Behind the Dogs.

So, I had this whole idea to write about pit bulls… Shocking, right?! However, I think what is just as important as our beloved multiple breeds that make up the awesome pit bull label are….. the people behind the leashes. The advocates, the rescues, the people that are knee deep in doing everything they can to fix the wrongs created by ignorance, stupidity and hate.

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I’ve been really blessed to get to know people responsible for paving the way for my children and millions of others to have the pleasure of owning dogs that they grew up with. Advocates and rescues fighting to help veterans keep the dogs they need. Advocates and rescues doing everything they can to keep families and family pets united because of so many housing breed restrictions. Advocates and rescues building a stronger community by serving their communities, homeless pet services, s/n, free training classes, low income services, seriously… The list goes on.

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  Just like every city, Phoenix rescues are diverse and yet unique with the issues they face. Phoenix has a huge problem with an over population of dogs (thanks to the popularity of back yard breeding.). Phoenix has a dog fighting problem. Phoenix has a lot of issues and there are rescues and advocates like Trinity, founder and dog advocate with Master the Mutts, that work tirelessly every day to make our community a better and safer place for humans and pets.

I was blessed to have a moment to pick her brain about the hurdles many small rescues like her face.

1. What are some of the biggest issues you face as a small rescue?

Trinity: I believe most rescues would say finding fosters, although I am different from most rescues.  I do not use boarding and I have only two very close trusted fosters.  My biggest issues are funding and finding suitable adopters for my dogs and puppies.  I have had puppies who are now getting close to six months of age.  I have had adult dogs for close to a year before finding their forever homes.  Not that the dogs have any special needs or have any behavioral issues, there just isn’t enough people willing to adopt.  Caring for numerous dogs costs more then an adoption fee could ever cover.  Most of my adult dogs have close to $200 in vet bills and are only adopted out for $75-$125 dollars.  This does not include the cost of everyday care. 

2. What are your views on breed specific legislation and breed bans? Should there be some kind of legislation to try to stop back yard breeders and irresponsible dog ownership?

Trinity: Breed Specific Legislation and Breed Bans is a major reason our shelters are overfilling with dogs.

So many families have surrendered their dogs due to these.  When the economy crashed many people lost their homes, forcing them to downsize and move.  Phoenix, even though I feel is a very dog friendly city, has so many Breed Bans on apartments, complexes and Hoa’s.  This does not only cause people to surrender their dogs, but it causes many potential adopters to not adopt.

Back yard breeders are another huge issue.  There are so many programs and ways to get dogs spayed and neutered for not only free but at minimal costs.  I have no issues with breeders who are educated, and breed AKC  registered breeds.  They are doing it correctly.

I come across so many people who breed their mixed breed dogs just to sell them for a quick $50.  Phoenix does not need any more mixed breed dogs, the shelters are overfilling, many are mixed breed chihuahua or pit bulls.  These are two breeds most likely being euthanized in Phoenix every day. There are over 100 dogs being euthanized every single day in phoenix.  Yet the shelters are still filling up. 

3. Phoenix/Maricopa county is so enormous and the climate is so different than many states – how does that affect your rescues and what you see?

Trinity: I come from the east coast.  It was shocking to see the amount of stray dogs in Phoenix.  I also noticed many of the transient citizens have dogs as well.  These two things I was not use to at all.  I believe maybe the temperature has something to do with this, more suitable condition for a stray dog to survive compared to the harsh winters of New England.  The amount of strays or loose roaming dogs is overwhelming.  This really is an issue.  This is how unwanted litters are made.  Phoenix is highly populated, unfortunately many people seems to not value the lives of dogs. 

4. I, myself am  a pit / mutt owner and I honestly had no clue about the negative stereotype of this “breed” until I came across a group called Dogsbites.org. Have you ever had to deal with that group?

Trinity: Unfortunately I have come across this website before. All I can say is they do nothing but hurt an already broken system in dire need of fixing.  I honestly don’t believe these people known the first thing when it comes to dogs.  The media is biased which leads people to believe Pit Bulls are something they most certainly are not. 

5. What are some of the issues you see going on within the rescue community?

Trinity: There could be a reality show following some of the rescues in Phoenix.  Unfortunately there are many rescues who are not in it for the dogs.  It’s sad to say and it’s even sadder to see.  Most rescues are about making money.  They keep their dogs in deplorable conditions.  They are worse then dog hoarders.

Many rescues I would consider puppy flippers, which are people who basically take in a dog to sell right away to make money.  It’s sad because they give rescues a bad name. I know of several rescues who have lost track of their dogs and puppies, adopted out puppies to people who honestly should not own dogs, they don’t give the dogs proper medical care, they don’t do home checks, they don’t follow up on dogs, they are money motivated.  This is sad.
  There needs to be some sort of system in place to monitor rescues, something needs to be done.

I know of one rescue who adopts out aggressive dogs with out giving them the proper training, even basic training that they need.  This makes it hard for people to want to adopt from a rescue once they have had a bad experience.  I even know of a rescue who takes in hurt and injured dogs, just so they can ask for donations, which never goes to the actual dog.  This is fraud, this is sick.  This is an issue with many of the larger rescues in Phoenix. 

6. Your view on the no kill movement? No one likes to euthanize animals but have you come across dogs that there is no other option due to aggression?

Trinity: There is never a truly no kill shelter.  Many dogs need to be euthanized due to medical issues.  Sometimes it’s the humane thing to do.  I understand this.  I am not against a humane euthanasia.  I don’t like when shelters euthanize perfectly healthy family dogs.  Again, I don’t believe in having aggressive dogs.  There is too many amazing, well trained, family dogs who are being euthanized on a daily basis.  I do know that some dogs due to their upbringing have behavioral aggression issues.  Some are so bad there really is no hope.  That’s why I would like to open an Aggressive Dog Sanctuary in Northern Arizona. 

Sadly there isn’t any option at the moment for aggressive dogs. I don’t believe aggression is a dogs fault at all, there needs to be an outlet for them as well.  Normal rescuing to adopt out is not one of them.  This is why I would like to open my sanctuary for them.  Until then humane euthanasia may be the only option 

7. What is your experience for Animal Control in Phoenix?

Trinity: The Animal Control in Phoenix has quite the bad rap.  I don’t listen to the negativity.  Every experience I have had with animal control has been delightful.  They are not the bad guys.  One issue that I do see is the initial evaluation at intake to the shelters, dogs sometimes get misclassified. Yet they are more then happy to re evaluate a dog when requested to do so.  Again this has to do with an overwhelming amount of dogs being taken into the shelters.

8. According to Dogsbite.org – “Pit Bulls ignore signs of submission from other dogs”, and “give no warning prior to attack” – What are your thoughts on this statement?

Trinity: This is the most inaccurate and ignorant thing I have read in a long time. 

9. Dogsbite.org likes to cherry pick info from the ASPCA and they throw this statement out all the time – “Install a panic button in rooms housing pit bulls along with other restraint equipment in any room housing pit bulls”, what are your thoughts on this?

Trinity: Things like this only hurt animals in need.  I would disassociate and remove myself from contact with anyone who truly believes they need a panic button for owning a pit bull.  Is this for dog fighters? People who are training their dogs to attack people?  I honestly can’t even begin to think of a response to this. 

10. From your experience – the good, bad and the ugly: What is really needed to crack down on dog fighting, back yard breeding, abuse and animal hoarding?

Stricter laws and public education.  Yet many of the cases of animal abuse and neglect that I have seen personally have been families who should probably have the Police and  Child Protective Services heavily involved in their lives. 

11. Is dog fighting a issue in Phoenix?

Trinity: Yes very much so.  About three years ago, there was a dog fighting ring broken up by police just blocks from where I live.  Unfortunately there are many people with different cultural backgrounds and values who reside in Phoenix.  They are used to what they are used to, unfortunately dog fighting is accepted in certain cultures.  This is where stricter laws and education could come in handy. 

12. What are things your rescue needs?

Trinity:
I am constantly in need of food, treats, blankets, crates, kennels, leashes, collars, dog beds, towels, funding for vetting, locations for adoption events, volunteers, signs, I am in need of everything on a constant basis.  When I do get donations I always give to other rescues as well.  Anything that can be bleached and cleaned is perfect.  Nothing needs to be new either.  I can even taken in old and broken kennels, I have ways of fixing them and making them like new again.  I also have a paypal account for donations.  MasterTheMutts@gmail.com

#pitbullweek is about so much more than our dogs. It’s about those that sacrifice and work daily for millions of dogs. Many times those people are nameless, unknown and sometimes forgotten about. It’s people like Trinity and the hundreds and thousands of advocates and rescues that shed blood, sweat and tears trying to educate our communities and make it a better place for humans and animals alike.

I can’t thank people like Trinity enough for doing what they do and I’m so excited about dedicating this week to Advocates and Rescues. Granted, they might not be as cute as the pooches they rescue and fight for, but without them, we wouldn’t be blessed with our two pampered pooches.

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