Let’s be honest. Pit bull-type dogs are funny, from their giant blocky heads, to the goofy faces and antics they create, right down to their hilarious vocals. Chances are, if you’ve met one of these “types” you’ve probably had a good chuckle at some point.
However, the bad reputation they have gotten over the years—and the abuse and discrimination that they face—is no laughing matter. That’s why Rebecca Corry, an actress/comedienne inspired by her rescue pit bull Angel, came up with the idea to take her show on the road in 2011 with Stand Up For Pits (SUFP).
Now in its seventh year, the Stand Up For Pits events continue to educate, advocate, and save the lives of pit bull types—all while making people laugh with amazing comedy. It has steadily grown each year to include more stops, this year rising from eight cities to thirteen. New stops on the tour include Raleigh, NC; Philadelphia, PA; Spokane, WA; Buffalo, NY; St. Louis, MO; and Portland, OR.
The 2017 SUFP tour kicked off at New York City’s Gotham Comedy Club on April 30th, with a sold out show featuring an all-star lineup. Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich hosted and performed, followed by Wil Sylvince, surprise drop-in guest Jim Gaffigan, Janeane Garofalo, and the woman behind it all — Rebecca Corry.
Many who perform at or support the SUFP Foundation may not have experience with pit bull-types daily or even have dogs at all, but everyone that PupJournal spoke with agreed that abuse and discrimination is wrong and must end.
“This goes beyond dogs,” Katie Rich told PupJournal when asked why she would encourage someone to buy a ticket for a Stand Up For Pits event. “This is promoting basic human decency.” Rich is mom to a pit bull rescue named Lulu herself.
“It’s good to see [pit bulls] in a positive light,” Wil Sylvince commented, in addition to mentioning becoming pescatarian and caring about all animals. “[As a black man], I know what the pit bull stereotype means — the idea that most are brought up to be vicious killers. It’s good to be involved with an organization working to change that bad rap, to get them out of the negative light.”
Janeane Garofalo, who was performing for the fourth year in a row, is a pit bull mom herself and a staunch supporter of Stand Up For Pits. “Once you rescue a [pit bull], you’re a convert because you realize they’re the greatest dogs who have gotten a bad rap,” Garofalo told PupJournal. “It is unfortunate that quite unfairly their reputation has been erroneously defined by a handful of alarmist news stories. A pit and a pit mix is the greatest dog you’ll ever have.”
Garofalo went on to say:
“Any kind of advocacy group for people and animals that are marginalized is important, but pit bulls most especially because people do not understand what a great dog it is. They prejudge them unfairly. It’s like a civil rights issue.”
Angel, who sadly passed away last April, less than a month before the 2016 SUFP tour kicked off, was still very much a presence — from the numerous t-shirts worn by attendees, to the pictures of Angel hanging all around the stage. Rich introduced Rebecca Corry, not by her name, but as “Angel’s mom.”
Corry spoke to PupJournal about Angel’s continued impact:
“Angel changed people’s lives. A lot of people didn’t know her, but they felt like they knew her. Everyone has a story about what Angel did to change them, and they’re all different. They have a different favorite post, they have a different favorite thing she did… there’s just all these things she did that impacted people I wasn’t even aware that was happening, but was for many, many years. She was a great ambassador and teacher.”
Though Corry had no plans of ever adopting another dog and has stated on numerous occasions that there will never be another like Angel, she recently made an announcement that she had decided to officially adopt her foster pup Todd.
“Todd is an extremely complex dog and he’s been through a lot, and I know him better than anybody,” Corry said. “I sort of just realized I was already in it. It was like ‘I think I’ve already adopted him.'”
Corry is a tremendously dedicated individual who couldn’t be better suited to running an advocacy group for pit bulls. For instance, she has done incredible work with Todd and her other formerly abused foster dog, Sally, and understands the importance of working with a dog’s capabilities versus placing unrealistic expectations on them.
With a lot of patience, she has been able to socialize two dogs who may have otherwise never been able to interact, and helped them overcome a host of fears and anxieties.
“If that’s who the dog is, then leave the dog alone. I don’t think dogs have to like other dogs all the time. They’re individuals. For me, I think nurture them, and heal them, and let them be who they are, and the home will find them that understands them.”
Apart from Angel, it’s precisely that kind of mentality and understanding that draws so many people to Corry’s work and the SUFP Foundation. Not to mention her hilarious commentaries on what can often be a humorless and seedy world.
Putting on these shows and demonstrating to people that even the most abused and vilified dogs are deserving of love and understanding is a truly beautiful thing to witness. Corry was given a standing ovation, presumably for both her amazing set and the incredible work that she continues to do on Angel’s behalf.
There were adoptable “hippos” from Sean Casey Animal Rescue (SCAR) and a silent auction (which raised almost $4,000!) prior to the show to further promote the adoption and ethical treatment of these inherently good dogs.
This was SCAR’s third year participating in the New York Stand Up For Pits Event, and the donation drive held the day before at their shelter raised $3,200 — up nearly $1,000 from last year’s donations.
The pit bull-types that were featured are all waiting for homes, and they are no strangers to the whole reason this cause began. Pit bull-types are consistently among the most commonly found dogs in shelters, with nearly half being euthanized before they have a chance to find that loving home the deserve.
Spike is an 8-month-0ld pit bull mix who was found tied up and abandoned by the NYPD. He was wearing a spiked collar and harness, hence his namesake. “Spike’s former owners likely put those on him to make him look tough,” said Theresa Labianca, Director of Administration at SCAR. “But he’s soooo not tough.”
Spike enjoyed the attention he was getting from all the people walking around, but he really loved playing with a plush squirrel toy and sitting nicely for treats.
Summer, a 1-year-old bully mix, was abandoned by her former owner when she went on vacation. The woman left Summer in the care of her roommate, never to return. Sadly, the roommate couldn’t keep her, so she has been waiting at SCAR for an owner that will love her to the end of days.
Bentley, a 2-year-old pibble mix that looked like he could be part bull terrier, was dumped in Marine Park. The person who found him couldn’t keep him, so they turned him over to the shelter. SCAR scanned him for a microchip and was able to locate contact information for his former owner, but they never responded.
Although his soft eyes and the gentle way that he takes treats are adorable, his most interesting feature is probably a shortened jaw that hides under his floppy jowls.
There were other special guests that came to watch the show as well, like Ricki Lake and her adorable pup Mama. “I rescued her, but she really rescued me,” Lake told PupJournal. She also had only the best things to say about Corry, specifically: “Rebecca Corry is one of my heroes. She’s my inspiration.”
You never know who you might see at these shows (like Ricki Lake and Kathy Najimy), or who might drop in and do a guest set (like Jim Gaffigan). One thing is certain: you’ll see a stellar line-up, because so many people recognize the importance of the Stand Up For Pits Foundation.
“You need to pay a lot more on your way out the door than you paid to get in here, considering what you just got to see,” Katie Rich joked as she ended the show. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Katie.
To learn more about the foundation, donate, purchase some awesome gear (pretty much everyone was rockin’ a SUFP shirt at the show), or buy tickets to a Stand Up For Pits event in a city near you, please visit their website. These shows will likely sell out, so the sooner you get yours, the better.
Be sure to follow SUFP on Facebook and Instagram as well, and keep an eye out because Corry has new ideas (like the recent Spay/Neuter Angel Day) in the works. You don’t want to miss out on any of this!
If you suspect someone is fighting dogs, call 1-877-777-2585 in LOS ANGELES COUNTY. National tip line number is 1-877-TIP-HSUS. If a dog fight is in progress, immediately call 911.
Header images via Virgil Ocampo Photography / Rebecca Corry