This past Saturday we gathered with Sarge the Pit Bull and his “parents” along with 100 or so human and canine friends in a Philadelphia park to celebrate an amazing 16 years. While celebrating such a long canine life is an occasion itself, for Sarge it’s proof that no amount of cruelty could change who he was – a dog that was meant for a better life than the one he was born into. In September, 2008 he and 30 other dogs were pulled by the Pennsylvania SPCA from an alleged dog fighting operation in South Philadelphia. That story was featured on Animal Planet’s “Animal Cops: Philadelphia” (you can even catch a glimpse of Sarge being carried from a building during the episode.)
When most people rescue a dog, they’re told what a fulfilling experience it will be. When Kim Wolf, a social worker, adopted Sarge in February 2009, they began working together to fulfill the lives of others – both 2 and 4 legged. Sarge became a Certified Therapy Dog with Pals For Life, a non-profit that provides pet therapy to elderly, handicapped, or mentally challenged individuals. He began visiting classrooms in Philadelphia Public Schools, educating children about animal cruelty and humane education and the proper care of animals. In May 2010 Sarge was recognized for this outstanding service by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and received the “Humane Educator Of The Year Award.” We were there that rainy day to see Sarge honored by an enthusiastic crowd. Never busy enough, in August of this year Sarge and Kim started “The Sarge Fund” in conjunction with PAWS to provide low-cost veterinary care in neighborhoods where it’s needed. With funding from The Animal Farm Foundation, The Sarge Fund is also able to provide low cost spays and neuters for Philadelphia Pit Bulls, free microchips and will give owners leashes and collars if they’re needed for their dogs.
The party itself was a laid back BBQ. Guests mingled, sniffed and enjoyed vegan treats provided by The Peace Advocacy Network and Whole Foods. Rescue Chocolate came all the way from Brooklyn to sell their amazing goodies (seriously, I ate a Peanut Butter Pit Bull bar, savoring it over 2 days – this stuff is ridiculously good. I am still thinking about it). All profits that day went to The Sarge Fund. There were adorable dogs available for adoption and Ilene Wellner, owner of Dog Gone Walking, even made t-shirts to honor the birthday boy (with all proceeds going to the Sarge Fund)!
Sarge took the whole event in stride, as he takes everything in life! As the afternoon played out, the crowd gathered around to listen as Kim presented a series of awards to individuals and organizations for their commitment to animal issues and welfare.
At 16 (or 112 in dog years) Sarge has an active life volunteering and has the ability to do what many people can’t. He breaks down a multitude of stereotypes: he’s a rescue, he’s a Pit Bull, he’s elderly, he was abused; now look at all he’s accomplished and the immense amount of good he’s brought to so many communities and individuals. Sarge may not have rushed into a house to save his owners (in fact, he doesn’t rush at all), but he truly is a heroic dog.
Indigo the Pit Bull was rescued from an abuse case. He now uses a wheelchair to get around.