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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

A Howler in a Happy Home: Rob, Carlos, and Pinto

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Rob and Carlos decided to rescue a dog because they were aware of the large number of dogs in need of a home. They went online to find their perfect pet and came across Mighty Mutts.

When they found Mighty Mutts online, they came across a picture of an adorable beagle named Fred (who they have now renamed Pinto). They knew that they had to meet the little guy, so they went down to PetCo in Union Square one Saturday and instantly fell in love.

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They learned that Pinto was surrendered to Animal Control after his previous owners didn’t have enough time to take care of him. He made his way to Mighty Mutts, and then into the arms of Rob and Carlos. When they got Pinto home, he was not housebroken. For them, this was a challenge – but one they were ready to handle. In addition, they had to work on training Pinto to listen. He would often get into everything, but through positive reinforcement and patience, he now knows how to be a good boy.

Rob and Carlos recently got married (Congratulations from Dogs of Manhattan!). Rob told me that with Pinto, they now feel “more of a family.” He is a source of love and joy for them. They love taking Pinto to the dog run in their neighborhood, where they have met many other dog lovers and neighbors…Including Ziggy, me and my fiancé! Pinto has also made a lot of doggie friends in the neighborhood too, something that has helped him acclimate to his surroundings.

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Rob and Carlos told me that they would definitely adopt again. Having Pinto has been an incredible experience so far and it is one that they would love to replicate in the future.

They give a lot of credit to Mighty Mutts. They said that it was a great place for them to adopt from since the organization provided a lot of support. Before sending Pinto home, Mighty Mutts did their due diligence and gave Rob and Carlos everything they needed to give Pinto a happy home.

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Matchmaker Matchmaker Make Me a Match: Robert +Danielle, Shelly, Bugsy (Moe the foster!) and 19 Years of Dedicated Volunteer Service

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Even before Robert began volunteering with Mighty Mutts, he never thought about getting a pet from a store. First of all, he feels strongly that pet store puppies come from puppy mills and he doesn’t want to support that. Second, he always wanted to get his “forever buddies” from a rescue. He loves the idea of opening his home to animals that have been abandoned and/or abused. In his mind, those are the ones that need his help the most.

March 11, 1995: Robert has a vivid memory of the events that occurred this day. Back then, he never really ventured to Union Square, but on that Saturday he went to purchase a DVD player at The Wiz (the electronics store that once occupied the space where American Eagle is now). As he was walking toward the store, he noticed a crowd of people and a bunch of dogs on the corner of 14th Street. Never one to give up an opportunity to play with dogs, he walked over. As he was looking around, he saw a New York Times article from the previous Sunday taped to the table. The article was about John and Mighty Mutts. Robert remembers the article having a profound impact on him and after reading it he noticed that the gentleman sitting with the dogs in Union Square was the man from the article. While his original plan was to go to Union Square for a DVD player, Robert said that, instead, he walked over to John and asked “do you need any volunteers?” That moment began what has now been a 19-year commitment to helping dogs by volunteering with Mighty Mutts. To this day, Robert still has the New York Times article at home which serves as a constant reminder of the day that changed the course of his life.

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Robert always liked having two dogs at the same time. When he first met Shelly, he only had one dog, a pit mix named Mikey, as his eldest dog had passed away. He always intended to get a brother or sister for Mikey, but he was waiting to meet the right one to add to the family. One Saturday, as he headed over to Union Square for his weekly Mighty Mutts volunteer shift, he spotted an “absolutely adorable” beagle. He learned that Shelly was just rescued from a terrible life with a breeder of hunting dogs and it was her first day at the corner. Robert recalls, “the moment I saw her I said, ‘I want her. Do we have any applications in for her yet? No? Good, she’s coming home with me!”

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Even while Robert had Shelly and Mikey, he would take in foster dogs from Mighty Mutts. Robert met Bugsy when he was part of his “walking crew”. Bugsy was staying at Ollie’s for about three months because there was no foster home for him at the time. Robert knew that when his current foster was adopted, Bugsy would be his next. Before taking Bugsy home as a foster, Robert needed to make sure that he would get along with Shelly and Mikey, who was now older and starting to get sick. While waiting for Michelle to meet him over at PetCo with Bugsy, Robert struck up a conversation with a woman named Danielle. Little did he know at the time, but Bugsy ended up being quite the match maker! Robert and Danielle have now been together for almost a year.

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Bugsy was rescued from a crack house in the Bronx. Robert brought him in as a foster after he passed the test with Shelly and Mikey. After a few months, Mikey passed away. Trying to keep to his desire to always have two “permanent” dogs, Robert wanted to keep Bugsy, but he had to make sure that he would be a good foster buddy to other dogs he would undoubtedly bring in. Once he proved himself with Moe, Robert’s next foster, he decided to make Bugsy a permanent member of the family. He said, “how could I give him up? Especially after he fixed up me and Danielle!”

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According to Robert, there haven’t been many challenges with Shelly and Bugsy. Robert provides a structured, loving home – which is critical when there are three dogs wandering around (two permanent and one foster). The biggest challenge was for Shelly when Bugsy became permanent. Bugs always wants to play and Shelly keeps trying to let him know that he’s too big for her. For now, Moe makes for a better play mate.

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When asked how these dogs have changed his life, Robert didn’t even know where to begin. The love the dogs give to him always makes him feel better. His belief is that “canine therapy is the best.” Plus, he believes that the act of adopting has led to many friends and places he would have never met/experienced before. Being with animals that really needed a home has been a life altering experience. Plus, he says, “Bugsy helped me meet the love of my life!”

Robert will continue to foster and adopt dogs as long as he is able to care for them. He reiterates his position that there is no need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars when there are so many beautiful and loving ones in need of a home. He says that he will always get his dogs from Mighty Mutts. He says that Mighty Mutts has dogs that are “rescued from the worst circumstances and have the greatest hearts.” He continues to donate his time to these dogs and sees no end in sight.

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Jersey Boy: Howling his way into Janet’s heart and home

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Janet and her family already had three beagles before adopting Scottie. Their first beagle, Max, passed away in the fall when he was about 16.5 years old. When they adopted Monty, their second beagle about 12 years ago, they were told that he was about two years old. It turned out that he was actually five. As a result, he was roughly the same age as Max and sadly he passed away a few weeks after Max did. This left Janet and her family devastated and little Tommy, their four year old beagle, without any brothers or sisters to play with. The sadness was evident in him too. That’s when they found Scottie.

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Having rescued two of their previous beagles, and seeing the joy that it brought to their lives and to their dogs’ lives, they were not going to be making a trip to a pet store. Instead, they wanted to give a home to a dog that really needed one. They went to Mighty Mutts and found Scottie. According to Janet, “adopting Scottie brought new joy and love into the home. We can never replace Max and Monte, but adopting him made it feel as though we were honoring the lives of Max and Monty.” She also told me how it changed the focus in the apartment from sadness to “happy craziness.”

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When they first got Scottie, he had a tag on his collar from the Humane Society somewhere in New Jersey. Janet called the number and they were able to pull up some information on Scottie’s background. Apparently, Scottie was found by the side of the road in Newark and was almost put down at 9 months old. Someone working at the Humane Society knew about Mighty Mutts and saved him by bringing him there.

Scottie was not socialized when they first took him home. He wasn’t afraid of people, but he was not particularly interested in them either. He is also pure beagle and, therefore, chewed everything – clothing, furniture, and the occasional hand. He has since settled in and has really bonded well with the family.

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Janet and her family would absolutely adopt again. They recognize the joy and happiness it has brought to their lives. And as for dealing with the behavior sometimes associated with rescue dogs, Janet told me: “we can always replace the shoes, socks, stuffed animals and other things he’s eaten”.

It was Mighty Mutt’s reputation that brought Scottie into Janet’s life. The Humane Society worker knew how wonderful the organization was and it possessed them to save Scottie’s life. Janet and her family feel that Mighty Mutts really cares about where the rescued animas are placed. They feel that John, the founder or Mighty Mutts, truly cares about animals. It makes them feel good that they can do a small part in helping unwanted dogs find a loving home.

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Randi and her Beagles – Missy and Boomer

8For eight years now, Randi has been giving her time to volunteer for Mighty Mutts. One Saturday, she saw them set up on their usual corner in Union Square and knew she had to get involved.

At the time she began volunteering for Mighty Mutts, Randi did not have her own dog, but she knew that at some point she would end up with at least one. “I have wanted dogs all of my life, but wanted the time to be right.” When the timing was right, she knew that adopting a dog is what she wanted to do. In fact, she told me that buying a dog was never even an option in her mind. She said, “I know there are countless great dogs in need of adoption and I always wanted to open my home to one (or two) of them.”

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One day while she was volunteering, she met three new beagles that had come in to Mighty Mutts together – Missy, Boomer, and Daisy. She didn’t know much about their backstory (which happens to be a big reason why people are sometimes nervous to adopt) except that these dogs were abandoned after their owner passed away. Regardless, she fell in love with Missy and Boomer and Randi knew that these two beagles had to be hers.

After getting them home, Randi began to realize that these dogs had no training at all. They had to be housebroken (maybe for the first time), learn how to walk properly on a leash, and learn basic obedience commands. Even still, Missy is extremely fearful of strangers. Boomer does not get along with other dogs with the exception of Missy. While Randi does not believe they suffered any physical trauma before she adopted them, there were still major adjustments that had to be made getting them used to their new lives.6

Randi said, even with the struggles of having to train two dogs, she would 100% do it again.  Her dogs are part of her family, and they love them. “They have their issues, but all dogs do.”

Randi told me that these two beagles have changed her life in many positive ways. She said that “these two dogs keep their human parents on their toes, and do something every day to make people laugh. After a rough day, you cannot help but smile knowing that you have two happy, wagging tails waiting for you when you come home.”

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I also asked Randi to tell me how she feels about Mighty Mutts. She told me that “as a Mighty Mutts volunteer, I know how much the organization is there to help animals in need. I’m grateful for the work they do and can think of no better way to thank them than to have adopted my dogs there.” Randi says that the rescue dogs at Mighty Mutts, and at other organizations, are sweet, loving, adorable, and thankful for the new life you give them. She certainly sees that with Missy and Boomer.

Randi’s two beautiful beagles are purebred. In fact, purebreds are extremely easy to find in shelters and rescue organizations. So before you assume that all rescues are mutts, if you are looking for a specific breed please try searching through organizations like Mighty Mutts first.

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Aside

Not Tested On Animals!

For almost three years now I have been cruelty-free.  When I learned about the horrors of animal testing, I made an immediate lifestyle change. For the record, I am not trying to upset anyone with this post. I feel that if more people were aware of this information, maybe things will change in the future.

A little back story: I had a beautiful, blue Beagle before my French Bulldog.  When I first got her, I became aware of this wonderful organization called the Beagle Freedom Project (www.beaglefreedomproject.org).  They rescue laboratory Beagles, who are sweet innocent dogs that have spent their whole lives in a crate to be used as living test creatures for the benefits of our make-up products, conditioner and home cleaning products.  I will not go into detail about the foundation here, but if you would like to learn more, please visit their website.  Since I have learned about the nightmare that is animal testing, I will not use a single product that has been tested on animals.  In the beginning it seemed impossible, but now there are so many apps like Buycott and Cruelty Cutter where you scan the product and it tells you if it is tested on animals.  They are a great, easy way to go cruelty free.

Now for my pitch:  This may not be for you or something you are able to do, but there is one thing I ask you to take a minute to do:  Click on the link here (http://www.beaglefreedomproject.org/life_after_labs) and it will help you automatically generate a letter to your local congressman/congresswomen to encourage them to sign up and help give those poor, innocent lab dogs a second chance at life after the one they never should have had in the first place.

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