The Cardoso Zoo

By Pamela Cardoso

Until about 9 years ago, I was indifferent to “pitbulls”. That all changed when I met Jason Flatt. At that time, Jason recently founded Friends to the Forlorn and was bringing his newly-rescued dogs to the vet office where I worked. Many dogs came in, but the one who really touched my heart was Quinn.


Pam & Quinny

Quinn was a true “fighting dog”. Highly dog aggressive and shut down to the world, he would cower in his kennel at the vet hospital where he was in boarding. The slightest noise, touch, or tennis ball was just too much for Quinn to handle. After months of building trust, he began to emerge from his shell. He and I would become the best of friends. We would frequently go for walks or hang out in the yard at the Pitbull Palace, where he later went to live. Those tennis balls, that just months before were too scary, became one of his favorite toys. He even gradually began to make a doggie friend: his roommate, Gerrie. This highly dog aggressive, terrified fighting dog was transforming before my very eyes.

I was brought to tears the day I witnessed Quinn interact with another dog outside of his kennel. I was walking him and began to step aside as Jason was walking nearby with Gerrie. Jason called out, “No, stay. Watch this!” Worried but intrigued, I watched as Gerrie, this petite little pittie girl, not only walked straight up to Quinn…but play pounced to him. No aggression from Quinn, just a tail wag and a smile.

To be a part of his transformation was amazing and eye opening. Unfortunately, Quinn passed a few years ago after fighting a hard fight against babesia (a tick-borne infection common in fighting dogs). I was given the honor of giving him in death what I couldn’t in life – a forever home. He remains with us along with all of our other pets who have passed.


Pam at the Pitbull Palace with Adopt-a-Bull Stella

While I was falling in love with Quinn, along came a small, mangy, stinky, smiley girl. She lived in the kennel next to Quinn at the vet hospital. We named her Charlie Girl. I instantly fell in love. The timing was not right for us to take her, but oh how I wanted her. The mange cleared and she was adopted, but a few months later I got a call from Jason. Charlie Girl was coming back to FTTF and had nowhere to go. The circumstances had changed at home and my husband, Tony, reluctantly agreed to foster her. He proceeded to sleep with one eye open as she slept next to his head that first night. He had fallen victim to the media hype and was petrified of her.

It didn’t take long for Tony to realize the media had not been telling the truth and, just a few days later, it was him who said she wasn’t ever leaving our house. She fit and she was home. To this day, Charlie Girl continues to be an amazing, sweet, loving girl who goes everywhere with us. She became our first pitbull foster fail.

It was a few years before we decided to foster again. I spent a good bit of time with the Forlorn Family and all of the dogs who would come and go through the rescue. As my involvement with FTTF progressed, Tony admittedly wanted to join me. We soon discovered we both shared a passion for these dogs and for fostering.

Titan was our second foster and the beginning of the “Cardoso Zoo” (our loving nickname for our ever growing pack). A sickly pup from a bad cruelty case, he joined us in 2013. It was hard letting him go; a mixture of both happiness and sadness. The array of emotion we experienced was so worth watching a pup get his forever home.


Renewing vows with Charlie & Austin

A couple more came and went. Enter a shy 8-week-old pup named Austin. While awaiting a forever home, Tony and Austin developed a strong bond. After a couple of failed attempts at a forever home, we discovered the failures occurred because he has already found his forever home: ours. And, just like Charlie Girl had years before, he fit. Foster fail number two had officially joined the “Cardoso Zoo”. A few more years and a few more pups came and went; each with different personalities and different needs. Each made their own impact on our hearts. Everything was going well with our fostering adventure. Little did we know what was coming next.

About two and a half years ago, two more fosters joined the group: Mio, an 11-week-old “bite dog”, and Fe, a broken 8-month-old pup. We had no intention of keeping these guys as they didn’t get along with our crew. We felt they deserved more due to the crate-and-rotate routine we had to adhere to. We won’t even mention the fact Fe and I had a love/hate relationship. Over the course of their tenure at the “Cardoso Zoo”, Mio and Fe developed a very strong bond. I became Fe’s “person” and both Tony and I fell head over heels for Mio’s goofiness. We developed a system that worked and all pups were happy and content. We made the decision, a couple months ago, that Mio and Fe were home as well. So, they became FTTF foster fails three AND four. Currently, the Zoo is complete, but we know sometime in the future there will be another in need who will join the loving chaos that is the Cardoso Zoo.


Pam with FTTF Alumni Track

Each and every one of the foster dogs who have come to our home have taught us something. Yes, it was hard to let Titan, Brock, Cid, Ortiz, Harry, Track, Cheeto, Draco, TJ, Komodo, Merle, “Voodoo”, Watson, and Whitey go. Without a doubt. Yet, to watch them happy and loved in their respective forever homes is amazing. I am so thankful for a husband who shares my passion, the friends and family we have gained through Friends to the Forlorn, and the four dogs – Charlie, Austin, Fe, and Mio – who now complete our home, and our family. At the end of the day, I’m not sure who gets more out of it: us or the dogs.

It has and continues to be an amazing ride with FTTF, watching it grow into what it is today. I’m proud to be a part of the Forlorn Family. Not only do we raise awareness and find home for some amazing creatures, but we are an invaluable asset to the local community.

Volunteer Spotlight: Ashley Ake

Meet Ashley!

Volunteer & Foster

Current Pets:
Celina, FTTF foster – Celina is a champion snuggler and would love to hold down the couch with you! She is great with kids and cats but prefers to be the only princess in the house. She would do best in a home as the only dog or with a brother who is larger than her. No small dogs. This girl’s bright smile is sure to light up your world!!

*crate trained, house broken, leash trained, up to date on all preventative care!

How long have you been volunteering with FTTF?
Almost 3 months

Were you involved in animal rescue prior to volunteering with FTTF?

What made you decide to volunteer with FTTF?
After losing our furbaby in January, our hearts were broken and we were looking for a rescue dog to share our love with and heal the brokenness.

What are your primary FTTF volunteer roles? Do you have any favorite tasks?
Foster Mom. I also enjoy helping where it’s needed at events, etc.

What do you enjoy about volunteering with FTTF?
These pups and people are incredible. There’s nothing better than doing my part to save the life of a puppy that might otherwise not have the opportunity.

What would you tell someone looking for a place to volunteer who is considering FTTF?
Fostering is the most rewarding experience on the planet for both these dogs in need and their humans too!

Do you have any favorite volunteer stories or events you would like to share?
Bully Bingo is such a blast!! Spending time with friends and FTTF family all while raising money for these precious dogs…it doesn’t get much better than that. Oh, and did I mention drink specials?!

How has being an FTTF volunteer made an impact on your life?
Having Celina in our home has been the greatest blessing. She makes us laugh, keeps us on the move, and most importantly fills our home with joy!

Is there anything else you would like to say about your experience as a FTTF volunteer?
These dogs need every ounce of love, care, and financial support we can offer. I’m honored to be a part of this amazing organization!!


Interested in becoming part of the Forlorn Family?
Visit our
Volunteer page for more information!

Dog of the Week: Matilda

Meet Matilda!

By Stacey Greenwald, Foster Mom

Why did you decide to foster Matilda?
I have fostered for many years and had taken a break from fostering. But, when I saw Mattie’s photo in our fosters group I knew I had to help. Mangey pups are my weakness! Even though her skin looked a bit rough and she needed a few more good meals, she was so goofy and playful. She won me over and I told Jason to go get her!

Does Matilda have any nicknames?
Tillie & Mattie. Being able to call her “Mattie” was actually one of the reasons I named her Matilda, after our favorite QB, Matt Ryan.

How would you describe her in three words?
Energetic, Goofy, Friendly

What is Matilda’s favorite thing?
Food – without a doubt!

Describe Matilda’s perfect day:
It would start out around 7:00am with a big breakfast and a nice, long walk. A hike would be even better! Then, come inside for more treats and playtime with her toys. After a short nap, go play fetch outside and then snack on a bully stick. Matilda LOVES playing fetch and is pretty good at bringing the ball back, though she sometimes will also play keep-away with her ball! Some time relaxing in the sunshine before playing more with her friends, Mattie loves other dogs, and then it’s dinner time! After dinner, we would take another walk around the neighborhood before playing inside and then getting a peanut butter kong at bedtime.

Describe Matilda’s ideal family:
Matilda’s perfect home would be with an active family that is committed to providing her with exercise and continued training to help her become a confident, well-behaved girl. Having a person to take her running or hiking would be amazing! She doesn’t like rain AT ALL but she may like swimming. She would love another happy, playful dog in the family to run and play with so they can wear each other out and then go eat treats. She likes kids and will roll over to get her belly rubbed, but may be a bit too strong and enthusiastic for small children. She is definitely a big puppy and doesn’t know her own strength or size. She hasn’t been around cats but can be tested if an interested home may be a good fit.

Interested in making Matilda part of your family?
Visit our Adopt page to learn more about our adoption process and download our adoption application!

Volunteer Spotlight: Jackie Britt

Meet Jackie!

Volunteer, Foster, Adopter

Current Pets:
Our permanent residents are Lola, female pitbull mix and head honcho, and Fievel, male pitbull mix foster fail and sun worshipper. We are also fostering Nugget, a two-year-old male pitbull mix and snuggle monster, through FTTF.

How long have you been volunteering with FTTF?
3 years

Were you involved in animal rescue prior to volunteering with FTTF?

What made you decide to volunteer with FTTF?
Respect for the organization, its mission, and positive reputation within the rescue community. It was recommended by other long-time rescuers.

What are your primary FTTF volunteer roles? Do you have any favorite tasks?
I’m primarily foster & chief greeter at adoptions 🙂 My favorite is “raffle ticket rep” at Bingo: I make sure everyone KNOWS it’s in them to WIN!

What do you enjoy about volunteering with FTTF?
Surrounded by a team that is just as passionate about advocacy & pitbull rescue as I am. It’s a family.

What would you tell someone looking for a place to volunteer who is considering FTTF?
Your time, money, sweat equity will pay dividends in every part of your life!

Do you have any favorite volunteer stories or events you would like to share?
Visually seeing & feeling the community support of our mission at Candlelight Vigil is a visceral reminder you are part of something bigger, and that it makes a difference.

How has being an FTTF volunteer made an impact on your life?
My husband & I share in this experience…our friends, family, coworkers all know and support our involvement. Your involvement isn’t just you, it’s your entire tribe…that impact grows with every new volunteer.


Interested in becoming part of the Forlorn Family?
Visit our
Volunteer page for more information!