September Meeting Notes

Happy September to all! Where did our summer go!? It ran away from us far too quickly. Now that the evenings are coming sooner and the air is getting crisp, we are planning for the fall and even into next year.

 

September meeting was kind of a long one, we had so much to talk about!

Last pack walk of the year and Pit Bull Awareness Month kick off
October 1, 2016
Elks Riverside Park
2PM
Wear your ECPC gear if you have it, and join us for a great afternoon of socialization!
*Pack walks are not just for pibbles and their people- we welcome all dogs. And most people. If you want to join us but don’t have a dog to walk, touch base with us, maybe someone needs a hand walking one of their dogs, we can connect you! You don’t even have to have a dog to join us!*

National Pit Bull Awareness Month

 

National Pit Bull Awareness Month Movie
This year we are opting to show “The Champions” Documentary again.
Champions Poster- Web
For those of you who came to the theater in March to see it when we were able to be a part of the select screenings on the Big Screen, you know what a wonderful, positive, uplifting story this is. We want to share this movie with the community again. It is definitely worth a second watch! If you’ve seen it before, round up some friends and join us again!
Location: We are hoping to be back at the Paris Gibson Square Museum for movie night. We will keep you updated as we lock in our location!
Friday, October 21, 2016 7pm
Empty movie theatre

 

 

 

We have been brainstorming some ideas to help you all see our posts on social media better, we will keep working on this. Facebook tends to limit what we all see based on how we use our facebook “Likes”, comments and followings. We want to make sure we can get information to you all appropriately and not have to rely just on Facebook to get it out there. If you are reading our blog, please subscribe so that we can notify you of our updates via email!

 

Our 501(c)3 application process is well underway. And our goal is to be completely filed and registered by the end of 2016. We are very close and this is a very exciting step for us!

deadline

 

Volunteering- We need YOU!
Volunteers needed

As active as we are, we have realized that the ECPC needs to be a better volunteer resource for our community. Are you interested in Volunteering? We want to put together an ECPC volunteer group who would be willing to do things like volunteer at local spay/neuter clinics, help out at the shelter, work with local and state organizations who might need some help effecting positive change in legislation, just to name a few that came to us right away. We are asking to put together a roster of folks that are interested. If that’s you… please let us know!

Our current need is a few volunteers from the Pittie Committee folks to help out on Thursday, October 6 with the Humane Society’s Cat and Kitten spay and neuter clinic. Please contact us!

 

 

 

Do you have a Gentleman in your life? Need a birthday gift or a Christmas Gift? Click above to get yours  here! We can ship if you’re not local, we don’t mind.

Show your love for your pittie with our limited edition tanks. These are so cute and are great for every day. The gym, the office and the grocery store all seem a little more fun with this simple printed tank. Click the pictures to get yours here. Again, we can ship if you’re not local.

 

Put this on your calendar

Don’t forget, each month, we have a monthly meeting to plan and discuss upcoming events and the direction of the Electric City Pittie Committee. We want to hear from you, work with you and get to know you. So mark your calendars and watch our Facebook page for any changes to our meeting times. Unless otherwise specified, currently our meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm in the coffee shop at Barnes and Noble.

 

It is almost time to start thinking about the Art Auction again! (How is that even possible?!) Do you know anyone who is looking for a way to expose their artwork and would be interested in participating? Send them our direction!

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We appreciate your feedback and your ideas. Please feel free to comment, email or come to meetings with ideas. We want to hear from you!

 

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The ECPC marches onward!

Over the last several months the ECPC has been toiling over our 501 (c) 3 application and the processes involved in getting a tax-exempt status that will open doors to us for so many additional opportunities. I’m not even going to pretend that this is a fun process.

501

Jeremy finally took over the application process because my eyes start crossing after staring at the documents for hours. “Have you ever, will you ever or do you ever plan to: _____?” heck! I don’t know!  We haven’t purchased any property for the ECPC yet, one day we might like to, but currently we don’t have any solid plans to (yet). How does one answer all of these “have you ever, will you ever, have you considered, do you think one day you might want to leave this door open for your organization?” questions and keep our options open for growth in a way we hope we haven’t begun to realize yet? Well, you over-analyze and drive yourself crazy, that’s what you do. You beg help of any of your family or friends who have gone through the process before and you become more grateful for someone who has done 7 of these than you ever thought was possible. At first glance the application and required documentation is overwhelming, but bite by bite, document by document, signature line by signature line, things start to come together. Our biggest goal this year was to file our 501 (c)3 application and “legitimize” the ECPC. We are well on track to meet that goal this year with the dedication of our board. I am not even going to pretend that 4 years ago when I first put a logo on a banner and showed up at the Animal Foundation’s Strut Your Mutt in 2012 that the ECPC would ever be here. I was one person on a mission to give others like me information to help them stand up to prejudice. Little did I know that there were others out there ready to join the crusade and help move my vision forward. I am not going to say that I don’t have big dreams for the ECPC, I have HUGE dreams for the ECPC and I feel like we are moving along slowly, growing with each other and learning how to operate as best we can within the confines of our small budget, our large dreams, and our time limitations.

I feel like 2016 just started! Harriet showed up in January and has been a big part of our year. The Champions Movie in cooperation with Best Friends Animal Society and The Humane Society of Cascade County began its march in February and hit the screen in March. The Art Auction was a huge success this year and we were so humbled by the donations, the time and effort everyone put in to helping us pull that off again this year.  The Legislative discussion regarding 2017 session Anti-dog fighting language was in June, although we didn’t have a packed house, we had a really insightful evening and we are so grateful to the Humane Society of Western Montana for coming to Great Falls to give us the opportunity to effect change. Pack Walks have been great this year! We are really enjoying seeing new faces at each and every walk this year! We still have a few months left in 2016 and we have some things coming up that we really hope you’ll share in with us! October is Pit Bull Awareness month, and we intend to start the Month off on October 1 with a pack walk. Please mark your calendars and watch for specifics!

National Pit Bull Awareness Month

Don’t forget this week is meeting week as well. For those that want to join the Board for our monthly meeting, we will meet on Thursday, September 1 at Barnes and Noble in the coffee shop at 6:30. Come meet the board, come have some input in where we go next and what is on the agenda for this fall, winter and even into next year.

 

meeting day

 

Don’t forget to order your tees and tanks!

 

 

August meeting notes

Hey all! Sorry I am a week behind!

Monthly meeting August 4 6:30 pm at Barnes and Noble

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We revealed our new Men’s t-shirts and women’s tank tops. Keep watching the site for your option to buy! They are must-haves! We are in love!

 

National Pit Bull Awareness Month.jpg

Did you know that October is national Pit Bull Awareness Month? We intend to be doing a little something throughout the month.
Mark your calendars for Saturday October First. We will be having a big pack walk that day. Stay tuned for more details!

We are looking into some “must have” ECPC gear and we will let you know when we find the best possible ECPC stuff!

August 20

It is August, and school is almost back in session… That doesn’t mean we can’t get in an August Pack walk! Mark your calendars for Saturday the 20th at 7pm. We will meet down at Elks Riverside Park again near the parking lot by the skate park and the girl scout house. 🙂 We will do the Gibson Park Trail Loop again. We can’t wait to see everyone there!

Gibson Park

 

 

Myths, friends and feelings

While meandering through Facebook recently, a post to a friend’s page came up. It was a simple meme with a picture of an adorable boxer puppy and it said something along the lines of “If you think I’m dangerous, have you seen who is running for president?” In watching the comments, my friend did the best she knew how to counter the ignorance that soon followed. A comment like, “I know you love pit bulls, but I have never seen a news story about small dogs mauling and killing children”; “I was bitten out of nowhere as a child, all I did was sit on the couch and the dog came out of nowhere and bit my leg!” Her picture perfect response, “I am sorry you had a bad experience as a child.” Bam. Done. Leave it there. Was my friend defensive? Absolutely! Did she turn it into a confrontation? Nope. Perfect.

Compassion

Why do I say perfect? Isn’t this the best time to educate? Shouldn’t we be correcting her? Nope. Not in this instance, I truly don’t think so. Let me explain… Dog bites are traumatic. No matter at what age they happen. There is probably some of what we now understand to be PTSD associated with that memory. And let’s face it, its Facebook. Having a truly civil and logical discussion on social media is next to impossible most days. Friendships suffer, family members get blocked and we find ourselves backed into the proverbial cyber corner. In this particular instance, this woman likely had created a version of the memory that wasn’t quite complete, she was likely too young to identify the mistakes that could have led to the event while they happened around her, and all she remembers is: dog, bite, ouch, fear.

Dog bite person on jeans

As hard as it was for my friend to say less than she wanted, it was just as hard for me to keep my mouth shut as well. This woman doesn’t care that our experiences are different from hers. If we tell her that what she experienced isn’t “normal”, it isn’t “right” and she is letting fear control her, all we do is negate the feelings that are just as legitimate to her as ours are to us. We KNOW, with all of our hearts, that our dogs are not monsters. She KNOWS, with all of her heart, that every dog that looks like the dog that hurt her is capable of being a monster. (And the media proves it to her every time they run a story of a “vicious pit bull” who came “out of nowhere” and “mauled” someone.) By negating her experiences we tell her that she can’t possibly have felt what she felt and that her fears aren’t valid. She may know in her brain that there is some validity to “the deed not the breed”, but her adrenaline, her fear mediated responses, and her constant media-reinforced thought processes are going to override logic most times.

When fear comes in to play, rational thought often goes out the window. She stated, as though it were fact, “Physiologically, those dogs have locking jaws.” sigh. This is the statement that turns the temperature of my blood up a few notches. It makes my eyes roll like I am 13 years old again, and it makes me want to shut down mentally until I can scream, “No. They. Don’t. They are not mutant dogs with robo jaws! They have no little switch behind their ears that locks their bottom jaw into place and won’t let it open!” When I studied anatomy, I don’t recall a different anatomical structure for Pit Bulls and … every other canine.  As a Veterinary Technician, when I treat dogs, I have never treated a Pit Bull as a different species than any other dog. They are physiologically and anatomically built like every other dog at a skeletal level.

 

skull comparison of breeds

cranial dimensions of domestic dog

Cranial Dimensions and forces of biting in the domestic dog

As you can see above, this picture comes from a scientific text, the Journal of Anatomy to be exact. Animal Farm Foundation and Canine Research Council provide some really fantastic, factual, scientific research regarding dogs in general. You can find this diagram as well as some really great information on their pages. Also, you will notice in the picture above, that there is no little hook, lever, button or other locking type mechanism involved in a dog’s jaw. (any dog’s jaw.)

I can be incredibly empathetic when a person’s dog hang-ups have to do with negative personal experiences. When their hesitation hinges more on myths, untruths and dogsbite.org fueled misinformation, I tend to lose some empathy. I was like totally buggin

 

When we are talking “research” (not just about Pit Bulls, but about anything) it is important to take into consideration where the information comes from. Especially in our age of technology and information at the click of a button. There is a link here to a wonderful Huff Post article about why statistics show that Pit Bulls are so aggressive. (I mean, we all know that we can skew numbers to say about anything we want them to. But this is why less than reputable folks like dogsbite.org can push their agenda without any sort of critical thinking or examination of the sources of the statistics.) The reason I mention this article is that it points out where a lot of folks are getting their facts. Often, this is much less a study of actual information, and more a study of media reporting. The measurement of a lot of these studies is actually a study of “what is the media reporting?”. The numbers are often compiled by noting what was reported on the evening news and what was reported in the news paper. We know that the media likes stories that get ratings. Fear often drives ratings. The old journalism adage “If it bleeds, it leads”drives what the media even considers worthy of spending the time reporting. There is also a trend in media coverage of events that involve pit bulls to lean toward biased wording. For example, when a dog bite story is covered by the media (if its covered) and it involves, say, a Black Lab, the wording is often something along the lines of, “Family dog involved horrible dog-bite tragedy.” When a bite involves a dog with any resemblance to a Pit Bull it usually sounds a little something like, “Pit Bull mauls child in vicious, unprovoked attack. – City in crisis-What can be done about vicious dog maulings?”

 

The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has done several studies regarding the link between breed and aggression. Each time, the answer is very similar… Breed cannot be a predictor of aggression. This study is a little different, it includes a survey of dog owners who advise of their dog’s personality. (In fact, I am fairly positive I participated in this study several years ago.) An excerpt from the study regarding Pit-Bulls specifically reads:

“Pit Bull Types

Owners of pit bull-type dogs deal with a strong breed stigma,44 however controlled studies have not identified this breed group as disproportionately dangerous. The pit bull type is particularly ambiguous as a “breed” encompassing a range of pedigree breeds, informal types and appearances that cannot be reliably identified. Visual determination of dog breed is known to not always be reliable.45 And witnesses may be predisposed to assume that a vicious dog is of this type.

It should also be considered that the incidence of pit bull-type dogs’ involvement in severe and fatal attacks may represent high prevalence in neighborhoods that present high risk to the young children who are the most common victim of severe or fatal attacks” – Dog Bite Risk and Prevention: The Role of Breed”

   beware of dog

(I’m just gonna put this up and leave this right here.)

In running through some research while writing this blog, I ran across a piece in Psychology Today that I thought was interesting. I think this man has some valid points, but I truly think he is missing the key about finding the source of his statistics. Read a little below:

Psychology Today Canine Corner Article

“On the second day of the event, a woman accosted me and began to harangue me about statements that I had published about pitbull terriers. The statements which so offended her were reports of research published in respected scientific journals that found that pitbulls, and pitbull crosses accounted for a disproportionate number of dog bite related injuries and deaths. I tried to tell her that I was reporting credible research findings, and tried to summarize some of the newer data that had recently appeared in behavioral and medical journals about the dog breeds that bite. In most instances she did not even let me complete my description of the research before she rejected the findings claiming that the breeds were being misidentified, that data surveys based upon press reports were inaccurate or biased, that statistics underestimated the real number of pitbulls in the population, that other breeds like Labrador retrievers and Golden retrievers had a higher bite incident rates but these simply weren’t being reported because of bias. She also said that researchers ignore the fact that pitbulls are the dogs that are most likely to be abused and provoked by people, and she implied that that meant that many of their bites are justified. I tried to give her some specific research findings to ask her if she could explain them using her own rationale, however she ignored my requests and eventually resorted to the ad hominem argument that I simply didn’t know what I was talking about and I must have an irrational dislike of the breeds involved. I must admit that I got frustrated by this, and rather than losing my temper I simply walked away to end the encounter.

 As a psychologist I suspect that I know what is going on in her mind. For many people dogs fit into their family structure in the same way that children do. There is a real bond here, and lots of love and affection for dogs in general and of course especially for the family’s favorite breed of dogs. If a human child does something wrong it is natural for a parent spring to his or her defense. I once watched the interview of a mother whose son had been arrested for shooting a shopkeeper during a holdup. Unfortunately for the shooter, there were security cameras in the store and near the entrance. When shown the video of the boy and his companion entering the store, the mother claimed that her boy was being misidentified, despite the fact that he was wearing his high school jacket with both his name and team number on it. When asked about that she claimed that the jacket must’ve been stolen. When another camera clearly showed the boy’s face, she still claimed that it was not him, and the police had singled her son out for arrest based on racial profiling. When the boys companion actually spoke his name during the robbery she was ultimately forced to admit to his identity, however she then went on to claim that her son was provoked into shooting the clerk because the clerk was threatening him. However the video clearly showed that the clerk had his hands out to the sides and had stepped back from the counter defensively. This mother was clearly offering the human equivalent of the defenses that the woman in Toronto was giving as explanations and denials of reports of aggressive misbehavior by pitbulls.” – Dogs That Bite and the People that Don’t Listen, Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C.

In the above  excerpt he points out, in his professional opinion that we (I am taking a lot of liberty with his conclusion here) , as pit bull owners, are nothing more than mere enablers to our own criminal dogs, and we enable because we treat them like our children. We are incapable of “seeing them for what they are” and accepting that they are vicious, ill-behaved, aggressive animals. We will continue to deny the truth that is placed in front of us with scientific data, by touting lots of our own “research” but never being willing to back it up. We will offer nothing but denial and watered down defenses for our carelessness in owning such horrible vicious animals. (Paraphrasing complete) I will tell you this… I love my animals as if they were my children. I don’t have human children, I have 4 legged children. BUT, if my “kids” were to cause significant harm to another animal or human, and if they were showing signs of true aggression and misbehavior, I would be the first to tell you. And I would be the first to A) look for a root cause like chronic pain, disease, dementia, etc. and B) put my dog down if he/she can’t be properly managed. (I say that having never had to do that, but it is something I feel very strongly about.) Now, having said that, I have a little more insight than the average pet owner having worked with animals for the better part of 20 years. Not everyone has that kind of experience. I, also, expect a certain level of behavior and response out of my dogs, which means that I have enlisted the help of trainers, taken their advice and worked with my dogs. More than the average dog owner. I am capable of identifying with a certain degree of assurance, aggression, fear, submission, stimulus reactivity, etc.

Why do I bring this particular article up at this particular time? Because we, as pit bull people, have a reputation as tenacious as the ones our dogs have. Watch this video. (seriously, its hilarious… but mostly true)

 

Now that you have had a good laugh… how many of us recognized a little something about ourselves in there? *I am raising my hand high and jumping up and down over here* I have seen the shut up and nod! I have seen the curl up and play dead (metaphorically). We don’t want to be THOSE pit bull people! We want people to love our dogs and enjoy our company. So, to save face, save relationships, and save feelings, sometimes the best course of action for us is to respectfully disagree. Appreciate a frightened person’s fear. It came from somewhere. Thank them for being willing to share with you, and if you have your dog with you, (and your dog doesn’t think the person is nuts and the energy isn’t horrible) offer to let your dog change their mind. Otherwise, be on your way. Whether it is online or in person. Always end the conversation with a positive. “I am so sorry you had that experience as a child.” “Thank you for being willing to share with me.” “Your YorkiPooSchnoodlePom is adorable!” “I respect your opinion, I can agree to disagree.” be the calm of this storm. Smile and nod. Sometimes letting our dogs never eat us in our sleep, or break through plate-glass windows to eat neighborhood children, or tear the fence down board by board to get to the neighbor dogs is all of the proof we need to show these folks that they don’t “snap”. They don’t “turn on you” at some point, and they weren’t “born to kill”. So, no matter what someone says to you about your dog, your choice to love a square head and a bully smile, just know, you totally got the better deal.

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~Erin

July ECPC meeting- Productivity

ECPC FB pic

Tonight’s monthly meeting was productive to say the least. We have some great things coming up! We are looking in to some new t shirt ideas and should have things ready to go before the next meeting. We are starting to plan for 2017- Wait… how is that possible? October is just around the corner, which means Pit Bull Awareness Month. Plans are in the works! July Pack Walk is scheduled for Thursday the 28th at 7:30pm and finances were reviewed.

Join us for our next pack walk-

Thursday, July 28th 7:30 pm
meet at Riverside Park, parking lot by the skate park
bring:
bug spray
Water for you and your dog

Watch the site and our facebook page for our new T-shirt designs in the coming weeks.

Thanks so much to all of you for all of the support!

The Dog Days of Summer are Approaching-Cool off with the ECPC

ECPC pack walks 3

The time has come to gather your sunglasses, sunscreen, walking shoes and your dogs! Join us for Summer pack walks and events.

This year, we will be back at Pet-A-Palooza (Tomorrow, June 11, 2016) at Elk’s Riverside park. There is a fun run 5K starting at 8:30 am and other great events throughout the day starting at 10am and going until around 5pm.

Big thanks to the City Of Great Falls Animal Shelter for putting on this event. it is always a ton of fun (even if it rains).
The Electric City Pittie Committee will be doing a teaching session regarding “Dog Bite Prevention”.

Please stop at our booth and come see us!

cropped-ecpc-booth-fb-picture.jpg

 

This season’s first pack walk is Saturday, June 25th at 9am at the Black Eagle Dam trail.

 

dam map pack walk

 

All Dogs must be current on vaccinations, interact with other animals appropriately, leashed at all times, and always within control of the owner.

The Electric City Pittie Committee is not responsible for any altercations between animals, injury to self or animal that happens at a pack walk.

Please come with well-behaved dog(s) and join us for some people and pooch socialization!

 

 

Also, don’t forget to mark your Calendars for our July meeting, Thursday July 7th at 6:30 pm. Location TBA.

Want to make a difference? Let’s start here!

Did you know that Montana is on the VERY short list of States in the country where it is NOT illegal to attend a dog fight? Surely this is both shocking and a little more than a little concerning.

In the 2013 legislative session a bill was proposed that would make attending a dog fight illegal as well as actively participating in a dog fight. The Legislature in the state of Montana tabled this bill in 2013. Again in the 2015 Legislative session, a revised version of the bill was presented to our legislature. Again, the bill was tabled.

This upcoming legislative session, the State of Montana will once again be hearing possible legislation to hold those who engage in, attend and support dog fighting accountable. Truly, in my mind, this is a proposal that needs very little consideration. However, our legislators need to know that we want to see harsher penalties for those who encourage, engage in and support dog fighting.

It is now time to start learning more about the upcoming legislation and insist that those who represent us in office are voting the voice of those who elected them to speak on our behalf.

freeing a dog fighting dog

Historically speaking, in our agriculturally based communities, getting animal welfare laws and laws that create harsher punishments for abusers are met with hesitation. “Why on earth would anyone hesitate?” you might ask. The answer is simple, really. Agriculture practices are not the same as practices with companion animals. Those animals are treated differently, and should be to a certain degree. There are many that are afraid that increasing the reach of the law into animal rights would create a change in laws that would require farmers, ranchers, production livestock operations, etc to treat those animals like we would a pet. This is simply not the case, but nonetheless, it leads to a considerable amount of push-back on bills like this from our neighbors. Its not that they don’t want to see these types of animal abusers held accountable, but because they are concerned that someone will read between the lines on a law that creates stiffer punishments for these types of activities and somehow someone will jump from “attending a dog fight” to “attending a rodeo” and soon those who participate in, attend or support rodeo will be lumped into the same category. (Seriously, this is why the bill was tabled in 2013. This very situation.)

We need our friends and neighbors who work hard every day, raising our beef cattle, our dairy cattle, our production swine, our free range chickens and other production animals who give us nourishment every day and feed countless people, that we are not looking to endanger their way of life. We are not attempting to reach across the companion animal/livestock production animal line.

We need our elected officials to know that this is something we take seriously. Something that we want to be pro-active about as a community in our state. We need to make educated decisions on why we would ask those elected members of our legislature to vote a particular way.

I urge you, no matter which side of this proposed legislation you stand on, to join us on Thursday, June 16th at 7pm. Great Falls College MSU, room B101.

get the facts

Legislative Poster take 2 grey bold date

 

2016 Art Auction success!

This year’s art auction was a huge success and we can’t thank all of you enough. We were surprised to see some of the pieces sell so low, but excited to see the things you guys got really competitive about. There was some super “engaged” bidding going on in those last 10 minutes! We are so grateful to have had each and every person who contributed in some way with this endeavor. From the artists, to the volunteers, those who donated, those who moved tables and chairs, those that helped us spread the word through social media, the local newspaper, the local news channels, those who came and bid, those who came and donated, those who came and colored, those who ate and shared time with us; we appreciate all of you!

Last year, we were so blessed to have some corporate support to help us get this “art auction thing” off the ground. Best Friends Animal Hospital, F&L Pet Resort, Jackson Utilities and the Humane Society of Cascade County all contributed to help propell the Pittie Committee into our unchartered waters to help us make our way into the future. We are forever grateful for all of their support! This year, however, we didn’t reach out for corporate support, we wanted to do this “on our own” (fiscally, anyway). Last year the art auction itself netted around $1800. That amount is what we have been working with for printed materials, community support, etc. This year (drum roll please), the art auction brought in $3705! (Wait… what?!) You more than DOUBLED what we brought in last year! We are a little shocked, to be very honest with you. We knew we had some fantastic art and some amazing supporters, but Lordy, Lordy! You guys know how to make this little group feel supported!

 

Art and Gratitude

As the 2nd Annual Art Auction draws closer and the clock ticks down to auction time, we are struck with a significant amount of gratitude toward our community. Our local artists and artists in our general area of the state have been so incredibly generous that there are days we step back and look at the pieces we get to offer to the public this year and we are so humbled there are no words.

There are pieces that were donated this year that have tugged at our heartstrings, brought tears and, honestly, a little anxiety that our humble little fundraiser won’t be able to do the pieces justice. We have seen our community reach out to volunteer, to offer art pieces, to offer support, to find out more about the Electric City Pittie Committee and to become eager to join us in our mission.

For those of you who might be new to the ECPC or aren’t quite sure what our motives were for starting this little group of change makers, it all started with one dog. (as it often does)

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Photo by: Crystal Gillen

This hunk of pooch laying across my lap is Trace. He was adopted out of a shelter in Twin Falls, ID in 2009. When I adopted Trace, he was just a puppy who stole my heart. I didn’t see breed, I saw MY dog. He was born in the shelter, and we were lucky enough to know exactly what he was. His momma was American Pit Bull Terrier, and his daddy was an English Pointer. How he ended up being born in a shelter to begin with is part of our mission. When the family dog became pregnant by the expensive hunting dog, and the family didn’t want to deal with the puppies, mom went to the shelter. Thankfully he was fostered by an amazing home and was well socialized the minute I got him. I may have overdone it where his socialization was concerned, birds, rabbits, snakes, rats, hamsters, people, horses, cattle, sheep… he saw it all as a puppy since I took him everywhere while I was getting my degree in Veterinary Technology at the College of Southern Idaho. When I took a job back here in my hometown, obviously my “kids” came with me, including this little dude. I was aware of breed discrimination, but in Idaho, where I was at, he was just another dog. I didn’t feel the discrimination, I was able to stay disconnected from it. Then, I got here. Great Falls, MT. My hometown, where I was born and raised. I watched my neighbors cross the street to get away from him. I watched people scoop up their children and their dogs and scurry away from me and my little squishy pittie mix. I was called names at the dog park, and people would approach me to ask if my dog was going to “eat” their dogs if they let them off leash. I became so upset that I couldn’t take my dog anywhere that I had a “taking Trace out shirt”. It said “Yes, he’s a pit bull” on the front and “Yes, he’s friendly” on the back. I decided if I wore the shirt, maybe people wouldn’t ask questions that I thought were incredibly ignorant and ill-mannered. When I started talking to some of these people, I found that they only knew what they saw on TV about “Pit Bulls”. They had zero personal experience with anything that they could call a “pit bull” in person, because they had been so afraid to engage with a “Pit Bull”. I found myself talking to more and more people. I found myself carrying around the statistics from the American Temperament Testing Society, and studies regarding genetics and behavior, breed identification information. I thought, “I need to be less offended and start meeting these people where they are at and change some minds.” Trace and I suddenly had a mission in life. I wanted everyone to know the happy, wiggly, belly-rub-loving, funny dog that I knew. I couldn’t imagine someone thinking my dog was mean. Why? Because of how he looks, not how he acts? How is that fair?

I found in my conversations that folks were honestly surprised to hear that I was college educated, and with a degree in Veterinary Technology at that. Why would someone who has experience with all of these types of dogs choose a dog that is (*gasp*) a “Pit Bull”? I realized that not only does my dog have an unfair judgement placed upon him just because of how he looks, but suddenly, I did as well. I have tattoos, I have piercings, I have a pit bull. The Trifecta!! I must be uneducated, unemployable and a menace to society!

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Photo credit Jessica Becker

People would be beside themselves when I would tell them that Trace was AKC Canine Good Citizen Certified, was a registered therapy dog and would visit nursing homes. The fear in their eyes was both unfortunate and exactly what I started to look for. Trace can warm even the hardest heart. (As you can see above, he really hates teaching kids how to approach a dog and touch a dog safely!)

In 2012 after a few years of defending myself and my dog every time we went somewhere, I started doing it with a logo! (Big thanks to Crystal Gillen for our ECPC Logo) My first partner in crime was Paige. Sadly, she was deployed and then PCS’d to Guam after her deployment. It was sad to see her go, and I was a bit concerned that the ECPC might lose traction. Over the years, I have met so many folks with a similar story and after a year or so, I started to meet people who wanted to get involved and do what I was doing. We started meeting monthly to start planning making an impact in our community. Our meetings were myself and board member Ashley and Rikki for the better part of a year.

A year ago, we seated a board and decided it was time to make the ECPC a legitimate organization and start laying the groundwork to eventually apply for 501 (c)3 status. (that is a 2016 goal.)

From our very humble beginnings to where we are now is sometimes overwhelming to me, personally. I can’t thank our board members enough for validating this “Crazy Dog Lady” and sharing this vision and this journey. To every person who joins us at an event, buys a tshirt, sports a hoodie, supports our fellow “Pittie people” when we reach out for help for our community and those who show up to those things that we do every year we thank you!

To those of you who have donated to the Art Auction this year, we are so grateful!

We have received some of the most heartfelt, valuable items this year. We all have grand plans for the Electric City Pittie Committee, and we have only just begun, but each and every donation, each and every piece of work that was given to support our goals and help move our committee forward is so very personal to us.

Each piece that was so graciously donated to the ECPC is an opportunity for us to expand our reach within our community. Dream bigger, work harder, speak louder, walk further and impact more people.

Thank you, to every last one of you for dreaming with us, laughing with us, walking with us, teaching with us, learning with us and making a difference with us!

 

From me, to the board: Ashley, Rikki, Jessica and my husband, Jeremy; thank you to all of you! For everything!

Volunteers Wanted!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Electric City Pittie Committee’s 2nd Annual Art Auction is only a few weeks away!

We are hoping you can help us fill in some gaps.

We are looking for some catering donations (nothing big- maybe some cookies, maybe some snack sandwiches or pasta salad.) Do you know of anyone who does catering and would be interested in donating a little bit? We are happy to put out business cards and information for anyone who donates! If you (or someone you know) can’t donate, we understand but let us know what you’ve got available and the prices and we can surely work something out.

We are looking for 4-6 volunteers to help with a check-in table and final transactions at the end of the night, as well as some quick take down and clean up.

Volunteers are encouraged, no, urged to participate in the festivities! Eat, mingle, bid, be merry! We are anticipating a wonderful evening and if you are interested in helping out, please let us know!

 

You can email Erin at erinkecpc@gmail.com if you are interested in volunteering.

Volunteer times will be approximately 5:30pm-9pm. If you can only join us for part of the evening, that is just fine as well. And if you just want to come and mingle and buy some art, we can’t wait to see you there!