BADRAP, the San Francisco organization best known for defending pit bulls from being maligned, abused and discriminated against, lost a good friend last week — Sally, the friendly pit who served as both mascot and inspiration.
What follows, reprinted with permission, is a beautifully written eulogy, penned by Donna Reynolds, Sally’s mom and BAD RAP’s director:
“Some news to share, with a heavy heart. Our muse, our founding dog and our best gal – the irrepressible Sally – passed away last Friday, leaving a legacy as wide as her smile.
“Who was she? She came to us in 1998, back when pit bulls wore a scarlet letter and suffered the consequences of breed stereotypes and misinformation. She seemed to know that we needed a little levity in a world that had started to lose its heart for dogs. She was supposed to be a visitor, but unpacked her bags and before we knew it, staked her claim as a monolithic influence in our personal lives and catalyst for our organization.
“She was our four legged Google before Google existed; our touchstone for dogs from her tribe. We weren’t exactly sure what a pit bull was – we still aren’t – but Sally was happy to take on the role of ambassador of a forgotten country that was begging to be explored. We built BADRAP’s message and key programs around the lessons she graciously offered. Along the way, her beauty inspired her favorite human (Tim Racer) to take up chisels and memorialize her and then other beloved dogs in wood carousel sculptures.
“With a larger than life personality, she had no concept of personal boundaries and was unapologetically obsessed with people – ‘over socialized,’ we joked. She screamed like a lovesick banshee when she heard the voices of people she knew. When she reached them, she scrambled to taste them, slurping straight up surprised nostrils with ecstatic, impatient licks.
“We didn’t train Sally; we worked out agreements with Sally. “Sit calmly until the child is ready to touch you and then you can have a tiny kiss.” She’d tremble, working against every fiber in her being to keep her butt on the ground so she could earn her prize moment.
“She was bold, bawdy and uninhibited and she reveled in being alive, beating back cancer for ten of her 17 years. She body surfed in the Pacific and knew how to catch the best waves and ride them to shore like a pro. She never once took the winding path down to the beach; instead, she plowed down the side of the steepest dune so she could get to the water first. When she tired, she’d find a quiet perch and stare out at the horizon as if reading a sonnet in the waves. When she slept, she curled her heavy head in the crook of an elbow and rumbled softly, occasionally peeking with a twinkling brown eye to solicit a soft kiss.
“In 2007, she nearly derailed our much anticipated assignment to assess the survivors of Bad Newz Kennels by falling very ill and sporting a suspicious mass deep in her bowels, just as we were making our flights to Virginia. Then, after noting our double distress, she granted us permission to travel by dutifully pooping out a plastic toy car in its entirety – Crisis averted. (Thank you, Sally.)
“She schooled the Vick dogs as soon as they arrived in CA. To her, they were just dogs – and she reminded us of that right away. She took great pleasure in humping good manners into Jonny Rotten aka Jonny Justice and in pissing far above Hector’s pee spots, aiming for a target as high as her business end could reach. ‘You’re welcome here, new dog. But just don’t forget who the Queen is.’ They politely deferred, so she gave them straight A’s.
“To Sally, life was one long party with momentary pauses along the way. She marched in the SF Pride Parade nearly 13 years in a row, convinced that the fanfare of waving, screaming spectators had assembled just for her. She zig zagged and pulled as hard as she could towards the throbbing music and sun oiled bodies and she always managed to end up in the lap of one or more of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – naturally.
“Despite her hurricane nature, she was also tender and affectionate and sensitive. Too strong of a reprimand horrified her, and she felt responsible for restoring peace when her humans argued or swore. She schooled hundreds of foster dogs and counted many as her best friends, but she took no guff from ill-mannered dogs. After finding two boy pups fighting over food in HER kitchen, she body slammed both dogs across the room in different directions. Conversation done and over.
“All and none of these traits marked her as a pit bull. She was Sally before she was a dog, and she was a dog before she was a pit bull; a force of nature who blew into our world and rattled us awake, then wagged her way back home 17 deliciously happy years later.
“‘Rest in Peace’ is not a fitting epitaph for this game changer. Rather: ‘Long may you rail and adventure around the cosmos. Thank you dearly for stopping by and including us in your exciting travels.’”
“Sally Racer 1998-2015. Long live the Queen.”
(Photo of Sally courtesy of BADRAP)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 28th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advocacy, animals, bad rap, badrap, dead, death, dies, dog, dogs, donna reynolds, eulogy, image, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rehabilitation, remembrance, reputation, sally, san francisco, vick dogs
Gracie, one of more than 50 dogs rescued seven years ago from NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s dog fighting compound, has died.
The black pit bull spent her final years in an adoptive household in suburban Richmond.
She died Monday morning, according to Amy McCracken, executive director of the Richmond Animal League.
“This morning, little, old, bow-legged Gracie passed away and got her angel wings. Any words we write here could never begin to express the profound, positive and lasting impact that this little, black pit bull had on so many people who encountered her or heard the story of her suffering and triumph,” said a post on the animal’s league’s “Gracie’s Guardians” Facebook page.
“We are and will be forever grateful for this little, broken black dog and everything she personified.”
The dog arrived at the Richmond in 2007 and was adopted by the group’s board president, Sharon Cornett.
“Gracie was very, very friendly,” McCracken told CNN. Gracie had been used as a breeding dog, as opposed to a fighter, in Vick’s operation, she said. “She loved people and was never aggressive to other dogs.”
With her new owner, Gracie attended conferences and meetings about animal welfare and visited schools to show people they have nothing to fear from most pit bulls.
Gracie was one of about 50 pit bulls seized by authorities in April 2007 when Vick, then a quarterback with the Atlanta Falcons, was charged with operating an illegal dog-fighting ring, called Bad Newz Kennels, on his Virginia property.
Twenty-two of the dogs were sent for rehabilitation and long-term care at Best Friends Animal Society’s sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, while others went to Bad Rap, a San Francisco pet shelter, and a handful of other shelters and sanctuaries,
Created by the Richmond animal shelter, Gracie’s Guardians is an initiative dedicated to the welfare of pit bulls. The group chose Gracie as their namesake “in tribute to her perseverance and that of countless other pit bulls who have suffered or continue to suffer at the hands of people, yet whose spirits and love for humans remains untarnished.”
(Photo: from the Facebook page of Gracie’s Guardians)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 8th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bad newz, bad rap, best friends, dead, death, died, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, gracie, gracie's guardians, michael vick, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rehabilitation, rescue, richmond, vick, vick dogs, victory, virginia
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
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
A family in northern Maine says it is “overwhelmed” by the generosity they saw from friends and strangers who donated enough money for them to get a service dog for their 5-year-old daughter, Faith.
Faith has spina bifida and experiences seizures. The new dog — a black Lab named Dandy — has been trained to detect when they might be coming.
Bruce and Beverly McNally, of Island Falls, took Faith in as a foster child, then as their adopted daughter. They quickly realized they needed help monitoring her for the seizures, which could be deadly if not addressed.
“The family became very worried, which is why they wanted to get the dog,” Michele King, Faith’s aunt, told the Bangor Daily News.
King is also the chief administrative officer for Brave Hearts, a nonprofit Christian home for young men in Island Falls, and that organization sponsored a fundraiser last month to try and raise the $2,500 that was needed.
King said that donations came from the more than 100 people who attended a benefit supper, and from people as far away as North Carolina.
“We just couldn’t believe it,” Beverly McNally said. “We eventually had enough money and we had to gently turn people away. We had to tell them that we had enough for the dog, but that we wanted them to donate the money to a charity of their own choosing.”
Dandy came from CARES — Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services — a nonprofit organization in Concordia, Kansas, that trains and matches assistance dogs with owners.
“Dandy has just been wonderful for Faith,” McNally said on Friday. “She picks up on a chemical change in the body when a seizure occurs. One day when we got back, Faith was very lethargic. She was in the chair with me and needed to be snuggled a lot more. And the dog got up in the chair and started whining. And I didn’t realize what was going on. And 45 minutes later, Faith had a seizure. Then I realized what the dog was trying to tell me.”
(Photo: Michele King)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 23rd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: assistance, benefit, black, brave hearts, canine, cares, dandy, detecting, dog, dogs, donations, education, faith, fundraiser, fundraising, island falls, lab, labrador retriever, maine, rehabilitation, seizures, service, services, spina bifida
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
An animal rescue group says it has been able to raise enough money to make the down payment on Michael Vick’s former home in Virginia, which they plan to turn into a center for rescued dogs.
It will be called Good Newz (a play on Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels) Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
The group Dogs Deserve Better announced on its website it had received an approval for a loan and hopes to close on the Surry County property that served as headquarter’s for Vick’s dogfighting operation in mid-May.
The group, which has already raised a third of the sale price, is still raising money to pay off the remaining two-thirds — the amount the loan was approved for. They hope to build a fence around the property and start accepting dogs while they raise the money to build the facility, WVEC reported.
Members have previously said say they’d need an estimated $3 million to create the dog center, which would also serve as the new headquarters for the Pennsylvania-based rescue group.
After the forfeit of Vick’s five-bedroom, 15-acre property, potential buyers were few — in part because of a down real estate economy, maybe too, though real estate agents played it down, because of the horrors that occured there. Assessed at more than $700,000, the house is being purchased by Dogs Deserve Better for $595,000.
In an interview with Care2, DDB’s Tamira Thayne said, “I felt when I was there that the dogs who lost their lives and suffered there welcomed us and were grateful to us for both preserving their memories, continuing the fight against dog abuse, and bringing happiness to a place of such sadness.”
DDB announced in February that it had obtained an option to purchase the property, located at 1915 Moonlight Road.
Vick served 21 months of a 23 month sentence in federal prison for bankrolling the dog fighting operation at the property.
DDB plans to build a state of the art dog facility there, with help from volunteers and donations.
Thayne said the group hopes to house, train, and sent to adoptive homes about 500 dogs a year at first, moving up to 1,000 dogs a year. The group will be rehabilitating primarily dogs that been abused and neglected, penned and chained.
“For us, having a standard shelter is not the answer, because we have to be teaching these dogs how to live within the home and family,” Thayne told Care 2. “So we want to design a center where they will be trained in a house setting every day, working one on one or in small groups with a human to assess and deal with issues and teach housetraining and people skills.”
For information on how to donate, visit the Dogs Deserve Better website.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abused, bad newz, center, chained, ddb, dogs, dogs deserve better, former home, good newz, headquarters, home, kennels, michael vick, neglected, penned, philadelphia eagles, property, quarterback, rehabilitate, rehabilitation, rescue, shelter, surry county, tamira thayne, vick, virginia