Ernest Dempsey — Yesterday was big day for The Animal Army, as they call this animal rights group on Facebook, as more than a year of court hearings and appeals against the death sentence of concluded with the death-row pit bull Prada going free to her new home. Abused by the public and authorities and wrongly labeled vicious, the 4-year-old female pit bull came out of the Metro Animal Control in Nashville, TN, to a cheerful group of supporters accompanying the dog’s owner Nicole Andree and her new owner Tia Torres (of Pit Bulls and Parolees fame). Prada’s new home will be the Villalobos Rescue Center, which was built by Tia and which today is the largest pit bull rescue facility in the country.
Prada’s release was shared with supporters on facebook via a Ustream link so that they could watch her coming out of the shelter, live (or almost live, with a lag time of a few minutes). In the happy moment, one important, but not so surprising, observation made by Ustream audience of her release was the dog’s friendly response to all present at the happy scene. While Tia held her on leash, walking her about the place, the dog labeled “vicious”, “dangerous”, and even an “escape artist” by those wanting her dead showed that she was all love. She went to all one by one and licked their hands, wagging her tail (with the speed of light), showing friendly licking to even people from media with cameras. The Ustream audience was sharing tears of joy in their comments, for this was Prada’s final proof of innocence.
Here was the dog the shelter staff labeled vicious and held responsible for killing other dogs (which were put down by themselves) and she was acting as if a family dog, a friend would do to all people that formed the small crowd outside the shelter. Why would she be held in captivity and wrongly accused of being a threat for well over a year? And we know the answer – breedism. But Prada’s release marks yet another incidence of the defeat of breedism by reason and care. The exact details of her terms of release are yet to be published, but she has been allowed to go free without giving her into her owner Nicole Andree’s custody. Surely, Andree will be following her to the Villalobos Rescue Center. The fact that she lives and is free from captivity as well as safe from lies and false labels is the biggest celebration for her owners and supporters.
Prada may soon be a TV celebrity. Already her story is running in popular media channels. People should however remember that not every dog is lucky as Prada to have an animal army fighting by its side. As we speak, many more dogs are on death row, silently and helplessly waiting for their life to be spared, should somebody step in and say ‘no’ to their killing. But Prada’s case has brought new hope to those victims of human prejudices and senseless laws. Prada has made it. Now is the time to struggle for the rest!