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Meet the Most Awesome Pit Bull Who Ever Lived

Bulletproof Sam came out the other side of hell with love in his heart, and now you have a chance to support dogs just like him.

We received a lot of feedback on our February feature, the Pet Lover's Guide. It’s not surprising; people are more than passionate about their dogs. A great deal of the response, though, praised our placement of a smiling Pit Bull on the issue’s cover — after years with a bad rap, folks are finally realizing that the unfairly-maligned breed are victims of a bad reputation and systemic abuse, and make for some of the finest pets a dog lover could ever adopt.

So let me tell you about Bulletproof Sam. Sam, an American Pit Bull Terrier, was a “champion” fighting dog; he fought, and won, for much longer than most dogs exposed to that brutal world survive. Through the course of his abuse, he lost a portion of his face and most of his teeth. He was alternately chained up outside and locked in an underground cage with seventeen other dogs, all fighters or bait dogs, nearby.

What’s remarkable about Sam, though, is what happened when he was rescued. In February 2012, the Humane Society of the United States conducted a raid on the Jacksonville, Fl. compound where Sam was imprisoned. As the rescue workers approached, Sam had no reason to comprehend what was going on around him — let alone trust the unfamiliar people approaching. For his entire life, people approaching always meant bad news.

But when the locks were cut off of Sam’s cell, he tentatively emerged and then joyously embraced the rescuers. Within seconds of emerging, Sam’s obvious desperation for affection and human companionship took over. There was no more fighter, no more fearful victim; only an irrepressibly loving dog, so thankful to be held and cared for. (Be sure to watch the video above, but be warned — it’s a tearjerker.)

Pit Bulls are the dog of choice for the perpetrators of these crimes because they’re so unwaveringly loyal and desperate to please. More than many other breeds, they crave attention and affection; unfortunately, that makes them alluring to people looking to control dogs for unthinkable reasons.

Fortunately, it also makes them unmatched pets. Sam, more than any other dog on the planet, had reason to distrust humans. But today, he’s the gentlest dog imaginable, given to fits of unbridled joy when a new person approaches. Pit Bulls are obedient, loving, caring dogs, healthy and playful. The shameful media attention they sometime attract — wholly, unequivocally, unflinchingly inaccurate — is sensationalism and nothing more. (Between you and me, if you see a member of the media painting these dogs in a negative light, do feel free to ignore that individual and/or outlet henceforth.)

After his rescue, Sam moved in to the Hello Bully Halfway House outside the city. They’re looking for Sam’s forever home — because of his past, he’ll need experienced dog owners, and he’ll need to be an only pet — but in the meantime, he has his own Facebook page, Twitter account and customized collar. He was honored by City Council as they declared February 16 “Hello Bully Day” in Pittsburgh. There's even a stuffed version of Sam — and you’ll have your chance to take it home this Saturday at Hello Bully’s annual Lovers Not Fighters Gala.

The event, held at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, will feature a red carpet arrival area, auctions, a lineup of hors d’oeuvres and a dessert buffet and more. And the cost of your ticket will go to finding Sam and his pals loving homes — and changing the lives of Pit Bulls nationwide for good.

4141 Fifth Ave., Oakland; Saturday, 7 p.m. (VIP reception at 6 p.m.); $50 (VIP Tickets, including champagne reception and premium gift bag, $120); info and tickets at hellobully.org

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