Lately this blog has taken the “voice of advocate” turn as I have been posting a lot about rescue dogs and organizations, good Samaritans and horror stories alike. I promise I will post a silly blog about Oscar and his antics soon… he is just so normal right now there is not much to tell. Well … his best buddy IS a small black cat so maybe I will work on that post for you.


But in the meantime, I have always kept my eye on these sad stories but was remiss to share them because they are not necessarily fun to read nor do they put a smile on your face. I try to keep this blog positive but it seems everywhere I turn lately there is a horror story about an abused animal.

I have recently been following the local story of a Golden who was rescued by a wonderful organization that is dear to my heart here in Florida. This sweet female Golden was apparently used as a bait dog for dog fighting somewhere in Miami. She was rescued from a notorious kill shelter and is being treated for horrid wounds with multiple surgeries and antibiotics. It is a horrendously sad story and I am in contact with the org to see if and when she is adoptable, I could change her life. I am not the only one interested in having her… so we’ll see if it is meant to be. As long as she is loved I am ok with whoever wins her heart. But this is something I feel incredibly strong about.

Heidi 1

I don’t know what kind of person does this to an animal. I don’t know what makes a person feel that this is ok. Or for that matter what makes a person abandon their animals either.

Heidi 2

I feel this blog is always evolving and expanding from the original story of Cody and our battle to keep him healthy. I guess the perspective that fight gave me makes me an advocate for animal welfare in general, not just cancer awareness, and wanting to spread the word that when you adopt a pet, you are committing for life. Their life. All of it. Good, bad, healthy, sickly, young, old, good and bad behavior. You decide the moment you take that animal home to be their parent and guardian until they have no more life left. To take CARE of them no matter what happens in your life or theirs.

I know life has its twists and turns, some folks run into hardships that seem insurmountable and feeding another mouth might seem impossible. Job loss, income or lack thereof, moving, downsizing, and some folks run into health issues themselves. But there are always options, right? There are no TRUE deadends. There is ALWAYS something you can do to take care of that animal and it does not have to involve a kill shelter or worse yet, abandonment.

When Cody was first diagnosed it was during the hardest year of my life to date. I did not have the disposable money to sink into his chemo, but how could I not try? He was still young at 5 years old, he saved me from myself when I first got him, I owed it to him and his love and devotion to do what I could. And I did, as you know. It was not JUST the chemo that helped him last as long as he did… it was simple things like diet, exercise, vitamins, research and most of all LOVE. He knew I wanted him to stick around… and he wanted to stick around too. Mental is half the battle. If I would have given up on him, resigned myself to his illness, then he would have given up. Animals, especially dogs, are truly in tune with you, their owner. You’ve all seen it. They know when you are sad or happy… they read you.

But when you abandon or give up on your pet, or torture them, fight them, use them as bait dogs… you are essentially signing their death sentence.

In Miami this kill shelter I mentioned is notoriously overcrowded and most dogs found in the Everglades or around Miami are brought there. Dogs of all kinds, and from all situations whether they are found wandering the streets, taken from homes, or given to the shelter. They are given a small chance of adoption but some breeds are just put to death, like Pitbulls. So whether or not you are a good owner, and your dog is sweet and loving… most likely because of their age or breed they are never given a second chance once they are in the shelter’s custody. You have a choice… you can do the legwork to rehome your baby. You can take the extra step to make sure you do right by them. Especially for bigger breeds like Pitbulls or Rotties, who are a completely misunderstood breeds who take the blame for bad owners.

I guess my point of this post is that it is all up to you as a “parent” to take care of your adopted baby. They rely on you and the worst thing you can do is not give them a second chance if you cannot take care of them any longer. Think about the way they wait by the door for you to come home. What do you think is going on in their minds when you drop them off at a kill shelter with all that noise and shrieking… all those smells and crazy energy… and then you leave. They deserve better than that. And I will not even address those who use their dogs as fighters or bait dogs for fighting. They are the lowest of the low and do not deserve a single moment of my brain power.

October is Pitbull Awareness month. Cesar Milan is a huge advocate for Pitbulls and someone posted this quick article on his foundation’s site that I read yesterday which summarizes exactly what I am describing here. These dogs are sweet and devoted and do not deserve the bad rap they get. All dogs deserve a good life. There are no bad breeds, just badly raised dogs.

Cesar and Junior

How to Care for your Pit Bull

By Jon Bastian

Pit Bull Characteristics

Pit bulls are commonly confident, people-oriented dogs that can develop a strong sense of dependence on their humans. Caring for a pit bull requires an extremely responsible person. Because of their affectionate but dependent natures, it is particularly important to provide balance with Cesar’s fulfillment formula, making sure that they have plenty of exercise and discipline before they receive affection.

Because of their dependence upon humans, pit bulls respond well to positive reinforcement training and praise—they want to impress you by learning new tricks and showing submissive behavior.

Despite popular misconceptions, pit bulls do not make ideal guard dogs because they are so people-oriented. Training pit bulls to be guard dogs can just make them aggressive toward all people, including their own pack.

Pit Bull Health

Pit bulls are generally healthy, living on average 12 to 14 years, with few issues—they can be susceptible to parvovirus as puppies, as well as allergies as adults, and hip dysplasia and hereditary cataracts as seniors. Pit bulls are also energetic, and should get a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes of vigorous exercise per day. As with all dogs, be sure your pit bull has up-to-date vaccinations, as well as annual or semi-annual veterinary check-ups.

Bringing a pit bull into your family does take a lot of dedication and commitment, but the love you will receive in return will be more than worth your time and effort. There’s another benefit as well. Bringing up your pit bull to be calm, submissive and well-behaved will create a canine breed-ambassador—like Daddy and Junior—and help teach the world the truth: There are no bad breeds, just badly raised dogs.


~ by Michelle Sammartino-Zeto on October 8, 2013.

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