SUN CITY CENTER – Animal rights activist Vaughan Chambers has a special affinity for pit bulls, which is rather strange considering she was bitten by one when she was a child and ultimately lost her left leg.
“The reason I advocate for them is because I truly believe they’re beautiful animals,” she said. “When pit bulls are raised in loving environments, they shine as protectors and companions.
“The problem is that many are made to be aggressive and hostile. It’s the people who train them who are at fault any time anyone gets attacked or bitten. All dogs bite when they’re in survival mode.”
On Monday Sun City Center Funeral Home will host A Leg to Stand On from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 1851 Rickenbacker Drive to help Chambers raise funds for a permanent prothesis, which will cost $14,800. The event will feature Asian Fusion food, beer, wine, a 50/50 drawing, silent auction, door prizes and wine pull. The cost is $12 at the door.
Members of Ye Notorious Krewe of the Peg Leg Pirate will be there accepting tax-deductible donations on Chambers’ behalf and through their website, www.peglegpirate.org.
Chambers, 40, was attacked in 1983 by a pit bull bred for fighting in Pensacola. It came from an abandoned lot where the owner had 22 other pits staked to the ground. The emaciated dog escaped its confines and tried to pull her back into the yard, biting down to the bone and taking a huge chunk of muscle from her leg. The dog had to be shot, the other pit bulls euthanized and the owner was sent to jail for six months. Chambers required 286 stitches.
Since then the Riverview resident has had more than 20 surgeries to save her leg. Because her father was in the military at the time of the incident, Chambers underwent some of the same types of experimental procedures soldiers endure when faced with possible amputation.
About 10 years ago she began dating her husband, John, whose sister owned several pit bulls.
“At first I was very apprehensive to be around them, so she would put the dogs up,” Chambers said. “But then I saw how lovingly she interacted with them and I realized there was a good side to these dogs.”
Last May she had a vascular ultrasound and learned there was no longer any oxygen flow in her lower left leg. It immediately had to be removed below the knee.
She walks on a temporary prosthesis paid for through funds raised in June, but now the muscles in her leg have shrunk to the point where she needs the replacement.
Chambers has been invited to join the nonprofit Krewe and will help raise funds for other amputees. She also plans to turn A Leg to Stand On into a nonprofit group and continue her efforts on behalf of pit bulls to change public perception about the breed.
For further information, call (813) 671-8624.