I’m not sure what I love more about this artist — her paintings, her name, her theme or her determination.
Levity Tomkinson is a Kentucky artist who has tackled a serious project — painting all 51 of the dogs seized from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation in 2007.
She’s more than one-fifth of the way there.
Finding herself struck by the resiliency of those Vick dogs who were rescued and rehabilitated, Tomkinson got the idea in 2012 and started what she calls The Re51lient Project.
Tomkinson had started painting dogs — beginning with her own, a pit bull mix named Rinlee – in 2010, when, after graduating college, she found herself without any good job leads.
After reading an article about Vick dogs who had been rehabilitated and adopted, the project began.
“I thought of the idea during a time in my life that was really unpleasant, where I was trying to find meaning and happiness and purpose again, and these dogs were absolutely a part of my healing process. They inspired me to be positive, to smile and look at the world and appreciate all different kinds of beauty …. I am forever indebted and grateful to these dogs for changing my life.”
Like many dog lovers, Tomkinson was moved how many of the dogs taken from the NFL quarterback’s Bad News Kennels managed to overcome the horrors inflicted on them there.
As she explains it on her blog, “I cannot begin to fathom the daily lives of the 51 dogs who were rescued, and those before who weren’t. I paint for the 51 …
“I paint for the dogs … that didn’t win in a fight they never wanted anyway, dying from injuries with punctured skin and a mauled lip and face that became raw meat. I paint for the dogs … with that were forced into a rape stall to unwillingly bring more dogs into the world of dog fighting. I paint for any dog who has been, is, or will be a part of this heinous world. The resiliency of the 51 is my courage, my push, my determination, and my love for this project.”
Tomkinson, according to the Huffington Post, hopes to turn the project into a book, with portraits of all 51 dogs — those who were adopted and those who spent the rest of their lives in sanctuaries.
“Every single dog has importance and a story to tell, something to teach us, and either their passing or not being adopted doesn’t lessen their message or them,” she said.
“If Re51lient can empower one person to choose positivity over negativity, triumph over fear, allow them to let go of past hurt or add one more pit bull lover to this world, then my heart is happy. ”
(Photos: Lucas, a former Vick dog who died last year at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary; Tomkinson, from her Facebook page; and Ray, a Vick dog adopted this year)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: art, artist, artists, dog, dog art, dog artists, dogfighting, dogs, kentucky, levity tomkinson, michael vick, paintings, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, re51lient project, rehabilitation, rescue, resilience, resiliency, resilient project, vick dogs
The event, held to honor local athletes, is scheduled for Feb. 12.
Officials with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring the event, say they’re reviewing the complaints that have flooded in online about the appearance of the quarterback, who was convicted and served time in connection with his dogfighting operation.
But they say they have no plans to disinvite Vick.
“There is a group of folks, who are very unhappy with Mr. Vick for a variety of reasons — and they are passionate about it,” said Harvey Schmitt, president and CEO of the chamber.
But, he added, “Mr. Vick has an interesting story to tell. It is one of an attempt for his personal redemption.” Schmitt also stressed the event isn’t about honoring Vick, but spotlighting local sports stars. “The recognition is not for Mr. Vick,” he said.
The announcement of the event on the chamber’s Facebook page has drawn more than 1,000 comments, almost all of them negative.
“If you want a few Champions to speak to your little group, how about inviting the people who had to rescue and rehabilitate the dogs that survived their experience with Michael Vick? Or lets hear from the people that had to deal with the bodies of the ones that did NOT survive Michael Vick? THOSE are the true champions,” wrote a woman who identified herself as Sandra Melvin.
A group organizing a protest at the event has seen 1,600 sign up to attend, according to its Facebook page.
Meanwhile, a petition demanding the chamber remove Vick from the program has been signed by nearly 70,000 people on the website Change.org.
Organizers say the event is an opportunity to “learn the real story about his incredible NFL career, his meteoric rise from poverty to riches and fame, his downfall, and his improbable comeback.”
The program is being held at PNC Arena, with tickets running as much as $75 each.
Chamber officials declined to say how much Vick is getting paid for the appearance, according to WNCN, which first broke the story.
Vick, currently a free agent, played for the Atlanta Falcons at the time of his arrest and, after his prison sentence, was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 5th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal cruelty, animal welfare, chamber of commerce, dog fighting, dogfighting, evening of champions, event, greater raleigh chamber of commerce, michael vick, nfl, north carolina, philadelphia eagles, quarterback, raleigh, redemption, speaker, speaking, sports, vick
Eight of the 27 pit bulls seized from a Wisconsin breeding kennel suspected of having connections to dogfighting belonged to a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s not Michael Vick.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce Brown is the owner of Eilis, and her seven puppies, all of whom were removed May 21 from a pit bull breeding kennel near Eau Claire, according to the Leader-Telegram.
Brown had sent Eilis to Northland Pits in February to be bred. After the pups were born, the kennel offered to whelp and wean the pups, and Brown sent them all to Wisconsin for that purpose, according to an affadivit in the case.
While they were there, the kennel was searched, and 27 dogs were seized by the Eau Claire County Humane Association. The owner of the kennel, Joseph A. Sudbrink, has been charged with mistreating animals and running a breeding kennel without a license.
The officer who removed the animals, BeKah Weitz, said the dogs at the kennel had contracted ringworm and possibly had other skin issues and were being kept in substandard conditions. She told the court she saw scarring on the dogs and believed the kennel operators were fighting the dogs. Prosecutors say they are continuing to investigate.
Both Brown and the kennel owner petitioned to get their dogs back, and on Friday a county judge ordered Eilis and her pups returned to Brown.
The 19 other dogs will remain in custody for at least five more days, under the judge’s ruling.
The kennel’s website says it is a breeder of “quality old family red nose pit bulls” and that no dogs are “bred, sold or used for any illegal activities.”
Brown, the running back, has no known connection to dogfighting. The Philadelphia Inquirer says he has friends who are pit bull breeders, and friends whose dogs engage in ”extreme” agility training. He posted the video above, showing him and another pit bull, on his Facebook page, but said “I go to the park with them to be supportive … It’s not really my thing.”
Sheila Kessler, an attorney who represented Brown and also serves on the Humane Society of Portage County board, picked up his dog and puppies from the shelter to return them to Brown.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 1st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bred, breeder, bryce brown, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, eau claire, eau claire county humane association, eilis, football, investigation, kennel, nfl, northland pits, pets, philadelphia eagles, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, puppies, running back, substandard conditions, unlicensed, weaned, whelped, wisconsin
A pit bull who was seized from a notorious dogfighting operation in Virginia, rehabilitated in Utah, and adopted by a couple in Texas helped make the case for a new law in Nevada that prohibits local governments from enacting and enforcing regulations that deem a dog dangerous based solely on its breed.
Gov. Brian Sandoval signed the anti-breed discrimination law this week, and it takes effect Oct. 1, 2013.
Assembly Bill 110, which was sponsored by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall and spearheaded Best Friends Animal Society, also got a push from our friend Mel, the former Michael Vick dog who now lives in Dallas. Richard Hunter, Mel’s new owner, testified before the Nevada Senate to show support.
“Best Friends is proud that Nevada has taken steps to prevent breed discrimination,” said Ledy VanKavage said, senior legislative attorney for Best Friends. “Every American who follows the right safety rules as a responsible dog owner should be allowed to own whatever breed of dog they choose.”
Nevada is the the 14th state to pass a law preventing breed discrimination, Best Friends said.
“Assembly Bill 110 bans breed discriminatory laws from being enacted anywhere in Nevada,” said Assemblyman Ohrenschall.
He added, “I’m confident that this law will benefit dogs, dog owners and animal lovers throughout our great state. It has always been bad public policy to enact ordinances that target a certain breed of dog without considering that individual dog’s actions. I’m proud of sponsoring this legislation because it will help keep our innocent friends from being killed needlessly and senselessly.”
Best Friends received and rehabilitated most of the dogs seized from the dogfighting operation at Michael Vick’s former estate in Virginia, including Mel, who was believed to have been used as a bait dog.
“Our fundamental goal is to achieve safe and humane communities. We want our communities to be protected against dangerous dogs – and we want abused dogs to be protected from irresponsible owners,” VanKavage said. “Because everyone benefits from a safe society – both people and pets.”
Studies done in countries with breed-discriminatory laws, such as the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany, found that these laws didn’t reduce the number of dog bites or improve public safety. Based on these studies, and concerns about due process and property rights infringement, the American Bar Association, the National Animal Control Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association don’t support breed discrimination, Best Friends said in a press release.
“They support laws that go after the real problem–the behavior of the individual dog and the behavior of the reckless owner.”
Through its national pit bull initiatives, Best Friends Animal Society encourages state and municipal governments to adopt breed-neutral “dangerous dog” laws that focus on the key causes of dog aggression—owners’ failure to spay or neuter, train and socialize dogs regardless of breed, or because they abuse or neglect dogs or force them to live on chains.
(Photo: John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bait dog, best friends, breed discrimination, breed specific legislation, breeds, bsl, dangerous dogs, dogfighting, dogs, enact, enforce, governor, James Ohrenschall, law, legislation, mel, michael vick, nevada, owners, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, prohibits, rehabilitation, responsibility, richard hunter, seized, signed
Or it could have been the love.
Misty, only nine months old, was found on a Brooklyn street corner earlier this month, covered in wounds and bites from being used as a bait dog.
She was placed in a city shelter, then pulled by Second Chance Rescue, which moved her into a foster home. On Friday, she escaped from the backyard of that home.
Friends and neighbors joined in on the weekend-long search. Thousands of flyers were posted, and a $2,000 reward was offered. More than $4,500 was quickly raised to help in the search, and more than 14,000 people had, by Monday, “liked” her Facebook page.
But it was bacon — not social media — that apparently led to her safe return.
“The whole thing is unbelievable,” Misty’s foster mom, Erin Early-Hamilton, told NJ.com.
When someone suggested slapping some bacon on the backyard grill to lure the dog home, Early-Hamilton — despite being a vegan — was willing to give it a try.
She was sitting in a chair, and her husband was at the grill, when Misty came wandering home around 2 p.m. Monday.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, backyard, bacon, bait dog, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, foster, grill, lost, missing, misty, new jersey, new york, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rescue, return, runaway, scent, second chance rescue, shelter, smell
It’s a done deal: Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit group that fights chaining, penning and other forms of cruelty to dogs, has closed on Michael Vick’s old house — the former headquarters of the quarterback’s dogfighting operation, Bad Newz Kennels.
Dogs Deserve Better plans to turn the property in Surry County, Virginia, into a center to rehabilitate and resocialize dogs that have been mistreated and abused, with the hope of finding them adoptive homes.
The name of the facility will be: The Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
The potential deal, which we told you about in February, became a reality in May, when Dogs Deserve Better raised enough money for the down payment and secured a bank loan to purchase the 4,600-square-foot white brick house and surrounding 15 acres.
The group paid $176,507 as the down payment for the house, liisted at $595,000, and is still raising money to pay for the rest and make improvements.
Once complete, it will be a $2.5 million facility, founder Tamira Thayne said told the Virginian-Pilot.
“Purchasing this property and in effect giving it back to the victims of the abuse that occurred here is a very powerful step for animal advocates and our country’s dogs alike,” said Thayne. “We are sending a message to those who want to abuse and fight dogs that a new day is dawning in America, a day where dogs are treated with the love and respect they deserve as companions to humans.”
The Washington Post had a report on the property’s transition from a place of nightmares to a place of hope earlier this month.
Dogs Deserve Better, which will move from its Pennsylvania base to Virginia, has never had a facility of its own, but it says it has rescued and rehomed more than 3,000 dogs during its existence.
Dogs Deserve Better says having the facililty in a house will help in socializing the dogs it takes in. The group hopes to rescue and rehabilitate 500 dogs a year.
Thayne said that, in addition to welcoming visitors, Dogs Deserve Better will also build a memorial on the property for the dogs who died and suffered there, according to Dogster.com.
For more information on the purchase, the plans and how you can donate, visit the website of Dogs Deserve Better.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abused, adopt, adoption, animals, bad newz kennels, bought, buys, center, chained, dogfighting, dogs, dogs deserve better, dogster, football, former, good newz rehab center, home, house, michael vick, mistreated, moonlight road, nfl, operation, penned, pets, philadelphia eagles, pit bulls, property, purchase, rehab, rehabilitation, rescue, ring, surry county, tamira thayne, virginia
Now, Mel, one of Michael Vick’s former dogs, has one, too.
As for who’s more deserving, well, you know how I feel.
Mel was only about a year old when he was seized from the Vick estate and dogfighting operation in Virginia, where he was believed to have been used as a bait dog. He was one of 47 survivors, and one of the 22 who, deemed most hopeless, were sent to Best Friends, the animal sanctuary in southern Utah.
After spending nearly two years at the Utah animal sanctuary, Mel was adopted by Richard Hunter, a Dallas radio personality and his wife Sunny, manager of VIP services for a swanky gentlemen’s club called The Lodge.
When our travels took us through Texas we met up with Hunter and Mel, joining them for a ride around town because Mel seems most comfortable in the car. Ace piled in the back seat with Mel and the Hunter’s older dog, Pumpkin.
The next time we heard from Richard Hunter, was in February, after he confronted Vick during a Dallas appearance.
Hunter, one of many who were outraged that Vick was being presented a key to the city by interim Mayor Dwaine Caraway, got as close as he could to him and offered him a chance to see his former dog Mel. Vick didn’t take him up on the offer and Hunter was shoved away by the quarterback’s entourage.
Now we get word that, over the weekend, Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt surprised Hunter by presenting him the John LaBella Award at an Eastlake Pet Orphanage banquet — and presenting Mel with a key to the city.
During the presentation, the Dallas Morning News reports, Hunt had some choice words for Caraway.
“One of my colleagues in the city of Dallas showed a grave lapse in judgment by awarding the highest honor our city an bestow – our key to the city – on someone who was entirely undeserving and someone who has shown serious cruelty and inhumanity,” she said.
Hunt then awarded Mel with a key to the city — an edible one no less.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 12th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, angela hunt, animals, bait dog, best friends, confrontation, dallas, dallas city council, dogfighting, dogs, dwaine caraway, former vick dog, interim, key to the city, mayor, mel, michael vick, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, richard hunter, sunny hunter, survivor, texas, travels with ace, vick dog