Tag Archive: When Dogs Heal

  1. Chicago Charity Turns Neglected Pit Bulls into Mentors

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    <i>Courtesy of Paws for Strength, The Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation</i>

    Image courtesy of Paws for Strength, The Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation


    Breaking the cycle of abuse is one of the greatest challenges for social workers and psychologists. But a new program set forth by Blackhawks player Bryan Bickell and wife Amanda is taking an unconventional approach — employing pit bulls.

    The Bickells’ program Paws for Strength pairs kids at Chicago’s Hephzibah House — a home for abused or neglected children and their families — with rescued pit bulls to create a positive and healing environment through the human-animal bond.

    Over the course of eight weeks, the children teach the dogs tricks, and play and bond with them. In addition to the time the time spent with the dogs, Amanda Bickell and other volunteers read stories to the children.

    After reading a story about one of Michael Vick’s abused pit bulls that was saved and now has a happy life with a new family, Amanda says one 8-year-old responded, “That’s hopefully my story.”

    Whether it’s giving these children hope for their futures or calming them in their present, the program shows promise for teaching kids that their past doesn’t have to determine their future.

    Paws for Strength is an offshoot of the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation, which aims to change the negative stigma associated with pit bulls, who — because of their reputation — are often subject to abuse or neglect.

    “We keep saying it’s not the dog, it’s the owner in the majority of circumstances,” Amanda told DNAinfo, Chicago. “It’s just like these children. They struggle with a lot of issues… because of the situations they were brought into.”

    For those interested in joining Paws for Strength with their pit bulls, visit the Bickells’ website to learn about the interview process.



  2. We’re Coming to Atlanta!

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    FredwalkThis weekend, we’re headed to Atlanta to shoot the final installment of When Dogs Heal.

    Out of U.S. cities, Atlanta has the fifth-highest rate of new HIV diagnoses, according to the Center for Disease Control.

    While other HIV hot spots, like New York and Washington D.C., have pushed for more aggressive testing initiatives, there is still an overwhelming number of people who are turning up in Atlanta emergency rooms with other injuries and illnesses and are being tested there for the first time.

    On average, it takes roughly eight to 10 years for untreated HIV to become AIDS; yet by the time patients are diagnosed in Atlanta, almost one-third have advanced to clinical AIDS.

    Routine HIV testing is not offered in the places where most people get their health care.

    Wendy Armstrong, the director of the Ponce de Leon Center, an AIDS care facility in Atlanta, told WABE: “Our massive group out there who are not tested are folks out there who often don’t have primary care physicians because they’re young, and no insurance if they they did wish to have a primary care physician.”

    Stigma, extreme poverty, fear of a positive diagnosis, and even transportation are among the many factors that discourage people among this population from getting tested.

    The result: An estimated 14 percent of people with HIV or AIDS in the U.S. do not know they’re infected.  

    It’s time we changed that. And hopefully this weekend will be a start.

    We look forward to meeting new people and hearing their inspiring stories, and we hope to get people talking about HIV and inspire others to get out and get tested.

    If you or someone you know if from Atlanta and is interested in participating in the shoot, please contact us. Check out the details here.