I fell in love 164 times today at the Laguna Pitbulls Rescue Center.
Around this time last year, these dogs were still fighting dogs, until they were rescued a week and a year ago from today. The dog fights were broadcasted online by a syndicate ran by Koreans. These eight Korean syndicates are now scheduled to be deported next month. The dogs were rescued (although, sadly, not all of them survived) and are now healing and being rehabilitated in the Center.
It was overwhelming going through all the cages, and every time I approached a group of dogs, I can see them already wagging their tails, almost falling over as they shook with excitement at seeing a visitor. I can’t remember exactly how many dogs I met, but it was the same process over and over again as I walked through the Center. A careful closed fist to a pitbull, their cautious sniff, holding their gaze as they assessed if I’m worthy of their attention, and then the humbling relief I felt when they’d press up against their cages so I can sneak my fingers in and rub them through the bars.
Yep, you guessed it, I cried a lot.
I knew, before the day was even half-over, that I’d end up formally putting my name down an an adopter. Even that feels like such a small thing to do, though, because at the most I can only adopt one dog, and there’s over a hundred dogs in the Center that need love and affection.
I just can’t understand how we could force innocent animals to kill each other for our amusement. What kind of twisted mind do we have that we’d cruelly transform a gentle and loving animal into fighting machines? I feel like I should apologize to pitbulls in behalf of all humankind: we are not all such cruel people.
I had the chance to walk some of the dogs today, too. A favorite is Jade, a beautiful blue pitbull, and everywhere we went she found treats and lots of hands to rub her down. Then there was Glory, a sweet pitbull who complained when I was rubbing her head, and pushed my hand down until I found her belly. She can be belly-rubbed forever. There was Goldie, a beautiful sweet pitbull who was being taught how to sit. I loved the energy of Carbon, the spoiled-bratness of Carmela (who, when she got tired, just laid down and refused to get up; they had to carry her back), et cetera.
I also met Julian, and more importantly, his Brutus. Here was a man with a young daughter, five pitbulls and an Aspin. Brutus, one of his pitbulls, was one of the first dogs to leave the Center. Brutus looked like a massive ball of happy fur and when he arrived, and I’ll never forget his rockstar attitude as he went up to every person with a confident doggy grin, and body bumped each one until we reached down to rub his flanks. We asked Julian how it was like to integrate Brutus with the other dogs, and Julius shrugs like it’s the world’s easiest thing to do. Ruby is another rescued dog that’s been adopted. You can follow her story here.
I know that some people are concerned about how pitbulls would adapt with other dogs, but with time, training, and consistency, I’m sure it’s possible. It’s a little bit like how you would integrate any new dog with your other pets.
When I posted about my decision to adopt a pitbull, I got a lot of feedback from people who said that pitbulls are bad, they have a mean temperament, and are hard to train. But maybe the surprising thing was the amount of support I got from people and families who have had pitbulls. “Best pets ever. Love them forever,” was a comment I received in Instagram. Based on what I saw (and rubbed and petted and walked) today at the Center, I know pitbulls now to be wonderfully sweet. These 164 ex-fighting-dogs were more interested in getting a rubdown then fighting. If you think about it, they should have been done over, ruined forever because of their fighting days, but instead, they welcome each visitor with a doggy grin.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Save The Laguna Pitbulls movement, click here. You’ll find more information about donating (they need LOTS of dog food every day, if you can only imagine), volunteering, and adoption.