The Great Pit Ball - Movie, Event and Fundraiser

March 27, 2009 : 2:33 PM
A project of love to help America’s dog

The Great Pit Ball was the brainchild of All Or Nothing Tattoo proprietor, Brandon Bond – he’s an artist, director, gallerist and pit bull enthusiast! The event on March 14 featured a silent auction, gourmet cuisine, a movie premiere and a rock concert – all to benefit Villalobos Rescue Center. Villalobos is one of the country’s largest pit bull rescues, and like many animal charities dependent on donations, they have been hit hard in the economic crisis. Best Friends Animal Society was one of the sponsors and had a booth at the event to help educate guests on the challenges these dogs face every day.

The movie premiere featured “Vicktory to the Underdog: Hell and Back” a dogumentary by Bond to help expose the stereotypes of pit bulls and some of the movie’s leading stars were dogs saved from Michael Vick’s dog fighting bust. While Bond was making the film, he knew he wanted to donate all of the proceeds to help save pit bulls and when he met Tia Maria Torres of Villalobos, he knew he had met the future recipient of all his hard work.

Tia with four-legged friend enjoy the event

The inspiration behind this monumental undertaking was one dog: Cain. Over a decade ago, when Bond was living in Texas he adopted his first pit bull type dog from a rescue. Being a tattoo artist he was familiar with the dark side associated with pit bulls and the people that cause them so much grief. While he didn’t condone it, he was able to talk to many different people about the plight of the pit bull and the hardships they face. He began by changing hearts and minds from the inside.

“Cain taught me a lot about dogs and people. He started it all for me and from him I started fostering other pit bulls in need. As the time passed, I moved around and settled down by getting married but I always had him, he was a constant and loyal companion,” Bond said.

Artwork donated by John Lloyd to benefit Villalobos Rescue Center

Many people in his demographic were still breeding their dogs. Even Bond, who realizing Cain was getting up there in age, decided to breed him once to get a ‘little Cain’ to continue his legacy.

“Of Cain’s five puppies, none of them were anything like him! The one puppy we kept turned out to be the most misbehaved dog we have! I learned the hard way that you can’t breed the perfect dog and expect to get a little clone. Now we had four puppies to place and that was four dogs that didn’t get out of a shelter because of what I did.”

While Bond rued his actions, he has been able to turn the story around by sharing it with his friends and colleagues. And it’s been working! He’s gotten quite a few breeders to stop breeding and start rescuing.

Red carpet moment as guests party for a cause

By the time Bond got to Atlanta he was known in the pit bull rescue world. The day the Georgia SPCA called to see if he could help with some of the rescued Vick pit bulls, he fully embraced the opportunity to further help save dogs and be part of the bigger solution in changing stereotypes. The Georgia SPCA knew they had found their man as Bond was a well respected rescuer in the community. (To watch the video of retrieving the Vick dogs click here)

What they didn’t know was that Bond was already knee-deep in making his dogumentary. He was able to film the rescue of the Vick dogs but he was not able to use it until the gag order was lifted.

“The whole process was very gangster – secretive and underground. We were almost done with the film, but here was a whole other opportunity to continue to show the world how wonderful these dogs are. There was one dog in particular, that my good friend Daron James adopted, her name was Seven. He saved her life, and in turn she saved his. He was having some difficult times, he had just lost a beloved friend, and she was the best thing to happen to him. A tragic accident cut Seven’s life short, and even though the film was finished at that point, we added more to help show what this relationship meant. Seven is very much an icon. She was supposed to be dead before the judge released her. Pit bulls face so many adversaries, we want people to see how they really are and stop treating them so unfairly.”

Brandon Bond with Seven

After Seven passed away, Bond went out to California to shoot some additional scenes with one of the film’s stars, Pixie Acia. Acia volunteers every Saturday at Villalobos Rescue Center, so it was natural that they would go there to film. Bond was blown away by the center!

“I had never seen such a professional and awesome operation full of rescued pit bulls like this one! It was like a big sandwich of love: pits helping people and people helping pit bulls. This was the place the proceeds to my movie would go! I had never intended on keeping the money, but hadn’t seen the perfect place until that day.”

They have spent the last year working together – and right before Christmas 2008, Torres indicated the center was in dire straits. She asked for emergency help, and she got it!

Pixie Acia poses with Clint Eastwood in Vegas

We started right away with an online auction, which raised between $20,000 – $30,000 in about two months. Then Bond started a donation campaign that raised over $6,000 but the next big fundraiser was the Great Pit Ball. They were able to present Torres with a check for $25,000 and they’re still processing donations.

They were able to accomplish more than they thought, even with the bumps in getting an event of this magnitude underway in a place like Las Vegas. With the help of his assistant and the constant support of his wife Ashley, even when the chips looked down they pressed on through and now Villalobos should be sitting financially pretty until the launch of their new show this summer on Animal Planet! (spoiler alert!)

Even famed rapper Ice-T came out to lend support!

Bond’s journey from pet lover to pit bull advocate has proven what one man can do. His actions have saved countless pit bull type dogs and his parting words echo true.

“We need to put our petty differences aside and get unified for the dogs. These loving dogs are abused, euthanized and neglected from all sides. We’ve all got to do the right thing for them.”

Support the Cause!

Buy the Vicktory to the Underdog video and the proceeds go to helping pit bulls!
Click here for more information.

To check out more photos from the Great Pit Ball click here

by Denise LeBeau, Best Friends staff