Friday, March 19, 2010

Man escapes house fire with help from service dog.

SPOKANE, Wash. - A man who has been on bed rest for the past five months after breaking both his legs is crediting his service dog with helping him escape his burning home.

Jake Vernon was sleeping in his home near Howard and Dalke Wednesday morning when he says his service dog, Gracie, woke him up by pulling on his blanket and barking.

Vernon says he couldn't figure out what his dog was doing until he saw his room filling with smoke.

"I didn't hear no fire alarm. I didn't hear nothing," said Vernon.

Vernon immediately crawled out of bed and to his wheelchair and was able to make it out of his home with his dog and without injury.

"If it wasn't for my dog pulling on my Snuggie and barking, I don't think I'd of made it out the house," said Vernon.

Fire crews arrived on scene shortly after and quickly knocked the fire down, keeping it contained to one bedroom.

Jake is married, though his wife was not home when the fire broke out.

Fire investigators are working to determine a cause.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pit Crew Facilitates Special Adoption

March 09, 2010
By Melissa Lipani

Age and distance proved no barriers when it came to Melindy finding her perfect home.

Recently, Best Friends' Pit Bulls: Saving America's Dog campaign coordinator Melissa Lipani, who also works with the Salt Lake County Pit Crew project, got a call from a friend. Andrea Allen, whose mother-in-law, Floy Allen of Lewiston, Idaho, was looking to adopt a dog.

Floy, a single 80-year-old grandmother, wanted a dog just like Andrea and Dave's dog Otis. Otis is a sweet brindle and white pit bull terrier that the couple adopted from a shelter in Salt Lake City four years ago who loves everyone and everything in life, especially the couple's 10-month-old son Zane. In other words, Floy wanted to adopt a pit bull terrier just like Otis.

It's not every day that the Salt Lake County Pit Crew team gets a call from a grandmother looking to adopt a pit bull terrier. Floy was looking for a companion and family dog that would be a breed ambassador, calm and affectionate and would not require a lot of training.

It just so happened that there was a wonderful dog in the program named Melindy, who was in a dedicated foster home and was just about to finish and pass her Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training and certification. She was one of the longest running program dogs and had been overlooked by many adopters for reasons unknown. Melindy is about as calm, well trained and affectionate as any dog could be. Her obstacles seemed to be superficial — she was an older girl, 4 or 5 years old, a pit bull terrier and a former back yard breeder whose underside showed a lifetime of neglect and the tell tale signs of a mother who had borne many puppies.

But Melindy had so many wonderful things going for her — a terrific calm temperament, wonderful soulful eyes, affectionate nature, great skills with other dogs and a genuine desire to please whomever she was with. She isn't much of an exerciser and would prefer a good cuddle on the couch with her person. It was just this combination of sweet attributes that led Melissa to immediately jump to recommend Melindy for Floy to adopt.

Melissa told the Allen's of her idea for the perfect match for Floy and sent some photos of Melindy at recent Pit Crew events. The whole family fell for her, and when Floy made her next visit from Idaho to Salt Lake City, the group set up a meeting. Melindy happened to have a stomach bug that day and was turning up the sad eyes and charm to win Floy over. It worked, and Floy quickly declared that Melindy was the one and she wanted to adopt her. She decided that her new name would be Lucy and she couldn't wait to bring her home.

Arrangements were made for Lucy to finish her last week of CGC and be tested while transportation was arranged. Floy was to fly back in two weeks and she and Dave would drive Lucy back up to Idaho. Floy was so excited to have Lucy come home, that she eagerly bought toys, a soft bed and other things to spoil her new companion upon arrival. She even made sure to have her hair done ahead of time so she wouldn't have to leave Lucy at home alone while she was adjusting to her new environment.

On the day Lucy left for Idaho, her whole fan club of staff, volunteers, her new extended family and her foster parents met to see her off. When Floy arrived, Lucy was smitten, and everyone took pictures and gave Lucy some treats to see her off on the journey. The news media also came, because they heard about this extraordinary adoption. Lucy made the 10-hour trek back to Lewiston, stopping in Boise to charm more of the Allen family along the way.

Now that the two are home safely, Andrea reports that "Lucy did excellent on her road trip. She is becoming attached to Floy and Floy is becoming very attached to her! I think they are a very good match. Floy has been very excited for friends and family to meet Lucy. Of course, everyone loves her. What is not to love? Thank you for all of your efforts."

Lucy reminds us that pit bull terriers can be perfect family pets for people of any age.

How you can help:

Become a fan of the Pit Crew and to learn more about Best Friends Pit Bulls: Saving America's Dog and our exciting efforts, join us on our campaign site.

The goal of the Pit Crew program, which is a partnership between Salt Lake County Animal Services and Best Friends' Pit Bulls: Saving America's Dog campaign, aims to reduce the euthanasia of adoptable pit bull type dogs in the shelter by offering free spay/neuter services to all pit bull terriers and pit bull mixes within the county jurisdiction, free Canine Good Citizen training to all dogs adopted and fostered through the program and low-cost to the community, access to a Best Friends Community Training Partner, and special events and outreach for the community including workshops, adoption events, and more. The partnership also strives to change the misperceptions of pit bull terriers in our community and shelter system.