Photo by Andrea Carreo Photography
This weekend, my boyfriend and I flew to Phoenix to support our good friend Scotlund Haisley, president and founder of Animal Rescue Corps (ARC), whose artwork was showing at a fundraiser for Mayday Pit Bull Rescue and Advocacy. Mayday and ARC have a beautiful relationship, as Mayday has taken in and rehabilitated some of the most abused, injured, and neglected pit bulls ARC has rescued from dog fighting rings.
Two of Scotlund’s paintings displayed at the event. Scotlund primarily paints images based on photos taken of animals immediately before he rescues them. This enables him to capture the last moment of fear or pain endured before they are promised that their suffering is over.
I was thrilled to see such a fantastic turnout; approximately 100 Phoenicians (I wish I lived in a city where the citizens get such a cool name) and a bunch of out-of-towners like us showed up to support this incredible group. Mayday takes in the “worst case” dogs, meaning the pups in their care are often former fighting/breeding dogs or are suffering from very expensive, complicated illnesses/injuries. We met examples of both on Saturday night. It is so remarkable to see the resilience, kindness, and playfulness that many of these dogs now show, despite their horrible pasts.
Amidst the group of transformed, excited, friendly dogs, I met one dog who was not so thrilled to be there. Her name is Honor, and meeting her was one of the most powerful moments of my life. Honor was rescued last year during ARC’s “Operation Broken Chain,” a mission that saved nearly 70 dogs from a fighting operation. Honor was used as a breeding dog. Her teeth had been filed down into nubs so she wouldn’t hurt or attack the male dogs her owners systematically raped her with. I remembered seeing her photo immediately after the rescue, so I was really looking forward to meeting her.
Honor the day she was rescued.
When her lovely caretakers opened up her crate to bring her to me, my heart immediately broke into a million pieces. Despite being pampered and loved on constantly for the past year, her trepidation is still so visible and palpable. As the Mayday volunteers explained, Honor is usually much less timid and more playful, as she isn’t typically surrounded by 100 noisy humans. I have no doubt that on a regular day, the progress she’s made under Mayday’s care is immediately evident. However, on this night, as I watched her crawl as low to the ground as she possibly could, frantically scanning the room and the sky, presumably trying to avoid danger, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I consider myself fairly knowledgable about most animal issues, dog fighting being among the many subjects I’ve sadly become quite informed about. Still, no amount of articles read or stories heard could prepare me for seeing firsthand, right in front of me, the blatant repercussions of what this girl went through. To know that this sweet girl, who timidly licked treats out of my hand while making sure to keep her eyes on the crowd, was routinely and intentionally abused at the hands of humans felt like a punch in the gut. I will never forget Honor. The memory of meeting her will forever inspire me to keep fighting on behalf of the voiceless.
I would be remiss not to mention Parker, a phenomenal young lady we met at the event. When she was 8 years old, after learning about Michael Vick, she decided to become a pit bull advocate. For her next birthday, in lieu of gifts, she asked for donations to Mayday Pit Bull Rescue and Advocacy. She went on to found “Cutesy Swag,” a shop through which she sells accessories for girls and dogs and from which half the profits go to Mayday. Last May, as part of a “Bald for Bullies” fundraising campaign, she shaved her head! An 11-year-old girl voluntarily shaving her head. You don’t hear that every day. To support Parker, you can visit her shop at www.etsy.com/shop/CutesySwag.
Parker before and after the “Bald For Bullies” campaign
I am so grateful to have had the experience to meet the heroes behind Mayday and the community that supports them. The admiration I have for the Mayday founders, volunteers, and fosters is beyond compare; their compassion is endless. Please make sure to follow their rescues and accomplishments on their Facebook page, and consider making a donation to support their vital work!
- Pit Bull Appreciation Day celebrated (wwlp.com)
- Pit Bull Rescues Cat Being Attacked By Two Coyotes (tampa.cbslocal.com)
- 5 Reasons Why Pit Bulls are Misunderstood (onegreenplanet.org)
- 367 Pit Bulls Rescued in Second-Largest Dogfighting Raid in US History (petcarerx.com)