Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Local teenager publishes book on dogfighting

By his own admission, 14-year-old Kody James Connick is not much of a student.

But this past winter, while home sick, he watched an Animal Planet documentary on dogfighting and Michael Vick. Kody discovered a fire within.

A fire that compelled the Mickle Middle School eighth-grader to start writing about dogs, dogfighting and being a wayward kid.

"The words just poured out," Kody said.

"The first day, I had 20 pages."

He showed his work to friend and author Tom Frye ("Scratchin' on the Eight Ball"), who encouraged him to keep writing.

The result is "Wild Hearts," a newly published paperback book that tells the story of a dogfighting pit bull and a juvenile delinquent who change each other's lives. The book is written in first person from the perspective of King, a fighting pit bull, and Charlie, a teenage boy who breaks into a house to steal valuables and ends up stealing the homeowner's pit bull puppy.

The story is not autobiographical, but it draws on some of Kody's life experiences. He knows people involved in dogfighting. He knows dogs who have been rescued from the blood sport. And like Charlie, the book's main human character, Kody has had his share of troubles.

"Last year I was selling drugs," Kody said. "Now I'm selling books."

It's a big change for a kid who has long felt "invisible."

He says he can relate to what pit bulls must feel.

"People stare at me like I'm different. People stare at pit bulls like all pit bulls are mean.

"I thought by writing this book I could change people's perspectives on dogs - pit bulls," he said.

What he's learning is that "Wild Hearts" is also changing people's perspective of him.

"I'm not the best in school," Kody said. "I get into trouble a lot. And I fall asleep in math class."

So when he mentioned to his teachers that he had an appointment to sell his new book, they were skeptical. There were meant-to-be- funny but harsh comments about his ability to stay awake long enough to write a book and about his ability to read, let alone write a book.

Kody shrugs it off.

He's passionate about dog-fighting, and his book is one way to help put an end to it.

Math, science, social studies, English - those he's not so passionate about.

So he gave a copy of "Wild Hearts" to his teacher.

"She read it and got teared up and said she couldn't read anymore," Kody said.

And that was just the first chapter.

Another teacher bought three copies of the book and is helping as a proofreader.

He's already sold out the first printing and is almost sold out of the second. A third printing is planned.

He's donated several copies of "Wild Hearts" to the libraries and dog rescue groups. He even mailed a copy to Cesar Millan - "The Dog Whisperer" - but has yet to receive a response.

He participates in book signings on weekends.

And he's toying around with ideas for another book.

"I think it would be fun to be writer," he said. "I like the idea of being alive after you're dead. A book is something to hang on to and remember you by."

Reach Erin Andersen at 402-473-7217 or eandersen@journalstar.com.

Chapter One is available here: http://www.tomfrye.org/books/wild-hearts/

Monday, May 24, 2010

K9 Kingdom assisting in 'hairy' situations such as recent oil spill

One hairy situation can lead to the solution of another.

K9 Kingdom has a never-ending supply of dog hair

at its dog-care business in Pine, so this month, the business is shipping off the hair to a San Francisco-based nonprofit that turns the hair into natural booms and hair mats to help manage oil spills.

"It's a really easy way for us to help locally for a really massive problem," says Christin Bummer, owner of K9 Kingdom. "We have buckets full of hair we just put in the Dumpster."

Matter of Trust is an organization that concentrates on manmade surplus, natural surplus and eco-educational programs. One of its initiatives--creating oil mats and booms from hair and recycled nylons--has expanded in response to the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The April 20 explosion of a BP drill rig in the Gulf and leaking well has released millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf. Salons

, groomers and wool farmers from across the country stepped into action, and according to the Matter of Trust website, the organization currently has received about 500,000 pounds of hair from across the country.

Kim Slater, of Shaler, has been a groomer for seven years and says the idea to participate in the program couldn't have come at a better time for the pups.

"Dogs with a double coat are shedding more hair, and this time of year, a lot of people have dogs shaved (for the summer)," Slater says.

K9 Kingdom has about 60 canines come through the salon each week producing 15 to 20 gallons of hair per day.

Bummer says the facility recently placed "a pretty high priority on best practices," which include water conservation, recycling and using recycled materials so she didn't hesitate to join a program that would recycle the pet hair as well.

"It seemed such an obvious tie-in for us since there's marine and animal life involved," Bummer says.

"It seems a good way to help out. Excess dog hair is always a problem, and this is a fun way to turn a problem into a solution."

K9 Kingdom plans to continue participating in the program through the end of May or beginning of June, depending on the need.

"This is a very busy this time of year, there's never a shortage of hair," Bummer says.

For more information on the program, visit www.matteroftrust.org or contact K9 Kingdom at www.myk9kingdom.com or call 724-935-3647.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

How Not to Greet a Dog

This fantastic and informative illustration was done by Lili Chin of Doggie Drawings. Sometimes I feel like I do the things that you’re not supposed to do, but I can’t help it! I try to instruct my friends to greet my dogs the correct way because otherwise, they jump and get too excited. However, if you don’t know the dog, the incorrect ways could potentially be deadly.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Free Spay/Neuter Day in Boston

For as long as I can remember, I have known that companion animals should be spayed and neutered. I have read the statistics, been shown the pictures of overcrowded shelters and puppy mills, and have handed out flyers at events. On Sunday, May 16th, I got to see a spay/neuter clinic in action.

The Massachusetts Animal Coalition sponsored a free spay/neuter day for pit bulls in Jamaica Plain, MA, at the MSPCA, and in downtown Boston, at the Animal Rescue League. I met some of the Braveheart Pit Bull Rescue Volunteers at the MSPCA. Each location could do a maximum of 10 pit bulls and each had 10 put bulls signed up.

I did not know what to expect. After all, I am accustomed to dropping my dog off for procedures and picking her up once she’s out of recovery. I certainly did not think I’d be allowed to observe the procedures.

When advocating spay/neuter, we always talk about the benefits to the dog in the long term. And, we are often met with concerns about putting your dog under for elective surgery. None of the dogs had issues with anesthesia. Nine of
the dogs came out of anesthesia ready to get up and explore. One was happy to sleep. But he was alert and happy, just tired.

The procedures fascinated me. The vet I observed answered any questions I had, and told me how glad he was to be spending his morning doing these procedures. To a person, everyone there was thrilled that 10 dogs would no longer have the potential to add to pit bull homelessness in Boston.

One of the dogs I observed being spayed was in
heat. That operation differed from the other spays in that there was more blood. But the vet said it was not a complication— that he’d rather spay a dog in heat than deliver that dog’s puppies in a few months. Neuters were simpler procedures. They took less time and there was less blood. None of the dogs had external stitches. The vet explained that they didn’t want to impose on the dogs’s families to have to bring the dog back in a week. In their experience, most wouldn’t.

The dogs were not only altered, if they were not up-to-date on their rabies and distemper, those vaccines were administered. They were tested for heartworm and were given their first dose of Heartguard, and a flea treatment.

I was surprised by the range of responses the dogs seemed to have coming out of anesthesia. One big boy took the longest to rouse, while another was up walking almost immediately after being roused. Two other boys were awake, but not moving about. Most of the female dogs showed little interest in doing anything but sleeping. All seemed comfortable, and none were pawing at their incisions.

This event was a great success. 20 pit bulls will not be adding to pit bull homelessness in Boston. 20 families have learned the value of spay/neuter. And the staff and volunteers at the MSPCA got to be involved with a free spay/neuter event that they are hoping to repeat again in a few months.

~ Pam

Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy Endings Calendar 2011 Photo Submission

Hello Friends!

Happy Ending Calendar submissions are still being accepted up until July 1st! Don't forget to enter your charming rescue pit bull!

Have you ever envisioned your rescued pit bull gracing the pages of a calendar? Does your pup have good looks, charm, a touching story, or really cute costumes? If so, here is your chance to make your dreams a reality and share your rescued pit bull with the world!

PBRC's 2011 Happy Endings Calendar. An annual tradition since 2002, our Happy Endings Calendar is full of accurate breed information, heart-warming rescue stories and 12 months of GREAT color pictures of rescued pit bulls! We are accepting pictures now through July 1st, 2010.

All the information you need regarding type of photo, submission, cost, etc. can be found here: http://www.pbrc.net/shop/photosubmit11.html

Remember that all the proceeds from the photo submissions, as well as the sale of the calendars, are used to help pitbulls in need. Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to have your furry friend be a pin-up, and to help others in need!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Speuter is Cuter!

Please spread the word about these 3 programs:

LA Animal Services Announces Pits and Pals Day at South Los Angeles

Los Angeles – Saturday, May 15, will be a great day for Pits and Pals in the South Los Angeles area. Animal Services is announcing a free sterilization day to income-qualified dog owners who are City of Los Angeles residents on Saturday, May 15. In our continuing quest to reduce pet overpopulation, and through the generosity of the Mrs. Joan Kelly, we will sterilize bully breed dogs and their four-legged friends of all breeds at the South Los Angeles Animal Care Center, 3612 11th Street, Los Angeles. The Amanda Foundation will bring in their state-of-the-art Spaymobile working towards a goal of sterilizing 100 dogs. (For more information about The Amanda Foundation, please visit http://amandafoundation.org/.) All surgeries will be done by appointment only. Call 1-888-349-7388 to make an appointment.

Last month, LA Animal Services held a Spay Day at their East Valley Animal Care Center. More than 140 pits and pals received free sterilization surgery. In the past 12 months, more than 1400 Pits and Pals have participated in this program that is completely funded by donations.

“Pits are our biggest intake problem. More than 600 each month come into our six Centers”, stated Interim General Manager Kathy Davis. “This is another great opportunity for pet owners and pets alike. Sterilization surgery provides so many benefits not only for the pet, but for the community as well”, stated Interim General Manager Kathy Davis. “This program ‘snips’ the problem at a price that won’t touch a wallet, thanks to Mrs. Kelly. Be a pal. Spay/Neuter your Pit.”


On June 6, 2010, SPAY ILLINOIS will be hosting a spay and neuter event and invites anyone that has a pit bull or pit mix to participate. The cost is $50 and low cost vaccines, heartworm testing and micro-chipping will be offered the same day for animals being spayed/neutered. Please call 1-877-475-SPAY (7729) for an appointment. www.spayillinois.org

Monday, May 10, 2010

Officer Shoots, Kills Dog

Morgan Fogarty

Bella and her buddy got out of their fenced yard last Thursday while their owners were at dinner. Witnesses say the pit bulls ran down into another yard. A woman, fearful of the dogs, called for help. Concord Police responded and tried to catch the dogs for 42 minutes. One of the dogs, Jaxson, was easy to corral. But Bella proved to be more difficult. FOX Charlotte's Morgan Fogarty asked, "Was it snapping or charging?" Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Bryan Archer says, "From what I was told, yes it was.”

Archer works in the with animal control division of the Sheriff's Office. He says one of his deputies showed up to help Concord Police and spent 56 minutes trying to catch the dog. Archer says his deputy, Sean Austin, never witnessed the animal act aggressively toward adults or children nearby, but he chose to shoot and kill it. "We couldn't do anything with the dog, we had to finally make a decision,” says Archer.

Jeff Daniels, the owner of both Bella and Jaxson, says witnesses told him, "The animal control officer chased her in between two houses and shot her as she was running away." Daniels came home from dinner and realized his dog had been killed. He questioned Austin and recorded it on his iPhone. It's video the sheriff tells FOX Charlotte he wants to see. The video shows Daniels saying "But you said that she didn't show any aggression toward you, you know? You told me that. She didn't show any aggression...why can't you..." Austin is seen in the video saying, "I'm not sitting there for three hours when I got calls in!” Daniels then asks, "So what's your time limit? Is it 20 minutes? Is that what it is?"

One witness has also provided a written statement about Bella the dog, reading "At no time...did I ever feel that she was a danger or aggressive to any person out there."

Fogarty asked Archer, "What would you say to other pet owners who see this...and maybe worry, oh my God, if my dog gets loose and the officers can't catch it, they're gonna shoot it?" Archer responded, "We do everything we can do to keep from having to shoot one."

Daniels couldn't hold back his emotion when he said, “The law states that dogs are property, but my dog wasn't property. Not to me or my family. She was a part of my family.” He has retained an animal rights attorney in Raleigh. He is considering suing.

Animal control says prior to the shooting, it had never gotten a complaint or call about Bella. The department also says Deputy Austin couldn't have used a tranquilizer gun because he doesn't have the proper certification for that tool. Sheriff Brad Riley is looking into the deputy's actions.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Zynga Removes Pit Bulls From Mafia Wars

Mafia Wars, the popular Facebook crime game, had recently announced the addition of animals as a new class of weapons, including pit bulls. More than 500 Change.org community members contacted Zynga, the game's creators, asking them not to perpetuate negative pit bull stereotypes in their game. Zynga listened, and pit bulls are no longer a part of Mafia Wars.

In an email about the decision, Zynga said they immediately removed the negative imagery because they "in no way support the abuse of animals. We love dogs here at Zynga and on a daily basis have many dogs that come to work, including several pit bulls that have been fostered through rescue agencies like Bad Rap. We also have a dog walking and training service that many employees utilize to make sure their four-legged friends are well exercised and socialized when they come to work."

Prior to the Mafia Wars update, Zynga's dog-loving values were already reflected in their other games. In YoVille, adoptions of virtual dogs and cats have resulted in a very real donation of over $125,000 (and counting) to the San Francisco Chapter of the SPCA. With over 7 million people playing Mafia Wars every day, the message sent by choosing not to portray pit bulls as weapons is a powerful one.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hollywood star helps give abused dog new home

By Eyewitness News staff

Story Created: May 4, 2010 at 12:55 PM PDT Story Updated: May 4, 2010 at 6:47 PM PDT

Actress Katherine Heigl discusses the abuse of a Bakersfield dog during a news conference Tuesday in Hollywood.

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- The dog found hog-tied in a muddy field and left for dead will get a new home Wednesday.

Kern County Animal Control director Guy Shaw joined actress Katherine Heigl and other animal advocates at a press conference
Tuesday in Hollywood to announce that the male pit bull will find a new home with the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation.

The dog was named England after one of the animal control officers, Kristen England, who rescued him April 22 in the area of Sandrini Road and Highway 99 south of Bakersfield.

James Worley, 52, of Bakersfield, has been arrested and faces a possible charge of felony animal cruelty. Arraignment is pending and could happen later this week.

The Heigl Foundation, which was co-founded by Nancy and Katherine Heigl, will be working with Last Chance for Animals to offer rewards to those who help bring animal abusers to justice. LCA plans to be at Worley's arraignment.

"The thing is that you don't want to give up on these animals," Katherine Heigl said. "Just because they've been through what they've been though doesn't mean that they can't have an enjoyable, happy, loving life."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Walk Your Dog With Love

Pit bull-tested and approved!
"Walk Your Dog With Love" dog harness...
~PIT BULL RESCUE CENTRAL gets 100% of the retail markup~