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Ninjas Making a Difference: Roo Yori

This series will highlight a Ninja each week who is making a difference in their community.

American Ninja Warrior - Season 11 Photo by: Quantrell Colbert/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Nicknamed the “K9 Ninja,” Roo Yori is a tireless advocate for rescuing and adopting dogs, especially pit bulls. Short for Andrew, Roo has been competing on American Ninja Warrior since season 8. He made it through the Qualifiers and to City Finals in seasons 10 and 11, but failed to make it to Vegas. Last season during the Atlanta Qualifiers, the show was promoting the movie, The Secret Life of Pets 2. After Roo completed the course, the creators of the movie awarded him a $20,000 check for his nonprofit, the Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation.

Wallace was a shelter dog who was on the list for euthanasia. He made it to a foster home, where it was discovered that he loved catching frisbees. Wallace went on to win championships in flying disc competitions and become a beloved member of Roo’s family in Minnesota. After retirement, Wallace developed two aggressive cancers so Roo made a bucket list of things to do with Wallace and checked everything off except appearing on The Ellen Show. Since then, there’s been a book written about Wallace and a book series inspired by the adventures of Roo and Wallace.

With the money that he raised during season 11 of ANW, Roo has been able to give back in some big ways (descriptions are from Roo himself):

  • Players for Pits: They are a rescue in the Chicago area that has pulled a number of medical cases recently. There was a puppy that was thrown from a 3rd-floor balcony and landed on her head. Fortunately, they caught the guy who did it, but the dog needed some serious medical care. They named the dog Emilia, and she is doing surprisingly well today! They just took another dog who was in tears after finding his dogs shot in their yard. I don’t believe they know who did it, but the dog needed emergency care and a safe place to stay while they investigate. Neither of these dogs deserved the abuse they received, so I donated $1,000 to Players for Pits to help with their medical expenses.
  • Deity Animal Rescue and Foundation: There was a 10-year-old pit bull named Cindy that was impounded to the West Valley LA shelter as part of a humane case. She never was adopted from the shelter though and was going to be euthanized. Deity Animal Rescue and Foundation pulled Cindy into their foster program to keep her alive and continue to give her the chance to be adopted. They also just pulled another older dog named Cookie who was about to be euthanized as well. Cookie needs a mass removed, but it also a super sweet dog and will be available for adoption through them. I donated $1,000 to help Deity continue to pull dogs like Cindy and Cookie and give them the chance and care they deserve.
  • Camp Companion: A large portion of the money will go toward a community spay/neuter event that I’m planning with a local rescue organization called Camp Companion for early December. Besides encouraging people to adopt their dogs instead of buying them, if we can encourage people to spay and neuter their dogs instead of breeding them or having accidental litters, then we can prevent many dogs from entering the shelters in the first place. Besides planning the event here in Rochester, I’m donating $1,000 to Fix-A-Bull, which does a similar thing in the Buffalo, New York area.

Roo also donates his time to speak and support shelters and events throughout the country.

He shared Wallace’s story at the Martin County Humane Society and also “attended and spoke at the Mower County Humane Society [the shelter where we filmed the home town package for my season 11 feature] Walk for Animals, and donated Wallace books to the attendees,” said Roo. “We walked one of the shelter dogs, a puppy named Loki, and I obviously posted a little video to encourage people to adopt him. Loki has been adopted since the walk!”

Last but not least, Roo has been named as an Adoption Ambassador for the Petco Foundation. This means he “attends local adoption days to help bring awareness to the dogs available for adoption, and help spread the word about the various Petco Foundation campaigns that they have going on to support shelters and rescue organizations across the country.”

If Roo inspires you, but you don’t have the time or money to help an organization, there are plenty of smaller actions you can take in your own neighborhood. For example, “Candace Granberg, my wife, and I went to Hawaii for the Spartan Trifecta weekend. While there we found a dog running around a busy street,” says Roo. “His name was Bravo and he somehow escaped his yard. After a bit of work, we were able to reunite Bravo with his person and get him back home.”