I’m Not A MonsterTM is an advocacy initiative that aims to dispel myths associated with misunderstood dog breeds, particularly pit bulls. Along with educating the public, the initiative promotes shelter pet adoption and networks animals in need.

Our mission is to give the breeds a fighting chance and make their world free of abuse, murders, media bias and discriminatory laws.

We want to encourage positive portrayals of these “monsters” as a way to change public perception and fight dog discrimination and abuse by showcasing dogs who are exemplary ambassadors for the breeds (therapy dogs, Canine Good Citizens) or just loving family members regardless of their often horrific pasts. Besides improving the breeds’ image through stories, pet parents and advocates use I’m Not A Monster to promote shelter pet adoption, network animals in need and educate the public.

In addition, we’d like to unite the local communities in a common cause and shine a light on the plight of shelter animals across the U.S. through the “Monster” Holiday Drive™ campaign—a nationwide annual shelter drive benefiting homeless pets waiting in shelters, foster homes and temporary boarding facilities.

Part of our advocacy efforts includes educating the public on various aspects of living with dogs, with or without disabilities, to encourage adoption, especially of these ostracized breeds that are in great numbers in shelters everywhere due to overpopulation and the bans on pit bulls (read more about Breed-Specific Legislation and other BS discrimination).

We do rely on your support, those of you who share our compassion for the welfare of the neglected, abandoned, hurt, abused and dying animals. We have much work to do, and we welcome you to join in our efforts to advocate, educate, network and stand together for the sake of these “Monsters.”

Why we want to do this

This project started as part of venting my frustration around having a “mean breed” pit bull. Rosco is a rescue. My husband took him off a man who was beating and kicking him in Brooklyn, NY. He was a 10-month old puppy then and was malnourished—you can see his spine bone poking through his coat.

We weren’t planning to get a dog but we are dog people and we just can’t let him stay with his previous owner or surrender him to a shelter. That first night (January 2010), we got some dog food (and boy, was he hungry!) and we let him roam around the house. He was so excited about everything but we noticed that he was still pretty nervous around us; he would come to us but he wasn’t licking or barking, and he didn’t seem sure where he wanted to lay down. We placed our kitchen runner by the couch, had him lay on it and wrapped him with a soft blanket (it was a pretty cold winter). He was out like a light and we felt that for the first time in his young life, he felt safe. He slept and slept and slept for hours, and we couldn’t help but fell in love with this beautiful young boy.

When we got him, he had a severe ear infection and his ears had scabs that kept bleeding (he shook his head so hard it kept ripping the scabs off and we had blood splatters allover the house). The ear infection finally went away after a few weeks of treatment (and Rosco wearing a headband made of Hanes stocking—he was adorably good with it). The coat on his tail was coarse and patches of skin were showing; unfortunately, some of the patches stay bald and look like they’ll never grow back. But he still wags his tail vigorously and he is a healthy, happy, spoiled baby of ours.

When family members heard that we got a pit bull, the first reactions were either “you have to get rid of him” or “you have to put him down” accompanied by horror stories of the menacing pit bulls that mauled kids and attacked for no reason. I had a Rottweiler previously (good ol’ Guinness who passed in 2007) and I have gotten the same reaction. People forget that it’s not the breed, it’s the irresponsible owners; those who breed and train them for protection or fighting are the culprits who made American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bulldog and other large, strong breeds the menace of society.

Remember Michael Vick? (Yeah, he’s back in pro football, making stupid amount of money.) Luckily, his dogs aren’t put down (which is the standard procedure because the assumption is that they are too dangerous and too scarred to ever be trusted pets); they were given second chances and they blossomed.

These dogs are just happy they were given a chance for a different life and they know it. They try very hard to be brave and they will show you how much they appreciate you for giving them that chance.

Love & patience

I’m not saying it’s a walk in the park. Rosco was very protective of his food bowl in the beginning (he’s gotten so much better but he does give an occasional growl if it’s delicious human food) but you need to remember how this little guy was barely fed and was constantly hungry. So we train and discipline him (we still do everyday) and he blossoms into a very loving dog who is just so happy to see you every time you come home (even if you’ve only left for 2 minutes). And what a personality! He made us laugh more and enjoy life even more.

You may not remember but Petey from The Little Rascal is a pit bull, so was Helen Keller’s pet. My favorite story is of Popsicle, the number one US Customs dog, who at 5-month old was found  in a freezer during a drug raid by Buffalo police in 1997. His owner had decided to leave him to die, with many wounds on his neck caused by bites from other dogs. As you can see, it’s people who are the culprits for these “mean” breeds.

These dogs just want to be loved and they would do anything their owner asked them to do, even if it means fighting to their deaths. Now, how bad is the human breed?

We want better pet parents to promote better image of these lovely pets. I’m Not A Monster is a place where you can show how lovely these “monsters” are and how much they change your lives. If you want to help, please join us: Send us your dog stories and lets make I’m Not a Monster a playground for good dogs to shine and change public perception.

To each and everyone who came before us, were side by side with us, thank you for caring and for making a change, no matter how small you think it is. For that one dog who made it, it makes a whole lot of difference. A life’s worth!

Enjoy and as always, best paw forward!

Imelda Suriato
Founder, I’m Not a Monster

Petey & Spanky McFarland from “Our Gang” (The Little Rascals) in a publicity shot from Hal Roach studios designed to assure the public that Hollywood’s child actors did attend school, c. 1935 Copyright Delmar Watson Hollywood Archives
Hellen Keller and her pit bull. Hellen was a huge dog lover and always had one or two by her side. Unlike many blind people do today Hellen never used any of her dogs as guide dogs. Copyright U.S. Library of Congress.
I’m Not a MonsterTM(ImNotaMonster.org) is not a 501(c)3 organization, but it is essentially not-for-profit. It is a place for responsible pet parents to share their lovely pups and experience/stories to change the public’s perception of these misunderstood breeds and the discrimination they face.
I’m Not a MonsterTM is a philanthropic effort 100% funded privately by the founder. We will never do anything to make a profit nor will we subscribe to any action that does not support our aim to improve compassion and humanity through dog advocacy.
Why the stories on ImNotaMonster.org are from the dog’s point of view: We believe in giving the dogs a voice. We do this because the public and the media rarely give these “monsters” a chance and look through the dogs’ eyes. We want the focus to be on the dog’s experience, personality and outlook on life. We want the humans to take a back seat and let the dogs shine.
So please share, please adopt and please give these “monsters” a chance. And for those of you who have adopted, rescued, donated and shared any dog in need: THANK YOU!