by Autumn Brennan

“I raise my voice not so that I can shout,
but so that those without a voice can be heard”

― Malala Yousafzai

In 1993, I rescued my first pitbull in Milwaukee, WI. Maude was a bait dog I scooped up from a crack house. She was covered in deep puncture wounds from bite marks; she more bloody scabs than silky brindle fur.

I fell in love.

I knew that protecting this beautiful breed from violence was important work. Even with my meager retail wages, I needed to provide impeccable care for Maude, not only for the short term surface comforts – but for her long term health. I worked with a local vet to ensure my girl would not contribute to overpopulation or feed into the bad reputation associated with the breed. Maude was spayed, rehabilitated, and her spirit planted the seed of unconditional love in my heart for this painfully misinterpreted breed.

Fast forward 25 years, dozens of fosters and adoptions later, I can honestly say that my children were raised by pitbulls. Standing by my side during home births, fetching diapers and toys for my toddlers, and being the best nanny any Mama could ever wish for – these dogs were made for loving service.

My home became a well-known drop off place for wayward pups in need of love.

In 2017, I made a promise to my children that we would be done with fostering due to my demanding corporate job and travel schedule. I shared my intention with the organizations and kind people that knew my soft heart.

I remember commanding a close friend “If I say YES, to a rescue pup, please remind me of this promise!”

And then my close friend told me about a house of hoarding horrors and a pile of puppies that were struggling to survive. There was one left that no one wanted – a runt approximately 1/3 the size of her siblings. I immediately said “NO”, until she was brought to me, covered in scabs, burn marks, and bloated with the worst case of worms I have ever seen.

I thought I could just rock a quick rehab while my kids were camping with friends. Instead I received the following message: “OMG MOM!, We have only been gone for 2 hours and you rescued another dog!!! Please send pics ☺”

When you are on the edge of your possibility, you are oftentimes granted another opportunity that may feel like a burden at first. When I held this swollen, stinky, starving mess of a pup I sensed her beautiful spirit and desire to be a part of a greater love.

“FINE!”

Our pack of rescue pups adored this new wiggle butt and she eventually blossomed into a graceful and sassy velvet hippo.

I named her Malala Grace, after Malala Yousafzai – the youngest Nobel Prize winner who stood up for the rights of girls to receive education in Pakistan. She held her ground in the face of violence and oppression, turning tragedy into triumph.

Malala inspired me because her comeback game was strong as hell. She moved my family and softened the hearts of even the crabbiest of crabby teenagers. She stood for something much greater than a worm infested hoarding house reject. She held her ground, created harmony, and found joy in every moment. She demanded respect and constant snuggling.

And then it happened, in March of 2018 I was without a fancy schmancy corporate job, and still had an intact female to contend with. We needed to move out of our home and relocate. Resources were beyond tight and I did everything in my power to manifest the basics. During our move, Malala went into heat. I felt like the worst dog Mom because Malala had not yet been spayed. When I had the money, I didn’t have the time. Now I had the time, but no money!

I researched rescue organizations within the greater Minneapolis area and “friended” them all on Facebook – just to build a sense of community in the area. I soon learned that Save-a-Bull had a program called “Fix Your Pit” which offered free spay and neutering for bully breed dogs. I met the passionate Save-a-Bull team at a “Pints for Pitbulls” Brewery Tour event and brought Malala’s rescue brother Nandi – a sweet English Bully/Pitbull mix who is hearing impaired.  I was encouraged by the engaging staff and was reminded of their amazing resources! Soon thereafter, rescue director Lori reached out and we scheduled Malala’s spay.

I was a Nervous Nelly taking my furbaby into the procedure. All of the dogs I had previously adopted/fostered were either already snipped or too young for the procedure. The staff was in love with her sweet quiet nature, patience and yummy smelling ears! When we came to pick her up, all she wanted to do was snuggle. And snuggle we did!

It’s been 2 weeks since the spaying and Malala has recovered beautifully. We romped at the dog park yesterday and she didn’t hold back on her enthusiasm! To see her in her element, jumping over her slow moving brother and grinning ear to perky ear, filled me with the deepest gratitude knowing that she was safe from unwanted pregnancies, rabies, and had a microchip just in case she ever wanted to take herself for a walk!

The gift of the spay procedure at a time when my family was at our lowest means the world to me. As a parent you want to ensure your children are cared for body, mind, and spirit. Even though Malala is much furrier than the rest of my brood, her heart is still woven with mine. From the bottom of my heart and all of the pitbulls I have been blessed to know and love – thank you!

Giving a voice to the voiceless is why we do this work. It’s why we buy way too many paper towels and store leashes, collars and poop bags in the glove compartments of our cars. We are here to assist the helpless, voiceless and misunderstood. The mission, vision, and function of Save-a-Bull Rescue has served my family with the comfort of knowing that Malala’s health and wellness is in good hands and we are a part of a beautiful community.

Your donations on Give to the Max Day help us fund the Fix Your Pit program and allow us to be there for those who need help. Healthy dogs create healthy, happy communities where responsible owners have the chance to change the stigma that surrounds pit bulls and ultimately improve their future as a breed. Thank you for your support!