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In The News   ...  In The News  ...  In The News
Guardian of the Month
August 2005

Toni began rescuing dogs in 1990, after moving to the rural D/FW area from San Francisco. Originally from Seattle, Toni had never been exposed to that dark side of humans who could just 'dump' a dog or puppy to survive on it's own ... Soon her husband Mike joined her in helping dogs abandoned in the country. Mike figured Toni would never pass up a dog on the highway or byway, so if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. They moved in late 1992 to the Branson, MO area where they continued their rescue efforts, due to the need of the stray or abandoned animals that found their way to their hearts and home. In late 1998, they moved to Colorado, where once again Toni became involved in animal rescue in Teller County. In 2003, they purchased the land that now holds Rescue Animal Fund's Sanctuary, Mariah's Promise, in Divide, CO. In April 2005, they heard the ban would be reinstated in Denver on May 9th.
~Read More~  (Scroll down to August)
Pit Bull Heros
Dedicated to those people who take action and speak for dogs that can't speak for themselves

"Without People Like Toni and Mike, We Would Be Fighting a Losing Battle"

~Read the Story~
Pit bull sanctuary saved scores of pets
September 15, 2007
Rocky Mountain News
By: Bill Johnson

There is not a hint of anger or bitterness in Toni Phillip's voice when she explains what has happened to her and the dogs. Exhaustion and resignation long ago supplanted both.

Oh, she will spit out the occasional "knuckleheads" when speaking of her neighbors, but she says she has too much to do over the next month and a half to waste time hating them.

~Read Full Story~

Ban Has Denver Pit Bulls Marked for Death
Owners Say Only Choice Is Leave Town or Become a Criminal

July 26, 2005

For Sonya Dias, when the choice came down to leaving the city she loved and the Victorian home she had painstakingly restored or giving up her dog, there was no contest.

Her house is on the market and her bags are packed, because Denver says she cannot keep her beloved pet, a pit bull named Gryffindor. After several high-profile pit bull attacks, the city enacted a law banning the breed, but Dias insists concern about her pet is unwarranted.

"He's just a big old dork, a slobbering lummox of a dog," Dias said. "I don't see how he's a danger to anybody."

~Read More~
Pit Bulls are Innocent
By Ken Foster
August 20, 2007

State proposals to ban pit bulls reflect society's worst fears and prejudices. As the Michael Vick scandal has made clear, it is humans and not the dogs who are the criminals.

When you fall in love with a pit bull, you need to be prepared for a lot of abuse from strangers -- a lot of accusations, a lot of glares. Walking down the street with my dog, Sula, cars slow down as they pass. People cross to the other side of the street, as if my canine is a convicted killer or I am an associate of Michael Vick. In a vet's office on the other side of town, people talk trash about Sula while she waits motionless on the waiting room floor, her legs splayed out behind her like a roast. "I guess you like those dangerous dogs," a woman offers as a conversation starter.

~Read More~

To learn more about
Denver's Breed Ban, visit
Some owners, like Steffan, have won a reprieve for their pets with help from a rescue group. The group got Xena released by signing an affidavit stating that the animal would never return to Denver. The group took the dog to Mariah's Promise in Divide, an animal sanctuary that has accepted more than three dozen pit bulls from Denver. For Steffan and her partner, Gina Black, leaving Xena 60 miles from home was a lousy option but the only one they had. "It's safer than animal control. Safer than keeping her underground, at least she'll be able to play now," Steffan said. "But she'll miss us. We're her pack."

Denver is one of three major metropolitan areas, along with Miami and Cincinnati, to ban pit bulls, according to Glen Bui, vice president of the American Canine Foundation. Pit bull typically describes three kinds of dogs: the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. But Denver's ban applies to any dog that looks like a pit bull. The animal's actual behavior does not matter. City Councilman Charlie Brown said that in his judgment, "pit bulls are trained to attack. They're bred to do that." Critics of the ban use words like "annihilation" and "genocide," and the city shelter has received e-mails likening animal control officers to Nazis. "Breed bans are just a knee-jerk reaction to something that happened in the community," Bui said.

Denver banned pit bulls in 1989 after dogs mauled a minister and killed a boy in separate attacks. The Legislature passed a law in 2004 that prohibited breed-specific bans, but the city sued and a judge ruled in April the law was an unconstitutional violation of local control. Critics of the ordinance say that a blanket ban on an entire breed is misguided that the law should instead target irresponsible owners and all dangerous dogs. "If anyone says one dog is more likely to kill, unless there's a study out there that I haven't seen, that's not based on scientific data," said Julie Gilchrist, a doctor at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who researches dog bites. The CDC, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Humane Society of the United States examined 20 years of dog-bite data and concluded that pit bulls and Rottweilers caused the most deaths. But the researchers also noted that fatal attacks represent a small proportion of dog-bite injuries and that the number of bites per breed simply seems to rise with their popularity.

At the city shelter, pit bulls are cordoned off from other dogs in what has become death row. Nearly 100 pit bulls have been released to live outside the county. A nonresident must guarantee the dog will never return to Denver. Sonya Dias, who is moving out of Denver because of the ban, said she was a little intimidated by her pit bull when she first saw him. But "when I said, `Hey little doggie,' his whole body just started wagging." Gryffindor is staying at Mariah's Promise until Dias sells her home. "He's been dangerous to a couple of pairs of shoes and some mini-blinds," Dias said. "But otherwise he's a jewel."

American Canine Foundation:
Denver Pit Bull Owners in a Panic Over Ban
July 20, 2005
American Canine Foundation

DENVER (AP) - A few weeks ago, two police cars and two animal control vehicles pulled up at the home of Stef'ny Steffan looking for her beloved 4-year-old pit bull, Xena. Seven officers hauled the animal off to the city shelter, putting her on death row. Xena became an outlaw after Denver won a court fight and reinstated one of the toughest pit-bull bans in the nation.

Since May, more than 380 dogs have been impounded and at least 260 destroyed _ an average of more than three a day. Dog owners are in a panic. Some are using an underground railroad of sorts, sending their pets to live elsewhere or hiding them from authorities. City officials would not estimate how many people might be violating the ordinance.
Critics assail Denver's pit bull ban
July 20, 2005
USA Today

DENVER (AP) - A few weeks ago, two police cars and two animal control vehicles pulled up at the home of Stef'ny Steffan looking for her beloved 4-year-old pit bull, Xena. Seven officers hauled the animal off to the city shelter, putting her on death row.

~Read Full Story~
Mariah's Promise In The Spotlight
We are featured on American Dog Magazine !!!
Check out our article on Page 52.