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Amos was found as a stray in southern Illinois and was never reclaimed. He spent several months at the shelter waiting for rescue or adoption. The rescue coordinator contacted us and stated she felt Amos would be an awesome candidate for our Pits for Patriots program. It took almost three months for Amos to make his journey up north because he had a nasty case of hookworm that took forever to eradicate.
Once Amos came to us, it took another several months for him to come out of his shell. It wasn’t hard to see that Amos had been abused in his previous life. He was very skittish of “hands”, quick movements, loud noises and some other dogs. But we were patient with this big lug because what we saw was a heart of gold to match his golden eyes and the willingness to please that is all too common in this wonderful “breed.” As Amos continued his training, what also unfortunately, became apparent were his horrendous allergies to what seems like everything, even grass. We knew that Amos would need a lifetime of expensive medications to keep him feeling up to par. Not wanting to add a financial burden to a veteran or first responder we made the decision to remove Amos from the service dog program.
Pits for Patriots knew that Amos was very capable so our founders decided to adopt him, continue his training and have Amos, CGC, become the face and ambassador/demo dog of Pits for Patriots. You will see Famous Amos at many of our events, greeting attendees and supporters.
Buford (not his original name) was found as a stray. He was found with a collar and tags so animal control repeatedly tried to contact his owners. His owners never came for him. Pits for Patriots was contacted by DuPage County Animal Care and Control about this wonderful dog. Buford had been at the animal control facility for 5 months and was starting to shut down. The volunteers were desperate for Buford to find rescue. When they showed us pictures of Buford doing therapy work at the nursing home across from the shelter, we knew we had to go meet this boy.
Buford couldn’t get out of the shelter fast enough, but once we got him home, we noticed something strange; he did not run once he was brought into the yard. Every dog that has spent time in the shelter loves to do what we call the zoomies, when they know they are free, but there were no zoomies from Buford. The next day we would know why. Buford was limping and had a mass on his behind. Immediately we feared the worst, CANCER, and we took him into our vet for evaluation. Luckily the mass was just a fluid filled cyst that was drained, but the limping was from a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament and would require surgery to repair.
Our vet also informed us of an old un-treated pelvic fracture that he felt was due to blunt force trauma. We will never understand how people can abuse these beautiful dogs, but Buford’s days of abuse and abandonment were over. We repaired his ACL and continue to give him hydrotherapy for that and his old pelvic injury.
The plan was to keep Buford as part of the Pits for Patriots therapy pack however fate had a better idea. A special firefighter came along, met Buford and it was love at first sight. The pairing was made official and Buford became the firehouse’s official mascot and canine companion.
Buford passed his therapy dog training and has since become a registered therapy dog. His medical conditions have improved significantly, but he still has a long way to go. Fortunately, Buford has a large group of friends to look after him. Buford is taken for hydrotherapy and therapy dog training each week.
Pits for Patriots will continue to sponsor Buford’s orthopedic needs to give him the best quality care possible, so we can continue to share Buford’s successes. You’ll also often see Buford at events and educational seminars because his entire family is Pits for Patriots volunteers.
Odie was a young 1-year-old pup when he came to Pits for Patriots. His owner had purchased him from a backyard breeder as a pup. A poor backyard breeder, at that as, Odie’s front legs are a bit deformed bowing to the outside. Unfortunately, like many people who buy pit bull puppies, this family did not do their research as to the “breeds” size and energy and they felt that Odie had outgrown their home. They had many people that were interested in buying Odie from them, but they did not want Odie to land into the wrong hands where he might be abused or even worse, fought. Sensing this family’s urgency in re-homing Odie, we made the decision to take him.
The more we worked with Odie the more we realized that he is a true working dog. Odie loves to work, learn new things and has the high drive seen in many working scent dogs. We therefore, decided to begin “playing” with Odie and scent work. Low and behold along came a firefighter that is trained in arson detection and search and rescue. Another match made in heaven, Odie has spent the last few months getting to know his guardian and fellow firefighters. Odie has proven to be invaluable at the firehouse, providing a much-needed source of therapy to the firefighters after particularly stressful calls. With the help of our supporters, Odie became the hero he is meant to be.
Conan has had an extremely rough life. He has been bounced around from place to place for the last seven years. He went from roaming the streets of Chicago to a junkyard where he was found hanging by a chain off of the truck dock. When he eventually came to Pits for Patriots, he finally found his place to shine.
Pits for Patriots was blessed to gain a veteran volunteer that absolutely fell in love with our “junkyard boy.” An Army veteran, Jaimee has been deployed a total of three times. She was deployed to Korea and then Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she provided combat lifesaver support to casualties as Quick Reaction Force in base security operations. Her last deployment was to Italy in November of 2013. Jaimee suffers from PTSD, migraines, and anxiety, and was ultimately paired with Conan as her emotional support animal. They trained together and bonded for more than half a year.
Since being permanently placed with Conan, Jaimee says, “I’ve been able to go off all anti-depressants and anxiety medication. He grounds me during panic attacks and gives me protection in perceived moments of fear.”
“I have confidence in his love for me, and he has mine,” says Jaimee. “I still have dark days, but even on the darkest day I have another life that depends of me; a life that I sincerely believes loves me more than he loves himself. A life that loves me on the days I can’t love myself and needs me on the days depression tells me no else does.”
We’re optimistic that we will continue sharing amazing stories of their love, friendship, and success, all thanks to your generous support.
“He understands fear, anxiety, and abandonment, and I will never be alone in those feelings,” says Jaimee. “One of the most beautiful lessons Conan has taught me is that although a fact of life is that awful, heart breaking things happen, happiness is a choice. There is HOPE and I have a purpose.”
Mira came to us as a stray from a high-kill shelter in Southern Illinois. Despite her obvious history of neglect and abuse, Mira wanted nothing more than to have the approval, love, and companionship of every human she met.
We are very happy to announce the graduation of another service dog team: Jonathan and Mira.
Jonathan joined the Marine Corps as a rifleman at the age of 17 in September of 2002, following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In March of 2003, he made his first of three deployments to Iraq in the support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon his return in 2007, Jonathan left the Marine Corps. He made the decision to re-enlist, this time as an infantryman with the Army National Guard. From 2008-2009, Jonathan was deployed for a fourth time, traveling to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Upon returning home, Jonathan was feeling the extreme pressure of readjusting to civilian life.
Since they were paired, they are inseparable and travel all over the country together. Mira is able to assist Jonathan with picking up and carrying items, opening and closing doors, retrieving his cane or keys for him, bracing, and alerting to his anxiety. She is completely attentive to his every need and they make an amazing team. We are so proud of all their success.
In 2015 and 2016, Jonathan was the State Recruiter for the Department of Illinois for VFWs. This year (2017), Jonathan will act as the Membership Director of the State of Illinois for VFWs, guiding other veterans to the programs available when they return from duty. Mira has helped him every step of the way—easing anxiety enabling him to travel more, boosting his confidence with public speaking, and allowing him to engage with other veterans and politicians.
Every day, your support makes more and more success stories like this possible.
Shiloh and Shamus came to us from Chicago’s Animal Care and Control facility. Pits for Patriots was just getting started when our founder and treasurer were at the animal control facility pulling small dogs for a dog rescue they were volunteering for. While testing dogs for this rescue, they came across Shamus and Shiloh in a pen together. The two were found roaming on the streets of Chicago together and had already spent 30 days at CACC awaiting rescue. They were friendly wiggle butts coming to the cage door for petting and treats. The Pits for Patriots members were sure that the area pit bull rescues would snatch them up and save them.
The next day when they returned to rescue more small dogs, they stopped in to check on Shamus and Shiloh. There were no more wiggle butts. Shiloh and Shamus were lethargic and refusing to get up to come greet them. There was sputum all over the kennel floor and they knew immediately that Shiloh and Shamus had contracted kennel cough and would need antibiotics to recover. When the staff at CACC was notified that Shiloh and Shamus needed to be seen by medical because they seemed to have contracted kennel cough, the Pits for Patriots team was informed that kennel cough was not able to be treated at the local shelter, due to limited funds and resources dogs that ended up getting sick were euthanized, if they were not immediately rescued. Pits for Patriots could not allow these two pups to become another statistic in the overcrowded shelter system so we started the rescue process.
We nursed the pups back to health and before we knew it, Shiloh’s awesome pittie smile caught the attention of three tour OIF Veteran Sergeant Danny Randall. Danny came to meet Shiloh and began the training process a few weeks later. On July 4, 2012 Shiloh went home with Sgt. Randall, and this is what he has to say about his boy Shiloh:
“Hi My name is Danny Randall, formally SGT Randall, an 8.5 year Army Vet who did 3 tours of duty to Iraq during my service. I came back to civilian life in October of 2011, and found a new home here in Chicago. I rented an apartment in a not so great neighborhood on Chicago’s Westside and started trying to adapt to my new way of life.
That being said, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be, could find a job, couldn’t hold a job once I did find one. Found myself angry all the time and frustrated at life and the whole situation. I was supposed to be happy; I had served my country honorably for almost 9 years and was living a free life. But I hated it. So I decided after about 2 months of being home that I needed a 4 legged friend. I searched the web for a couple of weeks, and I came across Shiloh and Pits for Patriots. His picture just stood out to me, I love the Pittie smile he had, and I felt like we connected. So I called.
Sometime went by and I went out to meet Shiloh, and it truly was love at first hello, he stuck to me like glue almost the whole time I sat and talked with Kelly Yearwood about their program what it aimed to do and the process for me getting Shiloh. What I didn’t know was that Shiloh was going to fill a void in my life that I had deeply been missing, a purpose. See Shiloh was a bait dog and was rescued from a kill shelter here in Chicago. He needed some work; he had such bad fear based aggression he couldn’t be around other dogs at all. So that was my purpose, and throughout all of our training with Pits for Patriots and in my home, Shiloh became the biggest part of my life. Not only is he my best friend and an amazing cuddle buddy, but he gave me a reason to swing my feet over the side of the bed every morning because I knew he needed me and for that I could never repay him. I’ve been suffering from PTSD and TBI since leaving the Army in 2011 and the road to recovery has not been easy nor do I feel it will ever end. But with Shiloh next to me and organizations like Pits for Patriots out there, it gives us Veterans a second hope that we can make it through the times when we feel alone, empty and purposeless.
Thanks to Pits to Patriots for saving such an amazing dog, and for giving me the opportunity to live a semi normal life again with him by my side. I feel truly lucky to have found both this organization and this animal, for without both; I know I would no longer be here.
– Danny Randall
Blue was a 6-month-old pup when his owners brought him to us to give him up. They had purchased him from a backyard breeder and after 6 months decided they no longer had the time for him. Unfortunately, we see this happen all too often and there are just not enough rescues, fosters or volunteers to help all of the animals that need homes. Many times these dogs end up in shelters and never make it out again. We wanted to make sure this would not be Blue’s fate and had the family bring him to us to be evaluated.
Once we began to evaluate Blue for our service dog program, we realized immediately that Blue is deaf. Blue’s family had him for 6 months and never even realized he was deaf, that tells you how awesome this pup is. Deaf dogs unfortunately, cannot be service dogs and therefore Blue was immediately eliminated from the service dog program. Eliminating Blue from our service dog program however, did not deter us from helping to find Blue his loving forever home. Blue was fortunate to have a family that did not want him to end up in the wrong hands and was willing to foster him until a home could be found. While Blue was waiting for his forever home, his family brought him to us for training and socialization. We taught him all the hand signals he would need in order for his new family to communicate with him. Many people look at a deaf dog as a “special needs” dog or requiring too much time and pass them up, when what you actually get is a super sponge that pays much more attention to their handler because they cannot hear.
It took us a full year to find Blue his perfect forever home, but he hit a home run that’s for sure. The family of a career airman and their two Beagles opened up their hearts and home to Blue. They had lost their deaf Pit Bull some months before and were ready and able to give this “special needs” pup all that he could ever want out of life for the rest of his life. Blue is one lucky dog.
One of our volunteers, who is also a police officer, was called to a disturbance between neighbors. This disturbance resulted in Buddy being stabbed four times by the disgruntled neighbor. Buddy’s owners could not afford the emergency medical care for him, so they signed him over to the officer. The officer immediately took him to the emergency vet and paid for Buddy’s wound treatment. Pits for Patriots then stepped in and transferred Buddy to our vet where he could heal until he was well enough to receive his vaccinations and neuter. The officer then paid for Buddy to receive some training before Bombshell Bullies again stepped up to find Buddy his forever home.
The really great news is Buddy was adopted by another police officer in another town. Two years later, our police officer was out doing errands when who does he run into? Buddy and his new owner. Buddy immediately recognized his rescuer and began whining, crying and pulling his owner toward his rescuer. Buddy’s owner said he had never heard Buddy get that excited to see anybody before. It just goes to show you, these dogs never forget those that rescue them.
We received a call one cold evening from a police officer on the north side of Chicago regarding Butch. The precinct had received a call about a pit bull at large. Two officers found Butch roaming the streets cold and hungry. They brought him back to the station fed him and scanned him for a chip. Without a chip or owner to contact Butch would end up at animal care and control, most likely never making it out of the doors alive. The officers said that Butch was too good of a dog to end up with such a fate and asked if we would take him. How could we say no?
We asked one of our police officer, volunteers if he would make the trip to the city station to pick up Butch and foster him until we could figure out what place he would have in our program. Butch proved to be a great dog, just as his rescuers said. We sent him to our vet for vaccinations and neutering and began his basic and then advanced obedience training.
A police officer took notice of this beautiful boy and began his training with us to make Butch a part of his family. As part of Butch’s adoption contract we insisted that Butch and his guardian continue their training to get Butch CGC certified. We are happy to report that Butch is CGC certified and living the good life with his police officer guardian. Butch was rescued by a cop, fostered by a cop and adopted by a cop. We couldn’t have asked for a better story for this boy.
Gretchen came from the same litter as our service dog in training, Phoebe. They were the product of an “accidental” breeding in Chicago and at 7 weeks old on December 31, 2013, with a party to be had, they needed to GO or they were to be taken to the pound. At the time we made aware of these pups there were 3 of them left. By the time our trainer made the trip down to pick up the 3 of them, only Gretchen and Phoebe remained. Luckily, we had a friend of a volunteer who was looking to add a new pup to her pack and Gretchen was adopted within a week. Her best friend is a pig. Yes, I said a pig. Gretchen lives on a farm and has on more than one occasion; let her friend the pig out so they can play.
Mack (AKA Mack Littles)
Mack was rescued by one of our police officer volunteers who got to him in the nick of time. Mack was suffering from severe pneumonia and without medical treatment and hospitalization he would have died. Pits for Patriots paid for all of Mack’s medical bills to get him well, vaccinated and neutered; then Bombshell Bullies took on the task of finding Mack his forever home.
We are happy to report that just a few weeks ago sweet and stunning Mack Littles has found his forever home. He is able to go to work with his guardian and has a “twin” brother, both in looks and energy to play with. Sometimes it takes a village to get these dogs into their forever homes.
Polka was another product of an “accidental” breeding. In her first home, a Doxie was allowed to continually bully her giving her a real distaste for some other dogs. Her second home was overcrowded with another bunch of dogs, some with not the best demeanor and the owners decided she needed a home where she would receive more attention. One of our volunteers had contacted us and stated that she had just lost one of her ‘bullies’ and that her son was having a really hard time with that loss. We were sure we had an awesome solution for them, Polka. Eric has had a special place in his heart for animals since he was very young. Polka immediately sensed this and the bond between them was instantaneous. Eric and Polka are a match made in heaven.
Zena, a 9-year-old purebred Neapolitan Mastiff was a once loved family dog that was all but abandoned in her home, when her guardians divorced and moved out. One of the guardians would stop by once a week to add a bag of dog food in the home for Zena and her best friend a Peking duck. We became aware of Zena and her duck friend through a humane investigator. On one of the humane investigator’s visits to the home, she realized the Peking duck was missing. When she consulted with the owner, the owner stated she released the duck in the forest preserve. Now we not only had to worry about the dog, but about a white domesticated duck in the middle of a lake, in a forest preserve.
We took Zena into foster, and set about finding an organization to help us rescue the Peking duck from the forest preserve. Wild Goose Chase helped us rescue the duck that was then taken in by farm.
We figured we would have Zena until the end of her life, due to her age and breed, but surprisingly the perfect family came along for her and she loves life in her forever home keeping watch over her kids.