Annette De Pasquale has found her passion. The 33-year teaching veteran and longtime dog rescue advocate recently published her first children’s book about her pit bull breed mix, Jessie. “I cannot imagine my life without having followed my dreams and getting involved in pit bull advocacy work,” says the Selma Unified Teachers Association member. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the book are going to the Fresno Bully Rescue, which helps “bully” breed dogs such as American pit bull terriers and bulldogs.
“I adopted Jessie from the local shelter in February 2012. I had no idea how much my life would change,” De Pasquale says. “Jessie was my first bull breed mix. I was a little hesitant, but learned quickly how affectionate and loving she is.”
De Pasquale knew that pit bulls were discriminated against and people were afraid of them. She was surprised at how much false information and “bad dog” stories were out there. After a little more research, she discovered “they are all just goofy lap dogs who want attention just like any dog.”
When De Pasquale travels, she visits local rescues. She’s discovered “at least 50 percent of the dogs in shelters are pit bull-type dogs. So, I decided that 25 percent of the book profit was going to help the local bully rescue where I volunteer.” She made her first donation in August from the first set of books and shirts sold. “It’s not a fortune, but if I can help Fresno Bully Rescue pull more pit bulls from shelters and give them forever homes, then I am doing exactly what I set out to do.”
“This has inspired me to do a passion project with my students. They will devote an hour a week to studying, researching and presenting on any topic they are interested in.”
—Annette De Pasquale, Selma Unified Teachers Association
Lessons on publishing a book
Getting the book published took five years, and De Pasquale included her students in the journey. She teaches 8th grade English Language Arts and 7th and 8th grade AVID at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Selma . “I shared my many rejection letters and emails from traditional publishing companies. I was rejected over 20 times before I decided to self-publish,” she said. “My students were always interested in updates and celebrated right along with me every step of the way.”
She says self-publishing is a long process and professional editing and illustrating are key. While she edited her story over and over, “hiring a professional editor made my story pop! I’ve been teaching kids how to write for years so I didn’t think I needed help, but my editor kept the theme and plot just as I intended, while helping build Jessie’s characterization.”
Her experience has influenced her teaching. “As an educator this process has inspired me to do a passion project with my students. They will devote an hour a week to studying, researching and presenting on any topic they are interested in.”
Will be there be more books about Jessie? Fans hope so. De Pasquale recently submitted a second book to her editor — another real-life adventure with subtle education about the breed. She hopes Jessie’s story will bring public awareness about overbreeding and promote adoptions of bull breed dogs.
Learn more at annettedepasquale.com