Archive for Friday, October 8, 2010

Game Dog Guardian organization aims to end discrimination against pit bulls

Anthony Barnett, Lawrence, has a three-legged pit bull named Leonidas that he uses for educational purposes to show that all dogs can thrive and be loving in a positive environment.

Anthony Barnett, Lawrence, has a three-legged pit bull named Leonidas that he uses for educational purposes to show that all dogs can thrive and be loving in a positive environment.

October 8, 2010


Pit bulls are often considered vicious dogs, because of their breed. That’s a perception Anthony Barnett, Lawrence, wants to change.

Local man working to educate people on kind nature of pit bulls

Anthony Barnett takes his dogs around the area and to Kansas City to show people that the dogs are friendly. Enlarge video

“Just like people, every dog is an individual and for safety sake and fairness sake, it’s best to judge dogs as individuals,” Barnett said.

When he’s not operating his business — Home Sweet Home Dog Resort on Haskell Avenue — Barnett is volunteering his time, to change hearts and minds.

He founded Game Dog Guardian, an organization that seeks to help dogs by helping people. According to the group’s website, “we believe a better life for dogs starts with a better life for people, and that a better life for people can be advanced through the human-canine bond.”

He regularly travels northeast Kansas to deliver the message that dogs, like people, don’t deserve to be discriminated against. He illustrates his point by taking two of his pit bulls along for the ride -- Leonidas and Liam. Leonidas suffered a tragic start to life. He was tortured. Barnett believes, as a puppy, Leonidas was dangled over a fence as dogs bit his feet. Leonidas lost two paws. One of his legs had to be amputated. He now serves as a loving pet who greets everyone he meets with licks.

“That’s his thing; he licks,” Barnett said.

On a recent Wednesday night, Barnett loaded up Leonidas and Liam in the back of his SUV and headed to Kansas City to introduce a group of children to his pit bulls.

An hour later, he arrived at practice for the Marching Cobras. The group consists of 150 school-aged children. Their performances include dancing, tumbling and drumming. The organization was founded by Willie Arthur Smith, who wanted to provide troubled youth with an alternative to street life. The children, ages 5 to 18, are surrounded by positive influences. They learn discipline, respect and a multitude of life skills.

Smith met Barnett two years ago. They share a mutual respect for bettering their communities and passion for mentoring youth.

“He (Barnett) expressed his feelings of loving children,” Smith said. “He brought his dogs over; we just loved them.”

Barnett walked Leonidas and Liam through the crowd of children, and often was met with the question, “Does he bite?” Barnett reassured each one who asked that his dogs are friendly.

“We (Barnett and his dogs) have a great bond and it’s a small thing I can share with other people,” Barnett said. “It’s fun to educate; it’s fun to take fears away.”

Smith said the Cobras receive the intended message — dogs and people deserve love and respect.

“These kids very seldom be cq in the atmosphere of animals and it’s amazing to them,” Smith said. “You see how timid they are; they’re actually afraid, so by him bringing those animals around it gives them the impression that dogs are good people too.”

For more information on Game Dog Guardian, visit


kawvalleybulldog 7 years, 4 months ago

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slvrntrt 7 years, 4 months ago

Traditionally if a fighting dog bit a person, it was put down immediately. Dog aggression can be a serious issue with game dogs, but is manageable if it is accounted for.

Part of the problem is people breed pits to dogs bred to be human aggressive (traditional guarding dogs) and call the babies pit bulls, when really they're just messed up animals.

InfamousAngel 7 years, 4 months ago

Originally pit bulls were bred to bait bulls. That eventually led to dog fighting. Pit bulls were notorious for never giving up the fight to be able to live & for NOT biting humans. They were strong, well built & able to last hours before collapsing. Making for a good show to those sick individuals who found pleasure in it. Thus making it safe for a human to get into the pit & retrieve their dog without getting bitten.

ANY living thing wants to continue living. It is human & animal nature to survive. When you put two animals or humans in a pit and tell them its life or death, they are going to fight to try to live. Just as an abused animal or human will continue to want to live, thought its a matter of time before they will fight back.

Just like the all too common abused woman snaps. Theres a show on it, watch it. It has many examples.

These dogs are not born with some kind of genetic gene that makes them ticking time bombs that snap with no reason. These are not dogs born with locking jaws. These are not dogs with jaws that contain inhuman strength. Pit bulls tend to be natural chewers. Ask anyone who owns a "pit bull" & just like a human who bench presses 150lbs every day, they are going to be able to life more weight then I am. Its just muscle power.

This day & age the pit bull isn't even a purebred dog. It is a dog type. The general type is a small, medium, or large dog that is fit, has short hair, strong jaws, and a squarish head. Theres even a BSL passed in California that also has long haired dogs in its description of a pit bull.

This media hype of pit bulls will hopefully pass soon. They've had more then their fair share of stories with high ratings raising ignorant anger and fear. Just as the Rottweilers, Dobermans, and other breeds have had their time in the press, the pit bulls time shall pass... Hopefully. I just hope it passes before more families are torn apart. Before more children have to witness their innocent fur siblings taken from their lives and given a death sentence for doing nothing wrong other then being born looking a certain way.

More people need to educate themselves. "Pit Bulls" are no more dangerous then a Chow Chow, Dobermans, Dalmatians, Standard Poodles and the list goes on.

And for those that think that you want a pit bull for a guard dog. Please do your research before you get one for that purpose. Pit Bulls tend to love humans, ALL humans and want to be friends with everyone. Even the guy breaking into you window when you aren't home. They make lousy guard dogs, I've laughed at so many people who got one thinking they were some kind of big bad protecting machine. If you want a real guard dog, get a Doberman. They won't let anyone around you or in your house with out knowing right then and there that you want them there. Or perhaps find something else out there to stroke your ego. Sports cars, boats, jewelry (or bling I thing some people call it), Theres plenty of options....

Derek Broksieck 7 years, 4 months ago

It is how you raise them. Going off of your definition, every pit bull is a fighter and a dangerous dog that shouldn't be owned. I guess we should outlaw German Shepards because they are protective and will fight for their owner. Let's not even get into the fact that when temperament tests are done, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Pitbull terrier has a higher score than a Pomeranian, and even a golden retriever(THE PERFECT FAMILY DOG OMG NO WAY!!!!!!!!)

Rinalia 7 years, 4 months ago

Well, then he does not have much convincing to do.

You may travel to Greenland in mid-June and read a book outside at midnight...because it doesn't get dark there during certain times of the year.

In the United States, in June, you can be outside seeing just fine until around 8-9 pm. That is night-time, and it is not dark.

pace 7 years, 4 months ago

maybe he should take a note from the prune producers of America who went from prunes to dried plums. He should get the breeders to rename the breed from pit bull too "just happen to have jaws of iron" or not as dangerous as one hears, or crack defense animal unit.

Rinalia 7 years, 4 months ago

The Pit Bulls of 50-100 years ago were being used as butcher dogs and fighters.

I love your canine and human eugenics logic. Mass murder - it solves everything!

nfarris 7 years, 3 months ago

Agnostick-YOU are the one who needs to think! "Pit bulls" are put in fighting rings not only for their incredible loyalty to their owners, but the fact that they will NOT attack humans for no apparent reason. Pit bulls are the chosen dog for this sick sport because they will do WHATEVER their owner asks of them-even if it means fighting for their life. Additionally, "Pit bulls" were historically bred to be more dog aggressive than some other breeds, thus making them more interested in fighting. There is a vast difference between dog aggression and human aggression-so please, don't even try to make a connection there.

I'm sorry that you had a family member attacked by a dog-but, you can't over generalize and stereotype based on one personal experience. If you were attacked by a white man with red hair, would you then assume from then on out that every white, red-headed man must be a deviant criminal? Of course you wouldn't, unless you weren't using your brain.

Dogs should always be evaluated and identified as individuals. A dog being a "pit bull" does not mean that the dog should be deemed "vicious." Just as there are dogs who SHOULD be labeled "vicious" who are NOT "pit bulls."

Evan Ridenour 7 years, 4 months ago

Pits have been trained to be aggressive because they physically are more powerful then most other breeds. They are not inherently violent and dangerous, it is their inherent traits that lead screwed up human beings to turn them into vicious weapons.

I know several people who own pit bulls and they are the most loving dogs I have ever met. The breed isn't the problem, it is the few people who abuse them and turn them into weapons that are the problem. The penalties should be harsher. And I am not talking about for the random celebrity (Vick) who gets caught and made an example of... everyone who abuses animals should face harsher penalties.

Don't blame the breed, blame the screwed up people who torture an individual dog to the point that it turns into a vicious weapon.

PS - as a disclaimer, I have owned two different German Shepherds which is also a breed considered potentially vicious... My dogs were (are) loving and wouldn't harm a soul.

slvrntrt 7 years, 4 months ago

One of my jobs used to be delivering food. I have been bit by 3 dogs doing so. One was a lab, one was a dachshund, and the other was a pekingese. In my 3 years of experience, the "aggressive breed" dogs are usually them most well behaved at the door.

Paula Kissinger 7 years, 4 months ago

The showoff, wannabe, ignorant jackasses have pitbulls for the breeds' bad rap. The rest of us have them because we know that they are the most loyal, loving, misunderstood dog breed alive. My dog came from a home where she was being trained to physically "beef up" and was not being fed or taken care of properly by one of those wannabes: a convicted felon. This individual had plenty of money to deal drugs but not enough to keep enough food for the dog around. Even so the dog never displayed any aggression towards this jackass and lovingly accepted the tail and ear pulling from a 1 year old child that lived there. The family was broken up when this wannabe was sent off to federal prison for possessing drugs and a handgun and the dog found a real home with my husband and I. She came into our home as the newest member of our 2 cat/2 dog household and gladly tolerated her status at the bottom of the pecking order. She now is our only pet and the light of my life.

Anthony and his beautiful wife have spent many years rescuing these misunderstood, mistreated dogs from dog breeding/dog fighting rings, cruelty cases, floods, hurricanes and death sentences imposed by animal shelters in cities with breed specific legislation. Imagine having a death sentence imposed on you because you were a specific color, religion or race. Anthony has taken in some of these dogs as his own and others have been placed in foster homes awaiting their adoptions into "forever" homes. He is, in fact, having a dog adoption event today starting at 10 AM at Pawsh Wash at 15th and Wakarusa. Those of you who have never seen real pitbulls should come out and have the pleasure of doing so. You will discover that pitbulls can be rehabilitated, are not the man eating machines as portrayed in the media, and only want and deserve a family to care for them. In fact, there are more pitbulls rehabilitated than the criminals in prisons that owned them. Who might just find a forever friend in one of these dogs and become a dreaded pitbull owner like us.

We are lawyers, police officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses and people from all walks of life who have the ability to think for ourselves and judge what we see given the facts. We are the bad owners of the bad dogs and we love it ! We receive unconditional love from these dogs who, if human, would lash out at anyone given their prior mistreatment. They are able to discern that we are not the ones that tortured them, give us a chance to show them that every human is not evil and gladly share our lives in companionship. Pitbulls are loyal, forgiving, fun and ask only for a gentle hand, good food, safe housing and love. Anthony, his wife, myself, my husband and others are proud and privileged to own these dogs. They have enriched our lives and made us better people. It is a great feeling to know that we are, in some small way, helping dispell the pitbull myths and standing up against unfair profiling.

Steve Miller 7 years, 4 months ago

You guys are over analyzing. Pit's are like any other animal, they have instinct. It will come out at who knows what time. Like tigers , pet python's or any other wild animal that is "taimed". or domesticated They will turn on you when you least expect it ( key word " instinct " ) . Pit bulls are no different. You cannot argue that .

lllwll 7 years, 4 months ago

Rinial... What the hell are you talking about.

pusscanthropus 7 years, 4 months ago

Though there may be the occasional "friendly" pit bull, these dogs have been genetically programmed over decades of breeding to be vicious. So the "nurture over nature" argument doesn't fly with me. There is nothing sacred about a dog breed--they have all been created by humans to manifest certain traits, including aggression. Humans can fix the problem by not breeding them anymore and then the breed will disappear. How many innocent children have to be mauled and disfigured or killed before it becomes illegal to own and breed them?

slvrntrt 7 years, 4 months ago

They have been programed to be animal aggressive, not human aggressive, there is a HUGE difference.

judgery8 7 years, 4 months ago

Did anyone even read the article or did everyone just see "pit bull" and flip out? This guy is doing something good for the community and inner-city kids with his dogs. What have you done today?

flux 7 years, 4 months ago

People should stop using these dogs as accessories, like a new pair of sneakers.

RaynRavyn 7 years, 4 months ago

People need to stop using ALL dogs as accessories. The little ones in purses are just as much a problem. My 4 year old (while sitting in my shopping cart) was bitten by a little yappy dog in the purse of the "lady" behind us in line at the grocery store the other day. Dogs are animals, not accessories...

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