face example of the horrors of dog fighting.

    But Fay won't be a statistic. We learned today that Fay will be headed to Mutts N Stuff, the St Louis MO-based bully breed rescue that has been working so hard to care for all the dogs confiscated in the bust.

    Congratulations to Fay! If you would like to help support the work of Mutts N Stuff, and to support dogs like Fay, please visit the website to donate.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    Philly Rescue Doin' It Right

    There are so many unsung heroes in rescue, those people who day after day dedicate their lives to saving the lives of dogs. They are in rescue not for fame, not for money, but for the DOGS.. We wanted to spotlight just one of those rescues. Run by Rosemary DiStefano, Faith's Hope in Philadelphia is one of those little gems of the rescue world: dedicated, educated, and ethical. Rosemary knows her stuff, and if you are looking for a REAL Pit Bull - solid, stable, with typical breed temperament - please consider one of the dogs from Faith's Hope.

    RPB is proud to support the work of Faith's Hope and we encourage you to do so as well by making a donation, large or small. You can donate through below.

    Here are just a few of the adoptable dogs now available through Faith's Hope:

    Meet Spock, and his to-die-for ears! This guy's a total lover-boy, and a solid 40 lbs of Pit Bull goodness. He is a terrific dog, sweet and loving and wants nothing more than to be with you all day and cuddle up all night.

    Heeeere's Herbie! Check out that face! How cute is this APBT/AmBull mix? He is not only adorable, he is a terrific dog: sweet, friendly, smart. He wants to be your best buddy EVER. He doesn't ask for much - a comfy bed, some yummy treats and some nice walks. Herbie is currently being treated for heartworm, poor baby, but will be ready for his new home as soon as he's better.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Doesn't this just make you feel all warm and fuzzy??

    St. Louis group building refuge for dogs rescued from dog fighting.....READ MORE!

    We love you, Mutts N' Stuff!! Give Phoenix a smooch!


    More nonsensical sound bites....

    Parade Magazine printed some crummy quotes from DC Councilman Jim Graham, in its recent article “Preventing Fatal Dog Attacks”.

      “Anyone who has been near a pit bull can tell you why they need to be banned,” Graham says. “There is something endemic in this breed that prompts violence and cruelty when raised in the wrong hands.”

    ANYone? REALLY, Councilman? Sure about that statement?

    And I guess the Councilman didn’t get the memo on the Vick dogs. Talk about dogs being ‘raised in the wrong hands’. Just as predicted, those Vick dogs sure turned out to be 'violent and cruel’.

    All we are asking for is a little responsibility – research and educate yourself before you make statements that hold the power to influence legislation that would tear families apart and cause the unnecessary death of companion animals.

    Oh, who will save us from the PANdemic of stupid!

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    The wheels of justice turn + MoBust Updates

    News fresh out of Missouri ...4 dog fighters charged in the MoBust case have pleaded guilty. As the wheels of justice turn, the dogs remain in a secret location and have not yet begun any moves into rescue. But we look forward to the day when as many as possible will find the love they so deeply deserve.

    RPB wanted to take this opportunity to recognize the groups that have been working with the now over 500 dogs in Mo. since DAY ONE. Special gratitude towards the people at HSMO, Mutts-n-Stuff, Broken Hearts-Mended Souls, and PBRC volunteers for coming together to assist the MoBust dogs in the day to day, unglamorous tasks that come with caring for such a large number of animals. A special thank you to RPBF member and all-around breed activist SuziRiot for sacrificing her Labor day weekend in order to clean kennels, stuff Kongs, and love on the dogs. (And who knows, maybe Suzi will find a love of her own in the massive sea of Missouri dogs?)

    Additionally, New Hope Pit Bull Rescue and Our Pack, Inc are closely following the progress of this historical case, working in partnership with the locals.

    If you are looking for a way to help, PLEASE consider donating to HSMO.

    Another great way to show your support is to purchase a “Save the Dogs” t-shirt, which will benefit Mutts-n-Stuff and help fund their new project, The Phoenix House which will be a temporary home for rescued fight bust dogs as they make their transition from shelter life to rescue program ambassador dogs.

    To order this shirt, send your payment of $20 to:

    PO Box 187
    Foristell, MO 63348

    Or order through ( use email address: ) Sizes are S, M, L, XL, XXL. Be sure to specify which you'd like, as well as provide all your contact info. when you order.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Everyone deserves a second chance?

    Or should second chances be reserved for those who have made ONE mistake, admitted their guilt, and shown through actions that they are willing and ABLE to make a change?

    Rosemary DiStefano from Faith's Hope Rescue - straight from the trenches - said it best,

      "Please someone tell me again why this man deserves a "second chance?" Why he deserves to play professional football again and make millions of dollars when those of us down here in the trenches trying to help the dogs he so casually murdered struggle every single day?

      Never mind his debt to "society?" How exactly has he paid his debt to the dogs he killed and fought? Why does he deserve to be an HSUS spokesperson when others who have worked tirelessly for years and years to make a difference and who have saved countless animals get to do so with no recognition whatsoever? Yet, this man gets an ovation when he walks out on the field? Please explain to me what he has done to deserve such an ovation? The NFL, the Eagles but especially the citizens of this city that filled that stadium to watch football and applaud Michael Vick ought to be hanging their heads in shame!"
      --Take That, Eagles

    Friday, August 28, 2009

    Lest we forget....

    With dog fighting and Vick all over the media, it is very easy to lose sight of what the modern day APBT is really about - family friend, service dog, partner. The breed was once held in very high regard in American society. Today, it is extremely popular as a companion animal.

    Unbalanced emphasis on abuse and illegal activity - as if the dog fighters, criminals, animal abusers are the only ones who own the breed - can backfire. Organizations such as PETA have used examples of widespread abuse as reason to ban the breed. The general public, although sympathetic to the Pit Bull's problems, see no cause to keep the breed alive. It is too bad that more focus isn't placed on the typical Pit Bull, living in the typical home, and doing typical Pit Bull things. Perhaps when society begins to see these dogs in a more realistic light, we will make some real progress.

    Chako's new America's Dog campaign is a great step in the right direction.....

    Thank you to Chako for a great vid!

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    A Blancing Act

    Beliefs on Pit Bulls are often extreme. Whether you are berating them as vicious monsters, or cooing that they are as sweet and gentle as baby bunnies, either way, your opinion is likely to be very strong. Even in groups consisting only of breed advocates, you will find harshly contrasting ideas about what, temperamentally, the APBT is at its core, particularly when you hit on the subject of dog-directed aggression.

    Over the past 15 years that I have been involved with this breed, there has been a gradual shift towards more sane, *balanced* thinking about Pit Bulls and the behavioral issue of dog-directed aggression. We're (the Pit Bull advocacy world) moving farther away from that extreme end of the spectrum that says, "This breed is dog-aggressive, PERIOD. They are born that way and will always fight!" and instead looking at the breed from a more reasoned, scientific place.

    I think it's rad that people are thinking and experimenting and giving the DOGS a chance to tell us who and what they are. The old battle cry of "Never trust a Pit Bull not to fight" has been outdated for a while now (not sure if it ever was really useful, period) and everyone's coming up with new and better ways to educate and represent our dogs.

    My hope is that we can stay balanced as a movement (Pit Bull education and rescue), and not - in the process of defending our dogs - move too far in either direction and end up misrepresenting what they are. I've heard from many people who have taken offense to this or that on the RPB website; usually it's in response to something about Pit Bulls oftentimes having issues with other dogs. We've actually had people come at us as if we were the enemy, that, somehow, by suggesting the breed was prone to certain (undesirable) behaviors, we were insulting their dog and the breed as a whole. In some ways, I can understand this. When your breed has been brutalized and discriminated against, it is easy to be sensitive and work a little harder than you should to paint a picture that is perhaps overly rosy.

    The other end of the spectrum is still a problem too - I recently heard from a person who thought I was crazy and an animal rights extremist because states that it is a myth that Pit Bulls 'love to fight', and that given the opportunity to learn to display other behaviors, are more than willing to mingle peacefully with other dogs. This person was nearly irate that we dared make such a bold statement. "They DO love to fight! That is why Poodles run away from a fight, and Pit Bulls run towards it". As a dog trainer, I can assure you, any breed can and will move towards another dog in an effort to attack, and aggression is always based on a desire to make the target go away. It's not a want or a love, it's a perceived need to get that target AWAY that drives aggression: in Pit Bulls, or ANY breed. We still have such a long way to go in the education department.

    Pit Bulls are just dogs; they display dog behavior. There is nothing a Pit Bull does that every other breed in the world hasn't done at some point or another. They are also a unique breed (isn't every breed unique?) and because they are a breed, certain generalizations about their temperaments and oft-seen behavioral issues can be made. I hope we don't lose sight of the fact of what we actually have in these dogs. I also hope we can keep probing and asking questions and seeking truth and balance so we can help the breed flourish and prosper - conservatively, with the RIGHT guardians.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009


    As an organization, The Real Pit Bull has avoided coming out with an official statement regarding Michael Vick. RPB already has an official statement on dog fighting - zero tolerance, no excuses. In one sense, Vick is just another dog fighter. He was caught, he was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, served his time.

    Vick is now a free man, signed with a new NFL team, and gearing up for his first game. You might say this story has run full circle, and as Pit Bull advocacy organizations, perhaps we should all just "move on”.

    Oh? Move on?

    What makes the Vick case different from other dog fighting cases - keeps it in the spotlight and emotions surrounding it high - is Vick’s celebrity and the especially brutal torture and death of the dogs who never made it out of Bad Newz kennels alive. For many, the torture is what cannot be "moved on" from. What drives the continued protests. What keeps so many from forgiving a man who hasn't convinced them he is truly sorry anyway.

    When the news broke that Vick signed with a new team, a collective cry of renewed outrage arose. This outrage was immediately met with an attitude of, "He served his time, leave him alone". Vick has a legal right to pursue employment - and he has. The NFL is within their perfect right to reinstate him - and they have. Any NFL team can sign him right up - and one has. Poor Vick, right? Oh just leave him be!

    Vick actually seems to be doing just fine. In fact, huge numbers of people seem to be willing to just forgive and forget. What most strikes me is the quickness with which so many look past Vick's actions, or dismiss sadistic abuse on animals with a simple, "But he paid his dues - he went to prison". I recently read an email that said in part, "We shouldn't judge Vick. Besides, I don't think Vick was even directly involved. He just bankrolled the kennel." It is a common misconception that Vick wasn't directly involved. He was. He used his own hands to kill dogs. Vick's dogs were routinely, systematically, tortured than killed. And Vick not only paid for it, he helped do it. As for not judging....Humans make judgments every day. About what to wear, what to drive, what to buy, what to eat for dinner, what organizations or companies to support, and what people to associate with. We have an ability to judge right and wrong and to recognize that our behavior will shape others' judgments of us. Judging a person based on good deeds is no different from judging a person based on bad deeds. Just like Michael Vick was judged as a football player prior to his arrest and conviction, so is he now judged for his severe abuse of dogs.

    And here's a judgment football fans will have to make: whether or not to give money to an organization that now employs Vick, allows him to pick up right where he left off, and pays him a hefty sum to do so. All before any actions to back up the few apologetic words Vick has so-far spoken.

    If the NFL and the Eagles have a right to embrace Vick and allow him to return to the fold with nary a stipulation placed on him, those who have NOT forgotten the abuse, have NOT been able to simply "move on" have a right to protest, to let their feelings be known, and to take their money elsewhere.

    Caution: This collar can be hazardous to your dog's mental health!

    Photobucket Not too long ago, website feedback came in from a person who had an issue with our anti-shock collar and anti-punitive training stance. In a nutshell, this person claimed there was no negative fallout from shock collar usage, and that it was a fine tool for training that didn't cause pain to the dog. I responded with many valid, scientific reasons why RPB does not advocate use of shock collars, and why I as a certified trainer actively work to dissuade people from using such devices on their dogs. (I never received a reply....)

      "There is never any reason for pets to be shocked as a part of therapy or treatment…There are now terrific scientific and research data that show the harm that shock collars can do behaviorally." - Karen Overall, PhD

    What I found most disturbing by this person's email wasn't that she used shock collars to train dogs, but the fact that she obviously considered herself an educated trainer and yet still lacked even a fundamental understanding of how and why shock collars work. I'm not sure if this person was self-taught, or had learned from other shock collar trainers. But what I am sure about is that a person presenting themselves as 'educated' was spreading misinformation about a training device that could do some serious emotional harm to a dog, not to mention the physical pain it could cause.

    The truth is, there is lots of bad and misguided training advice out there. Dog guardians are often misled - purposefully or ignorantly, even innocently - by those who stand in an authoritative position. One aspect of RPB's mission is to educate and guide Pit Bull guardians in the humane, practical training and behavioral management of their dogs. We as an organization are often in a very good position to steer people towards valid, scientific sources of information on dog behavior and training. Pit Bull parents can learn hands-on in my positive clicker classes about teaching their dogs new behaviors, and solving common behavioral issues in a humane, pain-free way.

    No guardian wants to physically hurt or cause emotional stress to their beloved dog. I wouldn't think for a minute that shocking a dog sounds good to any sane individual. Sometimes people *just don't know*! That's where RPB comes in...

    Here is a great article from Dog Sports Magazine on shock collars and why they can be problematic. It is important, before you use any device, to understand it. Don't take a professional's word for it. And always trust your gut!

    Friday, August 14, 2009

    Vick Signs With the Philly Eagles

    Source: ESPN.

    And HSUS' odd partnership with Vick is taken to the streets.

    Some days you just gotta wake up, hug the dogs, and move on.

    Thursday, August 13, 2009

    When the Past & Present Collide

    With all the talk about fighting dogs recently – the big busts, for instance, and the finally-wide-spread realization that fighting dogs are actually victims that deserve a chance at life – we thought we’d talk a little bit about breed history, and how it relates to the dogs today: both those rescued fighters AND the typical Pit Bull that shares a home with humans as a companion dog.

    Pit Bulls as a breed were originally created to fight other dogs in the pit. This much we know as fact. Something else we know as fact: Pit Bulls from the very beginning have also been…Companion Dogs! The scrappy, brave fighting dog also a family animal? You betcha! The APBT breed has historically walked parallel paths – one of fighting dog, one of family, farm, and companion dog. Through the course of the breed’s history, these two paths often crossed and at times they were barely distinguishable from each other. A fighting dog might be a companion dog might be a fighting dog; and sometimes a dog was just a companion, sometimes just a fighting dog. But the breed had two distinct roles and it often hopped from one to the other.

    Eventually, the fighting path began to fade away, grown over with the thoughts and ideals of more humane, enlightened attitudes. What was left for the APBT? The job of purely companion dog within the modern dog fancy. People continued to keep the breed as a pet, a show dog, a working dog. Hey! These are the jobs these dogs are REALLY good at, anyway. There is a reason that the breed has flourished since the outlawing of the so-called ‘sport’ of dog fighting.

    When people ask, “Why are Pit Bulls good companions when they were bred to fight other dogs?”, the simple answer is, “But they have always been companion dogs too! We just eliminated one crappy element: the dog fighting!”

    Well, not REALLY eliminated. Because despite its felony status, dog fighting still continues on today. Pit Bulls, although legally freed from the cruelty of dog fighting, are still in reality subjected to this brutality.

    RPB has always recommended that rescued Pit Bulls be treated the same, regardless of their backgrounds: dog dumped by someone who lacked the means to care for him, or dog rescued from a fighting bust. A Pit Bull is a Pit Bull is a Pit Bull. A fighting dog isn’t so different from the companion dog snoring on your couch (gawd we love those bulldawg snores!) It’s just that one dog had the misfortune of being born into a dog fighter’s yard. The other landed on your couch.

    And sometimes....a dog goes *from* the fighter’s yard TO a savior’s couch!

    This has been happening more and more as of late, due to new attitudes about the rescued canine victims of fight abuse. Dogs being confiscated from dog fighter raids are starting to trickle down into rescue on a greater scale. And guess where they end up? In new homes, as companion dogs. Wow!

    In a sense, times have changed little. Some Pit Bulls are still companion dogs. Some Pit Bulls – sadly, tragically – are still fighting dogs. And some Pit Bulls are just lucky enough to be given the opportunity to make that leap from fighter to companion dog.

    We hope and pray to doG for the day when NO Pit Bull will ever to be placed on the path to fighting dog. But until that day comes, the way is paved for the rescued victims to cross over onto the path of loved, cherished, family companion.

    The majority of Pit Bulls today will never be within sniffing distance of a fighting pit. But they are still playing one role they've always played throughout their history, in good times and bad: loving, intelligent companion, partner, best friend, and family member. And these dogs are so good at what they do that we think their future in this job is pretty much nailed down.

    To learn more about breed history and dog fighting, visit our fresh page, Dog Fighting: Then, Now.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    In the wake of multi-state raid, still more bust dogs...

    Who could deny that raids removing dogs from the miserable world of fighting are a reason to celebrate? Especially now that bust dogs are actually getting a chance at moving into rescue instead of being slaughtered en masse once they are 'saved' from the dog fighters. But after the initial "Whew, glad those dogs got outta there!" jubilation, a whole new reality sets in: very often, the dogs hit a dead end after they are confiscated.

    What will happen to the dogs, where will they go? Will rescues be able to find room? Will an already incredibly burdened system be able to deal with such large numbers of dogs coming in all at once?

    Many are still reeling from the news that the largest dog fighting raid in history meant confiscation of nearly 500 dogs.

    Then we heard the news that Indiana netted another 100 dogs from yet another raid....

    It becomes rather overwhelming, doesn't it? All these dogs, very limited resources. In the coming months, Pit Bull people are going to have to be on their toes and ready to go to the aid of these dogs. Lining up to be a foster, donations of money, goods, or time, are ways you can help. RPB will continue to post information on the organizations involved in helping the MoBust, Indiana, and other bust dogs.

    The people helping the Pit Bulls need help to do their jobs. Let's collectively be there for them, and all help the dogs TOGETHER.

    A Bust Dog's Thoughts

    Meet Smiley King Elvis, one of the dogs rescued by HSMO and Mutts N Stuff in St Louis, and one of the Stoddard bust case happy endings.


    I cannot believe it is over a month that my family been at the secret bunker. When the Stoddard dog-fighting bust happened in 2007 right after Vick, I had to stay a year before my old "owner" would let me go. I was very fortunate that HSMO and MuttsnStuff did not forget about me. I received treats, basic obedience, and wonderful massages. This kind woman at HSMO use to take me on walks and feed me part of her chicken sandwich. We would talk about the day, I would listen her voice her frustrations over the current laws that watched over me. I always gave her soft kisses telling her it was okay and that I understood. What she did not realize that I never had it as good as I did with her.

    Since my case, the laws have changed and I am hoping my family will be release soon. The dogs from the Missouri Dog fighting Bust have to be kept in the secret bunker until they are released by the courts. All of the dogs from that bust are still being held. Please send positive thoughts that all the dogs will be released and that loving rescue groups will help the dogs that can adjust to living in a home.

    Let's lighten the mood and let me tell you a funny story. My brother Willie Jake from the Stoddard bust is such a hoot. Willie had the hardest time understanding glass patio doors. Of course being chained up in the middle of the woods, we never saw such a thing before. He could see through to the other side so he could not figure out what he kept stopping him. I would snicker from my crate and would smile each time he hit the glass. You know how brothers can be to each other. One day, Willie got it. His foster mom jumped with JOY and patio door is now safe from Willie Jake. So then Willie Jake went to a tennis court and guess what...yep you guessed it...he ran into the net. Oh boy, I am glad its not genetic.

    I am signing off for now. If you have any question, please ask! My life changes could fill a computer about the transformation from a victim of dog fighting to couch potato. Time to have an energy bar and pass out on the couch.

    Smiley King Elvis

    Official MoBust Press Release

    Wanted to share this. RPB is directing those who wish to make donations to send them to HSMO. HSMO is the org housing the 400+ dogs as the legalities are being worked out. Eventually these dogs will be released to the below orgs.

    Rescue Groups Work with Humane Society of Missouri to Give Rescued Pit Bulls a Second Chance


    August 12, 2009

    * Original PRWeb article: Rescue Groups Work with Humane Society of Missouri to Give Rescued Pit Bulls a Second Chance Read the original story

    - Rescue groups nationwide are working with the Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO) to care for the more than 400 dogs rescued in connection with the largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history. The dogs were seized in a multi-state raid by federal and state officers in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi. The fate of the dogs will be decided by the federal courts in forfeiture proceedings separate from the criminal cases.

    Several rescue groups that have experience with the breeds of animals rescued have offered their help to care for and eventually receive some of the dogs. Groups involved so far in these efforts include Mutts-n-Stuff, based in Missouri; Our Pack, based in California; Broken Hearts, Mended Souls, based in Missouri;, an online rescue resource; Brew City Bully Club, based in Wisconsin; Dumb Friends League, based in Colorado; and New Hope Pit Bull Rescue, based in South Carolina.

    'We are very grateful that these groups have stepped up to help us care for and eventually give some of them a second chance,' said Debbie Hill, vice president of Operations for the Humane Society of Missouri and incident commander for the emergency temporary shelter. 'We hope to place as many of these dogs as possible, so we need more groups and individuals like them to contact us offering places for these deserving animals.'

    At least two of the organizations have experience successfully placing dogs that came from high-profile dog-fighting cases into new homes. Mutts-n-Stuff Pit Bull Rescue helped care for and socialize ten of the 22 pit bulls rescued by HSMO in a raid in Stoddard County, Mo. in 2007. 'Mutts-n-Stuff is committed to helping HSMO care for and place these dogs,' said Gale Frey, the rescue group's founder. 'We were there for the Stoddard County animals; we will be there for these dogs, too.'

    Our Pack Pit Bull Rescue also took in dogs from the Stoddard County case and from the notorious Michael Vick case in 2007. According to Marthina McClay, founder of Our Pack, 'In our experience, many of the dogs from these cases can shed their sad history and be adopted as family pets. Some have even been trained to become therapy dogs.' Her proof, she says, is Leo, a dog rescued from the Vick case who she trained to become a therapy dog in just five weeks. 'These dogs have big, big hearts, and all it takes to change their outlook is someone to love them back.'

    Groups or individuals interested in receiving some of these animals should immediately contact the Humane Society of Missouri at 314-802-5712.

    Media Contact:
    Our Pack, Inc.
    Marthina McClay

    Copyright © 2009 PRWeb, All Rights Reserved.

    Monday, August 10, 2009

    Bust Dog Business

    RPB is following the MoBust case carefully and we are so excited by the outpouring of support for these dogs. We'll post more details as we are able.

    In the mean time, Our Pack, Inc. recently posted a lovely blog with some insight. Please check it out:

    Missouri Bust Update.

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Coming Together for Bust Dogs

    Earlier this month, a story broke about over 400 dogs and puppies that had been confiscated in the 'largest fighting raid in history'.

    The dogs will eventually be evaluated and then placed into foster care. But for now, they are currently being housed by the Humane Society of Missouri, who needs help with the care of the dogs. Help can come in a variety of forms, including donations of heavy duty toys (black Kongs, for instance). Industrial fans are also needed.

    RPB is encouraging donations be made to the shelter, or through Mutts N Stuff (one of the rescues involved in the Vick case), who is helping with the MO. dogs and coordinating care efforts.

    PO Box 187
    Foristell, MO 63348

    or PayPal

    PLEASE mark any donations: FIGHT BUST

    Mutts N Stuff is going to be actively invovled in working with these dogs and deserves your help and support.

    It's been really great seeing people and organizations rally around these dogs to give them a chance at a loving, happy life. This is a case where we can all be involved to make a difference.

    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:

    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.


    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Click Bulls!

    RPB is firmly dedicated to positive, pain free training methods/techniques, and strongly promotes the clicker training method. Any breed can learn new behaviors through clicker training, but Pit Bulls - with their enthusiastic and human-connected personalities - seem to especially benefit from this humane, hands-off training method that allows dog and handler to work as a team. Clicker training can be used to teach dogs traditional obedience exercises, tricks, and intricate behaviors not readily taught with less-precise training techniques. It can even be used to help resolve behavioral problems.

    So what's clicker training? In a nutshell, it is a method which uses a 'marker' (in this case, a small plastic clicker) to 'bridge' (connect) a behavior with a reward (food). The click tells the dog he or she did the right thing, and that a reward for that right thing is now on the way. Because the clicker connects very clearly in the dog's mind the delivery of the food with a behavior, new behaviors can be learned in a very short period (in some cases, in a 5 or 10 min training session). The dog doesn't have to figure out what the reward's for (a problem with some other methods), it's very clear!

    What's so great about clicker training is that it allows a dog to be an active part of the learning process. Instead of 'doing' something 'to' your dog, with clicker training you and your dog are both participating together. Clicker trained dogs tend to be very happy, willing participants in the training game. There's no fighting, clashing or conflict - it's all about learning in a pain-free, non-frightening way. Clicker training does not employ prong collars, choke chains, shock collars, or other 'traditional' training tools or techniques like scruff shakes or alpha rolls.

    From the angle of breed advocacy, clicker training is a chance to show that APBTs are sensitive, smart dogs who don't need to be manhandled, jerked around, alpha-rolled, or otherwise physically dominated in order for them to learn new behaviors or be under control. Pit Bulls are actually very sensitive, intelligent, deferential dogs who learn best when respectful, non-invasive, and gentle training techniques are used.

    If you are interested in learning more about clicker training, and are in the central/north NJ area, you may wish to check out Pit Bull School clicker classes, taught by RPB founder/director Mary Harwelik. If you are outside the area, there are plenty of online resources to help you locate a trainer or even learn online how to train your dog using this scientifically valid, cutting edge training method. Here are some of our favorites:

    And please continue to watch our blog for more information on clicker training, Pit Bull School, and positive promotion of our breed through positive training!

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    The 'Logic' Of BSL


    This Bay City Times (MI) article demanding a statewide ban of Pit Bulls is so full of contradictory nonsense that it really makes ya wonder if the editors over there failed to even show up for work the day it was printed. You know that the pushers of BSL discrimination are getting desperate when they point to Rottweiler, American Bulldog, and Aussie mix attacks as good reasons to support a Pit Bull ban.

    Aye yi yi.

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Your vote could be worth a million bucks.... Pit Bulls and the other animals at Liberty Humane Society, in Jersey City, NJ.

    LHS is a fantastic shelter doing right by Pit Bulls here in North Jersey. They have made it to the Top 10 in's Million Dollar Shelter Makeover contest. The top ten! Out of all the shelters in the country! A million bux could sure save a lot of Pit Bulls. Do the dogs a favor and take a couple minutes of your day to do the following:

    1) Sign up at - it's FREE!
    2) Upload a pic to your profile - also FREE!
    3) Then go VOTE for Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City, NJ -
    America Votes! (MAKE SURE YOU VOTE for LIBERTY HUMANE SOCIETY in NJ, as there is another Liberty Humane that made the top ten as well, but it is a completely different organization, in a different state.)

    You can keep voting, 10 times a day, through Sunday the 19th.

    Can you imagine? A million dollars for Pit Bulls!

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Fight Bust Dog Summit Results

    Last Wednesday, animal welfare groups concerned with Pit Bull issues convened in Las Vegas in order to meet with the Humane Society of the United States. The driving force behind this meeting was HSUS' across-the-board policy which stated that all dogs seized from dog fighting busts were supposedly too aggressive and dangerous to ever be adopted out as companion animals. HSUS wanted to revisit the policy (coincodence this occurred shortly after the huge uproar over the dogs seized from Ed Faron's property were promptly distroyed?), and ultimately revised it to suggest that fight bust dogs be evaluated and placed on a contingent basis.

    HSUS and Best Friends - who helped organize this meeting - issued the following statement:

    Animal Welfare Groups Announce New Collaboration to Save Pit Bulls

    Best Friends Animal Society and The Humane Society of the United States announced that a summit meeting held this week in Las Vegas to discuss the disposition of dogs seized from dogfighting operations has led to a coalition of groups working together to help the canine victims of organized violence.

    Among the outcomes of the meeting:

    * The HSUS has a new policy of recommending that all dogs seized from fighting operations be professionally evaluated, according to agreed upon standards, to determine whether they are suitable candidates for adoption. Dogs deemed suitable for placement should be offered as appropriate to adopters or to approved rescue organizations. The HSUS will update its law enforcement training manual and other materials to reflect this change in policy.
    * The groups agree that all dogs should be treated as individuals, and they are the true victims of this organized crime. They also agree to support law enforcement and animal control agencies when decisions must be made regarding the dogs deemed unsuitable for adoption and in cases when rescue organizations and adopters are unable, within a reasonable timeframe, to accept dogs from such raids that have been offered for adoption.
    * The organizations will form a working group to develop future protocols for cooperation in addressing the needs of dogs seized in raids, such as how to assist with the housing of fighting dogs, how to conduct professional evaluations, and how to screen potential adopters.

    The summit meeting was convened to address the matter of dogs seized as a result of cruelty investigations, particularly due to the increase in HSUS-led enforcement actions against dogfighters. Participants at the meeting included Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society of the United States, BAD RAP, ASPCA, National Animal Control Association, Maddie’s Fund, Nevada Humane Society, and Spartanburg Humane Society.

    Whether or not the new HSUS policy will significantly impact the lives of fight bust dogs remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain - the fact that these issues are finally being discussed on a broad scale is a win for the dogs in and of itself. It's our hope that this summit meeting will ultimately mean more dogs saved from the atrocities of dog fighting and given a chance to live normal lives.

    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    ChatGabGossipShareListenLearnGrow...on The RPB Forum !

    The Real Pit Bull Forum is a little over a year old now (we celebrated our One Year Anniversary in January). If you haven't heard about the forum or visited yet, RPBF is a small, tight-knit community of like-minded folks - guardians, rescue peeps, trainers, show people, admirers - gathered together to talk about - WHAT ELSE?? - Pit Bulls, and all relevant topics. What's cool about the folks on RPBF are their friendly, open and supportive attitudes. When RPBF first launched, we hoped it would become a beacon of light in the breed community, and ya know what? It's shinin' bright thanks to the fabulous people who participate! We are SO proud of this forum and its members, and hope you'll come check us out and get involved. We promise it's a lil different than what you're used to in a Pit Bull forum. And a whole lotta fun.

    Check it out at!

    Come join the Forum! Everyone's doin' it!

    Pit Bull School's Now in Session!

    Introducing Pit Bull-specific classes! These classes are to be held in Union County NJ, each Saturday morning at 10am, starting April 18, and taught by Mary Harwelik, CPDT.

    The goal of these classes is to create well-behaved, desensitized dogs that can respond to cues despite distractions, while simultaneously molding confident, capable handlers. Since the classes are drop in, they are designed to allow the handler/dog team to go at their own pace, work on the exercises they want, and enjoy the benefits of controlled socialization. Feedback, support and instruction will be a big part of these classs, however the format will be casual.

    The curriculum will be based on a variety of programs, including Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed and Emma Parsons' Click to Calm (these books are recommended to ALL owners of reactive or 'feisty' canines). We will be working on lots of creative, fun exercises meant to build confidence and rapport between dog and owner.

    These classes are meant for Pit Bulls (American Pit Bull Terriers/APBTs/AmStaffs), PitMixes and pseudo Pit Bulls (those dogs of unknown origin likely to be mistaken for Pit Bulls and breeds commonly mistaken for Pit Bulls). Dogs may be reactive towards other dogs, BUT human-aggressive dogs or dogs who are reactive to humans won't be able to attend this class.

    Rescues and shelters, send your volunteers and foster homes to class for FREE!

    Visit: Pit Bull School for more information.

    Tuesday, March 31, 2009

    Come celebrate Pit Bulls with us!

    Pit Bull-palooza has been confirmed for Sunday, June 7th from 11am to 3pm, rain or shine! This event includes CGC testing, weight pull demos, vendors (breed-specific, rescue and dog-specific), adoptable Pit Bulls, a mini lecture on the breed, music, and the RPB Pit Bull Ed Booth. For more info and upates, visit our Events page.

    Come join us for this very special event celebrating our wonderful dogs, and be sure to bring the kids and your people & pooch-friendly Pit Bulls!

    Saturday, March 21, 2009

    Spring is in the air!

    We love this time of year. It's warming up on the Northeast Coast, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. And while we trudged through a rough winter with plenty of depressing economical & social news, and what often felt like 1 step forward - 10 steps back for APBT activism and advocacy, there were also glimmers of hope that indicate better times are on the horizon. From the huge news of HSUS shifting its policy to give fight bust dogs a chance, to Ohio Rep Sears standing up for what's just and challenging the state's labeling of all Pit Bulls as vicious by introducing HB 79, to a victory for Pit Bulls in anti-breed Miami-Dade County, there is PLENTY going on to keep us cheerful and hopeful.

    RPB is big on positivity and focusing on what's going right. Energy is transformational, for both the good and the bad, so focusing too much of it on what's wrong can end up giving the 'dark forces' more power. A shift in perspective to positive things & outcomes is oftentimes when big things happen - and that perspective shift can also keep you from being burdened by what sometimes feels like an overwhelming amount of negativity. There's lots that's right within the APBT world right now, thanks to so many dedicated people and their amazingly tireless efforts. So this spring, let's count our blessings, let's clear out the cobwebs of doom and gloom, as we put our noses to the grindstone - refreshed and renewed - to continue the fight for our dogs. And if you ever find yourself lagging and dragging, tired and trudging, take a moment to snuggle into some silky Pit Bull fur, and contemplate the joy and zest for life that these dogs embody every single day of their lives.

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    HSUS Policy Shift

    Today, we have something more than Mardi Gras to celebrate. Towards the end of the day on Monday, RPB received word that HSUS had introduced an interim policy that, get this, instructs decision makers in bust dogs cases to evaluate the dogs as individuals! Yes, you read right - HSUS' long-standing policy which called for the automatic descruction of dogs seized in fighting raids is being reviewed in April. Thanks to the hard work of Best Friends and other Pit Bull advocacy groups on this one. The internet is abuzz today with talk about this exciting news.

    A meeting of the minds

    February 23, 2009 : 8:44 PM ET
    The Humane Society of the United States on February 23 issued an interim policy recommending all dogs be evaluated as individuals, and is calling a meeting of leading animal welfare organizations concerning dogs victimized by dog fighting.

    Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer and president of the Humane Society of the United States, suggested the meeting of major stakeholders in Las Vegas to work through the associated issues. This meeting is in response to concerns expressed by Best Friends Animal Society in December 2008 regarding HSUS policies related to animals confiscated in dog-fighting busts.

    Pacelle said the meeting, scheduled for April, will include the participation of national stakeholder organizations that deal with pit bulls. The meeting was in the planning stages before Superior Court Judge Ed Wilson Jr. ruled that 145 pit bulls, including approximately 70 puppies, confiscated from Wildside Kennels in Wilkes County, North Carolina, would be euthanized without evaluation to determine suitability for placement.

    The new interim policy announced by the HSUS, pending the outcome of the meeting, recommends that local law enforcement and animal control evaluate such dogs as individuals rather than as a category before any decision is made regarding their future.

    “We expect government, corporations, and individuals to constantly re-evaluate how they deal with animal issues,” Pacelle said. “Likewise, we regularly review our own policies and procedures here at HSUS, and we think it is important to talk with professional colleagues in the movement to examine issues related to the disposition of fighting dogs.

    “I am pleased to discuss these issues with personnel from Best Friends and other organizations interested in the welfare of pit bulls.”

    Julie Castle, director of Community Programs and Services for Best Friends said, “There had been more than enough airing of feelings and outrage that the dogs were not evaluated prior to being summarily euthanized. It was time to hit the reset button on this in order to move things forward in a constructive way. Mr. Pacelle was open and receptive to what we had to say and we are looking forward to our meetings in April.”

    Best Friends, through its campaign, “Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dogs,” is looking forward working cooperatively with HSUS, according to Castle.

    The campaign is aimed in part at educating the public and the media about pit bulls in order to help save the breed’s reputation. “Our goal is to bring positive change to lives and image of pit bulls,” she said.

    Written by Best Friends staff
    Photo of Meryl, a Vicktory dog, by Gary Kalpakoff

    We ARE making progress, and this latest victory comes at a much needed time, when many of us are still reeling over the descruction of the Wilkesboro, NC bust dogs. These dogs - and others - haven't died in vain. Not only has this case been the seeming catalyst for change at HSUS, but it gave birth to a fight bust dog coalition consisting of concerned Pit Bull groups - RPB included - with Best Friends at the helm. Is 2009 showing more promising things for Pit Bulls than any previous year in recent memory? You betcha!

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Rescuing High Profile Dogs

    The opinion mill is stirring now that the dogs seized in the raid of Wildside Kennels have been killed and the cries of grief are being heard from rescues, sanctuaries and individuals. While many groups wanted to go out of their way to save these dogs, there is another side of the fence that is saying something doesn't seem right or fair when rescues and other organizations make room for these 'big name' dogs when just as many if not more typical, everyday Pit Bulls are dying locally every day.

    RPB's stance is that a group should work within its home base state to rescue dogs and not spend unreasonable time, money, and resources trying to bring dogs in from all over the country because some dog somewhere else has some special appeal. It is the duty, afterall, of a rescue to look after the welfare of the Pit Bulls in its own area.

    However, Pit Bull rescue people are in a unique situation, because of the prejudice our breed faces. Sometimes, bending over backwards to accomodate a nice dog from a far-away shelter that hasn't exactly been Pit-friendly up to this point ends up helping more dogs in the long run. The power of a successful adoption and team work between organizations - even across states - should not be underestimated.

    In these fight bust cases, the overall message that gets sent when these dogs are given a chance is that Pit Bulls, regardless of where they came from or what their breeding is, are worth something and are dogs that can live within society; they aren't the monsters of media infamy, nor do they deserve to die just because HSUS or PETA says they do. The success of the Vick dogs surely has made some people stop and notice. What if no one stepped up to help those dogs? We would be short a heck of a lot of really powerful media that would have never been generated by rescue of those 'everyday' dogs. One reason RPB joined the other groups that had filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Vick dogs was specifically to help future bust dogs - big name or not, here in NJ and beyond - get a chance. If the Vick dogs could get a lot of positive press, proving that fight bust dogs could certainly make wonderful pets, what could that do for other dogs down the road? And the Pit Bull breed in general?

    Although from the vantage point that allows one to see the grand scheme of things, the BYB bred dog whose owner just got sick of and dumped at the shelter is worth the same as any of the Vick or Faron dogs, rescue people need to make difficult decisions about rescuing some dogs over others. Every ethical rescuer asks themselves before making these decisions, "Which action ultimately has the most positive, far reaching effect on the breed as a whole?"

    On a more everyday, mundane level, rescues make choices like this all the time - when they choose the happy, correct, friendly Pit Bull over the adorable, sweet, but extremely fearful or reactive Pit Bull. Why? Not because one dog has more or less worth, but because rescue is NOT just about *that dog, in the moment* - it is about all future Pit Bulls that are effected by the actions of every rescue, and the actions of rescued dogs.

    Pit Bull rescue isn't straightforward. All dog rescues deal with issues of money, limited time, and limited resources. But additionally, Pit Bull advocacy groups must deal with breed image, public scrutiny, anti-breed laws, and the powerful large-scale humane organizations like HSUS and PETA often preaching very anti-breed rhetoric, all as they juggle their ultimate goal of helping as many dogs as possible and reclaiming the dignity of and a future for the APBT.

    Rescuing a Pit Bull is never just about rescuing 'a dog'. It is about saving all Pit Bulls that come after; it's about saving a breed. And the actions of ethical Pit Bull rescuers reflect that reality.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Temperament Evaluation & The Essential Pit Bull Booket

    Temperament evaluation for Pit Bulls that will be placed into homes is of utmost importance. It truly is important for ALL dogs no matter the breed. Although humane adoption groups are advocates for the dogs first and foremost, they should ethically also be advocates for humans and hence look to place dogs that have the temperaments that would make them good companions and productive canine members of society. Making exceptions or shrugging off troubling behavior very often ends badly for all parties involved – including the dog!

    The situation with Pit Bulls is dire. The breed is under a microscope and hence every negative incident that occurs is a nail in the breed’s coffin. When a Golden Retriever or a Dachshund or a Dalmatian bites someone seriously, there is no concerted effort to destroy the breeds or ban them from society. But when a Pit Bull lays teeth on a human, all hell breaks loose. So while it is of course necessary to carefully evaluate and THEN place ANY breed of dog into a new home (a bite is a bite, after all, no matter the breed – they all hurt, they all are potentially physically and mentally scarring), with Pit Bulls, organizations need to go the extra mile just to safeguard the breed’s future.

    In order to help shelters and rescues struggling to do right by their dogs, The Essential Pit Bull was written. The booklet aims to help organizations identify sound, normal dog behavior and specifically behavioral traits known to be demonstrated in temperament-correct Pit Bulls. The evaluation in the booklet is typical in many ways, but broken down in such a way as to describe ideal – and not-so-ideal – behavioral responses as they pertain specifically to Pit Bulls. And since we all know that no breed is for everyone, The Essential Pit Bull offers plenty of suggestions for placing Pit Bulls into homes that would do best with the breed.

    The booklet also categorizes dogs based on responses to tests. Instead of a simple pass/fail grade, the EPB evaluation breaks behavioral responses down further in order to help organizations make the very best decisions when placing their dogs.The categories are A (suitable for novice homes), B (typical Pit Bulls), C (dogs best suited to very experienced homes), and X (dogs not suitable for adoption that should be humanely euthanized).

    A breed-specific temperament and evaluation booklet could have been written about any breed. All breeds have unique quirks and traits that define Breed Essence. This booklet just happens to be about Pit Bulls.

    The new booklet The Essential Pit Bull, is now available to rescue and shelter groups through RPB’s shop @