About Catherine hedgeS
Catherine Hedges was a lifelong animal advocate who touched the lives of not only countless animals but also the people involved in their rescue and adoptions. She was a fierce activist for not only dogs but for every animal. She would work tirelessly to save dogs, cats, guinea pigs, cows, horses, deer, turkey, hamsters; you name it and she saved it! This educated woman with a Masters in Psychology chose to spend her days serving, loving, and providing for homeless animals. Her spirit, strength and unwavering passion is what most of us remember about her. In August of 2011, at only the age of forty-two, Catherine passed away after a long battle with cancer. She left this world far too soon but her legacy and spirit remain.
In 1998, while pursuing a PhD, Catherine was asked to help out a few hours a week coordinating rescue for a few dogs that were housed at a vet clinic. Those few hours and those few dogs expanded quickly. That initial small commitment soon blossomed into the Furry Friends Foundation, the first rescue that Catherine founded. She adopted one of the first Furry Friends Foundation dogs herself, and he became her ongoing inspiration. Rocco, an Akita/Pit Bull mix, was her soul mate dog. While with Furry Friends, she became extremely involved in working with the pit bull type dogs as they came into the shelter in droves; these dogs were often neglected and abused. In addition to rescuing and placing pets, Catherine worked on the front lines of dog fighting raids in Chicago and fought against Breed Specific Legislation throughout the country. She played a large part in the South Holland dog fighting raid in 2007 and helped the efforts of animal rescue after Hurricane Katrina; an interview of that experience can be found at the bottom of this webpage.
Helping after Hurricane Katrina was a pivotal point in Catherine’s life, as she was in a terrible car accident on the way back to Chicago from New Orleans. She was hospitalized for several weeks, her many broken bones and associated x-rays led to a heart-breaking diagnosis of Stage III breast cancer. Catherine was forced to give up involvement with Furry Friends Foundation as she battled cancer. When she completed treatment the following Spring, she decided to leave Chicago to start a quieter life in the country. The calls for help and assistance for animals followed her there. With her cancer now in remission she created a new rescue and advocacy organization, Don’t Bully My Breed. Catherine’s new focus was to specifically help and educate others about large bully breeds such as the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bulldog, and mixes thereof. Catherine saw an ironic connection between this strong, loving breed and the humans who took advantage of these dogs. She saw people running dog fights, breeding these dogs for money, and creating Breed Specific Laws that legalized pets being pulled from loving homes to be euthanized for no other reason than their breed. She recognized that reporters and news agencies sensationalized negative stories involving any dog that so much as looked like a “pit bull” simply for ratings. Who was “bullying” who here?
Don’t Bully My Breed gave Catherine an outlet for her knowledge and much needed presence in the rescue community. She not only had an empathetic heart but the experience to educate others on safe handling, basic training, behavior modification, and management techniques. This made her highly respected and sought out in the rescue world. She dedicated every waking hour to saving animals, speaking to new adopters, giving rescuers advice, answering emails on animals in need of new homes and safe refuge. Don’t Bully My Breed was originally created in Catherine’s vision. Today we strive to continue upholding our name and Catherine’s vision by providing a safe haven for this misunderstood animal and to educate this country on why it is not ok to bully our breed!