Huff Post #PitBull Week

When you hear “pit bull”, what’s the first thing you think of? Lock jaw? Kids being attacked? Dog fighting? Well, I believe that those descriptions are wrong. Instead, you should think of love, loyalty, obedience, and hearts bigger than their goofy heads!

fern-1

This beautiful dog, is @fernthepitbull on instagram, follow her to see all the amazing work she does in the community.

The number of dogs that are euthanized in shelters every year is in the millions. A vast majority of those are pit bulls. Every day, thousands of pit bulls are put to sleep because of the American public’s media fueled false perception that they are a bad breed of dog. Stop for a moment and ask yourself – have you ever met one? If so, did it attack you? My guess is no. The reason behind that is because they are not monsters by nature. In fact, pit bulls used to be referred to as “nanny dogs” because they would often be left with children and babies to protect them. They are fiercely loyal and protective and would alert the parents if anything was wrong. So, when and why did all of this change?

IMG_7777

This is Bugsy, protecting his Beagle sister.

Unfortunately, the media has exposed dog fighting rings and often times they show images of barking, manic looking pit bulls. It then leads to other stories of dog attacks and once again the pit bull is to blame. For the record, I grew up with a toy poodle named Rocky. He weighed 10 lbs. when his hair was grown in. He used to bite me on the hands and snap at me when I wasn’t paying attention.  He would growl at you when you walked too closely to him. But, you would never hear of something like that on television because it doesn’t make for good TV! If it were up to me, I would have had a pit growing up. However, I lived in Miami and it has been deemed illegal to possess a pit bull.

IMG_1220

Would you ever be scared of this little fluff ball?

Dade County isn’t the only place to ban pits.  In the link below, you will see a map of all the states or cities where pitties are banned:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/06/bsl-map_n_7216190.html. Simply put, pit bulls will be put to sleep just for being born the way they are. It has nothing to do with temperament or age. What if it was your dog? What if they came and said that all labs, retrievers, or shepherds were bad and they were going to be put to sleep? How would you feel if your particular dog did nothing wrong? It’s heartbreaking to think about. Taking these dogs off the streets and out of loving homes does not make the world a safer place. It’s a matter of educating the public that pit bulls happen to make great pets.

fern-29

Pit bulls are not born mean and aggressive. In fact, pit bull puppies happen to be some of the cutest, squishiest and cuddliest pups around. Why anyone would want to fight them and mistreat them is beyond me. The reason that pit bulls become mean and aggressive is because of the owners. On the flip side, some of these amazing animals are turned into something far worse than a mean and aggressive dog. They are made into bait dogs for others to attack and train on. However, even after these dogs are mutilated, mistreated, and sometimes left for dead, they possess a heart of gold. If you have ever seen a dog fighting ring rescue, you know that it is one of the most amazing sights. These rescuers come in and the dogs wag their tails and have nothing but love and compassion.

puppies-3

Have you ever seen anything cuter than the face above?

Here is an example of what can happen to a bait dog: http://fox43.com/2015/05/21/the-dog-without-a-nose-local-rescue-saves-pit-bull/ In this case, incredible humans stepped in to help. But, sadly, this is not always the case.

These dogs don’t exist to indulge sick and twisted individuals who want to see them fight. They are here because they are loving and loyal friends who are just misunderstood.

untitled-5

This sweet boy is Kiko.  He was protecting his owner during a home invasion.  Kiko got shot in the head during this and sadly he is still looking for his home and someone to love.  If this is you please contact me ASAP.

Please check out this HuffPost article on the #PitBullWeek project. It helps reinforce why it is so important to have people recognize the true beauty of these incredible dogs.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arin-greenwood/pit-bull-myths_b_5623555.html

I am currently in the process of working on a pit bull project in the New York area with Mighty Mutts Dog Rescue.  If you are in NYC, have a pit bull, and would like to be featured, please contact me at dogsofnycphoto@gmail.com

fern-48

Please help spread the word about pit bulls! The millions of them in shelters need advocates and voices more than ever!

Animal Cruelty, Worse Than Ever

I have been missing in action from posting.  My apologies – life has once again gotten in the way.  But I am back, and unfortunately I am back and not writing about something happy instead something horrible.  Also, there are no photos in this post because 1) they are not my photos and 2)they are all so graphic.

The mistreatment of animals in today’s society sickens me.  Every day, I, along with a lot of you, read stories of animals being abused like Caitlyn in South Carolina, or the homeless man Ron and his dog shadow.  This dog meant so much to this man, that he literally went homeless to be able to stay by his side, when other people are just discarding them!  Then you have the most sickening thing i have read in a while – dogs, and puppies being tortured and killed all so visitors of Mauritius can have a stress free holiday where they dont have to worry about stray dogs (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3128120/Shocking-hidden-camera-footage-reveals-stray-dogs-rounded-tortured-killed-enjoy-unspoiled-holiday-Mauritius-puppies-not-spared.html)
I do not normally post about such atrocities, however the more people that can help spread the word in things like this the better!  This is a brutality that must stop.  There are so many people around the world who love animals and want to help them.  We cannot allow people (if you can call them that when they can injure innocent animals this way) to do this any longer.
Below i have listed the charities for both Caitlyn and Ron and Shadow.  These dogs and gentleman are examples of spirit, resilience, and hope.  If everyone had as much love that the three of these have, the world would be a much better place.  In the meantime lets help support the ones that need it most!
A Way for a Stray – Ron and Shadow:  http://www.youcaring.com/ron-shadow-373322

Adopt Don’t Shop For The Holidays!

Are you thinking about bringing home a new dog for the holidays??

If you answered no, you should at least THINK about it! If you answered yes, whether you are thinking of getting it for yourself or as a surprise for a loved one [if so, make sure to film it and post to YouTube!], please remember that a pet is a lifelong commitment. It’s not an ornament that gets put away at the end of the season. It is definitely not something that you can use to “regift” to someone you forgot to shop for. And, I think that it might be a bit much for your office’s annual Secret Santa. A dog will be around and require your emotional, physical, and financial support well beyond the time that the blinking lights get taken down (yes, even for those of you that wait until sometime next spring to do so!).

IMG_6059

If you are still sold on the idea of a new furry friend for the holidays, good for you! There are essentially two ways that you can go about it: 1) you can spend a ton of money at a pet store or a breeder and, whether you like it or not, further the use of puppy mills and overpopulation of dogs or 2) you can go to a shelter or rescue organization and save a dog from either living in a box or from a much worse fate. I think you could probably guess which option I am in favor of…

With so many dogs in shelters, many subject to overcrowding and therefore facing the threat of being put down simply because they haven’t found their forever home, I still cannot justify why people still go to breeders (let alone why breeders are even allowed to continue to let their dogs have pups – but we’ll save that for another day). For many, the reason is that they are looking for a purebred dog and not a “mutt.”

IMG_6051

First of all, one of the funniest things is that nowadays, having a mutt is all the rage. Except they aren’t called mutts anymore – they are “designer dogs” or “cross-breeds” or “hybrids”. If you ask me, a Pomsky (Pomeranian and Husky), a Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever and Poodle), and a Maltipoo (Maltese and Poodle) – while all extremely adorable – are just modern day mutts. However, it seems that only those dogs living in shelters, and are a mix of more than two discernable breeds are considered to be mutts and therefore have a negative connotation attached to them.

Yes, I agree that there used to be a stigma that in order to have a purebred dog you had to go to a breeder or pet store. But, like anything else, times have changed. Now it is used as a marketing ploy to get breeders and pet stores to make money off of selling more dogs into the world. You can, in fact, find perfectly healthy purebreds in your local shelter or rescue organization.

Over the course of the past few weeks, good friends of mine had been talking about getting another dog. For them, it wasn’t even a question – they knew they would be rescuing when the time came. Last week, as they were browsing online and doing research on what kind of dog they want, they came across a 7 MONTH old, purebred English Bulldog on the New York ACC website. They sprang into action immediately. Why? Because even though English Bulldogs cost thousands from a breeder or pet store, they are the most surrendered dog breed in NYC (http://nypost.com/2014/11/30/why-nycs-most-popular-dog-breed-is-also-its-most-abandoned/). Because of this problem, even though this little boy was only a puppy, he was at risk of being put down due to overcrowding.

IMG_6088-2

For my friends, they aren’t looking for a Bulldog. They aren’t even looking for a puppy. However, they made arrangements to pull this beautiful little boy from the shelter and they worked with a local Bulldog rescue organization to find him a new forever home – all within 24 hours.

Unfortunately, the reason that most of these dogs end up in shelters is because people do not realize that getting a dog is a lifelong commitment. So, if you are looking to bring home a dog this holiday season, please go to your local shelter (or go online to their website) and take a look at the dogs who desperately want to spend their holiday at home with someone who loves them. If you are not thinking of bringing a dog home for the holidays, I urge you to give back to your local shelter, spread the gospel of the merits of rescuing to those that are looking for a new dog, or even do what my friends did – give a dog another chance.

 

A Plea for Kiko

untitled-5

Kiko stole my heart.  The minute I met him, I was won over.  That is what he tends to do when people meets them, he makes them fall in love.  Yet no one has fallen enough in love with this sweet hero to take him home.

BarkPost just posted an article about this sweet boy as well.  How is it that so many outlets are writing about this dog, and begging to find him a home. Help me, Mighty Mutts, and BarkPost find not only Kiko, but the other dogs out there a home too.  To see the article about Kiko head over to http://barkpost.com/hero-barkbuddy-shot-head/

untitled-2

While working with Mighty Mutts over the summer, Kiko was one of my favorite dogs to photograph.  There he was, every Saturday, with a smile on his face, waiting and hoping that the next person that pet his head was his forever.  That still has not happened.

Kiko’s backstory is incredible, and will make you fall in love before you even meet him.  Kiko is a fourteen year old bulldog mix who made the news about two years ago.  At the age of 12, Kiko sprang into action to protect his dad from a home invasion.  During this heroic he was shot at point blank in the head. Miraculously, he survived and is now fully recovered despite having lost his hearing. Unfortunately, since then, his dad fell on some hard times and was unable to continue caring for him. Now, this hero dog needs to find someone who can be his hero and give him the best life has to offer for his remaining years. Kiko is a gentle boy who needs a quiet home where he can spend the rest of his life just being loved and taken care of. He is believed to be deaf so he will need an owner who understands his needs and is patient He is neutered, housebroken, and well mannered, but due to his experiences, it is preferred that he is the only animal in the house.

untitled-3

Now it is our turn.  It is our turn to be a hero to Kiko.  It is our turn to share, post, tweet, and talk, to get the word out there about Kiko.  It is our turn to find him a loving and incredible home for him to spend the rest of his life in.  It is our turn to protect him.  If you know of anyone who would make the perfect home for Kiko, please reach out to Mighty Mutts.  And please come meet him and all the other amazing dogs, every Saturday on the corner of Union Square.

untitled-1

Halloween Photoshoot

I do not love Halloween, but I do love dressing up my dog and getting her in the spirit.  And Zig, well she loves wearing clothes.  This is the photo-shoot we did last year with all of her outfits.  She had quite a few costume changes.

Stay tuned tomorrow to see what she went as this year.  And look below the pictures for some safety tips for your pet on Halloween.

5

Octopus Ziggy

4

Hammerhead Shark Ziggy

6

Waldo Ziggy

2

Minion Ziggy

And, my Favorite:

8

Prisoner Ziggy

Tips to keep your pet happy and healthy with all that candy around!
Remember, don’t give your pet any of the candy you get.  Make sure the wires and cords from any decorations are out of your pets reach.
When opening the door, make sure you’re dog or cat doesn’t dart outside

If you plan on dressing your pet up like i do, make sure your pet likes it.  It can cause stress for some animals.
Make sure the costume is not annoying and safe, that it doesn’t restrict their movement or ability to breathe.  Watch for itching when wearing the costume, as your pet may be allergic to the costume.
Make sure there are no small pieces your pet could swallow.

Most importantly, today and everyday, make sure our pet has an ID and Microchip.  In the event he/she does get out, this will help you get them back!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

It’s never easy to say goodbye

Saying “goodbye” is never easy. Most of the time, it’s really just a “see you soon.” However, saying “goodbye,” when you truly know it is the last time, is one of the hardest things in the world to do.

IMG_1220

Like many dog owners, I consider my dogs to be members of my immediate family. In addition to my little girl, Ziggy, who I have with me in New York, my parents have my other two toy poodles with them in Florida – Rocky (a handsome, black and grey boy) and Cody (a shy, apricot colored little boy). These two have both been a part of my life for a very long time, but Rocky has always held a special place in my heart. He was given to me as a Bat Mitzvah gift by my uncle (yes, I know, coolest uncle ever!). While he wasn’t the first dog my family ever had (we had a yellow lab, Hammer, at the time), he was MY first dog. When I first brought Rocky home, he made it clear that he hated me. He loved my mom. He loved my sister. But he wanted nothing to do with me! It was clear that we didn’t have that special connection.

IMG_2126

All of that changed when I went off to college. I guess when I left, Rocky realized that he really did love me and that he missed me, because on my first trip home he became my best friend. He followed me around the house wherever I went and he finally curled up and slept with me at night. When I left to go back to school, I was told he was actually sad. After that, whenever my parents came to visit me in Colorado they brought him. He may not have showed it from the start, but it was clear that he always loved me and he was always there for me.

When I moved back home, I moved into my own place with my dogs. Rocky was too comfortable living at my parents’ house for me to take him. Besides, Cody would never allow it! Even though he didn’t live with me for all those years, I never, ever, stopped loving Rocky.

IMG_2492

This past weekend, I went home to visit my family. What I didn’t know going into it was that it was to be a trip to say that final “goodbye” to one of my oldest friends and to family. Rocky was suffering from late stage liver failure. He was deaf, blind, and could barely walk due to the pain and constant struggle to properly breathe. Nobody wants to see anyone live this way, but the challenge is that nobody wants to say goodbye either. I knew that I had to stop being selfish. I had to stop saying that I wanted him to live no matter what. I had to realize that Rocky, in his own way, was telling us that it was OK, that he had a great life. I left on Sunday night and my family put Rocky to sleep on Monday October 6, 2014 – one day shy of his 15th birthday.

IMG_2490

I learned afterwards that Rocky’s Vet, a dear friend of mine (and the best Vet in the world), was controlling his pain and symptoms just so I could have this last weekend with him. For that, I cannot thank him enough.

I will miss him every day. I know it will be hard to go home next time and not see him waiting at the door for me. I will miss the way he used to purr like a cat when he was happy. He loved his humans and his poodle brother. He even managed to tolerate his French Bulldog sister. He was truly the greatest gift a girl could ever ask for. Now, my sweet baby boy is up there, reunited and playing with his other brother, Hammer.

I love you Rocky.

IMG_1477

From the junkyard to the big apple: The Story of how Fern became Jillian and Alex’s biggest treasure

fern-69

Jillian has had dogs her entire life. Early on, her family’s first two dachshunds were both purchased from breeders. However, after those, all of their dogs (and there have been a lot), have been rescues. Knowing what she knows now, Jillian’s family likely wouldn’t have waited until dog number three to start rescuing from adoption organizations, but she believes that back then there was not as much information and awareness available. In addition to rescuing dogs from shelters and adoption organizations, her family also came across stray dogs in and around their home town in Kansas. They would help reunite these dogs with their owners, and/or work to help find them a new home. Jillian champions adopting vs. buying and encourages anyone thinking of getting a dog to do the same. She feels that many people who purchase dogs from breeders are unaware of the fact that they may be supporting animal cruelty because of the high prevalence of puppy mills.

Jillian moved to New York City over three years ago. Shortly after, she was walking through Union Square and she caught sight of a scruffy looking shepherd mix named Riley. She walked over and started talking with one of the Mighty Mutts volunteers and learned about Riley’s sad backstory. That’s all Jillian needed to hear to know that she had to get involved and she signed up to volunteer. It didn’t take long after that for her to take in her first foster.

 fern-48

When Jillian’s first foster dog was adopted, she and her husband, Alex, were engaged and in the midst of wedding planning. They made the difficult decision that they would not take in any more fosters until after the wedding. However, not long after they made this promise to themselves, Fern came in to Mighty Mutts. It was clear that Fern had been subjected to deplorable, inhumane living conditions. She was a junkyard dog on a property just outside of Philadelphia. Her owners had cropped her ears incredibly short, she was permanently chained outside, and there was an unofficial history of abuse. Concerned citizens tried to remove Fern from this situation, but for legal reasons they were unable. It took a call to the Animal Care & Control department in Philadelphia reporting that she was running loose – their way of finding a legal solution to saving this poor dog. But, their plan had an unforeseen hole in it. Fern was taken to Animal Control and was scheduled to be euthanized.

 fern-5

Mighty Mutts stepped in before this could happen. Fern was put into a foster home near Philadelphia with an amazing woman named Annette, who has helped many dogs have a second chance at life. At the time, Annette had several other dogs, and to get Fern up to New York City for the weekly adoption drives in Union Square proved to be difficult. Mighty Mutts knew that they needed to find someone local to foster Fern and help continue to rehabilitate her to fit back in with society. Although Jillian and Alex were not looking to take in another foster, one of the adoption coordinators for Mighty Mutts had a different plan in mind. Jillian said that during her next volunteer shift, she was “set up” by being asked to look after Fern for the day. (For the record, both she and Alex do not hold any grudges against said coordinator!) Jillian said that “after one volunteer shift, I was hooked. It took one or two weeks before I wore Alex down.” It wasn’t long after they started fostering Fern that they realized they would never be able to let her go, and they officially adopted her.

 fern-40

In the short time Fern was living with Annette, she did a great job starting the rehabilitation process. When Jillian and Alex took Fern in, they recall that, “Fern was a dream. She never had an accident, was a quick learner, and was eager to please.” However, being that she was a junkyard dog with no formal training and being subjected to abuse for 2.5 years, it meant that there were still some personality and behavioral issues that needed to be addressed. They said that Fern started out overly skittish and sensitive and that “the first Fourth of July, which was only a couple of weeks after we adopted Fern, was very traumatizing. Something as little as a car door shutting would cause her to panic and run toward the apartment.” Fern was also leery of strangers, especially men. Working with trainers and with hard work, patience, and dedication, Jillian and Alex have helped Fern become more confident and trusting. In fact, last October, Fern became certified as a therapy dog and now they visit a local nursing home and provide happiness and comfort to the residents.

 fern-2

Fern brings so much joy to Jillian and Alex every day. “She is incredibly goofy, sweet, and gentle. There’s something about waking up next to a tail wagging dog, oozing gratefulness that makes life so much happier.” Unfortunately, because she is a pit bull, not everyone can understand how Jillian and Alex can feel that way. They have been exposed to people’s prejudices against the breed and even on some therapy visits people assume that she is aggressive and therefore don’t want to go near her. Through their rehabilitation of Fern, they make the attempt to show people that pit bulls, like any other dog, should not be judged by what they see in the media. Based on her background, Fern would have every right to be untrusting of people and aggressive. But, despite everything she has been through, she is the sweetest and most loving dog Jillian has ever had. She said that Fern “passed her temperament test with the therapy organization with flying colors. She gives kisses to strangers, and wiggles with delight when she meets another dog.” Hopefully through the various organizations representing pit bulls and through success stories like Fern’s, public opinion will begin to shift and people will recognize how loving this breed actually is. Jillian says that even though they were not looking for another dog at the time, and with the occasional comment or reaction from others, she would absolutely have done this again if given a do-over. She says that Fern has enriched her life in ways that she could not even imagine.

 fern-38

Jill has now been with Mighty Mutts for just over three years. She’s seen the passion and dedication that this organization has for the animals under its care. She especially likes the fact that Mighty Mutts is completely no-kill and has a policy to take back an animal at any time, for any reason, no questions asked. Jillian said that “these values are important to me in aligning myself with a rescue group. There are just so many animals that need homes, and she applauds the efforts of all animal rescue groups.” One thing is certain – Mighty Mutts has stolen her heart!