2012-09-12 / Columnists

Pets pets pets

Our first attempt was a huge success, so we are doing it again. Hempstead Town Shelter and Last Hope Animal Rescue will be co-hosting the 2012 Bully Breed Brigade on Sat., Sept. 22 from 11a.m. to 5 p.m. Our special guest- Tia Torres from Pit Bulls & Parolees on Animal Planet- plans to attend, as she did last year. This time Tia will be coming from her rescue headquarters in New Orleans, where there was substantial damage by Hurricane Isaac. (More about that later.)

Are you aware of the Pit Bull plight and the overwhelming number of Pit/Bully breeds languishing in our Town shelters? The second annual Bully Breed Brigade is a day designed to promote Pit Bull awareness/ welfare, as well as to show solidarity among LI area shelters and rescues on behalf of these often maligned and mistreated, yet deserving dogs. This year, rescue dogs will be attending from NYC and Connecticut too, because we are all encountering the same Pit predicament.


Chico was the Bully Breed Brigade mascot last year. Chico was the Bully Breed Brigade mascot last year. The rescues, vendors, demos and the stage will be in front of Hempstead Shelter (3320 Beltagh Avenue in Wantagh) with the overflow next door at Last Hope (3300 Beltagh). Each shelter and rescue will be bringing up to three “ambassadogs,” their “cream of the crop” Pits who will parade down the street and then across the stage at around 1 p.m. (time is not firm yet). The public is invited, but we are not encouraging people to bring their own dogs, unless they’ve adopted a well-mannered, dog-friendly Bully from a shelter or rescue. There is no admission charge.

The day will run like a Bully block party. We expect other Town shelters including Babylon, Islip, North Hempstead, Huntington, Brookhaven and Southampton, as well as additional local rescues like Bobbi & the Strays, Almost Home and Guardians of Rescue, to name a few, plus distant ones such as Meriden Humane and Bully Breed Rescue Inc. in CT. Each group will have a table so they can promote adoptions.

Dog advocacy groups including Adopt NY and Bruised Not Broken will be providing support to the effort and will emcee the parade. Hopefully, each dog/handler team will get to saunter across the stage as the dog’s name and rescue source is announced. Last year the Town sent an event stage with only one staircase so the microphone was moved to ground level, lessening the impact. This year we are promised a stage with on/off steps.

Demos will take place throughout the day. Roman Gottfried, founder of Holistic Pet Services in Greenwich, CT, will be returning to demonstrate the tremendous insight he has into the human-canine bond. During the first Bully Breed Brigade, he adopted Goliath (now “Siggi”), a Pit who became incorrigible after he recovered from a leg amputation, as a “pilot” dog rehab project with Hempstead Shelter. Next week’s column will provide more details about Siggi’s remarkable metamorphosis under Roman’s care.

A weight-pulling contest will be added this year. This relatively new sport called LugNuts™ is part of the Training Wheels® program which addresses the many problems that Pits encounter in lower socio-economic areas. LugNuts™ is a positive, yet still competitive, alternative to dog fighting. These strong dogs are hitched with padded harnesses to plastic sleds loaded with bags of dog food. Lured by hotdogs, the muscular dogs race each other, as their fans cheer them on.

Last year, Hempstead Shelter Director Cindy Iacopella reached out to Tia Torres, Pit expert and star of Pit Bulls & Parolees for help with six Elmont Pits, tortured in a dog fighting ring. Not only did Tia promise to take them to Villalobos, her rescue sanctuary, but she drove cross country from California in a van on her first-ever trip to NY to fetch them herself. She arrived just in time to meet an adoring crowd at the Bully Breed Brigade. A few of us were fortunate enough to witness Tia adopting the Elmont Six, renamed the “Hempstead Hopefuls.” The memorable event was filmed as a webisode for her show.

Since then, Tia has relocated her Villalobos Rescue Center to New Orleans which was hit by Hurricane Isaac several weeks ago. Tia and company came to the aid of many folks and animals left stranded. Her main shelter was unharmed but some of the foster “satellite” homes and Tia’s house suffered lots of damage. Despite this horrible ordeal, she plans to be at our Bully Breed Brigade sometime Saturday afternoon…which brings me to the kick-off event, designed to help Tia and others:

Announcing “Yappy Hour,” the prequel to the Bully Breed Brigade… Hempstead Shelter and Last Hope are also hosting a fundraiser to benefit Tia’s Villalobos, Roman Gottfried’s Holistic Pet Services and Last Hope on Fri., Sept. 21 from 6-9 p.m. at Mulcahy’s Pub, 3232 Railroad Avenue in Wantagh. It’s a multi-faceted event. Entertainment will be by John Larocchia aka “NY Fire Comic;” music will be by “PayBack.” You can see video clips of Tia Torres’ Pit Bulls & Parolees webisode at last year’s Bully Breed Brigade, and of Roman Gottfried’s transformation of Goliath/Siggi, the amputee Pit with an attitude from Hempstead Shelter. There will be an appetizer buffet; beer/wine/soda; coffee and dessert as well as raffles. Tickets are $35pp in advance; $40pp at the door. For advance tickets go to paypal at www.lasthopeanimalrescue.org homepage or call 631-671-2588.

For Adoption at Babylon Shelter (631-643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: I would like to feature two special long-timer Pits. “Onyx,” a dark brindle, has been at the shelter for a year. He sits in his run quietly while visitors pass him by even though he is a mush. “Demi,” a redhead came in about six months ago as a puppy with severe demodectic mange. She was basically bald. With TLC, her coat grew back nicely. Both “Onyx” and “Demi” displayed exemplary manners at the Dog Day Afternoon pet fair at St. Joseph’s College last Saturday, and they both got along beautifully with my Last Hope country boy, “Elmer” a Bluetick Hound mix from Kentucky. “Elmer” loved them, and so will you.

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