On Wednesday, January 25th, the New York City police department entered an apartment at 1 Lincoln Plaza, finding the body of struggling actor Nick Santino.  A suicide note was found: Today I betrayed my best friend . . . Rocco trusted me and I failed him.

Rocco was Nick’s dog, whom he had adopted from a shelter years before. Rocco appeared to be a “pit bull” type dog.  And that appearance ultimately led to both his own death and that of his owner and friend.

Evidently, the management at 1 Lincoln Plaza decided to ban any dog from the building that appeared to be a “pit bull.”  It is believed that Rocco was grandfathered in and therefore excepted from the ban, but the building nonetheless enacted strict regulations against him, and reportedly engaged in a pattern of harassment against both Rocco and Nick.  A neighbor and friend said that others in the building were “constantly complaining” about the dog.  ”It was open season on him,” the law professor said.

Rocco was banned from riding in the building elevator.  The building limited the number of hours that Rocco could be unattended in Nick’s apartment.  And the building also threatened to fine Nick after someone complained about the dog barking— even though Rocco was not prone to barking.

On Tuesday, the 24th of January, the harassment, discrimination, and constant complaints led Nick— for reasons I do not claim to comprehend— to have his healthy dog Rocco put to death by a veterinarian.  The next day, Nick put himself to death.

There can be little doubt that Nick’s mental health played a role in this.

But there can also be no doubt that irrational and baseless discrimination against “pit bull” type dogs too played a role.

And perhaps most importantly, there can also be no doubt that the very organizations who claim to speak for animals— and reap considerable financial rewards for so claiming— have played and continue to play a role in not only creating but also perpetuating the immorality and irrationality of breed discrimination.

Despite conclusive scientific evidence that “pit bull” type dogs behave just like any other dogs, and despite the fact that animal shelters misidentify dog breeds roughly 90% of the time, animal shelters throughout the country, and at least one national organization that claims to speak for animals and the people who love them, nonetheless engage in and fully support the mass slaughter of dogs that they think look like pit bulls.

Let me say that again.  Despite conclusive evidence that “pit bull” type dogs are no different from other dogs, and that animal shelters misidentify dog breeds 90% of the time, many animal shelters (such as the Houston SPCA and the Houston Humane Society) and at least one national group claiming to speak for animals (PETA) nonetheless engage in the systematic, daily mass slaughter of dogs that they think look like pit bulls.

In fact, unwilling to stop at killing nearly every dog and cat that enters its own shelter doors, PETA aggressively advocates for shelters all over the country to exterminate every “pit bull” that comes into their doors as well.

This is not ethical, nor is it humane, nor is it even rational.  It is nothing short of cold-hearted, calculated killing based on disproved mythology and hysteria.

And it needs to stop.  Today.  Because every additional day that groups who claim to speak for animals engage and advocate for breed discrimination, they aide and empower others to do the same.

The American public has trusted PETA and other discriminatory animal-welfare organizations.  But PETA and the others have failed the American public, and they have betrayed us and the animals they claim to love.

Rocco should still be with us.  Nick should still be with us.  But at least they are together.


81 Responses

  1. Linda January 28, 2012

    I have been doing lots of research on animals, animal breeds, organizations that employ service animals and laws etc and have discovered that a lot of the disability service dogs are pit bulls and I have seen numerous pit bull and mix pit bulls that are not aggressive and they are great animals and have been named nanny in ancient times. I have recently took in a lab mix possible pit bull and he is awesome no sign of aggressive or vicious behavior and he is very smart and happy to please us humans. It is a shame that these people were allowed to push the bullying that far and it should be ruled a type of homicide because of their harassment and bullying. This kind of thing is getting all too common and needs to have an end put to it….

  2. staci January 28, 2012

    This is horibble!

    I feel like crying because of the tragedies.

    • Laura January 28, 2012

      I’m surprised to hear that PETA would condone the extermination of Pitbulls or Pit mixes. Shame on the people in the building who bullied and harrassed this poor young man and his dog. They were just trying to live their lives in peace. If the dog showed no aggressive behavior then they should have been left alone. I wouldn’t be surprised if the family doesn’t bring the people in the building or the management up on charges. In fact, I would love to see them do that and have at least some sort of justice come out of this horribly sad story.

      • Lia January 29, 2012

        Thank you! Does new anti-bullying legislation pertain to this or only children (as adults should be more evolved and have learned from history lessons in hate and intolerance)?

      • Liz Sullivan January 30, 2012

        PETA, kills over 96% of the animals the ignorant uninformed public turn over to them. Yes, they do operate spay and neuter clinics, but research will show you that they do not condone animal ownership of any kind. That includes a cat, dog, bird, etc. Be very afraid of PETA.

  3. Corey January 28, 2012

    What an IDIOT!!!! MOVE YOU F-ING MORON!! You don’t kill your dog then yourself because your apt complex is ignorant you F-ING MOVE!!!! I feel so so sorry for Rocco but not for his murderer….

    • Sam January 28, 2012

      I couldn’t agree more!!! So sorry for Rocco…

    • Eileen January 28, 2012

      Corey, could you find it in your heart to have as much compassion for the person as for the dog? It is terribly sad that Rocco’s owner was so depressed that he could not summon the resourcefulness to move, and it is heartbreaking that he killed his loving companion and then himself.

    • Valerie January 28, 2012

      Mr. Santino was suffering from depression. He was undoubtedly in a great deal of mental agony or he would not have killed his best friend and himself. Passing judgment on someone in that mental state makes no sense. There are so many layers of tragedy here. I wish that he could have found someone in his life that he felt he could have reached out to and who would have listened to him.

      • Celia January 29, 2012

        It is obvious that that the “bully” here was not the dog nor the owner, but the building and some of its occupants. Shame, shame, shame on them. Poor young man with no place to go, no one to support him, no where to turn. It sounds like he did what he thought was mercy and then realized his dog was his only true lifeline. Let us all hope this doesn’t stop some other poor soul from reaching out if they are cornered into the same position.

    • Kyle January 29, 2012

      As someone who has suffered from multiple types of depression their whole life, I know exactly where he was coming from when he killed himself there. The only reason I have not killed myself yet is because I’ve had a lot of help and I stick to my medication. I was lucky, since many people never do find help. Even so, I still suffer from depression, and will continue to for the rest of my life. It isn’t something that you can just get over. It sticks with you. Don’t judge someone until you’ve been in their shoes.

    • Lia January 29, 2012

      I live here. He owned his apt. and could have sold it I guess but its not as easy and quick as moving out of a rental. Sometimes depression clouds one’s ability.

  4. Carol January 28, 2012

    My eyes are sad and crying. My heart breaks. PETA, not too long ago, was caught killing cats because rather than save and help them, killed them. I remember reading it for real.

  5. Anthony January 28, 2012

    RIP Nick, RIP Rocco

  6. Valerie January 28, 2012

    PETA has a long had a history of doing horrible things to animals. If you want to donate funds to an animal rescue, don’t do it to big nationally-known organizations; do your own research and find out what local non-profit animal rescues are out there, and give to those folks. They’re the ones rescuing the pitbulls on death row at shelters; they’re the ones organizing foster homes to foster animals that would otherwise be killed. This story makes me sad on a number of levels, of course, but I want to take this opportunity to put the word out: donate to local non-profits, not HSUS or PETA. Your money will go to really helping those in need.

    • Kathy January 28, 2012

      Don’t leave ASPCA out. Whether it’s ‘pitbull’ related or not, they are advocating against saving animals in shelters and trying to undermine the rescue groups that do the hard work w/out millions in donations.
      F’ PETA, F’ HSUS and F’ ASPCA…taking in millions of dollars that won’t go to the cause that the donors are led to believe it will.

      • Katrina January 28, 2012

        I would like to try and give both sides to this situation. First, PETA, HSUS, and (apparently) ASPCA as well, are making a KILLING (no pun intended) using the humanitarian empathy of the public for person profit. I decided to learn for myself the truth as I do not fall into the trap of rumors so I went straight to the source and had a private meeting with Wayne Pacelle. When it was over he was furious (im not a aggressive person at all) because I called him out about his exploitation of Michael Vick and the subsequent euthanizing of all of Vicks dogs including the puppies that he confiscated from foster homes. PUPPIES! He didnt appreciate my horror and disgust so we left on really bad terms. PETA kills kittens and throws them into dumpsters, this is also not hear say you can find this out all over the internet. On the other note, I learned something about pits quite back accident doing research on rats. As strange as this sounds I adore rats and are given a horrible rap due to old belief systems from a hundred years ago. What I learned in my research is that rats that are bred with aggressive parents, or have aggressive ancestors, their genetics are passed down and can show up a generation or more later. So this conundrum has created the mess that we are in, once again perpetuated by humans, not pits. Sadly, it is true that if a pit has great parents but at some point their ancestors were bred for aggression it can raise its ugly head without warning. We see this behavior time and time again. So, in order to try and stop the useless killing of pit bulls, then we have to put much stronger laws against the breeding of these traits into pits, instead of killing the victims, the dogs who did nothing more than act out their own genetic backgrounds. Wayne Pacelle getting Michael Vick back into football is a blatant example of how little is done to control the source, Criminals and low lives looking for a quick buck at the expense of not only animal lives, but human ones as well.

        • Ryan Clinton January 28, 2012

          I agree with the first half of your comment, Katrina, but not the second— based on the research and evidence I cited to in the blog post.

        • Susan January 29, 2012
        • Monkeycat January 30, 2012

          Almost all of Michael Vick’s pit bulls went to Best Friends animal sanctuary in Utah. They manage to adopt out a lot of them and the ones they didn’t will live the rest of their live on the Best Friend sanctuary land the rest of their lives.

        • Fran C. January 30, 2012

          Kathrina FOUR of Michael Vicks former dogs are now certified therapy dogs working in schools and hospitals. Most are now living in homes with both kids and other pets. IF ever a guy TRIED to breed aggression or train for aggression it was VICK. Fact is pits are picked by dog fighters because THEY are least likely to turn on the “handlers” in the ring as IF you watch dog fights the men are in the ring with the dogs and usually watching the fight VERY closely. ONE of the dogs was put down because of human aggression and MY best is the dog HAD reason.
          Most of the young dogs from dog fighters litters are used as bait dogs for the VERY few that will indeed fight. Check out and google the video “Off The Chain”.

          You might also want to LOOK up the study done called “Is there a difference? Comparison of golden retrievers and dogs affected by breed-specific legislation regarding aggressive behavior”. Along with other studies done in two different countries by different organizations. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE.

          Great article but the one thing missing is how the MEDIA ignores MOST other dog bites. Example; Denver (breed ban in place). 97% of of media reports included “pit bull” type dogs. However the researcher checked the OVERALL documented dog bites in the city over the SAME TIME PERIOD and found that these dogs were responsible for ONLY 2.6% of dog bites. READ between the LINES okay?

        • Michelle Davis February 27, 2012

          She is talking about the Wilkes County, NC Pit Bulls (the big dog fighting bust pre-Vick) that H$U$ successfully lobbied to have killed – even the puppies born after the bust. She just got the incidents mixed up but is right about H$U$ having them all killed.

      • Debra January 30, 2012

        I have no idea about your local ASPCA, but our ASPCA will only accept animals that has been rescued from abuse, or from our local shelter.

        • Ryan Clinton January 30, 2012

          The ASPCA runs only one, small animal shelter, in New York City. There are local SPCAs across the country, but they are not affiliated with or run by the ASPCA.

  7. penny January 28, 2012

    this is so sad….i would rather have dogs to live with than some people….such as the ones who wouldnt let the dog be there , i hope it comes to light every day of there life this is wrong ,,,, and every time they see a dog , cats ….. sorry for his love ones…..it hurts my heart n soul

  8. ALICIA LARUCCIA January 28, 2012


  9. ALICIA LARUCCIA January 28, 2012


  10. Shane January 28, 2012

    Add HSUS to the list. Their “experts” testified in court that newborn pit bull puppies were too dangerous to be allowed to live. 127 dogs (including puppies) were killed without the benefit of a temperament test.

    PeTA annually has euthanasia rates well over 90% in their shelter. It’s gone as high as 98%. Ingrid Newkirk has specifically spoken of her fear of pit bulls, but they’ll kill dogs and cats of any breed.

    I’m with Valerie. Please donate to your local shelters, after you visit and see how they do business.

    • Celia January 29, 2012

      Ditto on your local shelters. Check them out. Only a few are truly no-kill. Support your preferred rescue group in your state or area. Give a voice to your local lawmakers. Don’t let them make or pass bills that turn their back on this kind of behavior. Contribute to a chip-in fund for a group that is doing good work. “Share” dogs & cats that need safe “furever” homes via FB or your email from a solid rescue group. Become a volunteer animal rescue transport driver ( I am) or pilot or trucker. You can help by just giving moments of your time, moments of a voice to someone who will listen or a shoulder for someone to cry on. It ALL counts towards the better life for these dogs & cats.

    • Donna Cassidy January 29, 2012

      I feel really sadden for Nick and Rocco. PETA sucks and should be banned for the mass murders they have done to so many animals, and the killings of so many heartbroken people because of there ignorance…I would like to know how they would feel if we found out HOW MANY PETA people own pits and came and took them away from them..To pick a breed and continue to attack it makes them more of a threat than the animals ever could..There was a picture going around that showed a beautiful red nosed pit and the captions went something like this..
      MAN beats me, MAN makes me fight, MAN breeds me, and when i can no longer FIGHT OR BREED MAN DUMPS ME..AND YOU ARE GOING TO BAN WHO???? how true..they torture the dogs, throw them into rings to fight for money and breed the heck out of them and PETA (poorly educated transit asses) want to BAN a whole breed…I am just praying that God will intervene and the evil ones will pay, and i guarantee they won’t have four legs.

  11. Katrina January 28, 2012

    By the way, I just noticed Ryan Clinton wrote this article. Just wanted all who read this that Ryan Clinton is a WONDERFUL friend and anything he writes is completely accurate, and also some of the things I mentioned he taught me as well. Thank you Ryan for being so awesome!!!!

    • Ryan Clinton January 28, 2012

      Thanks for your comments, and very kind words, Katrina!

      • Susan January 29, 2012

        Too bad we can’t heap the same praise on Katrina

        • Ryan Clinton January 29, 2012

          Katrina probably just misremembered. HSUS lobbied to have all of the dogs killed, but the judge denied their request. HSUS did successfully lobby to have another group of dogs killed shortly later at another location, including the puppies.

  12. SANDY MERIDITH January 28, 2012


  13. georgiegirl January 28, 2012

    What a terrible tragedy, and the only people at fault were those harassing Nick and Rocco. No one knows what any other person is going through in their lives, and their treatment of Nick and Rocco may have been the final straw….My heart goes out to them and to the family. Rest in Peace….

  14. MLC January 28, 2012

    Oh great. Now PETA has human blood on their hands too. Way too go you top heavy biased killing machine. You are People Eating Tasty Animals. And now you can be cannibals too.
    The grief and depression when possibly your only friend is socially ostracized , can be unbearable. Can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same. But would have moved first. Away from “people”. The most vicious, dangerous and destructive breed there is.

  15. Alva January 29, 2012

    I saw this news story earlier and it completely broke my heart. This insanity must stop. Sharing.

  16. Rebecca Reed January 29, 2012

    As the owner of a staffy who over the years has saved me more times than I can count, this story is probably the sadest thing I have ever read. The individuals should be held accountable for both deaths. My staffy has helped me care for more foster puppies than I can count and when my sister had children she was the best suragate mother any one could have asked for. It’s NOT the breed but the owner and shame on those people who forced that man to do the 2 most hurtful things immaginable possable , kill your best friend and then yourself. My heart goes out to his family.

  17. Michelle Southard January 29, 2012

    This just stinks. I am broken hearted that this happened. May the two of them rest in peace and love. I know they are walking together…happy, whole and NO BODY will complain against them anymore.
    I have been a member of PETA for years, but, after reading that they advocate the putting down of Pit Type dogs… I have decided to withdraw my membership. I don’t like anyone who talks out of both sides of their mouth!

  18. kathryn January 29, 2012

    This is why I quit donating money to the HOUSTON SPCA. I took a dog there once I found on the street. It was brown. The lady said it looked like a pit so they would have to put it down. I couldn’t believe the ignorance. My dog is half pit, looks half pit, loves people, animals, and is scared of our tiny kitten. She has good owners. I may have to quit donating to PETA, which I have done monthly for at least 25 years. Too bad. Now I focus my money on CAP in Katy and NO-KILL shelters.

  19. Tonya Walls January 29, 2012

    Is anyone else very disturbed regarding the vet. He put down a healthy dog, did he ask why? Why didn’t he offer any help? Suggest a rescue? Did he not notice this guy was in distress? I hope someone has brought this to light. Such a terrible tragedy.

  20. Tracie January 29, 2012

    I used to support HHS & HSPCA untihthat they would keep them on a 3 day stray hold, but since they would not adopt Pits to anyone, the puppies would be destroyed after the 3 days were up. These were 3-4 month old babies & they were going to murder them because of their breed! I eventually found a no-kill rescue that took them without any issues . Needless to say, I am no longer a supporter of either of those organization. Both really are just fancy high-kill shelters, don’t let anyone tell you different!

  21. SOS January 29, 2012

    Give them a call and tell them what you think!!!
    1 Lincoln Plz
    New York, NY 10023
    Neighborhood: Upper West Side

    (212) 874-0169

  22. Victoria January 29, 2012

    BRAVO Michelle. Peta needs to hear about member dis-approval. Maybe that will get their atttntion!

  23. Ella January 29, 2012

    I feel real bad for what happened to rocco and his owner nick, I have nothing against pit bulls but I don’t trust them and I feel that there should be a law that pit bulls should not be allowed to live in sub divisions or apartments because where I live the people that own pit bulls are always letting their dogs get out and roam the streets, Because of this I can no longer walk my 3 dogs any where. I have had one of my dogs attacked by a pit bull the attack left her with a lot of muscle damage and she had to have surgery on her leg now she has to take medicine because of arthritis in her leg

  24. cleia January 29, 2012

    That was very sad to read .. I cannot imagibe having to put one of my dogs or cat down, for any reason! As for the PETA thing, please read their reasons and what they say about it. I am a member and the first time i read about it i did some research sinse i cound’t believe they owuld just say that. What they say is that Pits are one of the best breads *** if they belong to the right person***. A dog is there to do whatever you ask them to, they want to make u happy and it’s VERY easy for ANYONE to go to a shelter and adopt a dog. I have seeing people coming to the shelter we volunter at, and ask for “agreessive dogs” or the “ones that don’t get along with other dogs”. There is no background check on the adopters. For city shelters, they come, take the dog and that is it most of the time. Those dogs will suffer on the wrong hands, they will be bait dogs, fight dogs and than … back to the shelter at some point for euthanazia afte a very bad life… Please read what PETA say about it, don’t just read read on another page. Every person is entitled to an opinion afte they read the correct facts from the right source.

  25. Shawna January 29, 2012

    This is all so sad!
    We already have one amazing pitbull named Macy. She is the most loyal, loving, gentle, and sweet dog I could of ever have but one day last year, we decided she needed a friend. We went to the city’s ACS with one goal in mind…so save a pitbull who would otherwise most likely have no other chance. We found a kennel which appeared to be empty, that was only because a shaking and terrified puppy was hiding under the mat inside. When I requested about this dog I was urged to “move on”, that this dog was no good. I thought to myself, how could she be no good? She is just a baby! So I persisted, and chose her. It was evident that she had been through something horrible already in her short life, which made her very scared of everything but this is Exactly why I wanted her. It was not her fault that someone did something aweful to her, and I knew that if I left her, she would be put down.
    Today that little puppy is the sweetest, loving, loyal, and gentle girl! She went though puppy classes and graduated the top dog! The puppy that was no good…because she was a pitbull….is now in a loving home and loves her new family!

  26. Katie January 29, 2012

    I have medication resistant depression. It has both genetic and environmental factors but the reason I am still alive is the companionship and love of my dogs. They were rescue dogs but they rescued me. No matter how bad things get, I know I am responsible for them. I have to get out of bed, take my meds go to work, take them on walks, to the dog park, make a good life for them. And in return, I benefit. They make me laugh, they let me know I am loved and I would be lost without them. They are my family.

  27. Kelli January 29, 2012

    Does not surprise me one bit that PETA is finally being called out about how bad they really are. ANY ONE who thought PETA was a “good” group of people have been living under a rock. They are THE WORST, They shouldn’t even be called to help any animal They will only make matters worse. Really does no one research them or view all the video’s that’s been all over the internet on how they “rescue” if that is what they want to call it by catching the buildings on fire!

    This story minus PETA(I really dislike them and always have) Is very sad and Just because this man is an Adult They left out HE WAS BEING BULLIED! and that’s not right no matter if its an Adult or A Child. He was being bullied because of they type of dog he owned and that is wrong!. Pit bulls make GREAT pets, they’re GREAT around Children (and I have enough proof of this on my own I don’t need any one to tell me they are not!) They do what any dog does. Loves their family and protects their family! I have a 3 legged Beagle That is going on 3 years old I’ve had her since she was 2 months old I would LOVE for some one try to hurt my kids or me When she’s around! She would tear into them like no ones business! Has she EVER bit any one? NO but She would if she thought her kids and family were in danger!

  28. Cheryl January 29, 2012

    This was a HATE CRIME DIRECTED AT ROCCO & NICK! It is ridiculous to pick on a specific breed! I have a pit bull foster doggie, Coco, she’s been with us for 6 months & she is not agressive at all. When I first saw her, she was cowering on the floor @Angels of Assisi, our NO KILL SHELTER here in Roanoke, VA. She was rescued from an animal hoarder who had 103 animals in tiny cages….thus, her fear in the beginning. She loves to play now, interacts well with people & animals. She loves to snuggle…..
    I HATE PETA, I am from Portsmouth, VA & they have headquarters in Norfolk, VA. Some of their people had a van FULL of animals that they decided to dump in Elizabeth City, NC. Someone tell me how it is ETHICAL to take animals, kill them for no reason, then dump their bodies in some business’ dumpster! I WAS SO GLAD when they got CAUGHT & dragged into court to answer for their CRIMES!!
    All those big organizations may occasionally do something
    For animals, but I believe they are taking people’s money & building an empire of wealth & influence with that money. So much for animals!

  29. Valerie January 29, 2012

    Veterinarians should receive some training in recognizing signs of suicidal ideation and guiding people towards available resources. Having an apparently healthy pet euthanized, or asking to do so is something that should raise a red flag (and thankfully fewer and fewer vets are willing to honor such requests). I remember discussing this issue during training for the Pet Loss Support Hotline, which is run by Cornell’s vet school. It may be more of an issue with elderly people who are alone except for their pets. Depression and feelings of extreme loneliness are undoubtedly important factors. Euthanizing the pet(s) is a part of the preparation for suicide and once the pets are gone, there is nothing to stop the person from ending their own life.

  30. Lisa January 29, 2012

    New York State has a law that makes Breed Specific Legislation illegal. Why does this condo ASSociation think they are above the law? The blood is not on their hands. Statistics show small dogs bite more often.

    • carlee January 29, 2012

      Where did you find this information that New York State does not allow breed specific legislation. Thats bs because Pit Bulls are banned in Larchmont, NY, and declared vicious in Hempsted, NY and Sands Point, NY. I wish NY didn’t have these laws, I think they are terrible, but they are there.

  31. heidi January 29, 2012

    I am so sad crying tears over this yes bring charges upon the management nad everyone who bulied hium and this dog poor RFOco poor nickl yes at leastbeing togeherinheaven now is better than enduring this bullying too how awful this can be.I feel forhis fmailynad everyone who loved these two sending hugsnad prayersw who allwere touched by thisnice manand his loving dopg too

  32. Danielle Port January 29, 2012

    I have worked with all kinds of dog breeds and I can tell you one fact that I’ve learned over the years. The breed of a dog does not have anything to do withits behavior, the people who raise the dog has everything to do with the dog’s behavior. I have met toy poodles that would bite you just because they wanted to. I’ve met Pitts that would roll on their back if another dog( big or small) growled at them. My German Shepard ran from every size of dog until I taught her that they wasn’t going to hurt her and she was safe. My female Pitt, who passed last year, would scream at the top of her lungs if a dog walked up to her and she didn’t know them. Bad owners are the ones who make bad dogs. I stand for the animals not the people who want them hurt or destroyed. Those people need to thrown away somewhere. It makes me sick and sad that people are so cold hearted.

  33. Lisa January 29, 2012

    Ryan ~

    As someone who works very close with rescues and animal welfare groups, I can tell you there is so much more to the discrimination of animals than I care to admit. Besides strikes against the animal for breed, there is size, there is color, and then there is the health. Having recently stepped up on a cross posting for a dog named Zeus that had just 2 days left at the Hillsborough Animal Services in Tampa. I said not this one…today was going to be the day to see how solidified my relationships were. It was going to be a test.

    Zeus basically had 4 strikes against him…

    First he was black. The largest percentage of animals put down are always black. I don’t understand why, because I believe they are quite elegant looking.

    Second, he was Rottweiler / Lab mixed. As you know, a dog that could be considered dangerous from its breed.

    Third, he was 88 lbs. A large dog which are always harder to get adopted, especially in shelters.

    And fourth, he was HW+. Which meant an extensive medical treatment would be needed for his adoption. And with the pharmaceutical company ceasing distribution of this treatment in the US for shelters, as they were not making a profit, this just added on what seemed a long list of impossibilities for Zeus to make it out of the county kill shelter.

    So for one day…Zeus became my priority to see what I could do. Personal emails went out to a few local Tampa Bay “no kill” shelters and many calls were made on Zeus’s behalf. This was something I’ve never done. I have had to learn to work and rescue with blinders on to some degree because of the magnitude of animals in need. All my training from disaster relief to shelter management seems to always be tested. But this day…was about Zeus and only Zeus.

    As the last few hours got closer and closer, and I still did not have an answer. I got in my car and decided to go beg with one of the Director’s I reached out to. And as I approached Pet Pal Animal Shelter in downtown St. Petersburg, I got the call. Zeus was saved! It seems each of the two no kill shelters I approached, SPCA of Tampa Bay & Pet Pal both agreed to pull him. Something SPCA has never done with Tampa’s county shelter. I felt humbled and relieved. And so the decision was made, Zeus was to go to Pet Pal.

    So after all of this, I decided to go visit Zeus on Sunday, the day he would have met his demise. The county shelter was very welcoming, but I just couldn’t believe how many rows and rows of cages there were of dogs waiting there fate. This is where I have the hardest time. There is so much to be said on this, but this particular day I had to remember I was there to rejoice that at least I was able to make a difference in one dog’s life. A dog that was being discriminated against because of his breed, his color, and his size.

    May Zeus live a very happy life and never have to face this type of discrimination again! ♥

  34. Keith Alan Burrows January 29, 2012

    I sent an e-mail is response to reading this article and here it is:
    Dear Mr. Burrows,

    Thank you for your inquiry regarding PETA’s position on pit bulls.

    PETA does not believe that every pit bull should be euthanized; we do, however, staunchly advocate a ban on the breeding of pit bulls (in fact, breeding any dogs should be illegal—millions must be put to death in animal shelters every year because of the tragic overpopulation crisis). We hope that our support of such laws will stop people from bringing more pits into the world to be fought, mistreated, and exploited.

    Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to respond to your concerns. …


    The PETA Staff

    • Ryan Clinton January 29, 2012

      PETA is lying to you. All you have to do is look at their letter in the Fredericksburg newspaper, in which they advocate for all pit bulls to be killed from the shelter.

      In PETA’s words: “Animal control is right not to adopt out pits. I thank Spotsylvania Animal Control for protecting pit bulls by not releasing them to the public, even though this is surely the hardest thing for shelter staffers ["Ban pits? No, ban irresponsible owners," July 5]. “Nice” families rarely visit shelters in search of pit bulls, and pit bulls from unknown backgrounds don’t always make good family additions.”

      Here’s the link: http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2011/072011/07132011/638588?______array


  35. Tim January 30, 2012

    Ok the sad part is the U.S has gun laws to protect your family let these scum bags or any other try to take my pits/my family you will find the other end of my gun

  36. Liz Sullivan January 30, 2012

    This is not the first incident of this kind. A 19 year old in England did the exact same thing. Residing in Ontario Canada where we have the largest territory in existence under harsh, cruel breed bans have been a nightmare we are not thinking if this kind of incident will occur but when.
    Untold thousands of pit bull type dogs have been seized and destroyed based on looks only. We are still fighting this insane law and are now in the mist of Tri Bill to repeal BSL.
    Media profiling of certain dogs that look a certain way must cease. Three studies from three different countries have confirmed that breed bans do not work nor do the protest the public.
    As deeply saddened as I am about Rick Santana’s death I am not surprised, as it is not the first and will not be the last. Rick knew the facts, only one if SIX HUNDRED gets adopted. My hearts breaks constantly for all the good gently dogs destroyed by unjust, bigoted hateful laws and the owners that live with the pain, loss and grief that is left. Educate don’t discriminate as breed bans don’t work. http://www.supporthersheysbill.com

  37. Rawnie January 30, 2012

    All I have to say is, when Columbine happened that was a travesty… when bullying occurrs in society there is a punlic outcry and outrage and we demand something be done, everything be done to solve, support, and sustain as a human civilization… and yet because he is a grown man, with nothing and no one to stand and support him, the bullying is tolerated, even permitted and yet the results are the same and we are not outraged, there is no outcry by the public to the same degree… the media isn’t frenzied because ratings won’t be pushed the way a horrific murder suicide boosts the ratings… We once burned women at the stake because it was assumed and pushed that they were “witches”, should we continue this practice, or is it now deemed inhumane… Yet we continue to slaughter, abuse and bully helpless, defenseless animals and these practices are considered human by PETA – an internationally renowned animal rights group… shame on them, but more so, shame on us… We as society allow this.

  38. Nancy January 30, 2012

    Rocco was not euthanized- he was a healthy dog. Rocco was murdered by the person he trusted the most. I cannot understand why Santino felt he had to murder his dog and did not move or reach out to the plethora of rescue organizations,or hired a lawyer, or started a petition and fought it as many others have done before him and will do so after him. Surely one of them would have helped.
    Santino was right -he did fail his dog. The worst part is that Rocco will have to share the vigil with his murderer – the person who betrayed his love- Santino, who chose to kill himself unlike Rocco, the true victim.

  39. Robert Palmer January 31, 2012

    This is all extremely sad, but I have to ask… What Veterinarian would euthanize a “Healthy Pet”? For ethical reasons, wouldn’t they take the pet to a rescue, etc.?

    • Rose G. Adrian March 2, 2012

      If you think shelters are the only inhumane places, try vet offices and hospitals. I love my pets and this month is the aniversary of loosing my best friend, one who kept me going when I lost my husband, a puppy that was meant for him but he passed away because of the negligence of our family doctor who never took an x-ray for 18 mos. both of us sick and missed it. Meds, meds, meds and when he collapsed his lung and live were gone. He died of ‘bronchitis-really cancer in 6 weeks after he collapsed. I kept the puppy and he gave me a reason to go on. A year ago he came in limping, withing 24 hours, my good vet called in the middle of the night to tell me we had a problem, his blood was not clotting..by next day he had gained 2 1/2 pounds and with research knew his heart or liver were in bad shape, took him in, she tried to find someone to do an ultrasouond and my night mare and Red Smoke’s began. First the large, money making vet clinic..no tech..then no, come over, come in the back door, that perked my ears, walked in the front door with my baby, the desk clerk, “what are you doing here?” The vet called back and said she would do it..”The vet does not do ultrasounds” The vet comes out “put her in a room,” There is no room, “find one”..so I sat there for 4 hours, she came took the dog, came back, waited, my dog was almost gone, I had my stet. with me..no heart beat..vet comes in I owe 150.00, tells me, “take him to the hospital “(open at 6pm..closes at 8am.).as I’m leaving hands me an x-ray I never saw, thougth “hope”..get to the hospital 95.00 to get in..then an estimate..high cost, low cost..got mad, told the vet, “this is not a car, get yourself there and find out what’s wrong”..comes to tell me he is going to give him plasma.forced him to let me in to see him, Red is up, wide eyed, I had an awful head ache myself, put my head in the cage, pure oxygen,(head ache gone) knew they gave him a stimulant, he kissed me and would not settle down, the vet, said maybe a heart infection, maybe some hope, when originally he was talking maybe a pacemaker, (on a dog with no clotting factors) kept making a pest of myself so he gave me more hope..go home, will call is something comes up..got mad, no plasma, he had charged me for already..”oh waiting for it to thaw..” had some volunteer work to do, told him will be back in a bit, at 1am calls to tell me no hope, 3 heart blocks, is going to die, by then I am up to over a thousand dollar bill, and the worst part, get there, he wants to unthenize him alone,I said no..will hold him..I gave him my phone to take a picture of Red, since Red was kissing me and kissing me, like where have you been..why did you leave, and when he said, “let me take another,” Red’s eyes bulged, he went nuts trying to climb into my neck, me crying, asking what baby?..wrapped him in his blanket,and when he came with the shot, Red when ballistic, I now realize got his scent,he left black and blue marks on my arms, neck, I think he was after the vet, me trying to control him, wondering and asking the vet, “what the hell did you give him he had a port, he should not have ecven felt the shot,.”Oh just circulation”..I left so angry, but got home and found out why..the bastard had shaved all his nipples, all his belly black and blue, his mouth bloody and burised where he muscled him and Red hated that,and I understood what the poor baby had done to this last breath. Tried to protect me from that Knight from Hell. I went back asked to see the x-ray..picked up his reports..his original ekg he had at 6pm when I brought him there..he was flatlined..then at 1am after all the torture, he spiked so high, he saw the blockages..right..I asked him to put the x-ray on the light, his lungs, heart, stomach, full of fluid,he was drowning, he stimulated and revived the poor baby, tortured him for money! If I had known about the x-ray at the clinic, if had seen how bad he was, I would have put him to sleep, he was about dead, me rubbing his shinny coat, talking to him, seeing him fade, and to die with such fear and fighting that devil, still breaks my heart. I sent the vet office,and the hospital a searing letter, callingthem all but human, stopped all checks and told them collect, just try..and told all on facebook not to trust them..the hospital is theirs also.Took the records to a friend doctor, where I do interpreting”.Oh, your dog..he die,three heart blocks, was flat lining at 6pm.(he saw the blocks on the 6pm ekg..I.said no, they kept him alive till 2pm to torture him and get money from me..they know me and know I will spend any amount on my babies..one min pin, broke her leg, and so she would not limp, paid over a thousand to have the leg pinned..so you are tagged like a 2 or 3 star hotel..she will pay..stick it to her.Yea! Now I take them to Madison, 1 and a half hour, should have taken Red Smoke there, a teaching hospital where kids still have a gleam in the eyes, are doing good, and not thinking about profits..vet teachers oversee their work, and my pets get the care they deserve..I say this because I saw that shelter where a guy was stabbing cats in the heart, sometimes several time to uthenize them, and they were supposed to tranquilize them first..but why waste money..When caught they blamed us..we don’t love our pets, throw them out, they have to do for them, or kill them, but what about us that give our lives for our babies, and we get used and we get taken.had two other min pins, one dehydrated at 5years and died during the night,” bring her back tomorrow..no time now”..did not give her the fluids she needed, ..dumb vet was in a hurry, let the brother go blind, had lots of tears but did not adhear..Oh he is fine,just clumsy.ran out hit his headona swing I put in the dog run to sit and play with them, had seizures for a year, he last one he could not overcome.so lost him too,.that is how I found Madison vet. clinic..that first vet went through my dogs like Sherman through Georgia..so found a great person, but she did not have an ultrasound..sent me to the Money sucking Knights from Hell..Took my 11 yr.old to Madison when I lost Red, ..he has a heart problem also, bad breeders..my bad luck..but if he ever gets sick like Red Smoke, will take him there to be treated with love and kindness, and this Money Greedy low lives.will not touch my baby..I thought he’d be sick this year, but prevention, kept him in the greenhouse, warm,and I think that is what was Red Smoke’s downfall,he stayed out in the cold too long..playing with the younger pup..probably had congestive heart, went bad..and Dingo Riggs is from the same dumb breeder, is Red’s nephew..of sorts.next breed born, too much interbreeding.more greed..He is the same age this year, as Red when he got sick, same month..so pray to God he stays safe and healthy, and never trust vets..on my list of “don’t put your trust on” along with doctors. Do research, know signs of illness,, ask! I tell one and all about those evil vets and their practices..be informed and do a check up like you do family members..this heart beat, teeth, shots, once a year, and off you go till they get sick, is not the way..I now know Dingo Riggs has a bad heart,wish I had known Red did and would have babied him ..thought he was healthy..fit, trim..but a time bomb..so do blood work, ultrasound, x-rays..or whatever preventive tests are available..don’t wait till they get sick..and then heart ache, misery and my poor baby tortured for money! I feel bad about that dog and his owner, but vets, they are like doctors anymore, we become a source of income,and lately, we love and care for our pets and they take advantage of our love, their’s is greed, not love or care for the profession they went into..there are still some good and caring ones, as my vet and doctor..but hard to find those anymore.! Too much greed..and the crisis does not help matters..

  40. Christine January 31, 2012

    We should be angry about the discrimination and senseless deaths of Nick and Rocco.

    We have BSL where I live. The government consulted about three dozen dog experts and only one was in favour of BSL, but the legislation passed. Knee-jerk reactionary legislation just make those who enact such laws look like jerks when the public finds out they pay more in taxes but aren’t any safer. This discriminatory law is also a barrier to people licensing their dogs, which reduces revenue. Fewer dogs with ID means fewer returned to their owner. BSL is responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths.

    There are cities that don’t have any breed bans and dog bites there are reduced largely through education.

    People may want to see this movie and have it shown in their city… “Beyond the Myth: A Film about Pit Bulls and Breed Discrimination” is being screened in many cities in North America with new ones being added on an ongoing basis. See the site for screening dates and contact info. http://www.beyondthemythmovie.com/

    “…Beyond the Myth is a film about pit bulls and those who love and defend the breed. It explores the contributing factors behind the public’s generalized fear of pit bulls and examines the conflict existing between advocates and opponents of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). It also investigates the myths associated with the breed and asks the question, “What exactly is a pit bull”?”

  41. Linda smith January 31, 2012

    I am horrified at PETA. The predecessor of Ingred must be distraught at how their message has been twisted. There are good animals in all breeds and to discriminate against one because of appearance and color is beyond stupid and irrational! Have we not learned yet? Power groups such as the group from the New York apartment are supposed to look out for the welfare of all but especially those people/pets who cannot fully help themselves – obviously to them eradication of the fragile was their answer-SHAME On YOU!

  42. Linda smith January 31, 2012

    She might have been one of the founders-there was also a gentleman who worked undercover at great personal risk in hazardous situations at labs etc.noting and photographing abuses of animals. He did terrific work in bringing this to the public’s attention.

  43. Leah February 1, 2012

    I have read about this on a few different news outlets and it had me bawling from the moment I read that he felt he “betrayed” his best friend. This is tragic! As the “mother” of two pit bull mixes, I am appalled! I would never, let me repeat NEVER, kill one of my dogs! I would call the police, initiate criminal and civil charges, start a petition, etc. before I would even consider an option so cold! How awful it must have been to have realized that he alone was responsible for ending a precious animal’s life, simply because of nasty people around him. I am sure this is how Nick was feeling after he took the drastic step of killing Rocco, and came home to a house devoid of the love and energy that Rocco had occupied it with before. What an awful way for both of them end.. I hope that his family brings criminal and/or civil charges against the people who consistently harassed him to the point where he felt he had to end two lives, rather than just moving or finding another alternative. Rest in paradise Nick and sweet Rocco..

  44. Ebony February 1, 2012

    That is one of the safest things I have heard of. The people in the building should be ashamed of themselves. And I hope that the guilt on that poor man haunts them and follows them around. They should have self blame as the constant bullying lead to man having to put down a ‘pitbull’ who was never a harm to others and then a death of a man who felt so guilty in doing so.. What is the world coming to when we are being told what animals we are allowed to keep. Just because in the past pitbulls have attacked does not mean they are all the same. It’s the way you bring a dog up that will then show a dogs true colour. Don’t judge on what people do about the breed because any dog can be savage, if your doing the right thing by treating the dog properly then you’ll have no problem with the up raising of this particular dog, of there is doubt in these dogs simply don’t buy them if your not willing to put the effort in.. These dogs deserve a chance to prove that not only are they loyal to their owners but they are great family pets if brought up correctly!!

  45. dottie February 3, 2012

    It really sounds to me like this man had made the decision to end his own life and was just doing what he felt he needed to do for his beloved dog. I don’t think many of us can understand the depth of his depression and despair unless you have been in a similar situation.

    All of the BIG animal “welfare” agencies are much more about making money than doing much of anything for the animals. Many “shelters” are anything but.

    Do your homework and make good decisions with your time and money. There are a lot of good people out there who are doing what they can for the animals. The rest of us need to support that work.

    Godspeed to Nick and Rocco.

  46. Rebecca February 4, 2012

    What a loss of both man and dog. Hopefully the people who were complaining and harassing are rethinking how they behaved. These deaths could have been prevented if people had been more tolerant and kind.

  47. Marianne Olson March 1, 2012

    The same thing happened to me. The only difference is that the harrassment had no basis so therefore I stood up against it. I know the stress is hurrendous and a person or an adult just has no where to turn. I am on disability therefore I spend just about 24/7 with my pitbull and he is the most loveing dog ever and supports me where adults have really failed. I can this happening and feel that until we learn from our mistakes this is going to continue to happen. No one should have to put with such bad sense making. If the dog was not a problem nothing should have happened and it is sad to say that I don’t think anyone learnt anything or even care what happened to this man or his dog. Everyday I ask myself “why” people or so cruel and to be honest I think it is because people do these things to just get their way. Disregard the amount of stress the person is put under and to even to make such a dicision is sad.
    ALL I can say is that the two of them are in heaven together and happy! Shame on people….

  48. Cathie Sowles March 1, 2012

    This makes me so sad. I think we should write the apartments and PETA and let them know how we feel. I am so tired of people mindlessly and blindly endorsing PETA!

  49. Marta March 1, 2012

    I wish attorneys could hold the management responsible and bankruwhypt them. This is very sad and it disgust me that there are such ignorant, selfish, people in this world. I am glad I don’t live there.

  50. Mary Anne Clark July 2, 2012

    I am wanting to move up from fostering dogs to helping convinve shelters to change, Help organizations/corporations that fund SPCA or HSUS and follow the money trail and make presentations to those cprporate money so the can see how the money is used, Compare the moneys spent with the outcomes and Then have reputable rescues ready to ramp up to run shelters. Please keep in toucg as you progress with your plans

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