So We’ll Fill Vick’s former Fight Shed with Shoes. Sounds about Right. I hope there are a lot of Nikes.


Like it or not, a lot of time is spent in the nonprofit world trying to come up with good fundraising ideas, and anyone who tells you it’s not true is feeding you a line of bull hockey.

I, for one, would much rather be protesting the abuse of dogs or single-handedly rescuing thousands of dogs from chains and having them magically trained, vetted, and into new homes, but the fact remains without keeping a roof over our rescue dogs’ heads and staff to care for said dogs daily, none of my daydreams of ending the chaining of dogs will ever come true.

Damn you, reality.

A couple of weeks ago staff member Julie hit me with the shoe collection fundraising idea, which I had heard of before. This idea sounds great in theory because you collect gently used shoes from all your supporters and they get sent overseas to those in need. Nifty.

Admittedly, the last place we need shoes is the American landfills, AND the fundraiser helps people in developing nations so it’s a win win—until you realize that you have to collect 3 bazillion pairs of shoes to actually raise any money.

Me: “Don’t you have to collect 3 bazillion pairs of shoes to make that fundraiser worthwhile?”

Julie: “Actually, it’s 300 bags of 25 pairs of shoes. So 7,500. Nowhere near 3 bazillion.”

Me: “Still. Wouldn’t I rather poke my eye out with a hot poker?” (That’s not the saying, is it. That’s redundant so it’s not very funny.)

Julie, pouting: “Fine, whatever.”

A little while later Julie pops back up: “What if we filled one of Vick’s dogfighting sheds with the shoes?” (You do know Dogs Deserve Better owns Vick’s former dogfighting compound, right? If not, now you do. You can read more about it here:

Me, interest piqued, wheels turning: “Now you’re talking my language. Go on.”

Julie: “Well, with Nike re-signing Vick, and people wanting to boycott Nike because of it…AND, therefore, wanting to get rid of their Nike’s…wouldn’t they maybe just send them along to us?

“We could take the used Nike’s and whatever other shoes people send us and fill up one of the dogfighting sheds before we send them off to be put to good use…

“And with all the publicity lately about football players and the NFL beating their wives, kids, girlfriends, animals, stuffed flamingos (yeah, I made that last one up), and DDB taking these Nike’s and other shoes and sending them to those most in need; well, it just seems symbolic to me.”

Me: “I like it! Combining an activist move WITH fundraising. Brilliant.”

The photo you see below is one of the promo photos for this fundraiser and campaign. The Nike’s are hanging from the wooden beam where Vick and his friends initially wrote “TBK” which meant Too Bad Kennels. But then they changed the name of their dogfighting ring to Bad Newz Kennels, so you can see written overtop the initials “BNK” in yellow.

This beam held the dogs firmly in place via leash or chain while they were forced to walk on a wheel that turned on the axle you can still  see pictured below. Most of the stuff was removed for evidence, but the axle and beam still remain.

I can’t wait to see this entire room filled with shoes that are meant for the greater good and will not end up in a landfill!

Will you help us by dropping off or sending along your new or gently used Nikes and any other shoes you no longer need or want?

We want to see floor to ceiling shoes here!
We want to see floor to ceiling shoes here!

We only need to collect 7,500 pairs of shoes. Or 3 bazillion…whichever comes first. No pressure.

Our address is Dogs Deserve Better, 1915 Moonlight Rd., Smithfield, VA 23430. For more information on how you can get more involved to make this a reality, call Julie at 757-357-9292 or drop her an e-mail at

Also, we’re issuing a public challenge to Nike to send along some shoes of their own to benefit the dogs of Dogs Deserve Better, who spent their lives on chains before coming to rescue with us, AND women and children in developing nations who might not have a pair of shoes to call their own.

Do you think Nike will rise to the challenge and donate any shoes to fill the fighting shed? Sound off here!

P.S. If you’re like me and would rather poke your eye out than collect shoes and mail them in (but I will collect shoes, to be noted!), we do take donations the old fashioned way…with the click of a mouse. And the signing of a check. And the push of a button.

Via mobile device:
Via our website:
Via mail: Dogs Deserve Better, 1915 Moonlight Rd., Smithfield, VA 23430.

Dogs Deserve Better is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Here’s a link to the media release.


P.S.S. Oh, and as a special gift to you for reading today, a pic of my dog Sloan, who was rescued from his chain in 2011, trying to frantically get the grass out of his teeth—all the while denying to me that he was eating grass. Love it.

Every dog deserves the simple pleasure of eating grass and throwing up on their family’s carpet. Most chained dogs don’t even have grass to eat…because they’ve worn down their patch of ‘home’ to just mud. True story. We all know they deserve so much better.


Dog Rescuers Should Make “The Drop”

Is there a dog in this picture?

I don’t pretend to be a movie critic; I’m a chained-dog rescuer, a warrior for the rights of chained dogs, and often solely a paper pusher trying to keep a nonprofit animal rights organization afloat on any given day.

Not really a glamorous life.

But one of my guilty pleasures is movies, where you can lose yourself for two hours in anyone’s life—whether that life be better or worse than your own.You don’t have to be invested in their problems, and their challenges often seem way more interesting and solvable than your own.

I’m also not a connoisseur of fancy movies (you know, the ones with subtitles), although I’ve been known to go out of my way for a few that interest me but can’t fight their way into the big boys lineups. I enjoy all movies except for scary movies (why deliberately make yourself miserable?), and there’s almost always something to be learned, even if it’s “I should have listened to the critics on this one and stayed home.”

Sometimes getting a laugh or two is the best I can hope for and I’m ok with that.

It’s rare that a mainstream movie features a dog rescue as a prominent part of the plot, and I had no idea going into “The Drop,” starring Tom Hardy, that I would be subjected to worrying about the fate of a dog throughout the whole movie—bringing my ‘real job’ a little too close to my movie-escape experience.

I first noticed Tom Hardy as one of the yummilicious guys vying for Reese Witherspoon’s affection in 2012’s “This Means War”, and I was Team Tom all the way. Still think he rocks. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get the girl in the end, but his scenes at the paintball zone slayed me and would have won my heart if I had been the one to choose. While the critics only gave this one a 26% review, I loved the hell out of it and am not ashamed to say I went back for a second helping and even bought it on DVD.

In “The Drop”, Tom’s character Bob is walking down a New York street at night only to hear a puppy whining.

Uh-oh, I think. I didn’t sign up for this.

He ends up finding a beat up pitbull puppy in the garbage can, rescues him with the help of the girl who lives there, and leaves me on pins and needles the rest of the movie worrying about the dog.

Will he get killed? Will the bad guy get him after all?

While the dog rescue plays a prominent role in the story, it is a subplot to the real action; but, still large enough to make me want to recommend the movie to those in dog rescue or who support dogs rescue organizations such as ours at Dogs Deserve Better.

Joe and I also got a kick out of seeing in the credits that the movie is actually based on a short story written by Dennis Lehane, called “Animal Rescue.”

While I hate to have to do a ‘spoiler alert’, if you’re like me you would NOT want to see “The Drop” if you felt that the dog dies in the movie. Rest assured that I wouldn’t recommend the movie to you if I had walked away broken-hearted over the dog. ‘Nuf said.

What I was happy to see was that the dog was rescued (by an unlikely advocate), the dog was protected, and the dog was valued.

Movies that promote protection of animals probably do as much for our cause as anything else, because they reach folks who might not give a second thought to passing by an injured animal. Maybe it will inspire others to stop and take action, too.

For that I give the movie AND Tom Hardy—cause he’s just too cute not to—full props and kudos.

P.S. By the way, in my opinion, the movie was just GOOD anyway. And well worth seeing. Here’s a couple links to real critic reviews, for those who are interested.

P.S.S. Did you know our Facebook page has over half a million supporters now? If you’re not already a fan, join us today!

Or follow us on twitter at

So if Someone Tells me Not to Judge, Aren’t They Judging Me for Judging?

Baxter, a dog I fostered from a chain years ago
Baxter, a dog I fostered from a chain years ago
Getting kisses from Baxter after his rescue
Getting kisses from Baxter after his rescue
Baxter in his new life as a much-happier boy
Baxter in his new life as a much-happier boy

By and large I have nothing against the general advice not to judge other people; except that, well, when it comes my way I feel like I’m being JUDGED.


And…isn’t that exactly what the advisor is telling me NOT to do?

And by telling me not to do it aren’t they indeed doing it themselves?

It is a conundrum.

Usually when this advice comes my way it’s in regards to someone chaining their dog, and the implication is that I’m “sticking my nose into other people’s business where it just doesn’t belong. Dammit.”

But, see, I just don’t think NOT JUDGING is a feasible way to live your life. Because in much of the ‘stuff’ that really matters in this world, not judging to me seems too close akin to BURYING YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND.

Which is akin to cowardice.

Which really isn’t attractive on any of us.

I postulate that the yardstick for judging and the lack thereof must stop at “unless a human is DOING HARM to another living being.”

At that point—by gum—it’s not only our RIGHT to judge, but also our MORAL IMPERATIVE to point out in no uncertain terms that things are not as they should be and they need to chain-ge. Pronto.

In ‘stuff’ that don’t matter to me or cause harm to others, I’m probably one of the least judgmental people you’d ever want to meet. If you prefer crunchy peanut butter and I prefer creamy, I see no reason to argue with you about it. Who cares.

Want an orange stripe in your hair? Cool. Want to yodel naked from the top of the nearest tree? Go for it.

But if you (and this is a hypothetical you, because I’m sure YOU wouldn’t do this) prefer to leave your dog out on a chain for his/her entire life because that makes it easier for you, and you tell me ridiculously asinine things like “he likes it out there” to justify the behavior, then I damn well see a reason to argue with you about it.

And stick my nose in your business. And advocate and agitate and instigate for chain-ge.

Because you’re bringing harm to your dog.

I assume most of us can see the difference between orange hair stripes and chaining a living being (the neediest creature on the planet) by the neck for life, right?

When I get into these kinds of moral arguments with myself or passersby who judge me for judging, I always look to the greats for answers.

I mean, can one really argue in hindsight with what Jesus, Gandhi, or Mandela advocated for in their lifetimes?

Freedom from tyranny in all its forms and freedom from oppression by those in power? What’s to argue with…

(I know there are a million other greats, but these are three of the most-known, and so easiest to use as examples of the point I’m trying to illustrate.)

If you look at the history of these men, did Jesus, Gandhi, and Mandela JUDGE?

Hell, yes, they judged! And found wanting!

And then got off their duffs and did something about it.

They had to fight the system; they gave much, sometimes they gave all, but it mattered enough to them that they didn’t just sit around piously suggesting we stop judging or we just pray and God will send help.

They knew they WERE the help, for better or worse.

Unfortunately—and what many folks don’t understand—is that throughout history and into today, the system doesn’t just hold a meeting with activists, allow us to bring our points about the injustices that are being done to oppressed peoples (and dogs), and then roll over and give us what we want.


They fight, and they fight hard, and they fight ugly.

People who care are forced to come down from their meditation mountain and go to ugly places and make decisions they never thought they’d have to make in the fight for justice. They are demoralized, vilified, jailed, run out of town, tarred and feathered, framed, lied about, and even killed.

[I’ve been all these things except for tarred and feathered and killed…but there’s still time.]

I’ve been in the fight to free chained dogs for twelve years now, and although you and I and most Americans who have eyes to see and a heart to feel KNOW that Dogs Deserve Better than life at the end of a chain, there are still millions out there chaining dogs for life and seeing nothing wrong with it. In most areas chain-ge has still not come.

Yet, there are sparks of hope that keep us going. Each dog freed from a chain across the country—such as Baxter, above—brings an ember of joy, a flame to keep the purpose alight, a strengthening of our core knowledge that we are not fighting for justice alone, are not fighting blindly in the dark, are not struggling against an unmoveable object.

We WILL PERSEVERE. And we will win.

As a movement we’ve made progress in many areas, but it’s never come easy. In fact, I just got this in an e-mail today from Renee Rivard, an amazing activist working for better laws in Florida under The League of Humane Voters—Florida Chapter, “There are now eleven Florida counties that ban unattended dog chaining (over half of Florida’s population and their dogs are now protected).”

Yes! Those are the moments to celebrate, the seeds of moral right that have been planted and sprouted and will continue to grow. The Florida dogs who are free as a result of these laws have not only the locals who stood and fought for them to thank (and I deeply thank you all, too), but also the rising consciousness of a nation that knows deep in its belly that chaining a living being with needs and wants is not only neglectful but extends all the way across the line of cruelty.

Therefore, I must inform those of you judging me for judging that I hereby pledge to keep my judgement of this path of wrong action—as long as such path entails chains and pens and ostracism from the family and all manner of harm to the dogs I serve.

If you must, you can keep on keeping your judgement of me for judging.

I’m ok with that.

P.S. Don’t Miss These Two Chances to Get Involved and Have Fun Doing It!

Back to School Book Special. One Great Way to Spread the Word about Chaining
Back to School Book Special. One Great Way to Spread the Word about Chaining

Perfect—and a great savings—for humane educators, teachers, and parents. Makes a wonderful and inexpensive way to donate learning materials on behalf of our doggie friends to your local school, school library, classroom, or town or county library. The $9.97 total cost saves you over $36.00 off retail price!

Want your Precious Puppy to be a Calendar Star? Enter the DDB Contest for a Top Spot in our 2015 Rescue Calendar
Want your Precious Puppy to be a Calendar Star?
Enter the DDB Contest for a Top Spot
in our 2015 Rescue Calendar

Submit your Dog’s Photo Now for a Chance to Win. This year will mark the Tenth Anniversary of the Dogs Deserve Better Rescue Calendar…an all Happy-Ending calendar of dogs rescued from chains and pens which we’ve been putting together to rave reviews since 2004.

To celebrate we’re giving YOU a chance to get your dog’s photo in one of the 14 top slots! Yippee!