Monday, April 21, 2008

Dog Loving

One of these days I hope the word "fighting" will no longer have to be associated with Pit Bulls. Despite their lineage, I don’t see Pit Bulls confiscated from fighting rings as "dog fighters." "Animals abused by cowards" would be more like it.

In March, Leo came with me to the Alternative Placement Academy ( One of the things I mentioned to the kids was that only cowards fight their dogs, NOT brave men. “If someone wants to have a fight, so be it. But don’t have your dog do your fighting for you - work it out.” Their supervisor wrote me a few days later and said, “….any information we can give the cadets regarding how bad dog fighting is and how animals should be treated is so important. I thought it was great when you told them that cowards have their dogs fight for them. Thank you for all your help.”

The people who teach and lead our children see the importance of putting a sense of humanity back into our society. They see the downward spiral that can occurs in a society that engages in and endorses barbaric, abusive activities like dog fighting. They understand that it’s not the dogs’ fault - it’s the human being’s (lack of) responsibility.

In doing rescue, I've found that dogs that come from fight busts do astonishingly well in homes, make great pets, and some (like Leo and Zoe) have even become therapy dogs. It's not because we're transforming them into what they could become, it's that we're unearthing who they truly are. A positive, well-managed environment and good training brings their inherent human-loving trait out. It's no surprise these Pit Bulls seem to be born for therapy work.

Ultimately, it's about who is guiding the dog. Dogs are not doctors and lawyers for a reason! They don’t make executive decisions, we do. They depend on US for guidance. So what THEY do, we are responsible for…..period.

I think this picture shows how these dogs just bring the love out of someone. Hopefully putting these kids on the right track towards love, respect, and most importantly, responsibility for the life of an animal.

While one might say I'm simply defending Pit Bulls, I'd have to disagree. There's nothing to defend as they are not guilty. (Any guilty parties are the people involved, not the dogs). But it is a plea for folks to recognize the real root of the situation - the cause and effect that people have with dogs.

Marthina McClay


  1. This is good stuff. The next step for this school would be to maybe have an after school program where once a week or every month the students to to an animal shelter and help the dogs out there. This is a win-win for both students and dogs. Keep up the good work, and the more schools that get this face to face stuff the better!


  2. I couldn't agree with you more. The impact he has had on the kids is amazing. I feel so lucky to have been able to see the transformation first hand. And I don't mean in the dogs but in the people they touch. I know it's not an easy task but please keep up all of the positive work you are doing!


  3. That's right Mary you've been such a big part of this and so helpful!! Thank you!

  4. Marthina is opening the door to educating our most vulnerable and easily influenced age group to the horror and inhumane treatment of dogs forced to fight. Letting these young men touch, pet and feel Leo's heartbeat puts a reality about dogs on them. Dogs are feeling, caring beings that are in our complete control. Raise them with loving compassion and they will be loyal and good to people. Raise them with brute force and starvation and they will fight to survive. Marthina is right-cowards make the dogs fight for them. Dogs are not fighters, people are.

  5. Thank you for the very poignant blog, Marthina. I especially love this: "It's not because we're transforming them into what they could become, it's that we're unearthing who they truly are." How very important a point this is.

    I can't help but wince when I hear the phrase, "It's all how you raise them". I appreciate the sentiment but the fact of the matter is that these dogs are born people lovin', intelligent, super-snugglers and don't need any human to 'raise' them to be that way. It is when their many qualities are stifled by selfish humans and their energy channeled in the wrong way that there are problems.

    There are so many wonderful things about the breed, and they just need equally wonderful people to allow its temperament to bloom and grow. Dogs like Leo and Zoe are proof positive of this fact.

  6. The photo caputures it all: "head-to-head", the love & affection that transpires between human & dog is the perfect example of why we have such deep and profound feelings when it comes to our animals.

    In defense of Pitbulls: there is not need to defend them, they "are just dogs"... It is the ugly human being that abuses and exploits the love and loyalty that these dogs have for "their humans" > It is this particular human being that will need the help of a defense lawyer "ON HIS WAY TO THE BIG HOUSE" > WHERE HIS FREEDOM WILL BE TAKEN AWAY AND THE BARRICADED/ LOCKED DOORS WILL KEEP HIM AWAY FROM THESE VERY DOGS THAT DESERVE SO MUCH MORE!!!

  7. I know I keep posting here, but I just get goosebumps when I read all of the positive comments. Now if we could just get through to the young ladies at the school..I'd really feel good because I think they can be the key in the humane treatment of these dogs in particular!


  8. This is a dream come true for me. This type of education program hits at the root of the problem. Having been a juvenile hall resident more than once, I know how much the kids identify with the dogs.
    There is not only the educating about Pits, it's the "find your inner Leo and overcome your own childhood horrors". It doesn't have to be said, it's just there for the ones who will see it.
    Very powerful.