Mike Wolfe is not only the television star of the hit show American Pickers and the owner of Nashville’s own Antique Archeology, but he’s also a dedicated animal lover.
That’s why he didn’t hesitate to step up when Nashville Paw, Middle Tennessee’s community pet magazine, invited him to participate in their campaign to bring positive awareness to America’s most abused and misunderstood dogs: pit bulls.
Eager to help make a difference, Wolfe recently posed for the upcoming February cover of the magazine with Shay, one of 65 dogs rescued in November from a suspected fighting operation in Ashland City by Animal Rescue Corps and Cheatham County Animal Control. He also filmed a pit bull public service announcement that the magazine will debut in February, in partnership with its Nashville Paw Foundation, a nonprofit initiative that funds local pet spay and neuter and promotes animal welfare. The publication saw Wolfe as the perfect fit for the campaign, given his knack for restoring beauty and worth to that which society has cast aside.
“For years, pit bulls have been the victims of not only abusers who force them to fight, but of an incredibly misinformed public perception,” says Nashville Paw founder and publisher Heather Dowdy, who has long advocated for pit bulls and last year adopted her own from death row at a shelter.
“In the days of The Little Rascals television show, pit bulls like Petey were considered the ideal family pet because they are so loving, loyal and great with kids. These dogs have not changed since then. The media has simply given them a public lashing for so long that many people now believe they are somehow dangerous. That could not be further from the truth, but that myth has resulted in an estimated 75% of pit bulls being euthanized upon intake at shelters across the country rather than offering them the chance of adoption. It’s astounding how much damage can be created through hype and misinformation.”
Those who rescue and share their lives with pit bulls know that, contrary to urban legend, bully breeds are known for their excellent temperaments, even surpassing beagles and golden retrievers in tests performed by the American Temperament Test Society. In fact, during the video shoot with Wolfe, Shay and fellow rescued pit bull Samantha wagged, wiggled and gave sloppy kisses as Wolfe cradled them in his arms on a vintage sofa find.
“For anyone who believes that these dogs can be made vicious, I ask them to consider this,” says Dowdy.
“Here are two dogs rescued from a fighting ring just weeks ago, and they are rolling around like babies in a stranger’s lap. These dogs were horribly abused. Yet, not a single dog in the whole group of 65 has shown any aggression to anyone whatsoever. They simply are yearning to love and to be loved. That is what we want the public to understand through this awareness campaign: that pit bulls are amazing, loving, intelligent and playful dogs who, despite suffering so much abuse, continue to love and forgive.”
Wolfe shares the same sentiment. In his interview for the February issue of Nashville Paw, he stated, “It’s hard for me to believe what some of these animals have to endure, but what I think is so amazing is that despite what they go through, despite what people are capable of doing to them, they are so forgiving and so trusting of us. That is what I try to learn from my own dogs all the time… I mean, imagine walking through life with that sort of capacity for love, trust and forgiveness. That would be a perfect world.”
Wolfe’s Nashville Paw cover and feature, as well as a story on the recent pit bull rescue, hits stands February 1 at over 300 locations across the greater Nashville area, including Whole Foods, Harris Teeter and Pet Supermarket stores. You can find the complete listing of pick-up locations as well as subscription information at the magazine’s website, nashvillepaw.com.
The PSA video will make its big-screen debut on February 2 at “Art for Animals”, the annual spay and neuter fundraiser hosted by Nashville Paw at Jamison Hall in the Factory at Franklin from 5:00pm – 8:30pm. Afterward, the video will be launched on the magazine’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/nashvillepaw. For details on attending the fundraiser, visit the event website at nashvillepaw.com/artforanimals. Meanwhile, pit bull Shay has gone from a life of abuse and neglect to Nashville Paw cover stardom. She is currently being cared for at Cheatham County Animal Control until she is placed into foster care with a rescue organization.