What is HELP FIDO?

Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

National Pit Bull Awareness Day 2009!

It’s National Pit Bull Awareness Day today!! So, I figured I’d do a little posting on this misunderstood “breed” that is so close to my heart.

First off, a little explanation. I use the word “breed” in quotes above, because “pit bull” is actually not a specific breed of dog. It is actually a very vague, umbrella-type term used to describe several different breeds, types, and/or mixes of breeds. Most commonly accepted under the “pit bull” term are the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), American Staffordshire Terrier (Am Staff), and Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Staffie), but in some cases, pit bull is used to describe American Bulldogs (as noted in the Ohio Revised Code) and even Bull Terriers (like Spuds MacKenzie), as well as mixes of all the aforementioned. Often times, the term “pit bull” is carelessly misused by the media and uneducated individuals to describe any dog that is vicious, has attacked, or simply has a similar appearance to the breeds listed above (boxy face, brindle markings, cropped ears, and/or short, muscular body) thus furthering the confusion and perpetuating the untrue stereotype that these particular dogs are always dangerous. Some enthusiasts of the American Pit Bull Terrier, a breed not recognized by the AKC, but by the UKC and other kennel clubs, feel that its name was in fact, stolen, and therefore they only consider the APBT to be a true “pit bull”. Some feel that only APBTs and Am Staffs are “pit bulls”. It all can be quite confusing, but it comes down to the fact that they are essentially the same dogs but have been bred for a different purpose and/or size standard since the mid 1930's. We can really only attempt to guess the breed by looking at differentiating subtlties. For all these reasons, the pit bull community, rescue organizations, and those of us who own this type of dog often use the even more general term “bully”. For the purposes of this blog, you may see both the terms “pit bull” and “bully”, as well as “pittie” or “pibble”.

A little history lesson…Pit bulls are descended from bulldogs, mastiffs, and terriers. Hundreds of years ago in England, they were bred to fight in rings or “pits”, in a “sport” called bull baiting. When bull baiting was banned, the breeders crossed these breeds to develop a strong, athletic dog and fought the dogs against each other. As most of us know, this brutal, cruel, and illegal practice unfortunately still exists today in rural areas and urban neighborhoods all over our nation. Though dog fighting is an obvious part of the pit bull’s history and original purpose, and care should be taken to properly handle and socialize them, this does not automatically mean that all pit bulls are dog aggressive and won’t get along with other animals. Many other breeds were also originally bred to chase, fight, and kill other animals, such as many of the hounds and terriers, but these breeds do not have the stigma attached to them that the pit bull does. Most important of all, pit bulls were NEVER bred to have any human aggression, and historically those that showed signs were destroyed. Pit bulls that are aggressive towards people are NOT the norm, and most likely are the result of poor genetics/irresponsible breeding, cruelty, and/or neglect. Although, even in these cases, it may be possible for these resilient dogs to be rehabilitated, as with the Vick dogs.

Pit bulls were once heralded as the most respected dog in the U.S., and even before that, they were known as “nanny dogs” because of their wonderful temperament and affection towards children. This image has sadly fallen by the wayside, and now pit bulls are feared, hated, and the target of unfair and ineffective breed specific legislation (BSL) in our states and in other countries around the world. They are also probably the most abused “breed”, as they of course are the first choice for dogfighting, and shelters are filled with them as a result of enforced BSL, neglect, and “backyard”/accidental breeding.

Despite these bleak circumstances, the true character of the pit bull continues to shine through when and where it can. Pit Bulls are one of the most stable people-friendly dogs in existence. The National Canine Temperament Testing Association tested 122 breeds, and Pit Bulls placed the 4th highest with a 95% passing rate! Pibbles are lovers, loyal and protective, energetic and lazy all at the same time. They are the best snugglers, the best kissers, and absolutely hilarious. Personally, I have always loved dogs and my family has always had them as pets. But I have never fallen so deeply and madly in love with a type/breed of dog as I have with the bullies I’ve encountered. Please realize that when it comes to the threat of dog bites or attacks, ANY dog is capable, regardless of breed. Be a fighter FOR the bullies, and rise against BSL, dog fighting, cruelty, neglect and irresponsible behaviors!! Spay and neuter your pets, ESPECIALLY pit bulls, and punish the deed, not the breed!

To report someone you know who is involved with dog fighting, please call the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, Special Investigations Unit. You can remain anonymous.

Or, call the Ohio Attorney General's Tip Line. If your information leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in dog fighting or cock fighting, the Humane Society of the United States offers a reward of up to $5,000. 1-877-244-6446

How to be a RESPONSIBLE pit bull owner:

-Educate yourself on the breed thoroughly before choosing the pit bull as your pet. Make sure you have the proper lifestyle to provide a good forever home.

-Consider adoption from a shelter or rescue group rather than a breeder.

-Comply with your city or state’s guidelines for owning a pit bull.

-Keep your pet up to date on Rabies and other vaccinations.

-Spend time playing with and exercising your dog daily. Pit bulls have a lot of energy and pent-up energy can result in aggression and other unwanted behaviors.

-Whether you have an older dog or a puppy, you should avoid playing rough with your dog. Rough housing with dogs teaches them it's ok to be rough or aggressive with people.

-Don’t hit, mistreat, or tease your dog, always treat them with respect.

-Never leave pit bulls unsupervised with children or other animals. When no one is around to keep an eye on them, the dogs should be safely crated or in separate rooms, even if the dogs are best friends. You never know what might trigger a fight in your absence.

-Always leash your pit bull when outside on a walk.

-Make sure your dog always has fresh water available.

-Don’t chain your dog outside for long periods of time. This can result in frustration and aggression.

-Don’t leave your dog outside in the cold or hot weather. Like people, they can get sick being left out in the cold or heat.

-Don’t leave your dog outside if you do not have a safe, secure kennel for him or her to stay in. Without adequate security your dog could be stolen, or it could run away.

-Avoid taking your pit bull to off-leash dog parks or other areas where it may come into contact with other dogs running loose. Even if your dog is not dog-aggressive, if another dog starts a fight, it will automatically be your dog’s fault in the eyes of many people.

- If someone is being too rough with your dog, or patting it in a way that you know your dog does not like, you can politely say, “Please don’t pat my dog like that, he/she prefers this”, and show the person how you would like them to interact with your dog.

-SPAY/NEUTER your pit bull!!! There are just too many without homes to create more, whether accidentally or on purpose. Spaying/neutering also reduces aggression and the urge to wander, as well as preventing health issues such as cancer. If you're tight on cash, check into local resources and low-cost spay/neuter clinics, like those mentioned in "Tough Times" a few posts down.

-MICROCHIP your pit bull!! You never know when your pet might become accidentally separated from you. Microchipping is quick, relatively painless, and inexpensive. Pit bulls only have about 72 hours in most shelters before they are euthanized, and microchipping will ensure that your family member is returned to you in case you lose one another.

Here are some famous people that own/have owned pit bulls:

- Jessica Biel
- Rachael Ray
- Helen Keller
- Jon Stewart
- Alicia Silverstone
- Rachel Bilson
- Michael J. Fox
- Jessica Alba
- Jamie Foxx
- Kevin Federline
- Madonna
- Brad Pitt
- P!nk
- Sinbad
- Eliza Dushku
- Redman (he formerly owned pit bull Daddy who is now featured prominently as a resident at Cesar Millan “The Dog Whisperer”’s Dog Psychology Center)
- Jesse James (West Coast Choppers)
- President Theodore Roosevelt
- President Woodrow Wilson
- General George Patton
- Linda Blair
- Humphrey Bogart
- Fred Astaire
- Thomas Edison
- Mel Brooks
- Bernadette Peters
- Judd Nelson
- Rosie Perez
- And a pittie with celeb status of his own, Petey, from The Little Rascals!

The pit bull is the only dog to have graced the cover of Life magazine three times.

Pit Bulls are heroes!...

- America's first war dog was a pit bull named Stubby. He earned several medals during World War I and was honored at the White House.

- The Ken-L-Ration dog hero of 1993 was a pit bull named Weela. She saved 30 people, 29 dogs, 13 horses and a cat during a flood in Southern California.

- A Pit Bull named Bogart saved a four-year-old child from drowning in a swimming pool in Florida.

- Dixie, the Pit Bull, was inducted into the Georgia Animal Hall of Fame after she saved some children from a Cottonmouth snake.

-Pit bull Norton saved his human mom’s life after she had gone into anaphylactic shock from a spider bite. Norton, who was rescued from a fight ring, went to the master bedroom and kept pushing his owner’s husband until he awoke and could rescue his wife.

-Popsicle the pit bull is the #1 U.S. Customs dog. He got his name when he was found in a freezer during a drug bust. He had been left to die after being used as a bait dog for dogfighters.

-Pit bull Weezie came to the rescue when 2 armed men broke into his family’s home! With a gun pointed at Melissa Willis and her son, Weezie placed himself between his family and danger, and with every advance by the men, he pushed his family backwards until they were to the exit. He kept the armed robbers focused on him so his family would be safe.

-Top-rated search and rescue dog Dakota the pit bull was requested by NASA to assist in the recovery of the astronauts after the tragic 2003 shuttle disaster. Dakota was also involved in the Laci Peterson investigation, as well as many other national cases, and is a certified hospital therapy dog, along with owner Kris Crawford's other bullies Cheyenne and Tahoe.

Look for pit bulls on…

-Rescue Ink Unleashed (NatGeo)
-The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan (NatGeo)
-It’s Me or the Dog with Victoria Stilwell (Animal Planet)
-Pit Bulls & Parolees (Animal Planet)
-Veronica Mars (canceled, formerly on UPN/CW)

For more information on pit bulls, pibbles, pitties, or bullies, check out these sites (thanks to many of them for the info in this blog!):

Thanks for reading and for loving pit bulls! <3

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Puppy-Mill Bill Update

Hello all. I just received an update from the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) Veterinary Political Action Committee (VPAC) concerning Ohio's "Puppy Mill"/Commercial Dog Breeding legislation and wanted to share it with you. This bill has been redrafted a countless number of times, it has morphed more often than a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger. The most recent changes have, in my opinion, added stipulations that have me extremely concerned about the welfare of the animals involved.

The latest version of the bill includes language that would specifically allow breeders to tail dock (amputate or "cut off" tails) and remove dewclaws on their premises. It would, in essence, legalize the practice of a any layperson to perform surgical procedures on puppies. Granting permission to perform such procedures can open the floodgates to individuals requesting permission to perform various other such procedures and seriously compromise the proper care and well being of animals in Ohio.

I for one do not like to perform these "elective" procedures, however, I routinely do so to prevent these surgeries from being done incorrectly and causing pain, disfigurement and potentially death to many animals.

Tail docking involves amputation of the tail. It must be done at an appropriate length in order for it to be acceptable in the case of pure bred, show dog standards. If made too short, it can cause problems and disfigurement to the anus and prevent these puppies from defecating normally and can cause fecal incontinence. The incision must be made between 2 vertebrae of the tail to prevent the unnecessary pain of cutting through bone. This requires skill and precision to perform. In addition, there are several major blood vessels involved in the procedure and failure to control bleeding can result in anemia, weakness and even death in rare instances. Suturing/stitching of the incision is also necessary. Infection can be a big problem if sterile instruments are not used and proper surgical procedure is not followed. (Note: Clean does NOT equal sterile. Instruments can only be properly sterilized in an apparatus made to do just that, such as an autoclave.) Since the procedure is routinely done when puppies are between 1-5 days old, they are very small and can succumb to the effects of blood loss and infection very easily.

Dewclaw removal is also a surgery that requires amputation of an accessory toe on the rear and sometimes front paws. It also requires skill and sterile equipment/procedure to perform, as well as proper treatment for blood loss. Improperly performing the surgery can result in disfigurement and significant scarring.

Veterinarians receive 8+ years of training for a reason (4 years of undergraduate college and 4+ years of veterinary medical school/internship/residency). The specialized training and education we receive prepares us to perform medical and surgical procedures appropriately and safely for our furry patients. I, for one, would not want an unqualified individual performing surgery on me or my family member on a kitchen table, barn floor or in a dirty garage, and I certainly would not expect the same to be done to any living creature. But, that is exactly what can and likely WILL happen if the current version of the legislation passes.

I very strongly feel that there is a dire need for legislation to prevent the horror that "puppy mills" perpetuate. However, there are MANY things wrong with the current version of the bill. Please do your research and make yourself aware of the wording of the bill and its frequent changes and contact your local legislator to voice your opinions. Help the lawmakers to know that we are listening and we want what is best for the animals involved.


Dr. Mandi....OUT!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

HELP! I’m in a kennel and can’t get out!

Daisy: rescued, fostered, adopted!

Let’s say you love animals. Let’s also say you would like to help some animals in need. Well, you’re in luck. Every shelter and rescue organization is looking praying for you. And the animals are sure you’ll show up to help them—faces pressed up against the kennel bars, peering around the corner, waiting for the sound of your foot steps. Your fellow volunteers will welcome you with open arms. The animals need you to take them out for walks so they can stretch their legs, take them to adoption events so they can flirt their way home, bring them special treats to make them smile, sit in their kennels so they don’t get too lonely, bathe them so they smell nice, donate old towels and blankets so they can curl up on something warm, and most importantly perhaps, make room for them in your home whether permanently or temporarily. A little effort by you can make a world of difference for your community’s homeless animals. These times are tough for us all and even tougher still on others, but what a great opportunity to share what you have to give. Here in Cowtown we have many organizations that tirelessly take in, clean up and adopt out animals that have come upon hard times.

Here’s a very short list:

Franklin County Dog Shelter (http://www.franklincountyohio.gov/commissioners/ancl/)
Citizens for Humane Action (http://www.chaanimalshelter.org/)
Capital Area Humane Society (http://www.cahs-pets.org/)
Columbus Dog Connection (http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/)
Measle’s Animal Haven (http://www.measlesanimalhaven.org/)

Pretty sure the org’s listed above are open to new help…

Now, for you folks who have a hard time stomaching all the desperate, furry faces begging to come home with you, don’t lose hope! You don’t have to step foot in a shelter to greatly impact countless numbers of homeless animals. Foster homes are the life-blood of many animal rescue organizations. Fostering an animal can instantly save that animal’s life, while opening up precious kennel space for more animals to pass through on their way to a new beginning. For instance, let’s take a local rescue group, Measle’s Animal Haven. Measle’s focuses on taking in homeless pit bulls in central Ohio. They rely solely on foster homes to care for their dogs until a suitable home is found. So when the call comes in from ABC County Shelter to please take a deserving dog, Measle’s can only take on as many dogs as there are spots in foster care. Enter you! The rescue takes care of vet bills and you provide an extremely grateful dog love and leadership. Need a crate? Not sure about housebreaking? Not sure about how to manage a household of resident animals and a foster? There are plenty of resources within each organization to make sure your experience is a rewarding one and one that you’ll repeat. And no one will make fun of you if your foster turns into a permanent family member—we’ve all been there!

HELP FIDO looks forward to helping plug you into the many ways to make a difference in your community!

(This post is dedicated in memory of Lyle and Lilly. We’re working on making this world a better place for dogs like you.)
(written by and uploaded for Amanda)

These are the dogs of HELP FIDO...our dogs...this is why we are here...