Brian Batista Photography | Changing One Mind At A Time

Changing One Mind At A Time

January 30, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
Misty Lawrence and her family have always been animal lovers and they knew early on they wanted to be more involved with current issues facing rescues.  They have a family cat named Cleo Madison, a rescue herself, who will be 9 in March, 2015.  Rewind to the beginning of March 2014, Misty was following Nashville Metro Animal Care & Control (MACC) on Facebook and she came across a photo she could not ignore.  Lawrence stated "MACC posts animals that need forever homes and there always seems to be thousands more animals than are available homes.  This is truly one of the extremely sad realities of rescue work."
There were two pit bulls in particular that caught her attention, one needed a home much sooner than the other.  She was in a foster home where the family dog did not get along with the newest addition.  Lawrence asked immediately what she and her family could do to help.  MACC lead her to contact Jennifer Hagan-Dier and Shelley Bankard-Weaver, both MACC Pack volunteers, about this urgent case named Lilly.  Over the course of the next six weeks they stayed in touch every day.  "It took that much time for Jennifer to be abe to transport Lilly to meet my husband Steve and I" stated Lawrence.  "We wanted to make sure Lilly would be a good fit for us to foster and we were very excited to help save a life."
The meeting day finally came on May 10th, 2014.  "We met Jennifer face to face for the first time at MACC's facility and with her was this little wiggly dog named Lilly" said Lawrence.  "Lilly was so gentle and she came right up to us to say hello, extremely friendly and just wanted loads of attention."  While the meeting with Lilly was going well Shelley arrived to greet Steve & Misty and noticed they did not have anything to provide for Lilly so she offered to take them to a local pet store.  Lawrence added "Being as Lilly would be our first pit bull in our family we weren't sure what we needed to properly care for her.  Shelley made sure we had the essentials for Lilly including a plush bed, toys, and most importantly, TREATS!  Lilly will add that as her favorite investment."
Now was the big test for Lilly to go to her new home and see how she did in her new environment.  "The first thing she did once we took her leash off, she jumped on the couch and stretched out in absolute comfort, happy and grateful.  I had always said there would be no dogs inside the house let alone on the couch, that lasted a total of 2 minutes.  I could not help but laugh at Lilly's antics.  She made herself right at home.  In less than a week it was like she had been here all along.  She was home." said Lawrence.
When welcoming a new foster you are so proud that you want to announce to the world in hopes someone out there will love your pet as much as you do.  "I posted photos and stories of Lilly on social media sites hoping to increase the adoption interest.  As her post grew all my friends kept telling Lilly she found her forever home already."  Lawrence said.  "At the time I was in denial saying we were just trying to make a change and save a life.  We had to take Lilly to several adoption events as part of our foster agreement.  I bragged to everyone about how amazing Lilly is to potential adopters.  Potentials all loved Lilly but no one seemed to be coming back to take her home, that literally broke my heart that no one seemed to want her bad enough to take her home."
Lawrence was still in denial and her husband kept telling her the family was adopting Lilly.  While they argued about whether or not whether they would adopt, Lilly knew she wasn't going anywhere.  She had made herself right at home, was happy, and made her new family laugh, A LOT.  Lawrence added "Steve and I made the arrangements with MACC for the necessary paperwork and home check, in June 2014 we made it official."  New laws had gone into effect in January 2014 that pit bulls can now be adopted from MACC and Lilly being the true ambassador, was the first pit bull to be adopted under these new laws.
It wasn't long before Misty & Steve experienced the prejudice against dogs like Lilly simply because of their breed or appearance.  While in Antioch, Tennessee they found a brand new dog park and they wanted to take Lilly and check it out and meet some new dog friends.  When they arrived they found a sign on the gate stating "No Pit Bulls Allowed."  "We were devastated for Lilly because she wanted to go in and play with the other dogs but she couldn't because of human prejudice and judgement.
Lilly & her dad Steve at K-9 Korral Dog Park in Franklin, Tennessee
Determined to see what could be done Lawrence contacted her friend Jennifer at MACC and she would check into the situation and call back.  Within the next month Hagan-Dier had reached the Mayor of Antioch and the ordinance had been overturned, allowing Lilly access to all dog parks in Davidson County.  Over the next few weeks all signs on the dog parks were changed to read "No Aggressive Dogs Allowed."  Lilly had already made a difference in her world and was able to allow access to dog parks for other dogs just like her who want to run and play with their buddies.  "As pit bull parents we want the same things for all pets and families, to be treated fairly based on our actions, not our genetics" added Lawrence.  "All dogs can bite, YOU as an adult have to insure that you and your family are safe at all times."
Lilly & her dad Steve at The Park at Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, Tennessee
Lawrence also told us Lilly has since been registered as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA), authorized by her daughter's psychologist to help her with sever depression.  Lawrence also suffers from chronic pain from failed spinal fusion surgery, fibromyalgia and lupus.  "Lilly stays right by my side and snuggles me when I am having a bad day.  We are working with Lilly now to get certified as a Therapy Animal very soon.  With my disabilities, Lilly would be perfect to have with me in the event I'm not able to do things for myself."
Though a perfect addition for Misty and her family, Lilly still faces prejudice in daily life.  In November 2014 Misty was walking Lilly at the Parthenon in downtown Nashville.  A total stranger, walking a dog with no leash, comes up to Lilly stomping his feet and yelled "BOO PIT BULL" at her.  Lilly just wagged her tail and looked back at Misty confused but not defensive at all.  Lawrence responded in a much less amicable.  "I turned around and said don't say that to my dog, and by the way put your dog on a leash, then walked away.  The situation was absurd, he was trying to elicit a response from Lilly because she is a pit bull.  Even his own dog looked at him like he wasn't all there.  When we passed the other dog he and Lilly smelled each other, tails wagging and that was that.  Instead of being a responsible pet owner, he was walking his dog off leash in a public park and trying to scare other dogs that he thought would react aggressively."
Through all the prejudice and hardships Lilly has been the one with the most level head.  Lawrence said "She is changing one mind at a time.  I never would have thought we would have an inside dog, let alone a pit bull.  Now, I can't imagine life without her.  We all love her to the moon and back and I can't wait to see what new things she will teach us in the years to come.  My only regret is that we don't have a family photo to post in this article."
Lilly posing for sunset photos at Cumberland River Park in Nashville, Tennessee
Lilly is featured in the TATTOOS & RESCUES photo project and was just announced as the 2015 Face of Pit Bull Advocates of the United States.  I met Misty, Steve & Lilly at Dog Days of Summer in downtown Nashville in July 2014 and was completely taken in with how awesome Lilly is.  Lilly is definitely a clown and I love every chance we get to hang out and do some photo shoots.  I am proud to know this awesome family.



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