(ANIMAL RESCUE) Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph has recently offered to pay $10,000 for the rehabilitation and adoption of a male pitbull. After hearing the story of the pooch who was discovered 15 feet down a drain pipe in mid-July, the basketball player and pit bull advocate arranged for the dog to be cared for at Villalobos Rescue Center in New Orleans. Read on to learn more about Randolph’s efforts and the pup’s plight.  —  Global Animal
A film crew from Animal Planet’s “Pit Bulls & Parolees” TV show is on hand as parolee Dameon Gant (left) helps Memphis Grizzlies player Zach Randolph load Little Z-Bo into a van Friday at Memphis Animal Shelter, to travel to Villalobos Rescue Center in New Orleans. Photo Credit: Mike Maple, Commercial Appeal

Scott Carroll, Commercial Appeal

Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph followed close behind as a wary young pit bull was carried out of the Memphis Animal Services Shelter on Friday. Uncurling from the arms of an animal services employee, the dog was placed in a crate bound for New Orleans’ Villalobos Rescue Center, a veterinary facility specializing in pit bull care.

Before leaving, the 6-foot-9 Randolph gently poked his fingers through the crate door and said goodbye to the dog, which was named “Little Z-Bo” in his honor.

“It’s remarkable that he’s still alive,” Randolph later said of the stray pooch.

The dog was found July 9 in a drainpipe near the Shelby Farms Green Line trail at Waring Road — scared, weak and suffering from heartworms and several skin infections. MAS officials said he had been trapped there for several days. After hearing about the dog and contacting Villalobos’ owner Tia Torres, whose work is the subject of Animal Planet’s “Pit Bulls and Parolees” reality TV show, Randolph said Friday that he donated $10,000 to the center to cover Little Z-Bo’s continued physical and emotional rehabilitation, and will give more if needed.

The breed is close to Randolph’s heart, he said.

“I’ve got eight or nine of them, and I breed them and sell pups,” he said. “And I take them to shows.”

An Animal Planet TV crew filmed the dog’s departure Friday, interviewing Randolph and 15-year-old Caitlin Rogers, who found the trapped dog. Torres and a parolee from the show, 34-year-old California-native Damoen Gant, were on hand to help transport the dog to New Orleans. Speaking on pit bulls’ reputations as aggressive animals, Torres drew parallels between the checkered pasts of the breed and MAS, whose reputation was tainted by cases of family pets gone missing or mistakenly euthanized, and Randolph, whose NBA career before joining the Grizzlies was marred by frequent run-ins with police.

“We’ve offered to help (Memphis Animal Services) rebuild their controversial past because none of us are strangers to controversial pasts,” Torres said with Randolph, Gant and Little Z-Bo by her side. “It’s time to move forward and let the past be the past, and it took this little pit bull mix, Little Z-Bo, to bring us all together.”

Torres expects the dog’s rehab to be lengthy. Little Z-Bo had to be restrained with control poles after being rescued in July, and was a skittish subject of attention Friday.

“Everybody looks at pit bulls as bad things, but people don’t understand it’s a good dog and it’s like any other dog,” Randolph said. “It depends on how you treat them and raise them.”

Memphis Animal Services administrator James Rogers shared his sentiment.

“The pit bulls have a bad reputation currently … as being a fighter. And that’s because that’s what they are trained by some people to do,” he said.

Randolph said he might try to reunite with the dog, which he gave a blue and gray Grizzlies collar, after its treatment is complete. But if he doesn’t, Randolph said he’ll still feel good about Little Z-Bo’s future.

“He’ll have another life and have a chance to be with a family some day,” he said.

More Commercial Appeal: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/aug/04/grizzlies-zach-randolph-donates-10000-to-give/?partner=RSS