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Published: 2/14/2013

John Robinson Block to be recognized by Pittsburgh 'pit bull' advocacy group

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Blade, is being recognized by a Pittsburgh-based “pit bull” rescue, education, and advocacy group.

The group, Hello Bully, is presenting Mr. Block with the first Hello Bully Hero Award, an annual recognition of greatness in the community. Mr. Block is being commended for the work he did in Ohio with helping to change breed-specific legislation, said Nicole Meloy, director of development and events for the nonprofit group.

“We follow all [breed-specific legislation] issues very closely but especially this one in Ohio, since it was in our own backyard,” Ms. Meloy said. “We were recently made aware of John Block’s efforts in spearheading the initiative to eliminate Ohio’s BSL and were extremely impressed and grateful for what he had helped to accomplish. Any person that has that much passion about an issue, especially regarding pit bulls, is a remarkable individual in our eyes.”

The group is honoring Mr. Block for taking a stand for this often-misunderstood breed and to thank him for fighting for the dogs and for fighting for what is right, she said.

“We could not think of anyone more worthy of our first-ever Hello Bully Hero Award than Mr. Block,” Ms. Meloy said.

The award will be presented Saturday at the group’s “Lovers Not Fighters” gala. The event, which will be from 7 to 11 p.m. at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland, Pa., is the group’s biggest fund-raiser of the year. It will feature both raffle and live and silent-auction items including original art, gift certificates, and gift baskets from local vendors as well as custom dog accessories.

Last year’s gala raised $47,000, enabling the group to spay/neuter area “pit bulls” at a record-breaking rate of more than a dog a day in 2012. Since 2009, more than 1,500 “pit bulls” have been spay/neutered and vaccinated through the Pit Fix Plus program.

The group also operates Hello Bully’s Halfway House in Cranberry Township, Pa., where they take in homeless “pit bulls” and find loving homes for them.

Mr. Block supported state Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova Township) in introducing House Bill 14, which changed the Ohio Revised Code to no longer automatically classify “pit bulls” as dangerous dogs.

Jean Keating, founder and president of Lucas County Pit Crew, said Mr. Block helped change both Lucas County and state law in terms of how “pit bulls” are treated. Mr. Block and The Blade were critical of former Dog Warden Tom Skeldon, who believed all “pit bulls” should be killed.

“[Mr. Block’s] efforts have saved thousands of lives and changed people’s perceptions not just in our county, or our state, but rather all over the world,” Ms. Keating said.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.



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