Hollywood, FL - December 2010 - Tommy and Sharon Athanasiou were busy running Tommy Pop Art (www.tommypopart.com), a hand-painted pet portrait business that donates 10 percent of each sale to dog rescue groups, when it hit them: they needed to do something more to help the world's most notorious "underdog" - the pitbull.
While displaying the pop-art style portraits at a Miami dog-related event, Tommy chatted with a few devout activists, and began getting an impromptu education in the plight of pitbulls. Not only are they the most discriminated-against breed, but also a breed that people know so very little about. The sad truth: Approximately 20% to 33% of all dogs in shelters across the U.S. are pitbulls or pitbull mixes.
Tommy and his wife, Sharon, also learned that pitbulls are the most neglected, abused and abandoned breed in existence. Between getting involved with pitbull rescue via Facebook, to seeing the harsh reality right at home in Florida, they wished there was something more they could do to make a difference. As they considered expanding their art business into a dog-themed T-shirt line, they thought: Why not create original, specially themed artwork on T-shirts and spread a "wearable" positive message specifically for the breed that needs the most help?
Starting out with just two shirt styles in March 2010, PITBULLSHIRT.COM kicked off its first month by donating 10 percent of the proceeds from sales of its T-shirts to Villalobos Rescue Center, the largest pitbull rescue and sanctuary in the country - which is also featured on the Animal Planet Series Pitbulls and Parolees. Response was incredible, and many new designs were promptly added.
Each and every month PITBULLSHIRT.COMdonates 10 percent of proceeds to a different pitbull rescue group or educational organization. Donation recipients are posted on their website, and have included Rescue Ink, the tattooed pitbull crusaders made famous with their own National Geographic television series.
Currently, with 24 shirts ($25 each) to the line (including infant sizes), and more being added monthly, the one-of-a-kind biker-styled, dive-bar novelty designs - each created by artist Tommy Athanasiou - are not only bold, contemporary, attention-grabbing fashion statements, but they also make quite a conversation piece.
Tommy and Sharon hope that when people see a PITBULLSHIRT.COM T-shirt, it will open up their minds to learning a bit more about such an incredible, loving breed, and ultimately inspire more adoptions and donations to help pitbulls - the dogs with the famously bad rap - everywhere.