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25 December 2008


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What a great article! Gorant pulls no punches on PETA, HSUS and yes, even Sports Illustrated.

I don't really believe in making resolutions for the New Year(mainly cause the same 20 pounds I've been resolved to lose for 20 years is still with me), but I'm determined that anytime I hear or read someone in the media quoting PETA on anything - they are going to here from me. Likewise for HSUS if they malign pit bulls.

Now if we can just keep Vick from getting back into the NFL - that would be the best present of all.


Absolutely the very best Christmas present possible ~ for all the pitties and people who care about them, and for a brighter, more hopeful future for those to come. Christie, you have done an amazing job of saying the truth in a powerful way and I so appreciate the "no whitewashing" tone of your posts.

What has been done/is being done/will be done to the animals we share the earth with is so often barbaric and inhumane, under the guise of "saving them"! I'm so glad that this man at Sports Illustrated "gets it" and hopefully many others will now "get it" thanks to all of you who have brought this to light.

And huge lumps of coal to those folks at PETA and HSUS (and the Houston folks who "saved" all those wonderful dogs by killing them) who claim to care about the animals, but really don't. I'm just guessing that "better off dead" is not what the animals would choose.

I'm so glad that Jasmine is making baby steps toward learning that not all humans are unkind and that not all places outside of the cage are deadly. And for all the Jasmines, everywhere, I wish you a wonderful, patient human who loves you enough to help you learn that loving and being loved doesn't hurt.

So, thank you for giving me such a nice Christmas gift!


Agreed - this issue of SI is likely to do a lot of good for pit bulls/fighting dogs, and in a lot of different ways.

Hopefully this type of attention will bring about an infrastructure for absorbing dogs from these types of situations; especially when there isn't the notoriety and (more importantly) funding that was seen in the Vick case.


What a great Christmas gift - the gift of hope for a brighter future. Thank you for bringing this article to my attention. The tide may finally be turning toward a more compassionate world for our four legged friends. I'm especially thrilled that this article is likely to be read by so many people who we would not normally reach. The light of truth about murder under the cloak of "animal rescue" shines more brightly ever day.

Peace & purrs,



We are so happy these dogs are getting out there for the public to see who they really are. Thanks for posting this!!

Also, our Leo isn't a fluke. We have other fight bust dogs that are certified therapy dogs. They don't have the name Vick on them but they're fabulous just the same. Take a look at Zoe and Charlotte at www.ourpack.org.

What a great Xmas!

Marthina McClay


Fantastic cover!

What great news {understatement!}. I went to see if it was online, but um, got sidetracked by the online gallery of the Vick dogs with their new families :)


Susan Fox

You mean they're not all aggressive killing machines?

They can even be, dare I say it, NICE?

Ah, what thug or gangbanger is going to want one now?

(Well, I can hope.)


Thanks for the wonderful synopsis, Christie. We're over the moon happy with this issue, as you can imagine.

Let's hope it helps stir more acceptance of the breed as well as better shelter and disaster relief policy for the block headed dogs everywhere in '09.



I can't wait to buy a bunch of copies to share at the prison I run a training program at. They currently don't accept pitties on the program due to ignorance and fear. (Both with management and the inmates.) I am hoping this will help. Yay for reaching the masses!!

Jeff Romero

Ban ignorance not pitbulls, this article should make everyone that reads it not to belive the hype just to believe in whats right in the human heart and in the animal world. Take care!


GREAT ARTICLE.. let's hope he wins some sort of journalistic award.. he surely deserves it...I do hope that MANY people got the idea that the HSUS is against saving dogs.. it is an importnat fact.. PETA is an easier target.. they are always crazy.. but the HSUS is insidious and the very frightening part is how much sway they have with the politicos..

Funny thing .. i have not seen Wayne Pacelle blog on this article.. wonder how he will "spin" this one..


This article was so well written. Thank you Jim Gorant for telling the rest of the story and telling it so beautifully with heart and truth. The bully breeds have certainly suffered from the abuse of PETA and HSUS in their constant endeavors in trying to absolutely destroy this breed. First it will be this breed and the next and the next and the next. A magnificant, well behaved dog in the right hands.

Thank you Sports Illustrated and Jim Gorant for speaking for the dog.

Cindy and her bullies

Fabu article Christy! I will never forgive, nor forget those live Vick and especially those who claim to want to "protect" animals by euthanizing.


Both a great article and a great write-up of the article. Thank you, and Merry Christmas everyone.

Susan Fox

"They (HSUS)recently refused to send disaster relief help to Oklahoma, where over 100 pit bulls were found starving in freezing temperatures."

Inexcusable. Reprehensible.

Surprising? No.

Allan Birmantas

I'm glad that so many of those dogs were given another chance at life,but can you imagine the outcry if just one of these dogs turns on their owner or another human? I'll keep my fingers crossed.

As far as Peta is concerned..I can't take them seriously.I think they are simply a good idea that went bad.HSUS is a great organization,so I have to defend them.They simply are wrong in this case.


As far as Peta is concerned..I can’t take them seriously.I think they are simply a good idea that went bad.

No, PETA was founded with these ideas and with this purpose. It was bad from the beginning.

Gina Spadafori

Can you imagine the outcry if just one of these dogs turns on their owner or another human? I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Comment by Allan Birmantas — December 28, 2008

I would guess the Vick dogs are actually much safer a bet than most all dogs adopted from "ordinary" shelters, because of all the intense testing they went through.

The organizations involved in helping the Vick dogs are surely all well aware of the potential PR nightmare -- for all pit bulls, not just those seized from fighting rings -- should one of them bite someone. They went the extra mile, and them some, in evaluating and working with these dogs.

Cindy J

Hurray for Christine and SI! Finally someone see's that these dogs, not just Vick's dogs, are great dogs. Look how far they have come after enduring so darn much. It is time we stop letting the Shelters and Pounds create the Holacoust all over again. As Humans we should stop letting them get away with killing all of these animals and we should stop throwing away animals. How can we continue to throw away, abuse, starve, and turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the treatment of animals everywhere? I am not a crazy activist but I do rescue animals, mainly dogs. I fight against Dog fighting, Breed Specific Legislation and abuse. I have faced ridicule and harrasement from some co-workers on my stand AGAINST Michael Vick and the evil he perpetuated on those dogs. I remain firm and resolute on my opinion of Vick and that he did a terrible thing. I can only hope and pray that he does rehabilitate himself and come to know in his heart that he was wrong. Maybe he will come out of this as a true spokesman against fighting dogs or any animal. I thank God for all the people who stood up for these dogs, went out on a limb and believed, yes believed, that they could help and that these dogs did not need to die for the sins of the person who owned them. Great article and you better believe that I am buying several copies of this edition to show everyone what time, love and patience will do!


Allan. One dog with human-related issues was destroyed after the evaluations and another with mild fear aggression issues (Meryl) is under court order to live out her life at Best Friends sanctuary.

We trust the rest of the dogs as we trust ANY of our rescue cases with humans. They're no different and we're all very proud to put our name on them.

The HSUS continues to hold to its stance that pit bulls from abusive situations should not be allowed to be evaluated or rescued by breed professionals. They recently refused to send disaster relief help to Oklahoma, where over 100 pit bulls were found starving in freezing temperatures. There is certainly a lot of "room for improvement" for their policies regarding select breeds that suffer from mistreatment.


"They went the extra mile, and them some, in evaluating and working with these dogs."

So much so that at least one dog that would probably do very well in an experienced home, will remain at Best Friends for life because he is known to have been a pit fighter (most of the other dogs were NOT)

A wise decision, but sad for the particular dog though his life at BF is a good one, especially compared to his past.


> HSUS remains a good organization in my opinion.

Allan. I agree that HSUS is positioned to do wonderful things, and I have friendships with many people in that org that own and support pit bulls. But the decisions that leave homeless pit bulls out in the cold come from the top brass and so far, despite best efforts, they've been unwilling to be 'educated.'



HSUS is still towing the same old line here. Here's part of their official report/recommendations to San Luis Obispo.

Lots of "mandatory" this and that AND a call to slaughter ALL dogs from any "fighting" situation, including puppies.

HSUS reportedly charged SLO County $22,874 for a review of their Animal Services

Dept. Here are a couple of interesting sections inserted into the report by HSUS

issued June 2008. The entire report can be found at:



Page 152 – 154:

The majority of the ordinances were comprehensive and functional. Through interviews with

staff, the following ordinances were recommended to be included in all areas of enforcement


• Mandatory cat licensing/registration

• Definition of feral cat colonies

• Definition of prohibited animals

• Mandatory microchipping

• Restraint ordinance that requires animals to be behind a secure enclosure

• Spay/neuter requirement unless the owner has a breeders license


􀀹 Task a review board with examining the ordinances and consider joining them so that

there is one uniform animal ordinance for all contract jurisdictions.

􀀹 Work closely with the County administrators and attorneys to address the needed

ordinance changes from the suggestions listed above and any other ordinances

deemed necessary for revision or inclusion. SLOCAS must be involved in the

creation of ordinances that they will be charged with enforcing.

􀀹 Review ordinances yearly to gauge effectiveness of the animal control program and to

ensure that the mission of creating safe neighborhoods for both people and pets are

being met.

􀀹 Design and distribute a flyer or brochure in Spanish that outlines basic animal laws

for the cities and the County.

􀀹 Advertise the agency’s Web site as a source of information about animal control


􀀹 Contact The HSUS for examples of progressive animal-related ordinances that have

been implemented in other areas as SLOC and other contract municipalities update

their ordinances.

􀀹 Provide training and continue to foster the relationship with the SLOCSD and other

law enforcement agencies to better educate police officers on the crime of animal

cruelty. Since most forms of animal cruelty are felony offenses, law enforcement’s

involvement is not only beneficial, it is required to prosecute a felony crime. Law

enforcement jurisdictions should assign a detective that SLOCAS can go to regarding

criminal cruelty cases for advice, direction, investigation, and prosecution. SLOCSD

and other police agencies also need to give SLOCAS the ability to instruct police

officers on animal cruelty and the role that the police departments play in such



According to Animal Control Management, A Guide for Local Governments, [my notes: This is

a HSUS book, written by someone at HSUS. See http://tinyurl.com/yzd8wx ]

the following animal control laws should be strived for over time:

􀂾 Mandatory registration

􀂾 Citation and impoundment fees

􀂾 Dangerous-dog laws

􀂾 Rabies control

􀂾 Restraint laws

􀂾 Nuisance laws

􀂾 Pooper scooper laws

􀂾 Animal limitation

􀂾 Security bond provisions

􀂾 Other provisions such as:

• Regulation of pet shops

• Reporting by animal dealers

• Animal cruelty and neglect

• Keeping of wild, exotic, and novelty animals

• Animal events

• Guard dogs

• Pet giveaway prohibition

• Pound seizure prohibition

• Breeding restrictions

Animal control laws are really quality of life laws. Communities with good animal control

ordinances are generally better places to live because they provide good enforcement policies

and procedures and empower enforcement personnel by giving them the tools they need to

address the issues. In these places, barking dogs do not disturb the citizens’ quality of life,

citizens and mail carriers can walk down the streets without fear of being attacked, and

public places and parks are not soiled with dog feces. Would ordinance changes reduce the

number of animals coming into the shelter or improve citizens’ quality of life? If so, they

should be addressed. However, it is important to keep in mind that additional ordinances

usually have costs associated with them. Lawmakers need to understand that animal control

laws are a very important part of the makeup of a good community.


Pg 157 – 158:


􀀹 Develop a written SOP covering dogfighting in conjunction with the sheriff’s

department. Such a policy should outline what signs to look for that might indicate

fighting activity. This SOP should explain how to safely make inquiries and gather

information from the public. The SOP should also specify how that information is to

be presented to the appropriate investigators.

􀀹 Encourage ACOs to utilize The HSUS Animal Fighting and Cruelty campaign Web

site and to read related articles in Animal Sheltering magazine.135, 136, 137

􀀹 Provide all ACOs and law enforcement officers in the County with training on the

recognition of wounds, training equipment, and other signs indicative of dogfighting.

􀀹 Coordinate communications and training exercises with the gang unit of the

SLOCSD. If either agency has knowledge of dogfighting, they need to ensure that

both sides are aware of the incident and develop an investigation protocol between


􀀹 Provide the opportunity for every ACO to attend dogfighting investigation workshops

when available. These workshops move around the country and can be brought within

driving distance of SLOC so no overnight travel or airfare would be required. The

HSUS can provide contact information for future dogfighting training courses.138

􀀹 Work in conjunction with state police departments if SLOCAS has issues with illegal

animal fighting in the future. The investigation of illegal animal fighting activities by

local law enforcement, animal control, and humane agencies is frequently difficult,

frustrating, and unsuccessful. The lack of success is most often due to circumstances

beyond the control of the investigating agency. Because of the specialized nature of

the criminal activity, participants are often scattered over a wide area involving

multiple jurisdictions. The broad distribution of participants may present certain

difficulties unless the investigation effort is tightly coordinated among a number of

law enforcement agencies.

􀀹 The HSUS recommends that no dogs seized from dogfighting operations, even

puppies, be placed for adoption or transferred to placement partners. Although some

of the dogs and puppies seized may appear perfectly friendly, it is important that

SLOCAS err on the side of caution. Puppies that come from fighting lines may be

unpredictable and dangerous as they mature. SLOCAS does not need that liability,

and the community does not need a potentially dangerous dog.

132 Naca News, “Mo’ Licenses Mo’ Fees Mo Money!?,” September–October 2003 CR

133 HSUS Animal Sheltering magazine, “Taking License With an Ad Campaign,” September–October 1999+

134 HSUS Animal Sheltering magazine, “You’ve Got a (Pet Friendly) Friend in Pennsylvania,” September–

October 2000+

135 www.hsus.org/acf/fighting/dogfight/

136 HSUS Animal Sheltering magazine, “Dogfighting Investigations,” July–August 2006+

137 HSUS Animal Sheltering magazine, “The Costs of Dogfighting,” November–December 2007+

138 www.humanesocietyu.org/workshops_and_classes

Allan Birmantas

Maybe HSUS needs to be educated? I must say I am very surprised because they do care for animals and are active in opposing dog fighting and any cruelty to any animal.Let's not throw out the "baby" with the bathwater.HSUS remains a good organization in my opinion.

I am watching Dogtown as I type this.Really heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.

Susan Fox

I sent them money in a response to a very specific plea on their website to aid their "sheltering" of the Vick dogs. I then found out that not only do they not have any actual shelters of any kind, but that I was now a "member". I find that kind of bait and switch disgusting.

In reality, they, along with PETA, wanted to kill the Vick dogs out of hand, with no evaluation.

They have fought against the No Kill movement until very recently and are now coming around only because they've seen which way the wind is blowing.

They're doing good work as far as Prop. 2 in California and their puppy mill exposes, but they will never, ever get another dime from me.

Love, love, love Dogtown. Best Friends walks the walk. I have sent them money and will do so again.


Looking for some advice. A friend of mine (and in this case it really is a friend not me) aided a pittie organization in our area by fostering a pittie puppy. Her circumstances have changed, and while she's still giving the puppy the basic care it needs, she simply can't devote the time to training and the like that it should have. Yet the foster organization says they don't have any other homes to place him in and can't take him back. She's not sure what to do at this point, short of taking him to a "shelter" where she's not sure what will happy to him. He's a cutie, his markings are a bit like Spuds...but he is hyper and basically untrained and he stays in a crate a lot right now. We're in Southeastern PA. Any suggestions?

carol birmantas

I am thrilled to learn these dogs are not like they have been painted.It is about time people learn that a dog is not born mean. People make them that way. I love Dog Town and we support them as we can monetarily.The population needs educated.. We have 2 rescue dogs. I wish more folks would consider rescue when looking for an animal. So many abandoned dogs, good loving dogs, are in need of homes.

Thank you for the great article!


RE: Best Friends and Dogtown: I watched Dogtown recently, and their facility and what they are trying to accomplish is amazing. I would love to donate money, but I don't want my money going to the "don't ever buy a dog while there are still any pets in a shelter" campaign that Best Friends runs, because I don't want to wage a war against reputable breeders and pure bred dogs. I wonder if there is any way to make sure my money goes to one aspect and not the other?

Bonnie Carpenter

I am so pleased that Sports Illistrated has stepped up to the plate and had the gutts to actully say something about these precious dogs. Thank you Jim Gorant for doing the article and God bless the people that adopted these proud wonderful dogs. Heaven knows they've earned the right after being abused and degraded by what society called a human being. And yes, I own a pit, the kindest, most loving animal I've ever had. It's past time that these wonderful dogs were recognized for there wonderful dispostions. Bad dogs come from bad owners. Bad owners need to be banned, not the dogs. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

Luke Barker


We need to support these groups that are genuine and who truly care.

R M Duke

The story was very good. My only question, "The cover of the magazine states a year of great sports, and the only picture that can be found for the cover is of a dog that reflects a very negative happening? and further was more appropiate for the prior year when the actions took place."


The person who wrote this story should get an award. So well done! Thanks for showing what good owners can do who allow them just to be dogs, and particularly to the people who saved these dogs from destruction in the first place!


R M Duke: Now is the time that Michael Vick's former dogs are beginning to show the world what they were always meant to be, loving companion animals and trusted therapy dogs. It was an article that SI did back in the 80s that had every wanna-be gangsta running to his local backyard Pit breeder for the latest symbol of pseudo-virility. There is never a bad time to educate the public that this dog is not the monster of Michael Vick's (and others like him) creation.

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