Bruised Not Broken

November 12, 2012  

This hero couple and their nonprofit work daily to save lives and change stereotypes

By Will Kruse

Social media has proven in a short time to be our generation’s most powerful tool. It allows for people from all around the globe to interact, network and unite under a single cause. For Bruised Not Broken, that cause is the plight of the pit bull. For almost two years, Bruised Not Broken has built a large, global community in hopes of changing the stereotypes that keep pit bulls from finding the forever homes they deserve. And it is working.

Since joining the Facebook community in November of 2009, Bruised Not Broken’s family has grown to more than 200,000 like-minded bully-breed advocates. The immense support that the New York City based organization has received, completely surpassed founders Dave Goldstein and Brooke Slater’s expectations.

“Bruised Not Broken has grown so quickly,” Brooke says. “We started out following our hearts and dreams, and received great feedback.”

There is something special, however, that makes Bruised Not Broken stand out as heroes among the pit bull community. Every evening on their Facebook page, Bruised Not Broken posts pictures and bios of NYC-area pit bulls who have been put on a next-day euthanasia list. By working closely with shelter volunteers, Dave and Brooke have been able to save the lives of countless pit bulls who otherwise would have gone completely unnoticed to their untimely deaths.

“It’s a broken system,” Dave says. “You wouldn’t believe how many dogs are dying for no reason.”


Dave and Brooke met 12 years ago, while both were attending the University of Maryland. For Brooke, it was love at first sight.

“We were next door neighbors and I noticed him when I saw that he had a pit bull dog, Cocoa, whom he treated like a daughter,” she said. “They were both extremely adorable.”

The couple bonded over their love for dogs, eventually tying the knot in 2008. While Dave and Brooke were busy advancing their individual careers, neither lost sight of what brought them together in the first place.

The idea to start Bruised Not Broken began while Dave was volunteering at Animal Care and Control of NYC. Despite having volunteered at shelters before, one day Dave came home emotionally exhausted. He could not believe how unrepresented the dogs at the shelter were. They were clearly adoptable, yet sat in their cages day after day going unnoticed. What little was being done to get the word out, was counterproductive.

“The pictures that the shelter put on their website were not helping the dogs get adopted,” Dave says. “A picture of a sad, lonely dog locked up in a cage is not going to help a potential adopter picture that dog living in his or her home.”

Dave realized that if the pictures were relatable, with the dogs playing or eating out of people’s hands, more people would look past the fact that they were imprisoned and would see them as potential family members.

“If we could find a way to get people’s attention, we could save lives,” Dave says.

After some debating, Brooke and Dave decided to act on the injustices they had been witnessing at the shelters. In the beginning, it was the one dog. They took bright, uplifting photos of a down-on-his-luck pup and shared it with their Facebook friends. It was a huge success, as the lucky dog found his forever home.

“It was inspiring,” Brooke remembers. “People needed to know about these voiceless dogs.”

Social Revolution

Dave and Brooke attribute a portion of their success to the explosion of social media. Before Bruised Not Broken, the majority of online adoption was done through websites like Craigslist and Petfinder. While these websites have been successful in finding forever homes, the dog’s story ends there. With Facebook, however, advocates and potential adopters alike are able to see what happens after the adoption.

“At Bruised Not Broken, we strive for full transparency,” Brooke explains. “We are able to show our community the success of our adopted dogs. Pictures of them at home with their families help the next person in their decision to adopt.”

Facebook also helps Dave and Brooke run “positive interference” in the adoption process. Questions that potential adopters have can be immediately answered through the Facebook page, helping the adopting process become less painful.

“Our first goal is to help the dogs, but we also want the people to be successful in finding the right fit for their lifestyle,” Brooke says.

Success Stories

As Bruised Not Broken has grown in size and reach, their success rate has not faltered. One success story is that of Jeffery, a big and beautiful pit bull whose name was on the kill-list. Michele Houston, a Connecticut resident, saw his picture and description on Facebook the evening before his planned euthanasia. The rest is history.

“When I saw his picture, I got this jolt in me,” Michele says. “There’s no denying that feeling.”

She immediately contacted Dave and Brooke, who put them in contact with a volunteer at Jeffery’s shelter. They talked for a few minutes, and then Michele got into her car and drove into New York City.

“There wasn’t much time to really think about it, and I was nervous at first,” Michele remembers. “But as soon as I brought him home, everything was fine. He settled right in.”

Bruised Not Broken not only saved Jeffery’s life, but significantly improved the lives of countless others. Several months after his adoption, Jeffery became a certified therapy dog. At least once a week, sometimes more, Jeffery goes into hospitals and hospice care and brightens the days of people who suffer from serious illnesses. The goofy and loving pit bull not only helps people forget about their sufferings, but also helps every day to fight the man-eating monster stereotype that most people associate with pit bulls.

“Jeffery perfectly represents Bruised Not Broken and all that we strive for,” Brooke says.

Dave and Brooke have a therapy pit bull of their own. Luca, 80 pounds of love and affection, is completely deaf.

Given a second chance by the couple, he has repeatedly shown why the stereotypical pit bull is far from representative of the truth.

Brooke recalls an instance where she and Dave had brought Luca to a school for special needs children. They were talking to the teacher about one student who had been at the school for several years. He had become entirely dependent on a walker to get around, and struggled with the fear of letting go. Any progress he could have made was crippled by the gripping dread of what might happen.

“We were talking to the teacher, and all of a sudden she stopped talking,” Brooke recalls. “We turned around as the kid dropped his walker. He took two steps toward Luca to give him a hug.” Everyone in the room was in shock. Luca’s irresistible charm helped push the child to confront his fears.

While Luca has acted the hero to numerous children, he is also the source of many of Bruised Not Broken’s inspirations. Dave attributes his best thinking to his walks with Luca through New York City.

“I don’t know where I’d be without my long walks with Luca,” he says. “When we’re walking through Central Park, I forget about everything. My mind is cleared and I do my best thinking.”

Besides the daily posting on Facebook, Bruised Not Broken has developed into a wide-reaching brand. Brooke credits Dave’s creative genius.

“He has a real knack for using social media and reaching out to the public,” she says. Dave and Brooke have also started a hip clothing line that helps fight bully breed stereotypes.

There are no signs that Bruised Not Broken is going to slow down, and the passionate couple is not willing to stop the fight until discrimination against pit bulls is nonexistent.

“Hopefully one day the Bruised Not Broken community will just be a place where we only share happy pictures of pit bulls,” Brooke says. “But until then, we just want to work hard to spread our message.”

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10 Responses to “Bruised Not Broken”
  1. AndreaLackeyKutzko says:

    You tease us with this wonderful story and their web-site is down! lol Can’t wait to check back when its working to find out more.

  2. I adore BNB, and I credit them with inspiring me to get into rescue. Well, them and my block head, Nike Jayne! The Lazy Pit Bull Facebook page networks all of the BNB dogs, and it’s such an amazing high every time one of them is rescued from the shelter and goes to their forever home! 🙂

  3. DianaJones says:

    INSPIRATIONAL!! Thanks to Brooke and Dave for being saviours.


  5. suzyallman says:

    Brooke and Dave are the real deal. I can really see their legacy when I visit New York City — I think there’s been a real revolution in NYC dog ownership, because more than half of all dogs at the end of leashes are pits! This was not the case just a few short years ago, but I’d say the pit bull has become the New York Terrier, and I can’t help but think it’s because of (in no small part) the work of BNB.
    These guys are tireless and have done so much with the power of social media, but really it’s the power of the personalities behind Bruised Not Broken which has led to their effectiveness. These are smart, caring, dedicated people, and they’ve surrounded themselves with a like-minded crew, including Carol Rothschild, the shelter volunteer who identifies, photographs and writes about highly-adoptable and at-risk dogs in the Manhattan shelter. This is such a great team, so selfless, modern, smart. Great people.

    • StubbyDog says:

      We agree completely and it was our pleasure to spotlight this special couple and all they do for pit bulls

  6. Deb Parodi says:

    @Bruised not broken YOU ARE AWESOME!!!! These dogs are so blessed to have you two be there voice!!! DONT STOP cuz your making a difference!!! GOD BLESS YOU!!

  7. ReneeMKeller says:

    Thank you!!  Bless you!!

  8. Marisa Francis says:

    Amazing couple! Amazing work! Keep it up and… GO TERPS! (I’m an alum as well)