not monsters

Singing the Antioch Blues

I spent the day working, fuming, and trying to get over the Antioch shelter debacle. In pit bull rescue, I see plenty of bad things. This one hurt me deep into my soul - you know the sort of howling hurt you save for important things like death and tax bills. I will survive. Which is more than I can say for Mona and Mary Jane. May they rest in peace. I feel like I have a horrible hangover without the benefit of the fun part.

If you have no idea what I am talking about please see this ~

In better news, I sent out millions of alerts to rescues all over California to ask that they not adopt vulnerable breeds into Antioch. A reader obtained the name of shelter manager (thank you) and we've had a bit of media interest. In Defense of Animals emailed back and we're going to talk to the CEO, Dr. Katz, and they indicated they wanted to assist if possible.

In worse news, Drew went to pick up his dogs. Apparently they release them after they are good and dead.

Oh my head.

Thanks for caring about Drew with me. Thanks for reposting and putting it on Facebook and spreading the word. You guys rock.

Hit me in the face with a shovel. Come on Antioch , I like it

A hysterical man called me last Friday. His name is Drew. Claims he got my name from some lady who heard me speak at a Paws for Love function last year and begged me to help him. Drew told me his story in between sobs, which is a hard thing to hear out of a grown man. His dogs, Mary Jane and Mona were at the Antioch, California animal shelter and they were planning on killing his dogs. Could I help him? Pit bulls of course.

This pair of dogs had been on the Antioch Animal Control radar before. Mary Jane and Mona got out of the garage two years ago and killed a cat. This is bad. Pit bulls are terriers and have prey drive like they all do, but when a pit bull kills a cat, it's not normal, it's dangerous. That 250 million dogs in America have prey drive and kill cattle, goats, squirrels, cats, and varmints of every conceivable species, is a special wonder for animal control who feel they have to put a stop to predatory behavior out of predator animals. Maybe next year they can work on stopping birds from flying through the air.

Mona and Mary Jane got out again. They didn't hurt anyone. These dogs are spayed, and microchipped, raised since puppies with the same family. They never bit a child, menaced a jogger or did anything but wiggle with joy at the sight of a human being. Mona and Mary Jane, are just dogs being dogs. Once they got out again, Animal Control picked them up and they were remanded to the Antioch shelter and there they sat whilst frantic Drew attempted to bail them out.

The shelter was having none of it. This "shelter" demanded $1,500 bail. He went there to pay it, and they turned him away. They said his dogs are "PDA" which stands for "Potentially Dangerous Animals." They set the kill date for Monday.

I listened to this familiar and boring story with interest. I say boring because it happens all the time and I hear this so often that I can't even fake any shock. The shelter system is archaic, broken, drunk with power, full of idiots who know zero about animals and insulated by clerks, Dept. of Agriculture, and ignored by the HSUS, PETA and the rest of the big guns. By the way, the commercials you see on TV with the decrepit animals asking for $19 a month from the HSUS feature the president of the HSUS who makes about a million dollars a year. That's why they need $19 a month.

Anyway, I explained we have the Hayden law in California and it is illegal for a shelter to refuse to turn over doomed dogs to a qualified rescue. I called our director Mary Quinn, and got the ball rolling. I couldn't let the dogs die for such a lame reason. Drew just cried and cried saying "Valerie, they never hurt anybody...they are nice dogs, our family loves them and they never hurt anyone." Mary hopped on it and worked the phones like a woman on fire.

I saw a shirt once that had a slogan on the front that said "Stereotypes are such a time saver." This is the method shelters use in dealing with pit bulls. If it looks pit, kill it. This is a strange approach since there are 20 breeds around the world that look pit bull and who are not pit bull at all. Humans aren't very good at eye witnessing.

We called the Antioch mayor, the shelter, the police, the city manager. We called TV, radio. We posted on Facebook and Craig's List and begged for help. The shelter hung up on us. In this moment, I still don't know the Antioch shelter director's name because they hung up on all of us.

I called Jeff Charter, manager of the Petaluma shelter (and blessing in our community - just a great man), who I work with a lot. I took a dog from Jeff who had a bite report on a person, and I rehabilitated that dog and placed him in an appropriate home. Jeff knows we are pit bull experts with excellent networks and resources to help them, so he agreed to call the shelter and the city manager on our behalf. They didn't pick up - he left a message.

We pitched a plan that looks like this: We'll take custody of the dogs and get them out of Contra Costa county. We will board them at a kennel in Petaluma and work on cat sensitivity training until the dogs are cat safe. Drew will pay te boarding fees to save his dogs and we will step in and help him for free. Drew will pay his $1,500 extortion fee to the shelter, Jeff will provide documentation that he is aware and approves of these dogs living/training in Petaluma and everybody wins. It's positive, fair and kind.

Which is why they killed both dogs yesterday morning.

Mona and Mary Jane are gone. Just like that. The ignorant. mean spirited Antioch "shelter" along with the disgusting city government workers, robbed citizen Drew of his animals and gave us the finger because they could. I believe they think they won something today.

I will never adopt any dog to this pit called Antioch. Animals are not safe there. Like most jurisdictions, they are married to the 1950's way of running a shelter, where death for the animal is the solution for every problem there is. Euthanasia is a great solution for senior dogs, ugly dogs, injured dogs, big dogs, black dogs, untrained dogs, nervous dogs or starving dogs. If life were about accuracy, we would not call them "shelters" but instead they'd be "Places where animals are terrorized for a few days before they are killed, often without sedation." These "shelters" refuse to work with rescue using every stupid excuse they can find - such as, the rescue doesn't know what it's doing, we have no time to work on adoption outreach, train volunteers or work with the community. It's so back there it's a wonder they all don't use rotary phones. Antioch is a prime example of everything that's wrong with the animal government.

In contrast, our Petaluma shelter is an example of everything that is right and just and Antioch could learn from them.

Dogs know. They get in there and they can feel it. The people who work in killing machine shelters tend to feel the death vibe in there, too. Then, they grow to like it. Predators, are we. Humans love to kill things, each other, animals, bugs, just anything in our way. We do it for sport, for fun, if you will and becomes a high of sorts and shelters are no different. The killing becomes attractive and in Antioch, they had fun with it yesterday. I believe they relished killing these dogs and figure us outsiders had it coming. This city is so morally bankrupt even Lt. Orman of the police department didn't return Jeff Charter's call. He wanted those dogs dead. And they are. Hey you win buddy!

I can't bring these babies back. I can't help them anymore. I have never met Drew and I likely won't meet him any time soon. He's on the floor trying to recover from this government sponsored atrocity and trying to wrap his head around how his taxes pay for this operation. Me, too.

I've been in touch with many pit bull and rescue groups and we're going to join together to put Antioch on notice that they are going to be held accountable. I'd rather eat a bag of scorpions that have anything to do with this horrible city but I must not be silent. They broke the law, they murdered dogs belonging to a citizen and did so with glee, they rejected a rational and workable plan and they laughed in the face of justice. Why? Because they can.

I'm in touch with In Defense of Animals, this has gone viral on Facebook. Antioch is exposed for their actions and will not slink away from their outrageous abuse of power.

I'm not going to forget Mona and Mary Jane. I'm going to honor them by telling their story and I ask you to pass it on. I end today with Miss Lily Tomlin....

"I always wondered why somebody doesn't do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody."

Have a fair, decent and kind day and please support your community rescue.


The Return of the Twainiac

Welcome dear readers as today is the happiest day in the world as we celebrate the best writer ever born. Today, is the 100 year anniversary of Mark Twain's death (which is the only negative here but if Twain were alive you know I'd be sitting in a hedge waiting for him to come out of his house to get the newspaper so I could kiss him or just hear him yell H-E-L-P!)

I had a great opportunity via the amazing Mr. Steven H. Silver ( to contribute to a Mark Twain fanzine which you can see right here:

Enjoy :)

Order in the Court

Today, the entire "Supreme Court" needs to stick their heads in a bag so none of them will see the lightening bolt that is simply inevitable. All Supremes save one, Justice Alito, concluded that a anti-cruelty law was too broad. From ABC News:

"The Supreme Court today invalidated a federal law that had criminalized the sale of certain depictions of animal cruelty, including violent dogfighting videos."

This means, our right to amuse our human selves with video pit bull fights and crush films wherein a psychopath in high heels crushes a kitten for the sexual rush of it all is preserved. Then, they sell it on the internet to vipers eager to see the spectacle.

Legalism, is a dangerous thing as it hoists human arrogance to astounding new levels. To argue that our national obsession with "free speech" is jeopardized by a kitten squashing video is outrageous. To imagine that dog fighting films challenge free speech rights is absurd. Perhaps we can bring back vivisection and have more animal cruelty sequels than we ever got with Star Wars.

And a note about pit bulls and pit bull fighting... Pit bull, by definition, is not a breed. It is a category of dogs which includes American pit bull terrier, Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier and sometimes, the American bull dog. The evolution of pit bull fighting has it's roots in rural and urban areas of the United States and it is the dirty business of felons and sociopaths. In order to get a pit bull to fight, the insane cruelty done to that animal includes chaining an 8 week old puppy to a pole with a tow chain so it lives outdoors permanently, not feeding it but twice a week using live kittens, using food to reward snapping/biting/lunging, routine beatings, feeding it gun powder, broken glass, and on and on. This is how you get a dog to fight, as there is no other way to do it. Fighting is against their nature and the pit bulls must be forced into the behavior. After a year of violence and abuse, these dogs can make a hell of a video. Then, in a final "Ta-da" finish, humans have the amazing nerve to label this breed as "bad" dogs.

Dog fighters get dogs for free of Craig's List and out of shelters and use them for bait dogs. Practice animals, if you will. We have a bait dog in our program with 50 holes in his head and a reconstructed ear.

It takes us a full year to rehabilitate a fighting dog. We do it using kindness, feeding 5 times a day, and huge amounts of zen-like quiet time for the animal. The pit bulls come out of the haze of abuse to eventually trust humans again. One year.

To take a video of the results of this grotesque human manipulation of what were once gentle, sweet puppies at birth, and profit from that, is as an apocalypse of wrong. That today it is legal, is a shameful day for free speech, my America, and the victimized animals.

Free speech isn't free. It's paid for, in this case, by helpless companion animals.

To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. I'm horrified, and disgusted that the chief "lawyers" gave felons the green light today, to peddle their cruel goods at the expense of the innocent. Baby porn- why not?

If only I could save all my beloved pit bulls. What's done to them, it's legal. Breed specific legislation is legal, too. Pit bulls are hunted by the evil, the politicians and now the Supreme Court.

How sorry I am for these loving, graceful and beautiful dogs who are born into such a horrible pit of a country with more lawyers than sense, and institutional vacancy where kindness and justice are concerned. At least, that's how they'd see it.

I'd rather be in a pit with a pit bull than in court listening to legal drivel and fantastical ideas about "our" laws and "our rights." Such a sad day for my babies, my children and the America I thought I lived in.

Now I know better. Commerce, as it is, wins.

bang head here

Jiggy Jag and his Warning (label) Vest

The weather is having an identity crisis because I just drove through a sun belt, a rain shower and some pea soup fog, all in the same block. It's cold and windy, too. I am ready for summer as I can no longer tolerate this atmospheric tomfoolery. Spring needs to get get sprung and stay there.

Let's see.....On last night's dog walking adventure, Jagger tried to murder a pedestrian via a stealth maneuver wherein he sits angelically and obediently waiting for the passerby to get two feet past the beast, then launches forth with atomic pit bull force which wrenches the shoulder area and scares the victim absolutely senseless. This dog is not reliable. Of course he is scolded for this and immediately returned home to do severe time out, but this guy has a screw loose. For all I know he wants to kiss the stranger but from the looks of it, he probably wants to jump on the bloke or mow him down - or kill him. Pick one.

I have him in "reactive dog" class with specialty trainers and we are working very hard on his many disorders. I leave it to bigger brains than mine to determine what to do about a sweet, handsome, melancholy dog with bipolar tendencies and nose for trouble. Last night he woke me up at 3 am, just crying and whining and suffering. I took him outside and he did his business and then Jagger came and sat on the outdoor steps with me and we looked at the moon. Well, I looked at moon. Jagger's eyes darted around the yard like he was waiting for a runaway Prius to bust through our fence.

I love this dog. He has spooks in his head and I understand this. Don't we all? Right now he's sleeping and I think he might be happier asleep.

I don't fear him, because Jagger would never hurt me. He's not a hostile animal, just a nervous wreck. He was born with a poor set of nerves and would never make it in the dog park circuit. He is a crappy dog with horrible prospects of adoption unless I can use my writers finesse to pen the perfect advertisement. Let me try:

Beautiful, but, mentally fragile -strong as a bus, male 1 year old pit bull with tragic past looking for perfect home! Always unhappy, barks at old people, lunges indiscriminately, hair falls out when he gets nervous which is all the time, throws up on Fridays and thinks it's funny to hide in the bathroom when you call for him. Jiggy with strangers, mail personnel and birds. Great in the car!

I have my big opinions on spay and neuter, and not breeding and reclaiming the pit bulls from the politicians and the criminals because of dogs like Jagger - who came into the world innocent and full of promise, only to live a shit bomb existence and come up damaged. Rescue is about throwing all of that in reverse. Sometimes, the job is big and impossible - but I believe in Jagger's ability to heal and move forward. Time, patience and training will correct what hurt him- and I won't adopt him out until I'm convinced he's safe to live in the world. Today is not that day. He may be 15 years old when the time is right and that's OK with me.

Love is a verb.