Precious: Rescued Pitt Bull, Looking for Love
Precious is such a bitch. The compact young blonde struts the patio inside the iron gates just behind the Modernica furniture factory in downtown's Industrial District.
Sam Slovick Precious waits to be adopted.
Precious is subtly clever, looking for vulnerability: She'll push your buttons, then put you in check just to let you know who's in charge. Everybody knows she's the shot caller.
They keep a cautious eye on her, but the only thing in her field of vision is her old man Clancy, a tore-up street fighter with cauliflower ears. He's retired but bears the marks of a violent past. The scars on his head are a lasting remembrance from his days in the blood sport. Just back from a visit to the doctor for a slipped disk, he's a little wobbly, still under the effects of the anesthesia.
Everyone here has a past, but somehow there is a collective harmony in the pit bull pack at the Downtown Dog Rescue. Everybody knows their place; Harley and Edwina are easy, but Cookie ... she's a little tricky.
Lori Weiss is a rare breed: half-human, half-pit bull. She founded Downtown Dog Rescue 15 years ago as a program to assist the homeless community of dog owners. Thin, with angular features and ancient eyes, she sits on the cement with Precious on her lap. "Our kennel is here at our furniture factory where we rescue dogs and work with the community," she explains. "We work in downtown, Skid Row, South L.A. and into Watts and Compton."
Weiss has about 30 pit bulls currently. She's up at 5:45 a.m. daily and doesn't stop until she's finished feeding and exercising the dogs at 7:30 p.m. "If I have the flu or it's raining ... I'm their leader. Having one person who consistently cares for them is part of how they overcome their aggression."
By now Weiss is an expert animal behaviorist. "Pit bulls, they have a tendency to have more one-on-one dog aggression when they're stressed out. The key is to keep them in a calm state, like Precious is now."
Precious tilts her head up, smiling wide as she is petted by Weiss. The best part of what Weiss does is getting a dog like Precious. "They're so closed and fearful. They have no emotions and they're blank. To see them play and see them enjoy themselves -- it brings tears to my eyes.
"We get dogs out of the shelter that have been held as evidence for a year, and to watch them run around and play and not worry about anything, it's rewarding. This should be just a temporary home to get all the quirks defined and work through the little problems ... but all these guys need a home."