Friday, July 30, 2010

Thanks to one prejudiced woman and an anti-Pit Bull shelter, Chako was founded

Today I met with a nice gal interested in volunteering for Chako. She asked me how and why I founded Chako, so I told her The Story. I've told it only a handful of times, but it's both sad and amusing at the same time.

I was a graduate student at Texas A&M in 1996. I bought a house there, since Texas real estate was ridiculously cheap at the time (a shock to someone like me from California). Being young and naive, I decided I'd get a dog (nevermind the instability of a college student's life, budget issues, etc.). I grew up around Pit Bulls. My parents owned champion show and weight pull dogs. I knew I wanted a Pit Bull. I wasn't going to show my dog, however. I just wanted a companion.

So, I eagerly strolled into the only shelter in the small duet town known as Bryan-College Station. That was the Brazos County Animal Shelter.

I walked up to the lady at the counter and said, "I'd like to adopt a dog. Do you have any Pit Bulls?"

She looked at me like I was about to pull out an Uzi and pepper the place with bullets. Her eyes went narrow and she replied, "No. We don't adopt out vicious dogs."

Of course, I knew Pit Bulls had a bad rap, but not quite that bad. "Pit Bulls aren't vicious," I told her.

"Why do you want a Pit Bull? Only drug dealers have Pit Bulls."

I found the conversation very strange. Only drug dealers have Pit Bulls? What the hell did that make my parents? Would I have to start checking their sock drawers?

I took a breath. "I'm not a drug dealer. I'm a doctoral candidate at Texas A&M University."

She shrugged. "Sorry, but we don't adopt out Pit Bulls."

"Well, what do you do with them when you get them?" I asked.

"We euthanize them," she responded, matter-of-factly.

I was astonished. "What do you do with puppies?" I mean, they had to have some kind of system for puppies.

"We euthanize them, too."

"Even puppies?!" What kind of sick, cruel, twisted organization would kill puppies? I wondered.

"Yes. We don't adopt out vicious dogs," she repeated.

"Well, if you get one that you're going to euthanize, can you call me?"

Her eyes narrowed again, and she tilted her head. "What? Do you mean like a rescue?"

I had never heard about "rescue" before, but I figured out what it must be from the context. "Yes," I replied, without hesitation.

She pushed a ledger book toward me. "Put your information into the rescue book."

I did.

Then, I went home and researched Pit Bull rescues on what counted as the Internet at that time. There were virtually none. The United Kennel Club had a national rescue, but that no longer existed.

So, I formed the Chako Pit Bull Rescue Association (what it was called back then) and started pulling dogs from the Brazos County Animal Shelter.

Soon thereafter, I got a call from a woman named Deirdre about a dog in a shelter. The name of the shelter escapes me. The dog was a Pit Bull, and it was scheduled to be euthanized because the shelter had a policy that mandated all Pit Bulls be killed. She volunteered at the shelter.

I became a woman on a mission to save that dog, writing faxes, making phone calls -- you name it. It was so long ago, I can't remember for sure what the outcome was, but I think they ended up transfering the dog to another shelter that did not have a "kill all Pit Bulls" policy. (Oh, how I wish I could remember for sure.)

Anyway, Deirdre ended up adopting a dog from Chako. That dog was named Carla. Her name today is Carla Lou, and she just celebrated her 16th birthday. Oh, and she happens to be the mascot for the wildly successful Pinups for Pitbulls, which Deirdre founded.

People often ask me how I came up with the name "Chako." It's in honor of my childhood dog, Chako. He was the greatest dog that ever lived. I swear. Yes, I know everyone's childhood dog is the greatest dog, but really he was! (Apologies to my current dogs, Tauri and Savvy, who thankfully cannot read this blog).

I had a vision in my head of Chako somehow falling into different circumstances, through no fault of his own, and ending up in one of those "no Pit Bulls" shelters. I imagined him in a concrete cage, alone, until finally someone went into his kennel, snapped a leash on him, and walked him to a room where he'd be killed...for no other reason than he happened to be a Pit Bull.

I get teary eyed just thinking about it, and it never even happened. So, for all the "GREATEST DOGS IN THE WORLD" out there who have found themselves--through no fault of their own--homeless, Chako Pit Bull Rescue exists. Unfortunately, we cannot save them all, but we can save one at a time.

And that is the story behind Chako Pit Bull Rescue.

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