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Dharma in Chicago Parent Magazine

Dharma is in the Summer 2010 issue of Chicago Special Parent magazine, a special topics magazine from the publishers of Chicago Parent.  The article discusses various ways in which animals can therapeutically help children with special needs.  Although I admit I might be biased, I really do believe that Dharma is a very special dog.  I’m continually amazed and humbled by the reactions she inspires in the people she meets.  People truly do gravitate towards her wherever she goes.  It’s not just that she has three legs; it’s her sweet and trusting personality.  She enthusiastically greets all who approach her, covering their faces with kisses if they’ll allow her to – which everyone does.  And she completely melts their hearts.  Dharma has a calm presence when she’s with people she doesn’t even know, and children love to sit next to her and gently pet her.  Many people are curious about what happened to her leg, but most are surprised to find out that she is a pit bull rescued from the July 2009 dog fighting bust.  “But she’s so small and sweet,” many of them respond.  Yes, she is.  So are so many bust dogs, and they all deserve lives of happiness and love.


Photo courtesy of Mike Bizelli

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.

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!