In loving memory of Fay.

Formerly Mutts-n-Stuff
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Our boy, The Resilient Rico.

Rico arrived in St. Louis on a very warm Friday April night. The baggage people were so nice to Rico and wanted to know his story. They were so happy to have him as a guest as he was the best dog they had flying. Rico looked out his crate at all the new people surrounding him. Dr. Marcy bent down and gave him a smile and told him you are in good hands and we love you. I stood back watching Rico take in all the information, processing, and waited for the smile that he approved of his new home. Mike and Matt carried Rico’s crate through the airport to the parking garage. We slowly opened up Rico’s crate and he took a very very long relief to his bladder. He sighed, looked around, and wanted to know where the party was at. At that moment I knew Rico was home to stay. We loaded Rico into the back of my car and we took off to his new cottage. In Rico’s world, all is good, all is right, and all is in sync. After a brief inspection of his cottage and a big kiss to his foster dad Dave, Rico settled in for a restful night sleep. Rico is the epiphany of resilient.

Rico arrives at the St. Louis airport!

Dr. Marcy Hammerle of The Pet Doctor Inc. (http://www.thepetdoctorinc.com/) meets Rico for the first time!

Rico with the Pet Doctor team!

Rico and his donated food from Animal Crackers in O’Fallon MO (http://animalcrackersofallonmo.blogspot.com/)

Rico and Dave!

Rico and Gale!

All about Rico

Phase I of Rico’s new home is complete! Brutally abused Rico, an urban San Diego dog, will be moving into his new custom-built cottage in Missouri on April 10th.  Funds are still needed to complete the next phase of the project: building Rico’s play yard.


St. Louis, Missouri—April 10, 2011—Rico Suave, a dog whose former owner cut out all of his tongue with a knife, has inspired nationwide advocates: two non-profit dog rescue groups located 2,000 miles apart have joined together to raise funds to build Rico a custom cottage and play yard.

Just over one year ago, Rico was living in Rosarito, Mexico. There, his previous owner tried training him to fight. Rico regularly ran long distances down the beach with heavy weights chained to his neck. September 12, 2009 changed Rico’s life. While running, Rico became overheated and collapsed on the shore. Beach-goers heard Rico’s owner screaming at him to get up and keep working. They witnessed the owner draw a knife and cut Rico’s tongue from his mouth, afterward throwing it into the ocean.

Even Chance, a San Diego-based rescue and advocacy group for the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), offered Rico a spot in their training-focused foster program after learning of him in July 2010. Even Chance spent the next months working with Rico on minor health issues, training, and companionship that Rico’s previous life had lacked. Due to Rico’s specific needs, finding the right type of foster home has been challenging. A typical need for terrier-type dogs is creative mental stimulation. Rico has a higher than average need for mental exercise and a greater need for ball-chasing space. These qualities make a typical urban or suburban home less than ideal for Rico.

Even Chance reached out to Phoenix Pack (formerly known as Mutts-n-Stuff) of St. Louis, a rescue group nearly 2,000 miles away. Phoenix Pack is an all-breed rescue that specializes in working with pit bulls, abused and neglected animals, and canine victims of dog-fighting. Phoenix Pack’s recent rescue efforts to help two very special dogs have been highly publicized over the past year. Fay, a victim of dog-fighting, had her lips viciously cut off with scissors and was one of the “Missouri 500” dogs that were rescued in the largest dog-fighting bust in U.S. history in July 2009. Phoenix, also a victim of dog-fighting, suffered such extreme abuse that he was permanently blinded in both eyes. Even after Phoenix became blind from their abuse, the dog-fighters continued to force Phoenix to fight until the Humane Society of Missouri stepped in and rescued Phoenix from his traumatic life. After the Humane Society of Missouri rescued him, Phoenix Pack opened their arms and brought him into their rescue program. Phoenix Pack worked with Teson Properties to fundraise and build Phoenix his own personal cottage. This cottage was created to meet the special needs of a blind pit bull and offered him a happy and comfortable place to retire. The cottage included a fenced play yard, a cozy house with a bed, eating area, room to play, air conditioning, and heat.

Despite the 2,000 mile distance between the two rescue groups, Phoenix Pack and Even Chance joined efforts and have successfully fundraised over $6,000 to build Rico a custom cottage of his own on the Phoenix Pack property in rural Missouri! Rico will now reside in a new personalized cottage next to Phoenix’s that has been designed to custom fit his special needs. With the cottage now successfully built, the two rescue groups will now focus on raising funds to complete the second phase of the project: building Rico’s much needed play yard.

Rico’s cottage is a combined rescue effort. Even Chance and Phoenix Pack (formerly known as Mutts-n-Stuff) are proud to collaborate and work together for the same goal of advocating for, educating about, and rescuing pit bulls in need. At his cottage, Rico will have plenty of safe outdoor space to chase balls—his favorite thing—and plenty of opportunities for exercise, both physical and mental. In Missouri, Rico will continue his obedience training with the Phoenix Pack crew and will receive committed individual attention until he finds his forever home. Tongueless, Rico cannot show his appreciation to the Phoenix Pack volunteers by giving them traditional kisses. Rico will extend love to his new supporters by sucking on their chins—his own personal brand of thank-you smooches.

Please Help Carina

Your donation will help us afford the cost of medical care and boarding for poor Carina, until she can move into a foster or new adoptive home. Read Carina’s full story below and CLICK HERE to go to our ChipIn page, where you can donate to Carina’s recovery. Every little bit helps us help her!

The first time I saw Carina, she was curled up in the fetal position, her eyes locked shut, and her entire little body encompassed within Gary’s arms. When Gary gently set her on the ground for me to assess her condition, I immediately felt the urge to scoop her right back up off of the ground. She could barely stand, her bony and emaciated body seeming as if it would collapse at any moment. Her head was tilted down as if the weight of her sorrows physically restrained her from looking at us. With her head still down, she would slowly peek up out of her dark soulful eyes and give a tiny tail wag. After only a second, her eyes drooped right back down as if even that was too exhausting in her weak state.

Gary, Carina’s good Samaritan, found Carina huddled and shivering on the side of a ditch on a country road in Illinois. Unsure of what to do, and knowing that he could not take another dog home to his house, he immediately got on his cell phone and began to call for help. He reached animal control and agreed to wait in his truck for them to reach the scene. The animal control officer showed up with a catchpole in hand; but as he began to approach Carina, she shook and cowered in fear. Gary was worried that she would flee and offered to attempt to coax Carina towards him with food in his hand.

As he slowly approached Carina, he sadly saw that not only was she in terrible condition, but she was also dutifully sitting next to the tiny body of her dead puppy that had become engulfed in melted snow residue that had washed into the ditch. He approached her slowly, low to the ground with food in his hand. Her eyes revealed her internal conflict; does she leave her puppy to eat the food that she needed so badly? Slowly, she crawled to Gary and quickly devoured the snack from his hand. He sat there patiently with her while she sniffed and circled to familiarize herself with the help that she was being offered. Just moment’s later Gary caught a glimpse of a tiny tail wag as Carina carefully crept up into his lap to cuddle into the warmth he had to offer. Gary scooped Carina up and carried her almost lifeless body into the back seat of his pick-up truck. He wrapped her up in old blankets and towels, and she melted from exhaustion. He thanked the animal control officer for coming out, and offered to find an alternative place for Carina to go. Gary knew that she would not stand a chance in an over-crowded shelter, and would most certainly be euthanized within days of her arrival.

Gary began his search for a safe place for Carina. He had recently fallen on hard times, and between caring for his elderly father and working numerous jobs to pay for his own survival, he knew his fixed income would not cover the costs to care for another dog. He began to call all of the rescue groups he could find in the area, each time repeating his story and plea for help. Gary stayed with Carina in his truck all day and evening hoping and praying one of the groups would call back to help. Gary’s neighbors helped place a Craigslist ad in search for a place for Carina. He received a few calls back in response to the ad, but had a bad feeling about each of them, later explaining to us that he was so worried that she would get back into the wrong hands again and be used as bait, breeding, or worse.

Gary’s call for help came into our Muttline and touched the hearts of our volunteers. While we knew that we were over-capacity and had no foster homes available, we just couldn’t let this one go. After a quick shuffle, a huge offer of help from Dr. Marcy, owner of the Pet Doctor Inc., and a lot of team work, we arranged to pick Carina up and transport her to a temporary safe house at the Pet Doctor clinic for medical care. This bought us some time so we could search for a foster or adoptive home while Carina regained her health at the clinic. I excitedly called Gary back to offer our assistance, he gratefully accepted, and an hour later I met tiny sweet Carina swaddled in Gary’s oversized hunting jacket. Carina spent her first night with me, before going to the clinic. She won the heart of each person she met that night. My husband sat on the ground in front of her inviting her over to him. Staying low to the ground, she slowly crept over. But to our amazement, when she reached him she sat and put her paw up to him to “shake.” Later, after a warm chicken and rice dinner, she met my daughter Jasmine. Carina wagged her tail for Jasmine and even picked up her head a bit, and then gently flipped over on her back to offer her tummy for a belly rub. Carina rode in the car on my lap on the way to the Pet Doctor that next morning.

Carina has captured my heart, and I trust that she will capture many more hearts in her now bright future. One look into those dark, sad, doe-like eyes, and you know that she is thanking you from the bottom of her heart. “Carina” means “dear little one” – a name perfectly suited for this sweet-natured little girl.

Tongueless Dog Needs $5,000 for Dream Cottage

SAN DIEGO, California–December 1, 2010–Rico Suave, whose former owner cut out all of his tongue with a knife, inspires nationwide advocates; two non-profit dog rescue groups 2,000 miles apart join fundraising efforts to build Rico a home for the holidays.

Rico lived in Rosarito, Mexico just over a year ago. There, his previous owner tried training him to fight. Rico regularly ran long distances down the beach with heavy weights chained to his neck.

September 12, 2009 changed Rico’s life. While running, Rico overheated and collapsed on the shore. Beach-goers heard Rico’s owner scream at him to keep working. They witnessed the owner draw a knife and cut Rico’s tongue from his mouth, afterward throwing it into the ocean.

Even Chance, a San Diego-based rescue and advocacy group for the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), offered Rico a spot in their training-focused foster program after learning of him in July 2010.

After months of physical improvement and progression in obedience with English words, Rico will soon encounter a roadblock. His uniquely qualified foster family will move away from San Diego in December.

Sadly, due to Rico’s specific needs, finding the right type of foster home is tricky. A typical need for terrier-type dogs is creative mental stimulation. Rico has a higher than average need for mental exercise and a greater need for ball-chasing space. These qualities make a typical urban or suburban home sub-ideal for Rico.

In November, Rico’s story landed in the hands of Mutts-n-Stuff (soon to be Phoenix Pack) of St. Louis, a rescue group nearly 2,000 miles away. The Missouri-based group graciously extended their help to Even Chance’s Rico. Mutts-n-Stuff is an all breed rescue that specializes in working with pit bulls, abused and neglected animals and canine victims of dog-fighting. Mutts-n-Stuff’s recent newsworthy and heart-wrenching rescue efforts to two very special dogs have been highly publicized over the past year. Fay, a victim of dog-fighting that had her lips viciously cut off with scissors, was rescued from the Missouri 500 dog-fighting bust. Phoenix, another dog-fighting victim, suffered such extreme abuse that it caused him to go blind in both eyes. The dog-fighters continued to force Phoenix to fight, even in his blindness, until Humane Society of Missouri stepped in and rescued Phoenix from his traumatic life. After Humane Society of Missouri rescued Phoenix, Mutts-n-Stuff opened their arms and brought him into their rescue program. Mutts-n-Stuff worked with Teson Properties to fundraise and build Phoenix his own personal cottage on their land. This cottage was created to meet the needs of a blind pit bull, and offer him a happy and comfortable place to retire. The cottage included a fenced in play yard, a cozy house with a bed, eating area, room to play, air conditioning, and heat.

If fundraising efforts are successful, Mutts-n-Stuff will now bring Rico into their Phoenix Pack program to spacious and rural Missouri. If all goes well, Rico will celebrate the New Year in a personalized cottage next to Phoenix’s that will be designed to custom fit his special needs.

At his cottage, Rico would have plenty of safe outdoor space to chase balls—his favorite thing—and plenty of avenues for exercise, both physical and mental. In Missouri, Rico would continue his obedience training with the Phoenix Pack crew and would receive committed individual attention until he finds his forever home.

As a gesture of appreciation from his San Diego fans, Even Chance will name the next dog to enter their program “Phoenix”, in memory of the dog who inspired the first specialized cottage.

Tongueless, Rico cannot show his appreciation to the Phoenix Pack by giving them traditional ‘kisses’. Rico will extend love to his new supporters by sucking on their chins—his own personal brand of thank-you smooches.

To work toward his happy ending, Rico’s advocates across the country will need to raise $5,000 before the end of December.

Even Chance and Phoenix Pack are currently accepting donations for construction and Rico’s airfare.

MO 500 Reunion and Memorial

On Saturday July 10, 2010, a significant event took place at the Humane Society of Missouri’s Macklind shelter: the first anniversary reunion of the largest dog fighting bust in the history of the United States.  There were over 200 people and over 50 dogs at the event.  Most of the dogs were rescues from the July 2009 bust, but there were also two dogs from the pre-cursor bust, the Stoddard County bust in October 2007.  Smiley King Elvis and Fiona were there, representing the Stoddard County survivors.

The festivities kicked off with a greeting from HSMO president Kathy Warnick, followed by a few words from VP of Operations Debbie Hill.  The final speaker was HSMO volunteer Todd Ribbick, who gave a stirring talk about the string of nearly impossible events that culminated in many of the rescued dogs finding homes and becoming beloved pets.  During his talk, many of the listeners started crying as they recalled the hard work and love that went into caring for the rescued dogs.  Also, I’m sure, many of those tears were shed for the dogs, those in loving homes and those not, who touched the workers’ hearts.  Following Todd’s speech, several people put ashes from beloved dogs who didn’t make it into a common box to be put into the Memorial Wall at Macklind’s facility.

The activities then moved over to the actual facility.  A special montage was shown, spanning the day of the rescue and the care of the dogs at the warehouse shelter, as well as thanking many of the people involved in the entire operation.  There were very few dry eyes after that!  Personally, I was doing okay until I saw the picture of Fay, Gale, and me.   Some memories take a long time to lose their sting.

Fatboy waits patiently for someone to give him a yummy doggie cookie.

After that, things got rocking!  Shelter workers and volunteers got reacquainted with some of the dogs who were brought there by their adopters.  Foster parents did the same.  There were tails wagging everywhere.  It was quite an impressive scene: all those rescued dogs, a year later, being loved on by people they seemed to remember from the shelter and from their foster homes.  The dogs even seemed to remember each other: perhaps they shared some sort of “group memory” of the hell they had survived and left behind.

In addition to the people involved with rescuing, caring for, and adopting the “Missouri 500,” newspaper and television reporters were there to cover the festivities.  Perhaps you saw some coverage on the news Saturday night.  If not, or to see more, go to http://www.fox2now.com/videobeta/a76d02f1-012b-40bb-a25c-f43c27dfd009/News/Reunion-For-Survivors-Of-Largest-Dog-Fighting-Raid-In-U-S-History.

-Dave
Co-founder, Mutts-n-Stuff

Working Together Works!

Great things happen when rescues and shelters work together for the good of the dogs! Mutts-n-Stuff is working with Oakland Animal Services and Our Pack, Inc. to bring Kemo, a blind pit bull in Northern California, here to Missouri to start his new life. Kemo has not only defied the odds of survival as a homeless pit bull, but has also managed to create a bond between a Missouri rescue group and a California animal shelter. The Contra Costa Times has written a wonderful article about Kemo, whose story illustrates how important it is for shelters and rescue groups to work together to help the dogs that need us to put them first.

Volleybull!

Join us on Saturday September 11, 2010 for Volleybull at Bar 101 Soulard from 11am to 6pm (bar open until 3am). Bar 101 Soulard has the largest patio in St. Louis and is dog friendly! Bring your well-behaved dog along for a day of beach volleyball, washers tournaments, raffle, prizes, drinks, food, and fun.

  • $5 donation or $15 for entry fee with beer.
  • Beach Volleyball: 6 person teams, recreational and double elimination – $150 per team ($25 per player) covers play, beer, and lunch. Prize for winning team.
  • Washers Tournament: Teams of 2, $10 per team.
  • Registration: Call Cindy at 314-517-1497 or email cinderellalu@hotmail.com. Deadline is 9.10.10
  • Bar 101 Soulard – 1724 South Broadway – St. Louis, MO 63104

All dogs must be on a strong lead, and be well-behaved and friendly in public. Proceeds benefit Mutts-n-Stuff (soon to be Phoenix Pack).

Orbie the Blind Pit Bull

Orbie (formerly Kemo), the blind pit bull rescued by Oakland Animal Services (OAS) in California, has been settling in to his new temporary home at Phoenix Cottage. Orbie spent six months waiting in the shelter, and Our Pack, Inc brought Mutts-n-Stuff and OAS together. Northern California rescues, including Our Pack, took over 50 dogs from last year’s Big MO Bust; this was our opportunity to repay them by helping one of their dogs with special needs. Mutts-n-Stuff has extensive experience working with disabled dogs. In fact, Phoenix Cottage was built especially for blind pit bull Phoenix. Phoenix passed on to the Rainbow Bridge earlier this year, and his family could think of nothing better than for another blind pit bull to find comfort and happiness in his special cottage.

Orbie’s favorite toy is his Cuz ball

Orbie’s foster mom and dad are discovering that he is a very social dog, and loves to play and snuggle with any human that crosses his path. Orbie loves toys; he squeaks and squeaks his Cuz endlessly. Due to his blindness, Orbie cannot read the body language of other dogs and is hesitant to interact with them. He relies on humans to be his guide and is responding exceptionally well to clicker training combined with verbal cues, which is especially helpful on walks. Two clicks = obstacle ahead, one click = let’s go, etc. Orbie also has learned sit, down, and roll over. His positive interaction with humans is helping him learn to trust and build relationships with people.

Orbie’s blindness may be due to macular degeneration, and he will very soon be visiting a specialist to determine if his eyesight can be at least partially restored. Regardless of his ability to see or not, Orbie is a sweet, loving, and patient boy who will soon be looking for his special forever home. Check back with us for updates on his progress and adoption availability.