Tonight’s honoree for National Pit Bull Awareness Month is Toni Phillips, founder of Mariah’s Promise.
As many of you know, Toni has an all too up-close and personal view of BSL, and how it affects families and their companions, especially those in the Denver area. I asked Toni about her experiences related to that:
In 2005, Mariah’s Promise was made aware of the pending reinstatement of the all-out breed ban targeting ‘pit bulls’ in Denver, Colorado. Two hours south of Denver, Mariah’s Promise offered refuge to the family pets and puppies who stood to lose their lives. On 40-acres nestled in a rural setting, dogs began to come in – some from their homes, some from the Denver shelter when their owner’s signed forms that their dogs would be taken out of Denver and their lives spared. By the end of 2005, sixty-five dogs came to Mariah’s Promise due to the Denver pit bull ban. Mariah’s Promise, an all-breed, no kill sanctuary, reached out to help the maligned and misunderstood ‘pit bulls’.
In 2006, the cities of Aurora and Commerce City, on the outskirts of Denver, also enacted BSL, and more dogs needed refuge.
From 2005-2009, Mariah’s Promise took in close to 500 pit bulls from 21 states due to BSL or discrimination of one form or another. Approximately 52 people returned for their dogs after they moved to a safe (and sane) area. And right now, Mariah’s Promise has 30 dogs still needing homes.
Even discriminated against by our neighbors for assisting these misunderstood dogs, we have persevered on behalf of this magnificent breed!
I liked Toni from the very first time I spoke with her in 2005 when we coordinated a transport of Denver exiles to Tennessee. She and I “click” on so many levels, but none so much as in our unwavering love for pit bulls. I have so much respect for her and Mike for not giving in and not backing down in their commitments to both the dogs in need and the families with no choice. Denver’s ban does not include a grandfather clause. Dogs were either removed from the city before the deadline or they risked being confiscated and killed for no reason other than their appearance. I know it was hard on her – both her health and her finances – but Toni has such a strong faith, she knew because the work she was doing was so important, she would get through.
On behalf of Bless the Bullys and the National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign, thank you, Toni, for the sacrifices you and your family made, and the love and hope you gave and continue to give dogs and families affected by BSL. You are a strong and determined defender of the breed, and I’m honored to know you!