Today’s honoree for National Pit Bull Awareness Month is Deirdre Franklin. You may be more familiar with Deirdre as “Little Darling,” the founder of Pinups for Pitbulls. I’m excited to share Deirdre’s inspiring story, and I can’t imagine anyone not being moved or motivated by the accomplishments of this very impressive pit bull advocate!
Pinups For Pitbulls, Inc. (PFPB) is a registered not for profit (501c3) company founded in 2005 by Deirdre ‘Little Darling’ Franklin after she experienced several life changing events. One of those experiences was volunteering for the rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Traveling the streets, searching houses for surviving pets, and those less fortunate, she realized two important lessons. 1) Why were a disproportionate number of the dogs left behind pit bull-type dogs? 2) Why were so many pets and family members left behind in the first place? These two questions became key points for starting PFPB. Shortly after dedicating her life to turning around this discriminatory war against companion animals, she had to also deal with the sadness of divorce. Fortunately, everything she needed to survive all of these tragedies was right next to her, Carla Lou.
Carla Lou was her long-time companion, a Staffordshire Terrier rescued in 1996 as a 1-2 year old who was abandoned in a Texas basement and left to die. Deirdre had already learned the most difficult lessons of shelter work and was denied the opportunity to rescue an otherwise perfect dog from a Philadelphia “shelter” because it was a pit bull-type dog. Even though she was a regular volunteer there, she was told their policy is to destroy any pit bull-type dog brought to the shelter. This laid the foundation of her determination to fight this discrimination. Carla Lou passed away this August shortly after her 18th birthday. The loss of her longtime friend, daughter, inspiration and muse has only deepened Little Darling’s desire to improve the status of these dogs in society’s view. Carla Lou was an inspiration for many people (and dogs).
Deirdre will soon complete her Master’s Degree in Public Policy which will allow her to better advocate against canine discrimination. She has already visited Capital Hill in Washington, D.C. and achieved support from her Congressman for the Dog Fighting Spectator Clause of the Farm Bill.
Since its inception, PFPB has grown into an internationally recognized voice for dogs in need due to their unique approach to education and advocacy. In addition to working with a wide array of celebrities, PFPB was featured twice on Animal Planet’s Pit Boss and appears at conventions all over the country to bring their message to non-conventional audiences of tattoo collectors and comic/movie fans. This exposure allows them to reach the general public who often have pit bull-type dogs in their homes; yet do not identify themselves as “experts.” These audiences love their dogs and often need guidance on responding to the myths unfairly placed on their companion animals. PFPB educates them about positive reinforcement training, landlord/tenant issues and breed discriminatory laws that affect their families.
PFPB has also been featured many times in newspapers, televised news, Discovery Channel documentaries, magazines and other Internet feature coverage. In 2011, Deirdre ‘Little Darling’ Franklin was awarded as the 1st Place Winner as Voice To Stop Illegal Dog Fighting by American Dog Magazine.
PFPB continues to utilize their famous “pinup” culture to create a positive, eye-catching, and artistic calendar that promotes the pit bull-type dog in a positive, whimsical light. They have sponsored surgeries, rehabilitation, and foster care for numerous urgent dogs in need. PFPB’s volunteers number over one hundred and are spread throughout 25 states, Canada, and Australia. They network on a daily basis for hundreds of homeless dogs and dogs in need of funding or urgent medical care.
PFPB hosts and attends monthly events, convention and vendor booths and fundraisers making themselves accessible, noticeable, and active spokespeople for their cause. They have created their own line of custom, creative merchandise including apparel, mugs, water bottles, hot sauces, jewelry and accessories. All of the proceeds go directly back to the cause.
For 2013, PFPB has teamed up with dog trainers and other organizations to educate, inform, and publicize their message for positive training and compassionate, responsible dog ownership through educational seminars that will be announced shortly. The 2013 calendar (October release) features the photography of Celeste Giuliano Studios and pays homage to the human-canine bond as family members based on the works of Norman Rockwell.
Perhaps one of the most iconic campaigns to promote the positive side of pit bulls, Pinups for Pitbulls has been tremendously successful in introducing the true pit bull to people all around the world. But Deirdre, through her love and dedication to the breed, has turned that original calendar campaign into so much more! The company doesn’t simply use beautiful pinup girls and their pit bull-type dogs to grab your attention. They appeal to the underdog mentality that makes it easy for everyone to want to help their cause. While the focus appears to be on pit bull-type dogs, they make it very clear that they are educating and advocating across the country against all types of discrimination.
Deirdre’s vision of a society free of discrimination, inspired by life experience and her beloved Carla Lou, touches and changes so many lives, human and canine. The education and advocacy against discrimination, combined with the unique style in which its delivered, makes Pinups for Pitbulls a one-of-a-kind organization that stands out far and above all others.
On behalf of Bless the Bullys and the National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign, thank you, Deirdre, for not only sharing your vision with us, but working so hard to make that vision a reality. Your work is an inspiration to anyone involved in pit bull advocacy, as well as all the “underdogs” out there. You are a true hero, and you make the world a better place through your tireless outreach and advocacy.
You can visit the PFPB ebsite http://www.pinupsforpitbulls.org for more information and to download educational resources and PDF’s to help further advocate on behalf of our canine companion animals.