The Ultimate Test of Courage, Hope, and Your Own Tenacity


You see them every day. They’re plastered on store fronts, street signs, telephone poles, bulletin boards, newspapers, magazines, car windows, Facebook and Twitter. We are literally inundated with the heartbroken yet hopeful pleas of the owners of lost pets. 


Ironically enough, while gathering information on this article, one of my dearest friends lost one of her dogs. She was an 18 month old female Black and Tan Coonhound named Berry Sue. She was a beloved pet and rising star out of the renowned Windbourne Farms in Mollala, Oregon. Berry Sue was sweet, affectionate and shy. Her owner, Shelley Campbell made the decision to fly her to a good friend in Brighton, Ma. near Boston. It was their hope that Berry Sue would get some extra socialization and strut her stuff on the east coast dog show circuit. Sadly, while out on one of her first walks her leash broke at the snap and she bolted. The Taskers, her new guardians were unable to coax or retrieve her.


Sick with fear and dread, Emily and Seth Tasker went into action. They did everything right, immediately enlisting the help of friends to post her information on the World Wide Web. Within hours they were plastering posters and canvassing door to door in the area she had fled. It was a nice area with bike paths and lots of wooded trails where people enjoy nature and walk their dogs.  While they searched all day, even spotting her just before dark, she could not be caught. 


The Taskers are animal savvy people, but many animal loving, doting pet owners do not realize the behavior patterns of lost dogs and cats. Berry Sue’s behavior was quite typical for a lost dog. There are many quality resources for the recovery of lost animals. Pioneer Pet Detective, Kat Albrecht has an excellent website  www.missingpetpartnership.org  where you can click on ‘recovery tips’ that go into lifesaving details as to how to utilize posters and understand the psychology of lost pets. This website also includes a national directory of pet detectives and numerous tried and true methods to utilize in recovering lost pets. 


Today, with the advent of the internet, resources abound. But the task will depend on your own determination and in some cases, preparedness. I highly urge all pet owners to visit  www.nathanwinograd.com  and click on the link to Missing Animal Response. In this most fascinating and emotionally charged article Kat Albrecht addresses “A Paradigm Shift To Reduce Shelter Kill Rates”. The statistics quoted here are staggering. Kat states that “in a typical shelter, 1-2% of cats are redeemed by their families, while roughly 20% of dogs are.” Surely we can do better. In fact, it’s hard to even conceive of doing worse. 


Steph Kassner, warehouse manager and volunteer coordinator for AniMeals is tackling the job of initiating a new and innovative system to help the Missoula area people more effectively share and match information to help increase the chances of reuniting with lost pets. Many calls come into their facility on a daily basis. Just taking the calls and posting the information is a most time consuming task. She is studying what other shelters and pet services are doing to improve the aforementioned pitiful statistics. 


There are success stories. AniMeals recently took in a stray cat that had the good fortune of having been micro chipped. The cat was most happily reclaimed when the owners were located and notified through the national microchip database. I can only imagine their relief. Steph also recently reunited two young cats brought in as strays through her own detective skills. How? She recognized their descriptions on Craigslist. You rock, you little sleuth! And as Kat would say, “Think lost, not stray.” 


So what can you do? Well, of course, there’s the obvious. Microchip your pets and mail in the registration forms. Provide a safe environment and be vigilant. Pay attention to your animals, and if your cat goes missing, don’t wait a few day to see if it comes back! Time is of the essence, always. Download and print some of the helpful information and tips and keep them in your pet files. Keep some good, clear close-up photos of all your pets. Post emergency numbers where you can get to them quickly. Have a strategy plan. Think about what you would do and how your resources could best be utilized in the area you live. Be aware of the facilities in your area that house these lost animals. If you should have the misfortune of losing your pet, go to these facilities daily, or enlist the help of friends and family members to do so. Calling a shelter and reporting that you have a lost dog, or cat simply is not going to guarantee that base has been covered. Shelters have shifts, multiple employees, and numerous volunteers. The one that knows what your cat or dog looks like is YOU. Make a list of all the Vet clinics in your area, including phone numbers where an injured animal might be taken.  


While the search for Berry Sue was playing out on the internet I learned of a new service provided by a company called “Toto Alerts’. The Taskers utilized them and they can be found at  www.findtoto.com  877-738-8686. Their webpage claims to be capable of reaching 10,000 neighbors in 30 minutes through location specific mapping and household phone databases via a system that’s used for emergency broadcasts. Many of these types of  services are of course, fee based. 


The picture poster accompanying this article of sweet Berry Sue is an excellent example of how to make and design a poster that will reap results. It needs to be eye-grabbing with easy to read text and very little personal information. On the missing pet partnership website they have a system called 5 + 5 + 55. This translates to 5 seconds...5 words....the average effectiveness for signs at intersections. See the day-glo poster? It works, because of it’s location, size, and bright color. 


Do not underestimate the power of your own intuition regarding the feelings and thoughts you may be having about your lost pet. Who better knows that animal? Do some reading and learn to understand the puzzling behaviors that lead cats and dogs to flee, bolt, and runaway from you when and if you do locate them. There are many natural reasons for this, and they have nothing to do with you. A website with multiple tips about coaxing  pets displaying these behaviors can be found on Pet Detective, Karin TarQwyn’s website at  www.howtofindalostdog.com  which walks you through numerous stages of fright and flight. 


As for my dear friend Shelley Campbell let me say how very sorry so many of us are about the loss of Berry Sue. Despite everything they did and all of the good people that joined in her search, Berry Sue was struck and killed by a car six days after she bolted. Sometimes even though you do your best, your precious pet can still be lost or never seen again. But if you do nothing, then your pet is as good as gone. I know the choices I will make should I have the misfortune of losing any of my beloved pets. Do you? 


AniMeals - 406-721-4710 

Missoula Humane Society - 406-549-3934 

Animal Control - 406-541-7387 

By: Linda Williams, Sanders Co. Search and Rescue Dog Handler and volunteer photographer 

A Heavenly Fable by Michael Mountain


It was Judgment Day, and the long line of people snaked out of the Great Throne Room. There were only humans in the line. Since the other creatures of Earth had never entered into the world of good and evil, guilt and fear, or sin and redemption, and were therefore not in the business of judging others. There was no reason for them to be judged themselves. They went into a kind of fast lane that by-passed the Throne Room altogether, and led directly to whatever lay beyond. But even from the very front of the line you couldn’t see what that was.  


The line wasn’t usually this long. But the world had ended the day before, so everyone was there-all shuffling slowly along, as one by one, they appeared before the throne itself. Not that there was any actual requirement to go before the throne and be judged. It was all entirely up to you, which meant that you could opt out altogether. The downside however, was that it left you with nowhere else to go.  You were after all, dead now.  So unless you just wanted to remain like that, it made more sense to take your chances and get in line along with everyone else.


The line shuffled on.


Along the way, the apprehension was palpable. Even those who had convinced themselves that all would be well today, were suddenly not quite sure.  Certainly, they had done all the right things as prescribed by their religion, faith or culture. But now that it was coming right down to it, there was this worrying sense that everything was not necessarily the way they had been taught. And it was none the more encouraging that bits of rumor and gossip were filtering back through the line that things in the Throne Room were not quite what people were expecting.


The line entered from behind the Throne, so you could just catch glimpses of the faces of the people as they turned to face it.  You couldn’t hear what they were saying, but you could occasionally hear gasps of delight and see their eyes light up as they ran forward to greet whoever was sitting there. In other cases, there was just a stony silence  and a look of shock, even bewilderment, as though the person’s entire belief system had suddenly been stood completely on its head.


And so, one by one they entered and turned to face what awaited them.


As it turned out, no one was waiting to pass judgment, or read a list of sins, nor to tell you whether you had passed or failed.


Instead, on the Throne, there was just a small white rabbit-the kind they use in medical experiments.  And by her side, other animals: a stray cat, an old circus bear, a slightly scrawny, but peaceful looking, little homeless dog, and more.


And then a quiet voice in each person’s head saying simply: “As you have done to the least of these little creatures, so have you done to Me.” 



Broken Bodies, Broken Spirits

He came to the door wearing only a thong and the blood of his tiny victim. The 63 year old man told the officers responding to the 911 call that he was having a “fight with his cat”.

The decision to shave her came after hours of drinking. When the kitten protested he responded by throwing her against the wall which shattered her pelvis and her spine. Then came the drowning. He broke the toilet trying to flush her down it. The officers discovered her lying in a heap on the floor, hypothermic and nearly comatose. They picked up her soaking wet little body and rushed her to an emergency clinic. She died three days later, her body broken beyond repair.

Unfortunately Mercy's story isn't unique. Animal abuse happens every 10 seconds in this country and repeat offenses are a rule, not an exception. Acts of intentional cruelty are often very disturbing and should be considered signs of serious psychological problems. This type of behavior is often associated with sociopaths and should be taken very seriously. These are dangerous people. The judge who signed the felony arrest warrant obviously understood this as the warrant carried a $100,000.00 bond.

We should be just as outraged by the people who drive off and leave the family pet behind, or get a dog and chain it in the backyard and slowly starve it to death. We should have zero tolerance for animal abuse in any form. These innocent creatures shouldn't have to pay for their love with a broken body or a broken spirit.

If you suspect that an animal has been abused, by someone you know or by a stranger, report the cruelty to your local law enforcement. If you witness animal cruelty in progress CALL 911.Animal cruelty is a CRIME, and the sooner the authorities are involved, the better.

“Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man”. Arthur Schopenhauer -German philosopher




March Madness  


He is the lead dog setting the pace for the rest of the team urged on my his master's whip. His feet are cracked and bleeding, his lungs are on fire and still he races on… 


It has been called “The Last Great Race on Earth” and is unlike any other event in the world. A race over 1150 miles of the roughest terrain Mother Nature has to offer. She throws jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast at the mushers and their dog teams. Add to that Godforsaken temperatures far below zero, winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility, the hazards of overflow, long hours of darkness and treacherous climbs and side hills, and you have the Iditarod. 


The race was the brainchild of a woman named Dorothy Page, who in 1967 was searching for a proper way to mark the Alaska Centennial Celebration. Why not, she thought, honor the state's great "race" in 1925 to save the children of Nome from a diphtheria outbreak? That's when teams of mushers drove their dog teams in relays to bring precious diphtheria serum 674 miles from Nenana to Nome. It was a courageous and heroic act by 20 mushers and their dogs. 

But something got lost in the translation. Today's race is no relay. It is a grueling marathon of epic proportions. The 1925 run, accomplished by 20 teams working in relays, took three weeks. Half of the serum run was done by train. Dogs ran in relays for the remaining 674 miles, with no dog running more than 100 miles. 


Today, one team is pushed to travel 1,150 miles (over terrain far more grueling than the terrain found on the serum run route) in eight to 10 days, which averages out to about 140 miles a day with little or no rest. It is a race that has never been run in which dogs didn't die. Death is merely an occupational hazard for the dogs. They have been literally driven into the ground in the name of this sport. More than an estimated 130 dogs have perished during the history of the race. The number of dog deaths does not include animals that perished afterward — or the thousands that have been injured. On average, half of the dogs that start the grievous gauntlet are unable to finish due to complications such as spinal injuries, bone fractures, sore and cut paws, ruptured tendon sheaths, torn muscles, sore joints, dehydration, stress and diarrhea, bleeding stomach ulcers, hypothermia, penile frostbite, pneumonia and viruses. According to a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in 2002, 81 percent of the dogs who finish the Iditarod have lung damage. 


Many Iditarod dogs have gastric ulcers which predispose the dogs to vomiting. Normally, the trachea closes the airway so that foreign material does not enter the lungs. But because these dogs run at such high speeds for such a long period of time, they cannot stop gasping for air despite the vomiting. Consequently, dogs inhale the vomit into their lungs which causes suffocation and death. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is the most common cause of gastrointestinal ulceration in small animals. Rimadyl, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen are just some of the NSAIDs that cause ulcers. These drugs reduce swelling, inflammation, relieve pain and fever, which allows the dogs to run farther and faster. 


Advocates of the race would have you believe that the dogs love it. That there is a noble purpose in the adventuresome spirit of competition, and a loving bond between musher and dog. You either buy into the rugged-outdoors adventurism of the Iditarod as a celebration of endurance and courage, or you see it as America's most widely accepted display of animal abuse, a grotesque shame masquerading as sport. Using dogs as they are used in this race would be illegal in many states, yet Alaskans somehow romanticize the event as part of their wilderness heritage. 


Do you really think the dogs love the struggle that sometimes kills a fellow member of the team? Do you really think they love running when they're sick, injured or exhausted in conditions where wind chill temperatures push down to 60 degrees below zero? Or fighting 50 mph sustained winds with gust of up to 75 mph where the winds literally pick up whole teams and throw them off the trail. Where they have to relieve themselves on the run and the stressful conditions cause them to have such bad diarrhea that loose fecal matter is constantly flying in the faces of the dogs behind inducing serious ocular, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Where they are pushed to the point that they are too tired to even eat. They can only lay on the frozen ground and whimper while licking their paws. Yeah, they love it. 

Any human being with a smidgen of decency should have nothing to do with the Iditarod. It should be outlawed. No dog wants to run so far and so fast. -Karyn Moltzen

To Whomever Gets My Dog 

They told me the big black Lab's name was Reggie as I looked at him lying in his pen. The shelter was clean, and the people really friendly. I'd only been in the area for six months, but everywhere I went in the small college town, people were welcoming and open. Everyone waves when you pass them on the street. But something was still missing as I attempted to settle in to my new life here, and I thought a dog couldn't hurt. Give me someone to talk to.

And I had just seen Reggie's advertisement on the local news. The shelter said they had received numerous calls right after, but they said the people who had come down to see him just didn't look like "Lab people," whatever that meant. They must've thought I did.

But at first, I thought the shelter had misjudged me in giving me Reggie and his things, which consisted of a dog pad, bag of toys almost all of which were brand new tennis balls, his dishes, and a sealed letter from his previous owner. See, Reggie and I didn't really hit it off when we got home. We struggled for two weeks (which is how long the shelter told me to give him to adjust to his new home). Maybe it was the fact that I was trying to adjust, too. Maybe we were too much alike. 

For some reason, his stuff (except for the tennis balls - he wouldn't go anywhere without two stuffed in his mouth) got tossed in with all of my other unpacked boxes. I guess I didn't really think he'd need all his old stuff, that I'd get him new things once he settled in. But it became pretty clear pretty soon that he wasn't going to.

I tried the normal commands the shelter told me he knew, ones like "sit" and "stay" and "come" and "heel," and he'd follow them - when he felt like it. He never really seemed to listen when I called his name - sure, he'd look in my direction after the fourth of fifth time I said it, but then he'd just go back to doing whatever. When I'd ask again, you could almost see him sigh and then grudgingly obey.

This just wasn't going to work. He chewed a couple shoes and some unpacked boxes. I was a little too stern with him and he resented it, I could tell.

The friction got so bad that I couldn't wait for the two weeks to be up, and when it was, I was in full-on search mode for my cell phone amid all of my unpacked stuff. I remembered leaving it on the stack of boxes for the guest room, but I also mumbled, rather cynically, that the "damn dog probably hid it on me"

Finally I found it, but before I could punch up the shelter's number, I also found his pad and other toys from the shelter. I tossed the pad in Reggie's direction and he snuffed it and wagged, some of the most enthusiasm I'd seen since bringing him home. But then I called, "Hey, Reggie, you like that Come here and I'll give you a treat." Instead, he sort of glanced in my direction - maybe "glared" is more accurate - and then gave a discontented sigh and flopped down. With his back to me.

Well, that's not going to do it either, I thought. And I punched the shelter phone number. But I hung up when I saw the sealed envelope. I had completely forgotten about that, too. "Okay, Reggie, "I said out loud, "let's see if your previous owner has any advice..."

"To Whoever Gets My Dog:

Well, I can't say that I'm happy you're reading this, a letter I told the shelter could only be opened by Reggie's new owner. I'm not even happy writing it. If you're reading this, it means I just got back from my last car ride with my Lab after dropping him off at the shelter. He knew something was different. I have packed up his pad and toys before and set them by the back door before a trip, but this time...it's like he knew something was wrong. And something is wrong... Which is why I have to go to try to make it right. So let me tell you about my Lab in the hopes that it will help you bond with him and he with you. 

First, he loves tennis balls... The more the merrier. Sometimes I think he's part squirrel, the way he hordes them. He usually always has two in his mouth, and he tries to get a third in there. Hasn't done it yet. Doesn't matter where you throw them, he'll bound after it, so be careful - really, don't do it by any roads. I made that mistake once, and it almost cost him dearly.

Next, commands. Maybe the shelter staff already told you, but I'll go over them again: Reggie knows the obvious ones - "sit," "stay," "come," "heel." He knows hand signals: "back" to turn around and go back when you put your hand straight up; and "over" if you put your hand out right or left. "Shake" for shaking water off, and "paw" for a high-five. He does "down" when he feels like lying down - I bet you could work on that with him some more. He knows "ball" and "food" and "bone" and "treat" like nobody's business. I trained Reggie with small food treats. Nothing opens his ears like little pieces of hot dog.

Feeding schedule: twice a day, once about seven in the morning, and again at six in the evening. Regular store-bought stuff; the shelter has the brand.

He's up on his shots. Call the clinic on 9th Street and update his info with yours; they'll make sure to send you reminders for when he's due. Be forewarned: Reggie hates the vet. Good luck getting him in the car - I don't know how he knows when it's time to go to the vet, but he knows.

Finally, give him some time. I've never been married, so it's only been Reggie and me for his whole life. He's gone everywhere with me, so please include him on your daily car rides if you can. He sits well in the backseat, and he doesn't bark or complain. He just loves to be around people, and me most especially. Which means that this transition is going to be hard, with him going to live with someone new. And that's why I need to share one more bit of info with you.... His name's not Reggie.
I don't know what made me do it, but when I dropped him off at the shelter, I told them his name was Reggie. He's a smart dog, he'll get used to it and will respond to it, of that I have no doubt. But I just couldn't bear to give them his real name. For me to do that, it seemed so final, that handing him over to the shelter was as good as me admitting that I'd never see him again. And if I end up coming back, getting him, and tearing up this letter, it means everything's fine. But if someone else is reading it, well... well it means that his new owner should know his real name. It'll help you bond with him. Who knows, maybe you'll even notice a change in his demeanor if he's been giving you problems.

His real name is Tank. Because that is what I drive.

Again, if you're reading this and you're from the area, maybe my name has been on the news. I told the shelter that they couldn't make "Reggie" available for adoption until they received word from my company commander. See, my parents are gone, I have no siblings, no one I could've left Tank with... and it was my only real request of the Army upon my deployment to Iraq, that they make one phone call to the shelter... in the "event"... to tell them that Tank could be put up for adoption. Luckily, my colonel is a dog guy, too, and he knew where my platoon was headed. He said he'd do it personally. And if you're reading this, then he made good on his word.

Well, this letter is getting downright depressing, even though, frankly, I'm just writing it for my dog. I couldn't imagine if I was writing it for a wife and kids and family. But still, Tank has been my family for the last six years, almost as long as the Army has been my family. And now I hope and pray that you make him part of your family and that he will adjust and come to love you the same way he loved me. 

That unconditional love from a dog is what I took with me to Iraq as an inspiration to do something selfless, to protect innocent people from those who would do terrible things... and to keep those terrible people from coming over here. If I had to give up Tank in order to do it, I am glad to have done so. He was my example of service and of love. I hope I honored him by my service to my country and comrades.

All right, that's enough. I deploy this evening and have to drop this letter off at the shelter. I don't think I'll say another good-bye to Tank, though. I cried too much the first time. Maybe I'll peek in on him and see if he finally got that third tennis ball in his mouth. Good luck with Tank. Give him a good home, and give him an extra kiss goodnight - every night - from me."

Thank you, Paul Mallory.

I folded the letter and slipped it back in the envelope. Sure I had heard of Paul Mallory, everyone in town knew him, even new people like me. Local kid, killed in Iraq a few months ago and posthumously earning the Silver Star when he gave his life to save three buddies. Flags had been at half-mast all summer.

I leaned forward in my chair and rested my elbows on my knees, staring at the dog. "Hey, Tank," I said quietly. The dog's head whipped up, his ears cocked and his eyes bright. "C'mere boy."

He was instantly on his feet, his nails clicking on the hardwood floor. He sat in front of me, his head tilted, searching for the name he hadn't heard in months. "Tank," I whispered. His tail swished. I kept whispering his name, over and over, and each time, his ears lowered, his eyes softened, and his posture relaxed as a wave of contentment just seemed to flood over him. I stroked his ears, rubbed his shoulders, buried my face into his scruff and hugged him.

"It's me now, Tank, just you and me. Your old pal gave you to me. "Tank reached up and licked my cheek. "So whatdaya say we play some ball? His ears perked again. "Yeah ball, you like that ball."

Tank tore away from my hands and disappeared into the next room. And when he came back......he had three tennis balls in his mouth.

Live Simply, Love Generously, Care Deeply, Speak Kindly


It's a Matter of Respect.  

The day started out just like any other. I rolled out of bed, read my paper through bleary eyes with a strong cup of coffee and the help of Finn and Johnny. They like  reading the paper in the morning too. Only problem is I can not read anything with 23 pounds of Maine Coon laying on the headlines and a very mischievous kitten ripping it apart section by section. I finally give up and start my morning routine.  

Clean kitty boxes, give the dogs their morning cookies, shower, makeup, make my bed, and out the door kissing my husband goodbye as I fly past him. I am running late...seems like I am always running late.


Driving down Reserve Street, my mind is running through the thousand things I have to do when I get into the office. At the corner of 3rd and Reserve I see something in the middle of the road. As I proceed through the light, I realize it is a cat. Oh no!  I think to myself. I can't leave it there to get run over again and again. With the traffic bumper to bumper and moving fast there is no where I can flip a U-turn, so I drive to Mullan Road and turn around in the Daily's Meats parking lot. Driving back I am praying that by some miracle the cat is alive, and I can save its life. I pull up beside him and jump out of my car stopping three lanes of rush hour traffic. I knelt down and pick up his lifeless body. He is beautiful. Holding him close I carry him to my car. I don't care about the blood. I know it will probably ruin my coat, but that does not matter to me.  I can see that he was someone's beloved pet, for his coat is in good condition and he was well fed. My heart sinks knowing what kind of void his passing will create for the family he was apart of. The family who lost their beautiful boy on that dreary October morning.


I put him gently on the rug I keep on the back seat of my car. Traffic resumes slowly as I climb behind the wheel. I am taking him to be cremated. He will not end up in the landfill or flattened in the middle of the road. It is the least I can do.


After I drop him off and I continue on to work. Turning on to West Broadway, I am just one block from the office and there again in the middle of the road is a big black and white cat. Once again, I stop traffic and pick up the second lifeless body off the middle of the road. I burst into tears, not able to contain myself any longer. His coat is dirty and course. For a homeless cat, survival is always more important than grooming. It is obvious to me that he has spent a big part of his life scrounging for food anywhere he could get it. Still on my knees, I cradle him in my arms, tears streaming down my face. I am so overcome with sadness I can hardly get to my feet. I think of his life, without the love of a family, without the warmth of a home, always wondering if he would eat tonight. At that very moment I thought to myself, I will always wear this blood stained coat  .  I will never forget this cat who won't be missed by anyone.  And I take him too, to be cremated. It is the least I can do. 


How many of us have driven by? Why don't we stop? Are we in such a hurry that we can't take a moment out of our busy lives to give a little consideration to another being? Are we worried that we will ruin a coat? Like us, these animals have a right to be treated with respect. We should stop and pick them up. It's the least we can do. And...it is a matter of respect.


You may not be as committed as I am nor as willing to risk life and limb dodging traffic scooping up small bodies, but maybe when you come across the next small body on the road, instead of jumping out and dodging traffic, think about what you can do to help.  Maybe it’s fostering a small kitten, or helping your poor neighbor spay or neuter their cat, or simply finding time to come pet a happy and healthy kitty at our adoption center.  The good thing about these horrible predicaments is that there are so many ways that we as individuals can contribute to a better life for our little four legged friends. Thanks for caring! 


I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.” - Abraham Lincoln 


 Pit Bulls...Fighting for their lives
At one time the American Pit Bull Terrier was the most popular pet in
America because of their reputation as a friendly, family dog. Now they are abused, maligned, and misrepresented because they are the dog of choice in the loathsome and sadistic dog fighting industry.
Immigrants brought the first Pit Bulls to America. They quickly became protectors of homesteads, family farms, and hunting partners. They were constant companions to children. This dog was one of the most valuable resources an early American settler could have.

Generally, pit bulls are remarkably gentle, and intelligent dogs. Their love of humans and eagerness to please has made them particularly attractive to dog-fighters because they will withstand considerable abuse and neglect at the hands of their owners and still, remain loyal and non-aggressive toward humans. The very qualities that make them excellent pets — make them targets for dog fighting. They will do whatever their owners want them to do — even fight to the death.

The following are a few facts that many do not know about this wonderful breed: Pete the Pup on the original Little Rascals was a Pit Bull. The Pit Bull was so popular in the early 1900's they were our mascot not only in World War One, but World War Two as well. They were featured on recruiting posters during this time. Sgt. Stubby. A Pit Bull war hero was wounded in action twice, he saved his entire platoon by warning them of a poison gas attack and he single handedly captured a German spy.

Pit Bulls are commonly used as therapy dogs. They also assist physically challenged owners who must be able to depend on them to respond to all commands in any situation. Spike, a black pit bull, faithfully served his quadriplegic owner who said, "Spike just gave me another part of life. He was the most loving, obedient dog ever." Spike even accompanied his
owner to receive his associate degree as software support specialist. Pit Bulls are used in Search and Rescue work. Weela, the Ken-L-Ration Dog Hero of 1993, was a pit bull who saved the lives of 30 people, 29 dogs, 13 horses, and a cat when the Tijuana River Dam in California broke during a flood. She led the people to safety, finding the safest crossings through the floodwaters, and later braved a raging river while towing food to stranded animals.

Alexis and Rose, two pit bulls owned by the president of Out of the Pits, are certified therapy dogs. They regularly work in schools to educate children and visit nursing homes and hospitals. Cheyenne, Dakota, and Tahoe participate in the Valley Humane Society Animal Assisted Therapy program, as well as locate missing persons. Their determination, so characteristic of pit bull terriers, makes them wonderful search dogs. In rough and dangerous terrain, where other dogs and handlers turn back, these dogs keep going. Pit bulls will struggle through bushes and thorns, to the point of needing stitches, to find a missing person.

Pit Bulls serve as narcotic and bomb sniffing dogs. Popsicle fell into the wrong hands and had been used in fights when a police officer in Buffalo rescued him, caked with blood and undernourished. Now, with training, he routinely works among civilians as a drug dog. He once sniffed out 3075 pounds of cocaine crossing the Texas/ Mexico border under a tractor/trailer rig. Another pit bull mix, employed with a K9 unit in San Diego, searches airports for narcotics. He works in close contact with the public and has identified $30 million worth of illegal drugs.

Pit Bulls are great with kids. It was a pit bull terrier, named Sebastian, who responded when a Rottweiler attacked a 6 year old child. He, unhesitatingly, attacked the Rottweiler and kept the dog away from the child until his owner, an off duty police officer, arrived.RCA, another fine example of the pit bull breed, became Alaska's first hearing ear dog. She scored highest of 170 dogs in a temperament test and performed her hearing duties to perfection. However, as talk of a pit bull ban increased, she was never placed in a home that may have later had to give her up. She became a demonstration dog and visited schools. As the children lined up, she offered them all kisses. At home, her favorite activities were "rescuing logs" from the pond, playing tug of war with the Sheltie and allowing the cockatiel chicks to nibble her ears.

Pit Bulls are not human aggressive. Pit Bulls score an 83.4% passing rate with the American Temperament Test Society. That's better than the popular Border Collie (a breed who scores 79.6%)
We must stop blaming this breed of dog for the sins of their owners. These dogs are under attack and fighting for their lives. Most people have no idea that at many shelters across the country, any Pit Bull who comes in the front door, goes out the back door - in a body bag. This is their darkest hour in history.

We have the power to change the status quo for these animals and a responsibility to keep an open mind. Each dog should be judged on an individual basis. We should not be blaming the whole breed because some of these dogs have been ruined at the hands of uncaring humans. It is irresponsible humans not pit bulls that deserve our derision. Pitbulls in the hands of loving and responsible people are amazingly forgiving and gentle dogs....we could learn a lot from them.