Austin Clyburn adopted two pill bulls, who eventually became certified therapy dogs. He details his journey of how both he and the dogs changed, and how he found a new career. (This article is reprinted with permission, and originally appeared on StubbyDog.org, a website devoted to changing public perceptions on the pit bull breed.)
My name is Austin Clyburn, and I am from Iselin, N.J. I am 27 years old and I have three dogs total, one 8-year-old female yellow Labrador and two rescued pit bulls. My Labrador’s name is Lexus. My second dog is a female pit bull named Peyton and my latest rescue is a male pit bull named Maximus who I adopted from New York City Animal Care and Control. Peyton and Maximus are both now certified therapy dogs.
Maximus was adopted through Bruised Not Broken Rescue from New York Animal Care and Control back in October of 2010. He is about 3 years old. I happened to be browsing through Bruised Not Broken’s Facebook page one day while at work and came across Maximus’s picture and something about him, maybe his similarities to my pit bull, Peyton, or his big head and bright smile, made me fall in love with him. The only downfall was that I was at work when I came across Maximus, and he was going to be put to sleep that night at 7 p.m. for kennel cough, and I am located in central New Jersey, about 45 minutes or more away from New York. So through tons of messages and phone calls, I had decided to go visit Maximus with full intentions of adopting him that night, and since I already had dogs I had to make sure Maximus would be a good match for my pack of dogs. I brought Peyton with me to the shelter because she is very calm and very sensitive to new animals. Peyton, a friend of mine and myself, got to the shelter just two hours before Max’s time was up. Peyton was not fond of Maximus on the introduction and wanted nothing to do with him. Now the hard part was how do I leave this precious dog behind to be put to sleep, and on the other hand how do I take him home and jeopardize my own dog’s feelings? After careful consideration, I decided I couldn’t put my dogs in danger or let them have an unhappy state of mind, so I left without Max but said I might be able to foster him.
Bruised Not Broken has an extensive amount of fans that are more like family members on Facebook. Among them were several key people who decided to raise funds to have Max taken out of the shelter and transported to a kennel facility near John F. Kennedy Airport and housed there for three days until I could come back and pick him up to start fostering him. Three days later I picked him up with the intention of fostering him until he found a new home. Well, I am proud to say Maximus has found his permanent home right here with me. Since the day he got to my house both his and Peyton’s attitudes were totally different. They instantly accepted each other.
Max and Peyton became two peas in a pod from day one. My mother, who is physically handicapped and hated the pit bull breed before, is proud to say she is a grandmother to two certified therapy pit bulls. My father now has a calendar of pit bulls and a framed picture of my last foster from New York who was used as a bait dog. My father fell in love with her, and she is now running on a couple of acres in Jackson, N.J., with three other dogs.
Maximus is a happy-go-lucky dog always looking to play fetch or tug-o-war with something whether it is a stick in the yard or the dirty sock he pulled out of the laundry basket. He always has a smile on his face and loves his people. He loves watching the birds and squirrels in the trees in our yard, and he loves going for car rides and meeting new people, so much so that my friend who manages a retail video game store takes Max with him to hang out in the store.
After adopting Maximus, he opened my eyes to a whole new world, the shelter world. Shortly after adopting Max I wanted to help in any way I could from fostering, transporting or simply spreading the word about Bruised Not Broken and the pit bull breed and shelters in general. Since then I have had a hand in dozens of dogs’ lives being saved.
Peyton and Max are now certified therapy dogs, and we try to give back to those less fortunate and educate the public on pit bull type dogs. I have now dedicated my life to these animals and their well-being, and I have recently been certified and licensed as an animal control officer and animal cruelty investigator in the state of New Jersey. I work with Woodbridge Township Animal Control in Woodbridge, N.J. Peyton and Max will be attending our first educational session with students of our township’s public schools to teach them how to care for an animal and debunk some of the myths. I have started my own dog training and dog adoption assistance company called Muzzles To Nuzzles. I just enjoy being able to help pit bulls in need and to educate the public on this wonderful type of dog called the pit bull.