DDR MEDIA: Walking for Stone

“Walking for Stone” article on LOS ANGELES BEST FRIENDS Website

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September 07, 2010, 1:49PM MT
By Sandy Miller, Best Friends staff writer

Strut Your Mutt team comes together to help pay for pit bull terrier’s surgery

The first time Lori Weise saw Stone was when his owner brought him to one of Downtown Dog Rescue’s free weekly training classes in South Los Angeles.

The pit bull terrier’s ears were infected and swollen, the result of a botched ear cropping (see Stone to the right).

She knew the dog’s person was a breeder and that he probably planned to use the puppy for that purpose someday. After all, there’s big money to be made breeding pit bull terriers in South L.A. A stud fee can bring $4,000 to $5,000 and puppies can sell for $1,500 a piece.

“The bottom line is that these guys don’t look at dogs as pets,” says Weise, founder of Downtown Dog Rescue. “They’re money-making machines and when they can’t produce, they get rid of the dog one way or another.”

But Weise didn’t give Stone’s person a lecture on the evils of dog breeding, even though it turned her stomach. Instead, she took the opportunity to educate Stone’s person about how to properly take care of Stone. She also told him about the resources Downtown Dog Rescue had to help pay for the veterinary care Stone so obviously needed. She knew that if she could establish a dialog with Stone’s person, she could work on changing his mind about the breeding later.

But Stone’s person never came back to the training class. Two years later, Stone’s person dropped him off at the trainer’s house, saying he was moving and he didn’t have room for him. Stone was in bad shape. His ears were still infected and he was 20 pounds underweight. Stone was fortunate in that his person put him in the hands of Downtown Dog Rescue instead of dropping him off at one of the shelters.

Today, Stone is living in a foster home and doing much better. Thanks to Downtown Dog Rescue, Stone is putting on weight and is receiving veterinary treatment for the infection, which robbed him of some of his hearing. However, Stone still needs surgery to correct his ears, and that’s one reason Downtown Dog Rescue is just one of the Best Friends Network Charities that will be taking part in the upcoming Strut Your Mutt event Sept. 19 in L.A. Some of the money raised by Downtown Dog Rescue’s Team Clancy, named after one of Weise’s dogs who will walk with her in the event (Clancy seen to the right), will pay for Stone’s surgery and other veterinary care. Stone might join in on the walk, too, if his veterinarian gives him the OK. The rest of the money the team raises will benefit the many other dogs in the organization’s care and will help Downtown Dog Rescue continue the wonderful work it’s doing in L.A.

Teams will gather at 8:30 a.m. for the mile-long walk along the scenic Pacific Coast in Santa Monica. Registration begins at 6.30 a.m. The walk will begin and end at the Santa Monica Pier located at 1550 Pacific Coast Highway and will end with a dog festival that will include booths featuring everything from dog massages to dog treats and accessories to a pet communicator. The festival will also include training demonstrations, contests, games, food, music and much more.

The teams will keep all the money they raise from the Strut Your Mutt walk.

“The money goes back to support these groups that are rescuing animals from shelters and educating their communities,” says Jen Woodard, Best Friends L.A. Programs manager. “What they raise for themselves, they keep.”

Best Friends Dog Pack L.A., led by John Garcia, co-manager of Best Friends Dogtown and a star of the National Geographic Channel’s series of the same name, will raise money for Best Friends L.A. Programs to help it continue its lifesaving adoption and spay/neuter programs, rescue at-risk animals and find new homes for them and save animals from the misery of life in puppy mills.

Meanwhile, Weise will continue to rescue dogs and educate the L.A. community. Weise founded Downtown Dog Rescue in 1996 to provide resources for homeless people with dogs living on L.A.’s Skid Row. The nonprofit organization also helps keep dogs out of shelters by offering free dog training and support for behavioral challenges. Weise operates a kennel in downtown L.A. that serves as a rehabilitation center for dogs in the program. Since its beginning, the nonprofit, all-volunteer organization has rescued, rehabilitated and adopted out more than 3,000 dogs, mostly pit bull terriers.

Weise will continue to talk to breeders and others she disagrees with just to keep the dialogue going.

“You have to be in their world,” she says. “You have to start a relationship.”

She’s seen people change and become responsible pet guardians.

“The most rewarding thing is when I can show them there are other options for their dogs and they make the choice themselves to change,” she says.

Photos courtesy of Lori Weise