My name is Piper and I am a Youth Volunteer at ISF! I write articles for ISF's awareness campaign called, "It's A Pit Bull's Life." I interviewed Katie, from All About the Paw Pet Rescue, about her foster dog of 2 years, a Pit Bull mix named Joey. Joey is special because he has a medical issue and is also the color black. It is harder for Pit Bulls to be placed in homes, let alone a black Pit Bull with medical issues. However, if you could meet Joey, you would have a hard time figuring out why no one wants to adopt this beautiful, fun spirited, loving, little man.
My mom and I volunteer with All About the Paw and have been around Joey. We think he is wonderful and if we did not already have 2 Pit Bulls at home, my mom and I would take Joey in a heartbeat.
Piper: Tell me about All About the Paw. Why did you mainly choose Pit Bull breeds and/or those with medical issues like Joey?
Katie: I started the rescue in March of 2013 as a way to help dogs in shelters. I volunteered at the local dog shelter on the weekends, mostly walking anywhere from 40-50 dogs and couldn't help but notice the shelter was always full. A dog would get adopted and another would come in and take its place. I wanted to do something more than just walk the dogs (which is a very important way to help, don't get me wrong). I figured I'd start a rescue and see if anyone else in the area would want to help out. To my knowledge, All About the Paw is and continues to be the area's largest animal rescue. I figured if it worked out then great and I'll continue the work as long as possible and if not, then at least I tried. We are an all-breed rescue with a focus on pit bull type dogs, senior dogs, black dogs, and those with medical and behavioral issues. I could have taken an 'easy' road by taking puppies, small breed dogs (the fluffy and cute ones) and dogs who are great with everyone and everything and no medical issues. To be honest, there are plenty of rescue groups who take those kinds of dogs and do great work, but what about the “less adoptable” ones? What happens to them? Those are the ones I want to help; the ones who really need it and who I know would lose their lives if it weren't for this rescue. I have 3 dogs in my home right now who, I can 100% tell you, would have been euthanized had we not saved them. Joey is one of those dogs.
Anyone who is in rescue for the right reasons will tell you rescue is not a hobby, it's not a side job, and it's not something you do occasionally. You live it, you become so emotionally invested, you lose sleep over not being able to save them all, you max out credit cards trying to cover medical bills and you worry constantly that what you're doing isn't even making a dent in the pet overpopulation issue. I still carry extra leashes, collars, treats and even bolt cutters (until my husband told me I was too extreme) in my car in case I find a stray dog (or cat).
Piper: How old was Joey when he came into the rescue and what is his story?
Katie: Joey came to me from the Franklin County Dog Shelter in Columbus. At the time the shelter estimated his age to be roughly 6-8 months, but we later found out he was around a year old. Joey was, if I remember correctly, an owner surrender so he was able to leave right away. He turned two recently.
Piper: You have been Joey’s foster home for a long time and he is still looking for a home. Tell us why fostering is important to you and how it has helped Joey.
Katie: Joey has been with me since August of 2015 so we are coming up on 2 years. I mentioned earlier that Joey was a dog who would have been euthanized had I not taken him – this is why fostering is important. Dogs will be euthanized for space. Joey was a PUPPY and was on the kill list all because he had mange (most shelters don't have the resources to treat medical conditions such as this and thus want these dogs to leave the rescue ASAP). It really is life or death and fostering is a way to help save a life. People don't realize many dogs are given a matter of days to find a way out of a shelter and once that time is up, their time is up too.
Piper: What is Joey’s health issue? What has he overcome? What makes him special?
Katie: Joey has a condition called a craniocervical spinal deformity - an extremely rare condition that isn't even seen at OSU Vet Hospital once a year. That’s how rare it is. The odd twist to Joey's story is that we didn't know of this medical issue at the time we pulled him. Joey was treated for demodex mange and within three months was ready to be adopted- which he was- to a great home. It was literally less than a week after he was adopted that the adopters called me and explained they had been noticing Joey having trouble walking and would stumble and even fall over when running. I had never seen that while he was with me so we were all stunned. After having several vet opinions, we were directed to OSU to have an MRI done on Joey which is where we found out what was really going on with him.
Piper: What drew you to Joey?
Katie: He fit all the criteria to be in the rescue: black dog, pit bull type dog, had medical issues AND the fact that no other rescue wanted to pull him.
Piper: Does he get along with your other animals and kids?
Katie: Yes, Joey loves everyone.
Piper: What do you feel is the biggest misconception about Joey, his story, and being a Pit Bull?
Katie: The biggest misconception would be that he's scary or dangerous. Joey weighs a whopping 35 lbs. so to me, there's nothing scary about him, BUT, because he's a pit bull type dog and is also black, people tend to move to the side when they see us coming. Joey is also very vocal and people take that as he's aggressive, but really it's his way of letting everyone know he's in the room and he needs to be the center of attention.
Piper: Do you feel he is bypassed because of his medical issue, his color, or his breed?
Katie: I think Joey gets overlooked more so because of his medical issue than his breed. I've actually had several people inquire about Joey, (he was adopted out once and then was on a trial adoption, but the potential adopter ended up being allergic) but it's just not worked out for him yet. I think people worry that his condition will worsen (it may), or medication will be expensive (it's not), or he will need to have surgery or even have to be put down in the worst case scenario. I can say that his condition could get worse or it could stay the same, time will tell. He's currently on medication that has helped stabilize his condition so I'm hopeful.
Piper: What does Joey do that makes you laugh or smile?
Katie: Joey acts like a tough guy, but in reality, he's a big baby which always makes me laugh. That's the thing about pit bulls, they're such babies despite their looks!
Piper: What obstacle(s) has he overcome or is he overcoming? (fear of water, storms, people, riding in cars, leash walking, being alone etc.)
Katie: Joey’s only real 'issue' would be that he barks a lot which can be annoying.
Piper: Does Joey have a trick that he is famous for in your house?
Katie: Joey, like our other dogs, is famous for not listening and doing whatever he wants! He's very good at cleaning up food my son drops on the floor which saves me time by not having to clean up!
Piper: What else do you want us and ISF readers to know about Joey and other Pit Bulls?
Katie: Having had Joey for nearly two years, I can honestly say he's a sweet little guy who just wants to be near you. He follows us around and is so good with my son. You can tell he tries so hard to please us and make us happy. Joey has overcome more than most dogs his age (or any age really) yet you wouldn't even know he has a medical issue. Nothing stops him, but that's also very true of the breed. These dogs are resilient and always seem to overcome their pasts. I'm hopeful Joey is adopted, but if not then he always has a spot here with us.
Written by Youth Volunteer Piper
Edited by Heidi Trace