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MO 500 Reunion and Memorial

Patience smiles for the crowd as Todd gives his speech.

On Saturday July 10, 2010, a significant event took place at the Humane Society of Missouri’s Macklind shelter: the first anniversary reunion of the largest dog fighting bust in the history of the United States.  There were over 200 people and over 50 dogs at the event.  Most of the dogs were rescues from the July 2009 bust, but there were also two dogs from the pre-cursor bust, the Stoddard County bust in October 2007.  Smiley King Elvis and Fiona were there, representing the Stoddard County survivors.

The festivities kicked off with a greeting from HSMO president Kathy Warnick, followed by a few words from VP of Operations Debbie Hill.  The final speaker was HSMO volunteer Todd Ribbick, who gave a stirring talk about the string of nearly impossible events that culminated in many of the rescued dogs finding homes and becoming beloved pets.  During his talk, many of the listeners started crying as they recalled the hard work and love that went into caring for the rescued dogs.  Also, I’m sure, many of those tears were shed for the dogs, those in loving homes and those not, who touched the workers’ hearts.  Following Todd’s speech, several people put ashes from beloved dogs who didn’t make it into a common box to be put into the Memorial Wall at Macklind’s facility.

Smiley King Elvis, Willis, Atlas, and Samson.

Wall of pictures from the dogs' shelter days.

The activities then moved over to the actual facility.  A special montage was shown, spanning the day of the rescue and the care of the dogs at the warehouse shelter, as well as thanking many of the people involved in the entire operation.  There were very few dry eyes after that!  Personally, I was doing okay until I saw the picture of Fay, Gale, and me.   Some memories take a long time to lose their sting.

Fatboy waits patiently for someone to give him a yummy doggie cookie.

After that, things got rocking!  Shelter workers and volunteers got reacquainted with some of the dogs who were brought there by their adopters.  Foster parents did the same.  There were tails wagging everywhere.  It was quite an impressive scene: all those rescued dogs, a year later, being loved on by people they seemed to remember from the shelter and from their foster homes.  The dogs even seemed to remember each other: perhaps they shared some sort of “group memory” of the hell they had survived and left behind.

Kona (formerly Vienna) gets a kiss from her new mommy.

In addition to the people involved with rescuing, caring for, and adopting the “Missouri 500,” newspaper and television reporters were there to cover the festivities.  Perhaps you saw some coverage on the news Saturday night.  If not, or to see more, go to http://www.fox2now.com/videobeta/a76d02f1-012b-40bb-a25c-f43c27dfd009/News/Reunion-For-Survivors-Of-Largest-Dog-Fighting-Raid-In-U-S-History.

Co-founder, Mutts-n-Stuff

Brothers born in the warehouse shelter: Willis and Samson.

Joe Rockhead

Sir Reginald Farnsworth III got a lot of hugs.

Beautiful Stella (formerly Daffodil).

The Missouri Bust Dogs: One Year Later

HSMO investigators examine Dharma's damaged limb at one of the sites in the 2009 raid.

July 8, 2010 marks the first anniversary of the largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history.  One year ago, an eighteen-month long investigation, initiated by the Humane Society of Missouri, culminated in raids at sites located in eight states across the Midwest.  Humane investigators and federal law enforcement officials rescued approximately 500 dogs and arrested 26 people.  The evidence of abuse and cruelty – as seen in the mutilated limbs and torn faces of the dogs themselves – that was uncovered by investigators was heartbreaking.  Yet amidst the heavy chains and dirty wooden boxes, hope was in the air.  The dogs greeted the investigators not as enemies to be feared or attacked, but as saviors and friends.  Betrayed by the humans who had inflicted so much pain on them, the dogs still welcomed these new humans who had come to put an end to the cruelty.

Sir Reginald gets some good scratchin' action.

One year later, the bust dogs we took into our foster/adoption program are proving to the world that they deserved their second chances at happiness.  They are enjoying lives filled with love and comfort.  Sir Reginald Farnsworth III was a shell of a dog after enduring the horrors of the fight ring, but today he loves nothing more than to snuggle and be hand fed his favorite treats.

Dharma settles in for a nap on a pile of warm laundry.

Dharma was forced to wear a heavy chain around her little neck and breed litter after litter, even though her mutilated leg made carrying pups all the more difficult.  Today Dharma lives like a princess with a family that adores her.  She is on her way to becoming a therapy dog for children with disabilities, even though when she was first rescued she was too afraid to even walk through a doorway.

Petunia is all ears!

Petunia was so terrified of the world around her that she was literally scared of her own shadow.  Now pretty Miss Tuners is queen of the couch, where she loves to throw herself around upside down to demand belly rubs.

Lucy loves smushy snuggles on the couch.

Lucy was desperate for human affection when she was first brought into HSMO’s temporary shelter, yet she often stayed huddled into a little ball in the corner of her kennel.  Today Lucy’s favorite spot to nap is on the couch with her adopted brothers… a 3 year old pit bull and a 7 year old boy.

Malcolm has a classic pittie grin.

Malcolm was rescued as an underdeveloped, weeks-old puppy whose back legs were very weak.  With lots of love and care from his new family, he has grown into a big strong boy who runs and jumps with his adopted sister, Karma, in their huge back yard.

These are just a few of the many wonderful tails (and tales) that came out of the bust.  Their happy endings are the ultimate proof that the victims of dog fighting deserve to be given a first chance at life as it should be.

Bust Dog Diaries: Samson

Handsome Samson!

Here’s another heartwarming success story of one of the puppies from last year’s big MO bust. Albert (now called Samson) and his brothers were born at HSMO’s temporary bust shelter after their mom was rescued in the July ’09 raid. He has been adopted and is growing up healthy and happy with his forever family. Samson’s new daddy Jake shares the story of how he and his wife fell in love with Samson and decided to add a pit bull puppy to their home.

I’m a dog lover always have been. When my wife and I got married I talked constantly about when we bought a house I would love to get a dog. My wife, Michelle, didn’t quite share the same view, as she never owned a dog only cats. I would talk her about the different dogs I would like to own, Great Dane, Rottweiler, Pit Bull. My wife was very afraid of the idea of owning a Rottweiler or Pit Bull. She would always say I don’t want a dog that could eat me! I would talk to her a lot about what great dogs Pit Bulls are, it was very hard for my wife to get over the stereotypical feelings she had about owning a Pit Bull. Finally she said she would think about it. I knew this was my chance! In January, I found the website PBRC and saw the pictures of Willis and Albert I immediately knew I had to have one of these puppies. When I came home that night I showed my wife the pictures. She watched the Pit Bull Tribute video and we both started crying. With out a word my wife starting filling out the application, she said we have to give a good home to one of these puppies.  In the next week we looked at the pictures everyday as we waited to hear back from Mutts N Stuff. We were so worried we would not qualify for some reason. Finally on Thursday we heard back from Shaun and arranged to meet Albert (we changed his name to Samson). On Saturday, we met Samson, we both fell in love with his adorable face and lovable personality immediately. That day we brought Samson home and waited while Shaun evaluated Samson’s future home. Finally, Shaun gave us the approval. We were thrilled, Samson has broke down every stereotype my wife had about Pit Bulls. She even wanted him to sleep in our bed and he has since the first night he became part of our family.  Samson, is lovable and smart and very gentle. We love him and feel so privileged that he is our puppy. We recently put him in obedience training and he is doing great. The trainer is drawn to him and said he is the Star of the Class! One of our friends said “Samson is the kind of dog that makes you want to get a dog!” He has won over all of our family and friends. We hope that we have the privilege of adopting another Pit Bull when the time is right.

Samson snuggles with his daddy

Samson’s equally smart and adorable brother Willis is available for adoption and waiting for his own loving forever family. To submit an application to adopt Willis or any other of our available animals, please visit our website.

Dharma Goes to Jeff City

April 20th was Humane Day, when animal related organizations from around Missouri travel to Jefferson City to talk to legislators about humane animal issues. Dharma and Mutts-n-Stuff were at the state capital to talk to lawmakers about the big bust last year and the horrible plague of dog fighting that is afflicting the state. Legislation has been proposed that would make things a lot harder for dog fighters and a little easier for bust dogs. We had no idea what a celebrity Dharma is! Many people – including members of the state House and Senate – recognized Dharma immediately. She was a real trooper and gave lots of kisses and snuggles. Here are some pictures from her big day. These were taken by photographer Mike Bizelli, who took the pictures at the bust site last July. He was thrilled to be able to take some new pictures of Dharma now that she is happy and healthy.

Dharma takes a break from the crowds.

Dharma greets legislators and visitors at the Mutts table.

Nobody can resist Dharma's sweet little face.

Relaxing in the shade outside the capitol building.

Another HSMO Bust Dog Goes Home

Over the past few weeks, rescue organizations from around the country have begun taking in some of the dogs from the July 2009 dogfighting bust. These lucky dogs include Jakob who went to Our Pack in California, Eli (or Eddie Munster, as he will soon be called!) who is going to South Carolina this week with New Hope Pit Bull Rescue, Polly and Jake who went to Bless the Bullys in Tennessee, and many more to come!

Mutts-n-Stuff has taken several dogs into our foster and adoptive homes already, and we are eagerly awaiting more to be released by the court system. If you have not already read about our special girl Fay, you can find out all about her and the Phoenix House here.

Dharma Portrait

Dharma is one of over 500 dogs rescued in a multi-state raid led by HSMO in July 2009. Mutts-n-Stuff is proud to be caring for this very special girl.

We want to introduce you to another very special girl, Dharma. Originally named Tallulah by HSMO staff that lovingly cared for her over the past few months, we realized that nobody really knew how to spell or pronounce the name! We have renamed her Dharma because she has a very special lesson to teach all of us about compassion and unconditional love. She is a special girl… you can see it in her eyes and in her smile. If you have seen some of HSMO’s official videos of investigators at the bust site, you may recognize her. Like many of the female dogs taken from the various bust locations, Dharma was chained outside and forced to breed litter after litter for the first 3 years of her life. She never knew a loving human touch or the comfort of a warm bed or couch to snuggle in. But when HSMO investigators first found her, she was ready to love them and thank them for rescuing her.

Dharma was found with only the upper part of her right front leg intact and had been using the damaged stump to walk, which was causing damage to the nerves and bone. The HSMO medical staff determined that the leg had to be amputated at the shoulder to prevent further damage and to help with her mobility. Since her surgery she is getting around MUCH better than before! There is no stopping this girl and she literally bounced right back immediately after her surgery. It’s been a long process, but I was finally able to bring Dharma home to Chicago this past Friday, the day after my birthday. She is the best present I have ever received. Dharma has been settling in and learning how to be a dog and live in a house. She tries hard to be a brave girl, but she still sometimes wonders if it’s safe to go around a corner or through a doorway. But she makes progress every hour. Soon she will start training to earn her Canine Good Citizen certification. We will then begin training her to become a therapy dog. Dharma has a special gift… she just oozes love and charm, and we think that she is meant to make people feel better. Once she is certified and trained, she will begin visiting disabled children to share her love, joy, and vibrancy.

– Suzi S, Mutts-n-Stuff Volunteer

Here are some photos of her journey, from when she was found at the bust site by HSMO investigators, to getting some play time outside the HSMO “secret bunker” to snuggling into her new life as a little princess.

HSMO Investigation

HSMO investigators examine Dharma at one of the bust sites in July 2009.

Dharma Goes Home

Dharma relaxes on her favorite pillow in her new and very pretty custom made collar.

Dharma Snuggling

Dharma loves to snuggle with her ultra-soft pink blanket.

Dharma Ready to Go

Ok... time to get back to playing!

Fay, Eli, Jakob, Junior and HSMO Bust Puppies in Riverfront Times

The Riverfront Times in St. Louis is featuring a beautiful slide show of Fay, Eli, Jakob, Junior and some of the puppies from the HSMO busts. Mutts-n-Stuff wants to thank RFT photographer Jennifer Silverburg for this wonderful piece on the dogs. Be sure to read the captions included with the pictures… they’re funny, heartwarming, and include details from each dogs’ story. Click here to go to the slide show.

Fay *photo by Jennifer Silverburg

FAY photo by Jennifer Silverburg, Riverfront Times

Mutts-n-Stuff and Fay in the News

Check out Mutts-n-Stuff, Fay, the Humane Society of Missouri, and Dr. Marcy on the local Fox station in St. Louis…

KTVI St. Louis – Watch Video


 Fay is one of the 400 dogs seized as part of the multi-state dog fighting bust in July of this year. Her face shows the cruelty and horrors of dog fighting. Fay has been cared for by HSMO for the last few months and is now safe and settling in with Mutts-n-Stuff. She will be the spokesdog for the Phoenix House, a half-way house for dogs rescued from fighting busts.

Fay is one of the 400 dogs seized as part of the multi-state dog fighting bust in July of this year. Her face shows the cruelty and horrors of dog fighting. Fay has been cared for by HSMO for the last few months and is now safe and settling in with Mutts-n-Stuff. She will be the spokesdog for the Phoenix House, a half-way house for dogs rescued from fighting busts.

Welcome to the world of Mutts-n-Stuff. We have been busy rescuing all types of animals since August 2000 and over the years we have focused mainly on bully breeds. Mutts is a small group based in St. Louis, MO that assists our local shelters in placement of our favorite type of dog, pit bulls. On this blog you will learn, laugh, cry, and share in the excitement of our bully friends and a cat or two. Please join us on this adventure and share your comments on the blog.

Gale – Founder, Mutts-n-Stuff

Smiley King Elvis is a survivor from the 2007 Stoddard County dog fighting bust. Smiley went from belly crawling submission from years of abuse, to getting his Canine Good Citizen certification and becoming a confident therapy dog. Go Smiley!

Smiley King Elvis is a survivor from the 2007 Stoddard County dog fighting bust. Smiley went from belly crawling submission from years of abuse, to getting his Canine Good Citizen certification and becoming a confident therapy dog. Go Smiley!

Phoenix was rescued from the 2007 Stoddard County dog fighting bust and was left blind by the blunt force trauma he had suffered. He now enjoys a life of love, safety, and happiness at The Cottage, a prototype for the Phoenix House.
Phoenix was rescued from the 2007 Stoddard County dog fighting bust and was left blind by the blunt force trauma he had suffered. He now enjoys a life of love, safety, and happiness at The Cottage, a prototype for the Phoenix House.

Overseas Connection

Reggie with motorcyleAaron LaCour of the United States Air Force found himself browsing pictures of pit bulls while reminiscing on the dog he lost shortly before he had deployed. Mutts-n-Stuff’s website happened to come up in his web search and – all the way in Afghanistan – Aaron fell in love.

Reggie has graced the pages of Mutts-n-Stuff’s website for over a year waiting for the perfect family to find him. This family has come in the form a solider defending our country. Aaron emailed about Reggie and what he needed to do to make sure he could come home to him. Normally Mutts-n-Stuff will not put a “hold” on a dog with only the hope of him or her being adopted; but, through many emails, a friendship formed between Aaron and Reggie’s foster family. They have agreed to hold onto Reggie as long as it takes for Aaron to make a safe trip home, which is scheduled for December 2009. Aaron and his friends in his troop wait for emails to come with updates and pictures of Reggie so they can see what his next antics will be. The way he has lifted their spirits and touched hearts from across the world can only be summed up as true pittie love! Mutts-n-Stuff has in turn adopted Aaron, sending him care packages and support for the tremendous service he is performing for our country. Reggie’s foster family is proud to be taking care of Reg while his daddy is taking care of us, and they are honored that he will go to such a great person. Reggie came from very hard beginnings as a stray found at a local pound. He was nursed from 38lbs when he was taken into Mutts-n-Stuff’s care, to now weighing in at over 70lbs!

Reggie has overcome many hurdles, including the fate that most pit bulls in shelters face. Over 200 pit bull type dogs are put to sleep each week in the St. Louis Metro Area. Reggie got a chance that few of these dogs do. He was found to be heartworm positive and had mange from head to tail, leaving 90% of his body hairless. Over the past year he has thrived in his foster home with his 2 pittie sisters and a snarky little miniature pinscher. Reggie has made a full turnaround from the statistic he could have been to the breed ambassador he has become. While Reggie patiently waits to meet his new daddy and see his new home, he is well taken care of and eagerly awaits new emails from his dad. If you wish to help support Aaron or Reggie, dog or people items can be brought to any of Mutts-n-Stuff’s adoption events. Packages to Aaron are being shipped regularly and Reggie loves balls and Knuckle bones. The cycle of support is endless and when we all support each other, great things can be accomplished – big and small.

Julie Jordan – Volunteer, Mutts-n-Stuff