Part II End Dog Fighting: 13-Year Dog Fighter’s Story of Change Through Training

by Mary Haight on May 12, 2009

Pit bulls are family dogs!
Image by outlier* via Flickr

Sean Moore spent 13 years fighting dogs, and by his own admission, did everything else you’ve heard that dog fighters do, too.

As a boy, Sean was intimidated on the streets and in alleys by older kids-the bullies in the neighborhood-who used their German Shepherds to threaten, scare, and chase those without dogs that might protect them.  The choice for young teens walking in their own neighborhood can mirror the choice presented to many adults with pit bulls.  Fight or else.

Just last summer Julius Birdine had been harassed by someone trying to get him to fight his dogs.  When he wouldn’t comply, the man hit one of the dogs, Birdine stepped in and took his two dogs up the stairs of his house. That’s when he was shot in the back.  The shooter left and returned in minutes and shot him twice in the head. His 10-year-old daughter and wife were in the house.  The toll dog fighting takes on communities is immeasurable, preventing them from being safe, welcoming places to raise a family and have a good life.

There are moments in life when you can choose to lead or continue to follow.  Moore has decided to lead.  He now walks the streets to stop the kids who were like him.  He’s proud of working as a partner with his dog after graduating from the Pit Bull training program, and as part of the team (see Antidote for Dog Fighting) with the Humane Society to help end dog fighting.  Hear Moore’s story in his own words at the end of the article.

Jeff Jenkins, Lead Trainer, Pit Bull Training Team has been around before the beginning of the HSUS backed program.  He was busy with exhibitions performed with his Pit Bull, Lola, in a “circus” act, showing how smart, trainable, agile, and athletic the breed is to the youth at the St. Charles correctional facility, city schools, and park districts.

He got involved with this program when he dropped off a CD of what his training did for Pit Bulls at Anti-Cruelty. He said “I’d like to do more for these dogs” and left the CD at the desk.  Elliot in Outreach saw what he could do, called, and put him in touch with Tio Hardiman and the two of them put their heads together.  They tested their program ideas over a 10-week period at Jim Morgan’s training facility, Chicago Canine Academy.  The results were solid and Tio presented the idea to HSUS.

Jenkins has designed a physically demanding regimen of training that requires as much from people as it does from dogs.  He develops the character, strength, and physical abilities of Pit Bulls, taking them to a level of fitness, obedience, and health that owner’s finishing the course are justifiably proud of.  It is not a course for sissies!

Saturday classes at 3334 W. Carroll are divided into pre-class worthy dogs not ready for a class full of other dogs, followed by a beginner’s course, then the advanced, and followed by individual work with troubled dogs, and particular situational issues that need to be corrected.

Right now a 104lb Pit Bull who has never been outside or around people is one example of serious need.  Jenkins gets results in 10 minutes for what to him are simpler issues.  People who have been unable to get their dog to mind, stop pulling the kids down the block with the leash, and aggression on leash have shook their heads in amazement when suddenly their dog understands what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t.  Walks become fun and uneventful, and the dog doesn’t need to be locked away when company comes.

Jenkins says passing laws won’t stop dog fighting. But showing people how desirable, and fun, it is to have a Pit Bull that is well-trained, obedient, loyal, fit and healthy is a road to a well-developed and completely different relationship with these dogs.  It’s changing the face of the community, one dog owner at a time.

Jenkins is active in the Austin and Engelwood areas, the latter of which just secured a church location:  Liberation Christian Center, 6810 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60636 thanks to Pastor James E. Dukes.

Strong leather leashes and collars with quality clasps and buckles are always needed should you wish to donate. You can contact Jeff Jenkins at jeffj@midnightcircus.net

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Part III The Pit Bulls Redemption, featuring the Pickett brothers, founding participants in the End Dog Fighting program, breaking up dog fights and working the streets, and passionate about changing the reputation of Pit Bulls.

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