Everyone who is anyone involved with Dog Rescues these days knows about the battles being fought against Breed Specific Legislation (BSL). Breed Specific Legislation is a law or group of laws that is passed by a legislative body either local to a community or statewide that targets a specific breed or breed type. The most common BSL being fought these days pertains to the Pit Bull. A specific case as of late is the sad case of Lennox, a dog in Belfast that was seized from his family two years ago because he was “of type” to have had Pit Bull in him. Lennox was in fact a Labrador/American Bulldog cross and despite a legal battle his family fought over the last couple years he was euthanized in July. Lennox was seized due to a “Dangerous Dog Act” despite the fact that he had been microchipped, neutered, DNA registered, insured, had never shown aggression or had a complaint registered against him. He even had a valid city-issued dog license.
Enter Andrew “Roo” Yori, owner of Wallace the Pit Bull, who lives in Rochester, MN. Roo has been fighting BSL legislation for years and he and his Pit Bull “Wallace” have been proving the people who believe that all Pit Bulls are vicious, that they are wrong. Many of you who are local to Rochester, MN or involved in disc dog events may know Wallace from hearing people talk about him, seeing him locally at Disc Dog Events, his personal website, his book website or his Facebook page. You have to hand it to Roo because he definitely knows how to get the word out there and has a clever way of doing it. Roo and Wallace were even featured on an episode of “It’s Me or the Dog” on Animal Planet last year. However, did you know that Wallace, who himself was rescued from a humane society before he was to be euthanized after being labeled a “liability” has been featured in the book ,“Wallace: The Pit Bull who conquered a sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls – One Flying Disc at a time,” written by author Jim Gorant (Author of New York Times Bestseller “The Lost Dogs”) The book, available now on (click links to go to websites) Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound, and iTunes, was released on August 30, 2012. It is the true story of how Wallace came to be a resident under the care of the staff (including Clara Yori) and volunteers of Paws and Claws Humane Society in Rochester, MN.
Video Link: Wallace’s Book Advertisement from http://www.wallacethepitbull.com
I first heard of Wallace from my friend Sue, who knew Roo Yori, his wife Clara, and of course Wallace from when Wallace was at a local “low kill” humane society, Paws and Claws. In fact, as a former board member and volunteer at Paws and Claws she was actually the one that named him after her favorite basketball player, Rasheed Wallace (read the book to find out the full story of how he came to be Wallace). It all began when she sent me a video (http://youtu.be/R_OpLc2qdug) Roo had made of Wallace doing “Rocky style” workouts that were set to music and introduced me to his story and website. I then met Roo and his wife Clara at a gathering at Sue’s house and have followed the story of Wallace and his family in the years since then. I moved to Ohio shortly after Roo and Clara adopted “Hector”, a Pit Bull rescued from NFL Star Michael Vick’s Dog Fighting Operation. As mentioned on Hector’s website the only thing Hector fights now is Discrimination. Recently, I had the opportunity to get the inside scoop on his brother Wallace’s story from Roo and I will share it with you now…
Me: When did you first become involved with rescue groups?
Roo: We started volunteering with shelters and rescues after we adopted our first two dogs in 2001. They were two mixed breed dogs and we couldn’t decide between the two, so we ended up adopting them both. We knew we couldn’t take them all home, but still wanted to help the dogs that were in that situation, so we began volunteering and doing what we could.
Me: What is it about the Bully Breeds that you love so much? What got you interested in them?
Roo: Wallace can take the credit for that. We’ve always just seen dogs as dogs, and didn’t buy into the negative stereotypes. When we brought Wallace into our home, it became evident that his actions as a good dog spoke much louder than my opinions against negative perceptions toward dogs that look like him. I felt he deserved the chance to prove himself, and am glad he got the opportunity to do just that.
Me: How and when did you first become acquainted with Wallace? Was that his name in the shelter?
Roo: Clara, my wife, met him when she went into work there one day. I met him a few weeks later when he was starting to deteriorate in the kennel environment. Unfortunately, he started to develop behavior issues because of the lack of constructive stimulation in the shelter. I started working with him during my volunteer hours to try and help him through that time.
Me: How long did you know Wallace in the shelter and when did you decide that you needed to bring him home?
Roo: We knew Wallace basically his entire time at the shelter, which was about 6 months or so. We decided to bring him home when we knew we were really his only option. We actually took him in as a foster, but after another 6 months of having him in our house with no serious interest from anybody in adopting him, we made him an official member of the family.
Me: When did you decide to train him to be a Disc Dog and how long did it take for him to catch on to it?
Roo: I got interested in the Disc Dog sport for one of our other dogs, Ajax. Clara was watching online videos of disc dogs with me and mentioned that the flips they were doing looked like what Wallace did when he jumped for toys. He loved toys and playing fetch, so I gave him a shot. He was a natural, and I ended up being the one that needed to learn how to play.
Me: How many years had he been in competition before he won his first major event?
Roo: Wallace started playing disc in March of 2005. His first bigger competition that he won was a UFO Major in early September of 2006 over Labor Day weekend. A couple months later, he went on to win the Cynosport World Games and the following year he won the 2007 Purina Incredible Dog Challenge National Championship.
Me: When did Wallace decide he had to have his own website?
Roo: Wallace was changing a lot of people’s minds at the parks and competitions, but I thought he could make a bigger impact if his abilities were showcased on a broader platform. So at the end of 2006 we took to the web and put Wallace out there for anybody and everybody to witness his actions speaking for themselves.
Me: How did the idea of the book come about?
Roo: Through our experience with Wallace, we realized how important it is for the dogs to be able to prove themselves, no matter what we might think is true. When the dogs from the Michael Vick dog fighting case were rescued, we felt very strongly that those dogs deserved a chance just like all the others. Long story short, we ended up adopting Hector, who was rescued from that situation. Jim Gorant wrote a great book called The Lost Dogs and interviewed us for that. We’ve gotten to know each other since, and I really like his writing and how he handled the situation. One day I called him up and asked what other projects he had in the works, and pitched him the story of Wallace, which proved too good to pass up.
Me: What’s next for Wallace and Hector?
Roo: Wallace is enjoying a well-earned retirement and will be helping to promote the book. Hector will continue to make appearances and do his job as a therapy dog whenever possible and provide comic relief for our household.
Now run out and grab the book at your local bookstore or buy it online and download it to your Kindle, Nook, iPhone, or iPad!
**Author’s Note: Shortly after I received the answers to Roo’s questions, Wallace became ill while they were in Illinois visiting Roo’s parents and had to be taken to an Emergency Veterinary Office for emergency surgery to remove his spleen due to uncontrollable hemorrhage (bleeding) due to a mass on his spleen. He is still in the hospital at this time and we are all saying prayers and anxiously watching for progress reports on his Facebook page. Best wishes to Wallace, Roo, Clara and the rest of their furry family! Prayers for a speedy recovery Wallace and I will keep you all updated as news arrives! Thank you so much to Roo and Clara Yori for their cooperation for this article. I truly appreciate it!