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Stories of Compassion, Salvation and Misperceptions
409 backers pledged $28,731 to help bring this project to life.

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A pit bull fight dog willingly accepts an embrace from a responder with the ASPCA near Bethany, Missouri, March 24, 2013; its last day on a chain.
A pit bull fight dog willingly accepts an embrace from a responder with the ASPCA near Bethany, Missouri, March 24, 2013; its last day on a chain.

I'm Mike Bizelli, a photographer in St. Louis, Missouri. My project is a book, Last Day on a Chain, a photo-documentary of compassion, salvation and misperceptions. For the past 20 years I have documented over 100 companion animal rescues of one sort or another for the Humane Society of Missouri and the ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Ten of those rescues have been for pit bull fight dogs. 

Last Day on a Chain, Stories of Compassion, Salvation and Misperceptions  sheds light on the evil blood sport of dog fighting, overcomes the negative stereotypes that pit bulls suffer in the media and pays homage to the animal welfare agencies and legions of compassionate rescuers, shelter workers and foster and adoption families. 


Alabama 367 rescue, August 23, 2013
Alabama 367 rescue, August 23, 2013

This is your opportunity to make this compassionate project come to life.  Please pledge to help me reach our goal and get these pages into print. Together we can give these dogs a second chance.

Alabama 367 rescue,  August 23, 2013
Alabama 367 rescue, August 23, 2013
It's playtime for a survivor of a northwest Missouri fight dog rescue at a temporary shelter in Grandview, Missouri, May 2, 2013.
It's playtime for a survivor of a northwest Missouri fight dog rescue at a temporary shelter in Grandview, Missouri, May 2, 2013.
Sample page from the chapter, "Rehabilitation Shelters"
Sample page from the chapter, "Rehabilitation Shelters"


Josey, a Missouri 500 survivor, gives Jim Wall a nuzzle. "She is a gentle soul and loves everyone," Jim said.
Josey, a Missouri 500 survivor, gives Jim Wall a nuzzle. "She is a gentle soul and loves everyone," Jim said.

Most Americans are under the impression that organized dog fighting in this country is no longer a problem since the high profile arrest, conviction and prison sentence of professional football player Michael Vick in 2007 for promoting this barbaric blood sport. At the same time, most people think pit bulls, and particularly those used in organized dog fighting, are by nature too dangerous and unfit for human adoption. Nothing could be further from the truth. Last Day on a Chain sets the record straight by taking readers through a series of high profile fight dog rescues since the Vick case, followed by convincing stories of very successful rehabilitation and family placements. There are 36 rescued fight dogs with their families featured. 

Dog fighting is a secret, underground blood sport as reflected in this warning near a fight pit deep in the woods near Hannibal, Missouri.  Tim Rickey of the Humane Society of Missouri leads a rescued dog to safety during the largest fight dog rescued in US history, the Missouri 500 on  July 8, 2009.
Dog fighting is a secret, underground blood sport as reflected in this warning near a fight pit deep in the woods near Hannibal, Missouri. Tim Rickey of the Humane Society of Missouri leads a rescued dog to safety during the largest fight dog rescued in US history, the Missouri 500 on July 8, 2009.

Dog fighting is everywhere. It's in large metropolitan cities and in rural, isolated areas and maybe in your neighborhood. It's a secret, underground criminal activity that encompasses all socioeconomic classes. Several animal welfare agencies estimate that there are thousands of dog fighters in this country. That means there could be tens of thousands of dogs on chains in the fight business. Authorities are exposing other criminal activities associated with dog fighting; illegal drugs and weapons. 

Dog fighting can be found in large, metropolitan cities...like the Bronx on June 21, 2012.
Dog fighting can be found in large, metropolitan cities...like the Bronx on June 21, 2012.
...or in the backyard of a medium-sized city like Columbus, Ohio, April 5, 2016...
...or in the backyard of a medium-sized city like Columbus, Ohio, April 5, 2016...

...or in the middle of nowhere in northwest Missouri, March 24, 2013...
...or in the middle of nowhere in northwest Missouri, March 24, 2013...

Your support for Last Day on a Chain, Stories of Compassion, Salvation and Misperceptions  will give voice to the estimated thousands of fight dogs on chains in the United States. It is up to law enforcement, the judicial system and perhaps you to stop it. If you see dogs on heavy logging chains, living isolated lives, they might be involved with dog fighting and other criminal activities. Call your local animal control, police or sheriff's office and ask them to investigate.  

The design, copy and all pertinent files for Last Day on a Chain are complete. Negotiations with a publisher are almost complete.  The book is hard cover with a jacket, 144 pages with 205 photographs, 11 x 8.5 inches.  It is divided into chapters: Rescues & Redemption; Rehabilitation Shelters; Waiting for a Family;  and Coming Home.


Animal care technician Shari Gordon has her hands full during bath time, August 1, 2012,  with two survivors from the Bronx, New York, rescue several weeks before.
Animal care technician Shari Gordon has her hands full during bath time, August 1, 2012, with two survivors from the Bronx, New York, rescue several weeks before.
Fight dogs come in all shapes and sizes.
Fight dogs come in all shapes and sizes.
Human interaction is paramount in determining the success of a rescued fight dog. Responder Aldwin Roman gives a workout to a Bronx, New York, rescued fight dog using bales of pine shavings and a rubber ball, Castleton, New York, July 24, 2012.
Human interaction is paramount in determining the success of a rescued fight dog. Responder Aldwin Roman gives a workout to a Bronx, New York, rescued fight dog using bales of pine shavings and a rubber ball, Castleton, New York, July 24, 2012.
Linda Clouse gives Alabama 367 survivor, Allie,  a hug after a drive to the park, their favorite pastime.
Linda Clouse gives Alabama 367 survivor, Allie, a hug after a drive to the park, their favorite pastime.

Kya, on the left was rescued as a pup in St. Louis, in October, 2012.  Rudy, right, was found wandering the streets of north St. Louis two years later. Both rehabilitated by MuttsnStuff, a bully-breed rescue group, they were adopted by the Schnare family of St. Charles, Missouri.
Kya, on the left was rescued as a pup in St. Louis, in October, 2012. Rudy, right, was found wandering the streets of north St. Louis two years later. Both rehabilitated by MuttsnStuff, a bully-breed rescue group, they were adopted by the Schnare family of St. Charles, Missouri.

Now I must give credit where it is due. I'm indebted to my friends on "Team Craig": Craig Martin Simon and Craig Workman. Mr. Workman is credited as the editor, but he also offered encouragement and had great suggestions on how to organize and present the story. Mr. Simon brought those ideas to life in the excellent design and layout. I think it makes Last Day on a Chain truly unique. The video was produced by my friend, Melvin Ide. He and I have been together on several animal rescues with the Humane Society of Missouri. My wife, Kay, was a loving supporter, rewrite and photo editor, advisor and patient listener.  And many thanks to the dozens of families that allowed me to photograph them and their dogs. This is their story. I'm only the messenger.

And thanks to you for supporting this project.  These dogs deserve a better fate.


The Rewards

Two images are being offered as print rewards: the cover, "The Embrace"

The Embrace.  A pit bull fight dog willingly accepts an embrace from a responder with the American  Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals near Bethany, Missouri, on March 24, 2013. Sixty-four pit bulls were rescued.
The Embrace. A pit bull fight dog willingly accepts an embrace from a responder with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals near Bethany, Missouri, on March 24, 2013. Sixty-four pit bulls were rescued.


and "Unchained" 

Unchained. Responders from the Humane Society of Missouri were gathering chains and collars as evidence in the largest dog fight rescue in US history, the Missouri 500. I was composing a shot when this little angel photo-bombed it. That's what I like to think it was. What irony! All these dogs now without their chains and there she was, dancing on those symbols of cruelty, mocking them.
Unchained. Responders from the Humane Society of Missouri were gathering chains and collars as evidence in the largest dog fight rescue in US history, the Missouri 500. I was composing a shot when this little angel photo-bombed it. That's what I like to think it was. What irony! All these dogs now without their chains and there she was, dancing on those symbols of cruelty, mocking them.

Rescued Animal Story Cards--All of the following 16 animals are rescues. These images are offered as  a set of 16-5.5 x 8.5 inch postcards, each with a descriptive caption and an additional image on the back.  They come neatly wrapped with a paper band and thank you card.  This set will make a great gift for your animal-loving friends. 








Budget--Your pledge to Last Day on a Chain, Stories of Compassion, Salvation and Misperceptions will go towards the first 1000 copies for publication, Animal Story Cards, caption cards, production services, distribution/shipping, shipping supplies, book storage, promotion rewards and Kickstarter fees. Any additional pledges will go towards publication of additional copies. Eighty-five percent of the budget is for the publishing and related fulfillment expenses for the book. 

After the Kickstarter campaign is complete it could be 60-90 days before the book is actually published.  Rewards should be fulfilled before that timeline. 

Risks and challenges

Budgeting for the actual printing of the book, fulfillment from the publisher, selecting rewards, packaging, and calculating shipping rates have been the biggest challenges. The book and rewards will be shipped from two different sources. The publisher will ship the book. It will be up to me to ship the rewards. I have friends and family standing by to cheerfully assist.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    Pledge $10 or more

    Make a pledge of $10 or more with no reward other than the good feeling of helping a voiceless dog off of a chain and into the home of a loving family. We will send you a special thank you email and keep you up-to-date on our progress. Thank you!

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    Rescued Animal Story Cards

    A set of sixteen- 5.5 x 8.5 inch photo story cards of rescued animals. In the past 20 years Mike has documented over 100 animal rescues. These are a few of his favorites. Twister, a miracle horse, Binks the goose, a pot-bellied pig named Walter and other dogs, cats, mules, horses, goats are featured. Just scroll down to "Rewards" for a look at all sixteen. A description and brief history for each rescued animal is printed on the back, along with an additional image. The cards, printed on a 100# Gloss Cover Stock, are wrapped in a paper band with the Heart/Chainlink logo. Plus a personal thank you card. These will make a great gift to the animal lover in you life.

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    Signed print, The Embrace (cover)

    A Kickstarter Special, The Embrace, an 11x14 inch professional grade Fujicolor Crystal Archive Lustre print mounted on Styrene, signed, ready for framing. The cover image was taken during a rescue by the ASPCA in northwest Missouri, March 24, 2013. Also included will be a caption card and a personal thank you. Offered at this price only during the Kickstarter launch.

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    Signed Print, Unchained

    A Kickstarter Special. Unchained, an 11x14 inch professional grade Fujicolor Crystal Archive Lustre print mounted on Styrene, ready for framing. A caption card and a personal thank you are also included. The Humane Society of Missouri had just rescued 25 pit bull fight dogs during operations of the largest fight dog rescue in U.S. history, the Missouri 500, on August 27, 2009, in Calhoun County, Illinois. I was composing a shot of the collar and chain when this little angel made an appearance. The irony! All these dogs on their last day on a chain, and there she was, dancing on those symbols of cruelty. Compassion wins the day. Offered at this price only during the Kickstarter launch.

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    Pledge US$ 38 or more About US$ 38

    Signed copy of Last Day on a Chain

    Through compelling images and true stories, Last Day on a Chain, Stories of Compassion, Salvation and Misperceptions, sheds light on the barbaric blood sport of dog fighting, changes the negative perception of pit bulls and pays homage to the legions of compassionate people who rescue, rehabilitate, foster and adopt these maligned dogs. The book is hard cover, 11 x 8.5 inches, 144 pages with 205 images. It is unique, compelling and will make a wonderful gift to those compassionate animal-loving friends in your life.

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    The Book and a set of Animal Story Cards

    A signed copy of Last Day on a Chain, one set of Animal Story Cards and a personally signed thank you. A limited offer only on Kickstarter

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    Pledge US$ 115 or more About US$ 115

    The Book, Animal Story Cards & Prints

    A signed copy of Last Day on a Chain, plus one set of Animal Story Cards, a signed copy of both prints, Unchained and The Embrace, the caption cards for the prints and a personally signed thank you card. Offered at this price only on Kickstarter. Book and rewards may arrive at different times.

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    Pledge US$ 240 or more About US$ 240

    Two of Each

    Receive two signed copies of Last Day on a Chain, two sets of Animal Story Cards and 2 each signed prints of The Embrace and Unchained (that's 4 signed prints). Also receive the caption cards for the prints and a personally signed thank you. At a savings of $23 this is offered only on the Kickstarter launch at this price. Books and rewards may arrive at different times.

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Funding period

- (31 days)