Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pitbulls on Parade

Yesterday Scott and I went to a special event at the Reber Ranch in Kent. The event was Pitbulls on Parade and it was super fun! I met up with a few friends from flyball and from dog rescue who were also attending.

Here is Scott and Axle. Axle is owned by my friend Julie, who I know through flyball. Axle was one of the largest dogs at yesterday's event. He is an American Bulldog. He's aged 2 and weighs 108lbs. He is still full of puppy energy, as you can see by him chewing on his leash still, but he is also quite the lover boy! Scott has met Axle before so Axle knew that he wasn't about to get away with any puppy antics around Uncle Scott. Axle is just as striking in looks as Scott, so at the event, people would either be drawn to Scotty and his beautiful eyes, or to Axle and his beautiful coat and size! Axle also got his Canine Good Citizen certificate at this event. Good Job Axle!!!!

Here is a shot of a bunch of people and their dogs hanging out at the raffle tent. The whole event was sponsored by Bullseye Rescue. The gal who organizes that rescue, Lorrie, is also the SPDR breed rep for many bully breeds. She is a wonderful person who has done a lot for the breed and the community. Overall, I would have estimated there were 150 pitbulls at this event at any given time. There were other breeds there too, including some Rotties, a few little white fluffy dogs, Shih Tzus, a couple Labradoodles and of course, Scott! In addition to a good raffle, the day offered other events like agility demonstrations, schutzhund, weight pulling, carting, and even a kissing contest! I do love the pitbull breed; they are very versatile, smart, affectionate and brave. Similar to Border Collies, they will give their owners everything they can and won't give up. They're hearts are as big as their blocky, bully heads!

I found this pit to be extremely cool looking. It had a face with half black, half white. On its neck though, it was white striped on the black face side, and black striped on the white faced side. Very strking dog! It's brindle side-kick was also very cute.
My favorite pitbull color is fawn though. During my volunteer work at the Seattle Animal Shelter (2001-2008) I worked with many pitbulls from all walks of life. Of the hundreds I handled there, I fell especially hard for the long-term / court case dogs who were there because of abuse / neglect reasons. Some of those dogs had been through hell and yet they were so forgiving and loving. My very first court-case dogs were Libby and Jesse.
You might recall, in 2001 Seattle Animal Control seized about 12-14 pitbulls from a home that was fighting them for sport. Then, after the media did a big story on that seizure, a group broke into the shelter and stole all but two dogs from this case (they left the two because they were 8 week old pups who were in a different area than the rest of the dogs). No one ever found out what happened to those stolen dogs, nor was it ever found out who stole them. To note, stealing dogs from shelters is not unheard of.

The two pups who were left/forgotten were named Jesse and Libby - we at the shelter named them. Libby was total fawn and Jesse was fawn with white and black facial markings. Those two pups were raised in the shelter and at age 18 months or so, when the court case had resolved itself, Jesse, who was a total goober, was adopted out to a family in Olympia. Libby was less fortunate and was deemed "unadoptable" by the shelter and was humanely euthanized. That was an extremely sad time for the volunteers and staff who had tried to give the dogs the most "normal" life possible while within shelter walls. That was when the shelter experience "got real" for me. I was very sad but knew I couldn't give up on the other dogs that were continually streaming into the shelter daily.

Overall, I would guess I worked with 30 or so court case / long term dogs while volunteering with SAS. All were unique, sweet and not all were able to be adopted out, and some even went back to their owners after the judge of that case ruled in favor of the defendent. Not all were pitbulls either; I worked with an Akita, a group of husky-mixes, a Lab/Beagle mix and an Aussie (those I can vividly remember). You do learn a lot about people (the public as well as other volunteers), the justice system and of course, dogs when being involved in these types of stories.

When you donate money to your local municipal animal shelter, ask if the funds you donate can go toward the dogs and cats who are housed at the shelter long term, awaiting their owners court date which could be months out. The money could be used for special training collars and leashes, bones and toys, soft beds that are just theirs, health care / surgery and even special training sessions by experts. In some cases, the dogs cannot leave the confines of the shelter walls because their owners are so dangerous! This is really where the help of volunteers is critical to the health of that dog.

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