Behind the Scenes at The Real Pit Bull

March 22, 2011  

By Mary Harwelik, CPDT, and founder of The Real Pit Bull, for Pet News and Views as posted on Dogtime

In October 2010, Sedona the pit bull made the trip from Ohio to New York and finally to The Real Pit Bull, Inc, in New Jersey thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers involved in saving 200 dogs from a cruelty raid late in the summer. The pit bulls seized from this cruelty case were owned by a suspected dog fighter, were neglected and spent their entire lives on chains.

In the past, dogs like Sedona and the others from this case who have come to be known as “The OH200” would have likely been euthanized rather than placed into rescues. But thanks to a concerted effort on the part of organizations who have in recent years had success in the rescue, training, and placement of fight-abuse victims, the dogs from this large scale bust (the single largest of its kind) were offered a chance at a new life.

The Real Pit Bull, Inc, a NJ-based education, advocacy and rescue organization dedicated to the American Pit Bull Terrier, has been rallying for equal rights for “fight bust dogs” for years. So when the opportunity arose, RPB jumped at the chance to bring a dog from the OH200 bust into its unique training/placement program, “Karma Dogs.” Sedona, the smiley little “gremlin dog” with the silly ears, was the first dog officially entered into this program.

Considering all she’s been through and where she’s been, it is amazing how much love she has for the people in her life.

The Karma Dogs program rescues, re-socializes, trains, and then adopts out American Pit Bull Terriers that exhibit exceptional breed temperament. After an extensive evaluation and training period, the dogs are certified through the Canine Good Citizen program, and placed into situations where they can blossom as spokesdogs for the breed: as therapy and service dogs, for instance, and of course primarily as companions. Specifically, RPB seeks homes that would like to do breed advocacy work, education, and speak out on behalf of the pit bull, with their spokesdog by their side.

Sedona, like so many abuse victims, came to RPB without any training or socialization whatsoever. The civilized world terrified her. Everything was new–cars, people walking down the street, the wind blowing, the couch in her foster home living room, the TV, a phone ringing. She didn’t know what toys were, had no idea how to play, and even a Kong toy stuffed with delectable doggy treats was a source of confusion for her.

Perhaps the saddest thing was Sedona’s fear of people–she would shake in her crate while offering a scrunchy smile and a tail wag, so obviously wanting to be friends, but simply too frightened to move from the very back of her safety zone.

The socialization and training of dogs like Sedona who come into rescue so incredibly neglected takes a lot of time and patience. RPB uses only positive reinforcement training for dogs in its program, which increases the success rate and speeds the process. There is nothing so rewarding as seeing a dog begin to come out of her shell and discover that life can be beautiful. Little victories like Sedona figuring out how to sit for a food reward, play with another dog, get excited to greet people who came to visit her, and experience the comfort of cuddling on the couch for the first time were all causes for celebration.

Since Sedona has come to The Real Pit Bull, she has been the sweetest, most gentle dog. Never has she complained, lifted a lip, shown a tooth, grumbled one growl. She has taken everything in stride, trying her best to overcome her fears, do what is asked of her, and live in the moment. Considering all she’s been through and where she’s been, it is amazing how much love she has for the people in her life. She is a truly exceptional dog. RPB looks forward to adopting out Sedona to her special someone, so she can begin the next phase of her life as a true spokesdog for her breed, and most importantly a beautiful companion.

For more information on RPB, its Pit Bull adoption program, and Sedona, click here.

Photos courtesy of The Real Pit Bull

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Comments

6 Responses to “Behind the Scenes at The Real Pit Bull”
  1. JMattHicks says:

    Another incredible read. My wife and I have decided that we want a pit bull in the future (we’re going to name her Paisley, btw!), and just assumed we’d get her from a breeder as a puppy. But, after reading stories like this, it makes me re-think that, or maybe even add TWO new pit-bulls to the Hicks family. One a puppy, one adopted. Both seem like they’d be equally awesome.

  2. StubbyDog says:

    Great to hear! Hopefully you will find a wonderful dog from a shelter or rescue group where so many pit bulls need good homes. Whatever you decide, we would love to hear about your story. After you add to your family, please let us know all about it. Email [email protected]. And thanks for your support of StubbyDog!

  3. HilaryEklund says:

    She is adorable! And she tugs at my heart because of how much she resembles my Lucy, who passed away a few years ago after spending 11 wonderful years with me and my family. We have a little pit now, named Princess, who was rescued from a dog fighting case and came to us 3 years ago. When she arrived it was very much as you describe – she had never climbed stairs or seen herself in a mirror. Lots of family life was unfamiliar to her, but she has blossomed with us. My kids adore her, and she them. She has never, ever shown the least bit of aggression toward any of us, and the closest she has ever come to a problem was when a neighborhood dog ran out of its yard and attacked her while she was walking on the leash!

    I am envious of whatever lucky family takes beautiful Sedona home. She will be a wonderful dog, just like our Princess.

    btw, Princess came from Animal Farm shelter in upstate NY. Are you familiar with them? The work they do with pits and on behalf of the breed is fabulous. Great people!

  4. IngridFromm says:

    Your Princess sounds wonderful, we are so happy you were able to give her a life full of love, and we hope for the same for the beautiful Sedona. Your experience is a testament to how a ‘fighting dog’ can find a new life as a treasured family member. If you would like to share you story about Princess with our readers, please email [email protected].

    And yes, we have heard about The Animal Farm Foundation, they do wonderful work, giving pit bulls a second chance by pulling them out of over-crowded shelters in NYC and other places.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. StubbyDog says:

    Your Princess sounds wonderful, we are so happy you were able to give her a life full of love, and we hope for the same for the beautiful Sedona. Your experience is a testament to how a ‘fighting dog’ can find a new life as a treasured family member. If you would like to share you story about Princess with our readers, please email [email protected].

    And yes, we have heard about The Animal Farm Foundation, they do wonderful work, giving pit bulls a second chance by pulling them out of over-crowded shelters in NYC and other places.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. JMattHicks says:

    @StubbyDog We sure will! Thanks for all you do!