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A road warrior for pit bulls

Posted: December 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Michelle Sathe and dog Kara pose for a photo in Moab, Utah.  Michelle Sathe and dog Kara pose for a photo in Moab, Utah. 
Michelle Sathe and dog Kara pose for a photo in Moab, Utah. 

What would possess a person to take a homeless pit bull across America not just once, but twice? For Michelle Sathe, it was the opportunity to write “Pit Stops 2: Adventures with Kara” and tell the story of a pregnant stray from a high-kill Los Angeles County animal shelter.

“Pit Stops 2” tracks the duo’s adventures across 30 states in 50 days in the summer of 2011.

Sathe and Kara explored some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes and ate incredible regional cuisine. Most of all, they discovered what is happening with America’s homeless pets and pit bulls.

Sathe will sign copies of “Pit Stops 2” at Kriser’s For Your Pet in Valencia from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday with $5 from every sale benefitting AngelDogs Foundation (Adoptable dogs from AngelDogs Foundation Deaf Dog Ranch will also be at the signing).

“Like my first book, ‘Pit Stops’, this is an insight to the tragic realities facing pit bulls, which are the most common canine victims of fighting, breeding, neglect and abuse. From rural communities to inner cities, pit bulls make up anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of a shelter’s dog population and most of them don’t make it out alive,” Sathe said. “It’s heartbreaking, especially after knowing firsthand how wonderful pit bulls can be. Not only have I volunteered with these dogs for many years, I am the proud mother of Sam and Buster, two rescued pit bull mixes. In my experience, pit bulls are the friendliest, funniest, most affectionate dogs around.”

Pit bull advocates, like Sathe, say that public perception of pit bulls is inaccurate.

“There are everyday Americans fighting to restore the pit bull’s tarnished image. They educate with facts and combat hysteria. They train their dogs to be canine good citizens and therapy dogs. They provide resources to pet owners that want to do better, but often can’t afford to. They are my heroes,” she said.

Kara also became a hero to Sathe.

“Though she had an incredibly sad backstory, Kara’s spirit is indomitable. She effortlessly charmed everyone we met on the road, from strangers to hardcore advocates. Kara is the true example of the approximately 5 million pit bull type dogs residing in America, not the select few that aggressively act out due to human irresponsibility, negligence, and mistreatment,” Sathe said. “Luckily for Kara, her story has a happy ending.”

Sathe first spotted Kara on Kyle Harris’ Facebook page. Once Kara’s puppies had been born and adopted, she sat alone on death row at the shelter. Harris, a Canyon Country resident and long-time shelter volunteer, took Kara into her home as a foster dog so she wouldn’t be euthanized.

With gentle amber eyes, and exuberant dog-friendly personality, Sathe felt Kara was a natural for the role of pit bull ambassador for her national book tour and to become the subject of her second book.

“Like Loren, the dog I wrote about in ‘Pit Stops,’ Kara was looking for a home and I was looking for a friend to accompany me through the long, lonely miles,” Sathe said. “Writing ‘Pit Stops 2’” reminded me how big a difference one special dog can make and why it’s crucial to never stop fighting for those that have no voice.”

Today Sathe continues to fight for homeless pets and make a difference in the pet overpopulation problem with her work as program and development director of AngelDogs Foundation, a Santa Clarita Valley-based nonprofit mobile spay/neuter clinic and deaf dog rescue. Since its inception in May 2009, AngelDogs Foundation has spayed or neutered more than 22,000 dogs and cats.

“One of the lessons my travels taught me is that an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. Every time you spay or neuter an animal, you are saving dozens from being born in the short-term and many thousands in the long-term,” Sathe said. “I passionately believe that spay/neuter is the most crucial part of the solution to stop the killing at municipal shelters. I’m proud to work for an organization that makes spay/neuter affordable for just about anyone and provides free spay/neuter whenever it can through grants and other funding.”

As for hitting the road again, Sathe is decidedly homebound. Her youngest dog, Buster, recently became paralyzed after two of his spinal discs ruptured and her oldest dog Sam is 13 and nearly deaf.

“I’ve been so fortunate to travel across country with Loren and Kara, to be their auntie for two tremendous summer adventures. My own dogs need me now, though,” Sathe said. “It’s time for the road warrior to park it for a while.”

Meet Michelle Sathe and get a signed copy of “Pit Stops 2,” noon to 3 p.m., Saturday on Kriser’s For Your Pet, 24272 Valencia Blvd., Valencia. For more information, visit




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