Hello! I’m JoJo and I have an unusual look, don’t you think?
My story started back in June 2011 when I found myself in Terre Haute Humane Society as a stray. I was given a funny name — “Joan Rivers” or Joan for short— probably because of my disfigured face; my lips had been ripped from my face possibly by another dog. It also looked like I’ve had a few litter of babies before I ended at the shelter.
The folks there work incredibly hard to save the lives of the animals in their care, but they have to euthanize for space and I wouldn’t be an easy placement because of my injury and my breed. Oh I forgot to tell you, I am a pit bull.
However, those who had met me quickly saw how loving I was and decided to reached out for help on Facebook and posting my photos, videos and information.
Before long, strangers were inspired to step up and provide help. One of them was Rebecca Stevens, Executive Director of the Humane Society for Hamilton County (HSHC). She saw my post on Facebook, and although there are literally hundreds of pleas posted out there daily, she said my eyes pierced through her. She watched the video and could not get me out of her mind all night. She woke up the next morning knowing she had to help me.
However, there were no kennel space for me since that space is reserved for Hamilton County animals so she needs to find a financial sponsor to help cover the cost of my care and find a foster home willing to take me in for the long haul.
Rebecca reached out to her community on Facebook , pleading for a foster to take me in. Her friend Jen, a longtime volunteer and foster for HSHC, contacted her after seeing the post and said she wanted to foster me. This was a huge surprise to Rebecca since Jen has always been drawn to the little ‘fluffies’ and never had a pit bull before!
Jen said it was something about my face, a look in my eyes that said, “I have no clue anything is ‘wrong’ with me. I’m just a good girl who needs to be loved.” She was moved to offer to help, even though she already had a full house. She offered to foster me until her forever home could be found.
On June 24, 2011, I arrived in Noblesville, IN, and finally got to meet my guardian angels! I ended up being heartworm positive and having an upper respiratory infection when I arrived, but in terms of my facial injury though, nothing to worry about. It is what it is, and I’ve moved on. It had healed and I think it just makes my smile bigger.
I became one of HSHC’s “Survivor Dogs,” part of their Survivor Program which funds the medical care of dogs that had survived abuse and neglect with horrific injuries and illnesses. I also have a Facebook page: Joan – the Pretty Lipless Pittie. My story of survival and my ability to move on and celebrate my life resulted in many requests and adoption inquiries, but my foster mom gets first dibs.
She admitted that when she first started volunteering at HSHC almost a decade ago, she was scared (and uneducated) about pit bulls. As time progressed, she saw their sweet, gentle souls and saw family after family adopt them, and knew that they could be great dogs in the right home with the right owner. However, that did not mean she was on board with bringing one into her home. She has small dogs (Maltese and Pekingese), and two cats. Pit bulls were great for everybody, just not her, she thought. She always said, “When my dogs are gone, I will have one.”
Until I came to live with her. She told me that she was a little hesitant about fostering me at first. She had so many questions: Will I get along with her cats and dogs? Will I be comfortable? Will I be OK around kids?
I have completely changed her heart and mind. I run when the 5-pound Maltese barks at me. I takes naps with the cat. My mom said there is not one iota of aggression or prey drive in me; she knew she did not just happen to get the world’s only non-aggressive, perfect temperament pit bull. We are wonderful dogs and she will tell anyone who will listen how I changed her mind 100 percent.
After my heartworm treatment was completed, she decided to let me in on a little secret: She’s keeping me for good! She’s fostered many, many dogs – and have been a foster failure three times. Some just speak to her in a way that others don’t. I was one of those. She could not imagine letting me go.
I had a rough start to life, but I’m now loved and spoiled rotten living in Indiana. My goal is to become a therapy dog and visit children’s hospital as well as the local grade schools. I will teach kids about overcoming obstacles and stereotypes, to not judge a book by its cover, not only because of my breed but also because of my unique look.
My mom told me that I have the power to change hearts and minds. She knew because I have changed hers but I’m forever grateful to her because the moment she decided to foster me, she saved my life.
Thank you for reading my story and please open your hearts and homes to foster homeless pets who just need a warm bed and a safe place until a forever family come along.
p.s. I forgot to share about my public appearances. Here’s one on Indianapolis’ WISH-TV of my mom and I promoting my shelter and with PetPals TV on WNDY talking about the misconception about pit bulls (fast-forward to 13.:50 ) And this past March, I participated in Parade-a-Bull alongside Super “Monster” Gremlin, the guest of honor, in her last public appearance before her retirement.
Oh, I can’t believe my mom broadcasted the incident when I was caught red-handed with her undies! I was so embarrassed!