Once described by many as intelligent, athletic, loyal and lovable, the esteemed opinion of pit bulls has gone downhill in part due to widespread myths that the media has been quick to pick up on and help perpetuate.
Unfortunately, the bad reputation has led to a host of problems for not only pit bulls that find themselves in need of a home, but for owners who find themselves having trouble finding places to live that will allow pit bulls or battling breed specific legislation to save their four-legged family members.
Best Friends Animal Society recently launched Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls, a program designed to “encourage responsible pet ownership, increase adoptions, reduce euthanasia and improve the public’s perception of pit-bull terriers and similar dogs,” that is being supported by Best Friends and a $240,000 grant from PetSmart Charities.
“In addition to this program helping to save lives of adoptable animals, I would really like for people to realize that pit-bull terriers are just dogs, like any other dog,” says Jamie Healy, manager of Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls.
“They’re fun-loving, loyal goofballs that have the same basic needs and require the same responsible ownership as other dogs do.”
After doubling the number of dogs adopted and increasing the save-rate from 51 percent to 71 percent through a partnership with Salt Lake County Animal Services in 2009, five new shelter communities have been added to the program.
Participating shelters now include the Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Adoption Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California; the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter in Baltimore, Maryland; the Washington Humane Society in Washington, D.C.; Hillsborough County Animal Services in Tampa, Florida; and the County of San Diego Animal Services in Carlsbad, California.
Each of the shelters will have community coordinators who will help with education, training, fostering, adoption and spay/neuter efforts, among other tasks. Volunteers, or “Pit Crews,” will also play a big role working with both the dogs and the public.
“This is very beneficial not only in helping the dogs become more adoptable, but it also allows the volunteers to get to know the dogs’ personalities, which also helps them promote the dogs to potential adopters and find the perfect match,” says Dana Keithly, local coordinator at the Rancho center.
Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/just_steph/