Dogs rescued from fighting rings are often thought to be a lost cause. The same goes for dogs at shelters who are old and sick, especially those who’ve been abused. Anthony Sanchez, who goes by the name DJ Tino, made a decision one day that he wasn’t going to buy that line of reasoning anymore. Tino says for years he had wanted to do something to help Pit Bulls — dogs that are often used in fighting and often abused. He saw a video called “Just One Dog,” about a Pit Bull named Stanley, and “I thought, ‘I can do that, I can save at least one.'” (We challenge you to remain dry-eyed, too.)
In January 2010 he founded Peace, Love & Pit Bulls, believing that dogs who suffer the worst cases of abuse can be not only saved but actually flourish.
He uses as an example the dogs rescued from the fighting ring run by NFL quarterback Michael Vick. “Even after the so-called experts said the rescued dogs couldn’t be saved and should, in fact, be killed,” Tino says, “47 of the 51 dogs survived, and many of them now live with families.”
He says he uses the word “kill” rather than euphemisms such as “put down” or “euthanized.” (“Let’s call it what it is,” he says.) He adds that the owners of Vick’s rescued dogs see the animals’ scarred bodies and lovable faces, “and they marvel at their ability to put years of aggressive training and systematic torture behind them.” Tino points out that four of the dogs work in therapy roles -– including one who is so gentle, he’s used as a “listener” for self-conscious children developing their reading skills.
According to Tino’s website, “I am not certified, licensed, stamped, branded, or FDA approved, but I know this breed and I can help.” In fact, he says, “I can bring pretty much any dog into my home and they fall in line very easily.”
Tino has rescued four Pit Bulls from a kill shelter in Las Vegas. “The first one was Bailey, then came Daisy,” he says. “The third rescue was Coco, who was only with us for one day, and currently Buddy. He was a special case because he was very shy, and very timid, so I had to work a little more with him and after a year of living with him I couldn’t let him go so he’s family now.”
Tino has helped numerous dogs find “forever homes,” and he has provided training for many dogs who haven’t lived with him. “Peace, Love & Pitbulls.org is here to save one dog at a time from kill shelters,” he says. “Bring’ em home to live with me and my pack, where that dog will get some much needed home training, aka The PLP bootcamp.” He says this regimen, which takes about a month, is not classes but rather everyday living in a home, how to get along with everyone and everything.
Last year, Tino created a kissing booth at a National Pit Bull Awareness Day event in Las Vegas, setting up his pack of dogs to give smooches to anyone looking for a tongue bath. “It was an immediate hit!” he says. This summer, PLP is teaming up with Chris Hughes, founder of Thera-pits.com, who has a team of volunteers and therapy dogs (all pit bulls) in 17 schools in the Cleveland area. The plan is to replicate that model in Las Vegas and then Los Angeles.
Peace, Love & Pit Bulls also plans to team up with Heaven Can Wait Animal Society and The Animal Foundation to spay and neuter 1,000 Pit Bulls for the next national Pit Bull Awareness Day on Oct. 7.
“It’s all about training people and saving Pit Bulls,” Tino says. “PLP is here to repair the reputation of this misunderstood dog and get ’em out of the shelters.”