Pits in the Park (as told by Julius)

Hi Peoples, it’s Julius here!  It isn’t often that my mom lets me post on the blog.  She says it has something to do with having to type for me and some nonsense about supposable thumbs but she said I could write all about the Julius Jamboree Pits in the Park that was last Saturday. My mom had been busy getting lots of things ready for this big Pittie Party and she even had people over to give me love and attention fold programs and load things in the van.  On that morning I was busy following her around the house and sticking very close to her legs so that she would remember that I was supposed to go with her, and yet she left the house without me!  I was sure that was a huge mistake and I was sad until my human sister, Asia, came to pick me up and she took me and Chance to the big celebration.  When we got to the park, there were so many dogs and people that I got really excited and happy to see everyone.  I saw some of my foster babies there like Diva, who used to be Godiva and Mishi who used to be Kit Kat.  They were both very cute and happy to be at the park.  I saw my buddy Bentley and his new sister Bitsy and my friend Rhino and his sister Boo.  We all walk together on the Sunday day too so we are good friends.  It was like a big party just for me and my friends, except there were so many more.

Photo by Lisa Reyes

The big surprise was I got to be in the kissing booth with my best buddy, Clyde.  We are both very romantical guys and we love to kiss the ladies (and even the gentlemen and kids and other dogs…).  Heck, we would have just given out a lot of free kisses (and we did) but our moms said we were raising money so that other Pit Bulls could be helped.


After we kissed a bunch of people, my buddy Chance and the pretty gal Eden were in the booth.  Chance didn’t really like the booth much.  He just wanted to sit in the grass with Asia and beg for pizza so Eden did a lot of kissing and whenever mom said I was getting obnoxious she put me back in the booth, because I didn’t bark when I was in there.  Then we got to walk around in a parade and show off all of our handsomes!

Clyde and I got to lead the parade because we are more handsome than everyone else The Bully Collective was given the honor and his mom is what they call a founder.

After the parade, Asia took me and Chance home while mom got to have more fun pick up trash and tear down booths. She says this is the first year that Ray didn’t get to go but that she was very proud of me and all of my good ambassador skills.

Do you have a Julius Pit Bull Celebration in your community?

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Indy Mutt Strut 2015

Although I’ve lived the majority of my life in Indiana, I’ve never attended nor visited the famous raceway in Indianapolis, home of the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard 400. In fact, although I do go to Indianapolis fairly often, I didn’t really even know on what side of town the track could be found. That changed when fellow dog mom, Lisa, suggested we attend the Indy Mutt Strut which is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

  

Billed as The Greatest Spectacle in Dog Walking, it promised to be a pretty cool event (over 7000 humans and 6000 pets attended in 2014 in support of the Indianapolis Humane Society)but the dilemma was that Ray is my usual “event” dog but I was pretty sure that walking on the 2.5 mile track would not be a go for him and if Lisa decided to bring Clyde, we would probably have to drive separately as Ray and Clyde haven’t yet met and that wouldn’t be any fun. I could bring Julius, since he and Clyde are besties, but I just felt that a 2 hour car ride might not be the greatest idea for Julius who sometimes gets car sick. We then talked about going dog-less, but that idea just made me feel sad. In the end, I decided to bring Titan, who is adoptable through the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition and Lisa brought Clyde.

  

Lisa and Clyde met me at my house and we headed down to Titan’s foster. The plan was to walk them a bit and gauge reactions and if it was a no-go then Titan would stay home but fortunately they clicked well enough and off we went.

  

Titan is just a year old and all puppy. He takes a significant amount of time to settle, so a very short distance into the trip Lisa decided to sit in the jump seat directly behind me in the Pittie Van and kept the two adolescent boys in check. Whenever he was told to lie down, Titan happily obliged by flopping down and offering an invitation to rub his belly and after only 80 miles on the road, he (and everyone else) settled in for a power nap.

Since we had had Titan out at Pet Expo, we knew he was solid with other dogs and Saturday proved to be no different. The venue looked very inviting and we were offered complimentary poop bags before going to the registration tables. (Who else but dog moms get excited over free poop bags?)

After registration we wandered around the booths collecting freebies and occasionally getting wet from the persistent rain before deciding to try walking around the famous track. We ended up walking an embarrassingly short distance before deciding that 2.5 miles in the rain was not a lot of fun so we did a bit more shopping before heading back home.

Back at the Pittie van, Clyde claimed the spot in the very back and hid behind the jump seat in an effort to proclaim that he didn’t appreciate being trapped in a moving box with a toddler, tortured by walking in the rain, then hustled (wet) back into the box with a (wet) toddler.

Fortunately the drive home was uneventful and we dropped Titan and off at his Foster home and left him with a new leash and all of the doggie treats we had collected to share with his foster sister.

If you would like more information about Titan, please visit the Fort Wayne Pit Bull Coalition’s website or Facebook page.

Guest Post-

Quite a few months ago my friend, Lisa, and I were talking about her orientation at Animal Care and Control and about how even people who know that pet homelessness is a problem don’t quite grasp it like those who work “in the trenches” do.  I asked her to write about her thoughts and to be honest, I’ve held this for a few too many days hoping I could make a series out of it, but earlier this week Ray the Victory Dog and his mom had a very good post about just the same topic, so I thought now was as good a time as any.

 

I have volunteered with many animal welfare organizations through the years, worked for a spay/neuter clinic and a Veterinarians office. I have had a behind the scenes view at how all of these different entities work and the hardest thing for me to understand is how a lot of these organizations work against each other. One of the greatest divisions is in the words used to describe a shelter as “kill”, “no kill”, “high kill” etc. These words aren’t only misleading, but immediately label a shelter as good or bad. I prefer that we distinguish the shelters as “open admission” and “limited admission”.

 Open admission shelters are usually what people refer to as “kill” shelters. These are typically the government Animal Care and Controls or Humane Societies. Open admission shelters cannot refuse any animal brought to them. This means that every dog, cat, gerbil, rabbit, snake, goat, pig, cow or alligator.  My local Animal Care and Control is a public safety department and they are assigned the task of euthanizing for the city

“Limited Admissions shelters that pick and choose the pets they admit may sometimes refer to themselves as “no-kill” shelters, because they are not taking in the animals that are being euthanized in their community. However, in every community there are a number of pets (approx. 25% of the pet population in any community) that will NOT be candidates for re-homing due to major medical issues or aggression. So those “no-kill” shelters are simply shifting the euthanasia of animals in their community to another entity.” (Humane Society of Mississippi) Limited admission shelters are typically your non-profit or breed specific organizations. These shelters work solely on public donations and grants.

An equally important organization in the animal welfare community is the local, low cost Spay/Neuter clinic. These organizations are usually non-profits operating on donations, government and private grants. I feel that a spay/neuter clinic is the single most effective tool in raising live release rates (the amount of animals that make it out of a shelter) in a community. Communities without access to these low cost clinics have a difficult time raising their release rates.

My city, which has a population of approximately 256,000, has an average of 53 (last year’s stats of almost 12,000 take in) animals taken to Animal Care and Control every day. At my orientation it was put to us like this. If I dropped off 7 animals at your house tomorrow and asked you to find homes for them, how long do you think that would take? What if I dropped off 7 every day for the rest of your life? How well do you think you would do? The intake numbers were even down from prior years and those numbers have been close to 19,000 intake. This is one shelter is a small city. These numbers don’t include the other thousands that are in various rescues throughout the city. The amount of animals in need dramatically surpasses the availability of homes.

So let’s address the Elephant in every circle and every room of every rescue and shelter, the euthanasia of millions of animals every year in this country. We euthanize animals at an alarming rate because irresponsible people breed, discard, abuse and relinquish every day.  How do we change these statistics and why aren’t we working together to do so?

 There seems to be a huge division within the animal welfare community as to who the good guys and bad guys are. I’ve heard people say that they would never volunteer at a shelter that euthanizes because they think that it is a horrible thing to do to animals. I have seen small shelters essentially flip dogs and cats for profit and notability with little regard to the actual animal. I have also heard the heart wrenching decision made to euthanize a dog because he bit someone, most likely out of fear.

Why the division? I have theories that range from greed to prestige to ego. First of all, there are a lot of people that work/volunteer in rescue because they want to be acknowledged, not because they truly care. There is a mad dash for fund raising and anyone that “takes” money out of your hand is your enemy. There are people that like to feel righteous about their organization and spread rumors about others. There are even rescues that are in it for the money and lie to people about the money spent on care and lie about how many animals are even in the rescue. Veterinarians spread lies about inadequate care and safety to scare clients away from the low cost spay/neuter clinics because they think they are losing money. Humans are hopelessly flawed.

What can we do to change this and reach what should be our true goal, no more homeless animals? We can take the lead from my city where our local Animal Care and Control, SPCA and spay/neuter clinic work as a coalition to save animals. We have introduced a TNR (trap and release) Community cat program that has raised the live release rate by 100% (plus) while ensuring that future litters are not being born. The local SPCA pulls adoptable dogs and cats from the city shelter opening up more space. Both shelters give information to the public about spay/neuter/vaccines at our low cost clinics. All three of these organizations support each other to reach the common goal.

I had become disheartened this past year about the work that was being done locally. I felt that not enough was being done to find homes for the local animals and simultaneously felt that animals were practically being given away to anyone asking.  I had to come to the realization that the demand is so high that sometimes the shelters have to decide to give people a chance or risk that the dog/cat will not be placed. Should we give them the less than perfect home or no home at all? I thought that a lot of these homes were less than ideal in my mind. I was judging too harshly. I realized that on paper, I might not look that great either.

I decided to focus on the good. Look at the number of homes being found. Look at the amount of dedicated volunteers that come in every week to help. Look at the employees that have back and heart breaking jobs, but show up anyway. Look at those faces as they leave the shelter and hop in that car.

If you are a volunteer or animal welfare worker, I ask you to do the same. Show respect for your fellow shelters. Be grateful for the help, discounts and goods provided through the community. Choose your words carefully when speaking about open admission or limited admission shelters. Acknowledge the difficult decisions that have to be made and respect the fact that you aren’t entitled to an explanation. Work hard because it isn’t about you, it is about that innocent life that relies on you to do the right thing.

Many thanks to Lisa Reyes for sharing her thoughts and for letting me publish them.

The Bully Collective-Clyde’s Story

As we’ve progressed through our Sunday Pack Walks, I’ve been trying to keep you up to date on our successes as well as our learnings because both are so important to not only our development as a pack, but as dog owners in general.  In honor of not only Adopt a Shelter Pet month, but Pit Bull Awareness month, I’ve asked the founders of our Pack Walks to share a story about their dogs.  This week, Lisa Reyes, has agreed to talk a bit about her dog Clyde (click and go LIKE him on Facebook…we’ll wait)  and how he came to be hers. 

I wasn’t looking to adopt.  As a matter of fact, it is my job to find homes for adoptable animals. I work part-time, for my city’s Animal Care and Control, as the off- site adoption Coordinator. When I had an event at our local Petco, I chose a Pit Bull mix named Loki to take along with 2 other dogs.  He was cute, had green eyes and about 8 months old. I like to take our Pit Bull and Pit Bull mixes so the public can see that the shelter has them in our adoption program.

Everyone loved Loki. He was pretty calm for a puppy and was gorgeous. Unfortunately, he did not get any applications at our event. I decided to take him to the next event to see if we had any luck, again he went without any serious interest. Pit Bulls tend to spend a longer amount of time at the shelter, because we have stricter rules for adopting.  Loki was going on a good month or longer in the kennels.

Photo: Lisa Reyes

Photo: Lisa Reyes

I couldn’t stop thinking about this well-behaved little guy that had such a rough start to life. It seemed that his previous family was evicted from their home and did not take him with them. He was rescued by one of our Officers and came into the shelter with a good case of mange.

I knew I was serious about adopting him after I realized I was constantly thinking about him, but I hesitated. I already have an 11-year-old Boxer /Lab mix named Adeshka.  In her aging process, she has become less tolerant of other dogs and I didn’t want to stress her out. I wasn’t sure she would even like having another dog in the house after being the only one for the last 6 years.

My reason for hesitation was the fact that Loki was a Pit Bull mix.  I wasn’t concerned about the breed and all the nonsense you hear about them being inherently aggressive.  I had worked with and around enough of them through the years to know that they are good dogs.  My concerns were more practical. I am a renter.  I live with a friend that owns his home now, but I will be moving out in a year or so. How will I find a home? I am not in the position to buy a house and it is hard to find a place that allows Pit Bulls. Will I end up in the “worse” part of town? Will I end up adopting a dog and find myself homeless next year? Can I afford the renters insurance that covers Pit Bull/mixes?

My other concern was general ignorance. Like so many pet Moms/Dads, I’m protective of my fur babies.  How will I respond to prejudice?  Will I be able to hold my tongue and be a good Pit Bull owner role model?  Pit Bulls tend to get a bad rap, but let’s be honest, there are a lot of really poor Pit Bull owners out there that don’t represent the breed well.  I don’t want to be one of them.

So, it took me about 2 weeks to decide if I was going to adopt Loki. I got in touch with our local Pit Bull coalition and asked about housing. I talked to several friends and colleagues about Pit Bull parenting. I felt confident that I would be able to do this. All the while, poor Loki was still sitting in the kennel waiting for a family. I called the shelter on a Friday and said “I want him”! The response was, “Oh, sorry, he got 2 applications today. He will probably go home on Monday”. Wow, my bubble burst. I figured it wasn’t meant to be.  I told myself that the only thing that mattered was that he had a good home and didn’t spend another day in the kennel.

Monday came and I had to head into the shelter to do some work. My colleague said that the people were there to meet with Loki and another little Pit mix, so they could decide which dog they wanted to adopt. Apparently the other people who put a hold on him did not follow through. I prepared myself to say goodbye to him.  It was a bittersweet day.

Did I mention that Loki had mange? Well, the people that came to see him decided that they didn’t want to put the money into treating him and decided to go with the other dog. Loki could be mine!! Now, I just have to see if my dog and my roommate got along with him.

Adeshka came in to meet him and it went as expected. She pretty much ignored him.  My roommate thought he was great. It all worked out. I could take him home the next day.

I picked him up in the morning and we started our new journey together. First things first, Loki was not his name. He was too calm, kind of an old soul. He is Clyde. Yes, an old man’s name for a little boy who has already lived through too much.

Clyde has since come out of his shell. He is a wonderful, spirited, affectionate, snuggly, tail thumping, face licking boy. I feel lucky every day to have him in my life. He is a true ambassador for his breed. He is not perfect. We are still working on manners and training. He is still young and I am still learning myself. I took for granted how easy my girl, Adeshka, is. She is so well-behaved and very low maintenance.

I’ve been lucky not to have had to deal with much prejudice so far. I am thrilled that I am able to take Clyde to work with me. Most of our clients look forward to seeing him and the staff treats him like a king. Surprisingly, the neighbors behind me had a Pit Bull for 14 years and he was loved by everyone. My neighborhood, considered to be in the “nice part of town”, has several Pit Bull’s/mixes. I love that the face of the Pit Bull guardian is changing into someone just like me and you.