19 April 2011

What's better than one pit bull pup?

I recently had an opportunity to attend a "pittie party" at the Chicago Animal Care & Control (CACC) facility. I went willingly, if apprehensively, as a volunteer with Project Rescue Chicago

I'm all for attending any number of outings, events or meetings that will help educate people about the many stellar and admirable qualities pit bulls bring to the table. But I also knew that there would be many, many sad, confused and frightened faces looking out from the kennels. I knew the conditions, though a step up in quality for some of those sweet pups, would not be up to my hopes and expectations for basic decency. And I knew that the signs of abuse and neglect would be far too plentiful and far too obvious. 

Still, you cannot love pit bulls without also addressing what is happening to them in the current social and political climate. To be a truly strong advocate for all of the pit bull breeds currently victimized by criminals as well as misinformed, misguided upright citizens, it is critical to be painfully aware of what is happening to pit bulls who are not in loving homes. This is why I went willingly, though apprehensively, to the pittie party.

I had the good fortune, however, to know that we would not leave CACC empty-handed. Two Pitties in the City had written about Shy, a diabetic pit bull who had been saved from euthanasia. In addition to needing a home and a family to call her own, Shy also desperately needed cataract surgery, so Two Pitties began a fundraising campaign. And although Shy did find her forever family as well as a new name (Khloe), and although Two Pitties was able to raise a substantial amount of money to cover the costs of her surgery, little Shy/Khloe passed away unexpectedly one night from unknown causes. Two Pitties offered to return all donations to her cause, but the many generous contributors were set on doing a good deed, even if it could no longer be to Shy/Khloe's benefit. "Luckily" cataract surgery is quite expensive, so I happened to know that there was a good chance that we would leave CACC that day with not just one but two lucky (if temporarily broken) pit bulls who might otherwise be overlooked due to medical conditions.

I won't lie. It was hard walking through the facility. There were so many beautiful dogs there. Some were as happy as if they were hanging out in someone's backyard, but most were resigned or, harder to see, depressed. There was one handsome white pit bull/boxer mix with brindle spots who still puts a lump in my throat when I think about him. He sat in the middle of his crate shaking, shrinking into himself from sheer misery. When I reached out to him, hoping to give him a little comfort, the most he could do in response was lift the tip of his tail off of the ground, drop his eyes and lower his head. I never saw Toni in her crate at the shelter from which we adopted her, but I've seen her in confined spaces. This boy was Toni—except his hell was just beginning (he'd been there just one day), whereas we work hard every day to ensure that her hell is far in her past. People need to know that this is the reality of unwanted animals. They need to know because it's hard, not even though it's hard.

For the broken dogs—dogs with illnesses, injuries, unattractive yet treatable ailments—the likelihood of making it through the system and into a home is even smaller. For these dogs, there is a better chance that they will be killed in the near future than there is that they will find a home. So walking through all of that misery was a little more bearable knowing that we were changing the odds that day. And we not only changed them, we multiplied them by two. Because really, if there's anything better than one pit bull pup, it's two pit bull pups!

"I think everything's gonna be okay now!"

Follow their journey through Project Rescue Chicago's program by reading their stories on the Two Pitties in the City blog, starting with this introduction.


  1. You're a brave soul with a heart of gold. Pit bulls are lucky to have you in their corner.

  2. Oh jeez, talk about a lump in the throat. I have a giant one, as well as big tears welling up in my eyes, thanks to this post. Thank you for it. Sometimes I wish I could write about things like this on my blog, but I am determined to make it about our foster animals and helping them get adopted, so I always have to stop myself. I am so thankful that others -- like you -- are also great advocates and rescue workers and have the thoughtfulness, spirit, and courage to not only live it, but write about it in such a beautiful manner.

    I am honored to know you.

  3. Love and a Leash, I think we could start a mutual admiration society. Thank you for your generous compliment!

    You're doing the work we can't right now; but not being able to foster allows us to focus on these other things instead. Luckily it seems that there are more people like us and the people we work with than there used to be - that's the first step in the right direction.

  4. I'm so happy those two pups made it out of there - it's great that the money raised for Shy/Khloe is going to help other dogs in need!

  5. You are brave and strong. I am pained when I go to the shelter here, too. You are exactly right, though - we need to see these conditions BECAUSE it's hard, not EVEN THOUGH it's hard. Thank you for doing this kind thing.