By Michelle Lidh
Did you know that there are numerous programs all over the country dedicated to promoting pit bulls and improving the breed’s reputation? With pit bulls being overrepresented in shelters and breed specific legislation targeting this “bully breed,” combating negative media with special positive attention could be incredibly beneficial for these dogs. The following are aspects of the kinds of programs that have been initiated:
- Education and Outreach – Strive to enlighten the public on the truth about the breed and eliminate myths about negative generalizations.
- Training – Involve specialized training for pit bulls prior to adoption and offer incentives to earn Canine Good Citizen certification. Continuing training after adoption develops a stronger and respectful relationship between human and animal.
- Socialization – With field trips and play groups, pit bulls are exposed to a variety of dogs, people, and situations.
- Ambassadors – Pit bulls who are both trained and socialized by committed owners become positive examples of the breed within the community.
- Adoption Counseling – Shelters not only ensure the family is prepared to meet the animal’s needs prior to adoption, but make periodic follow-ups to answer questions and address concerns.
- Activities – Provide pit bull-focused events and get the dogs involved in canine sports or other extracurricular activities.
- Photos – Photographers capture pit bulls in a positive light with happy and playful dogs as contrast to the more aggressive images usually seen in the media.
- Spay and Neuter – Free or reduced price service not only for dogs prior to adoption, but also for pit bulls already living in the area.
- Free Microchipping and Engraved Name Tags – Vitally important in order to reunite with a pet if it should get lost.
- Free License – Incentive for adoption as many counties require licensure of pets.
- Discounted Pet Supplies – For example, already discounted harnesses decrease further in price if a choke or prong collar are being traded in simultaneously.
- Animal Welfare Professional Workshops – Focused on workers who desire to better understand breed issues and hands-on experience to help them support pit bulls more effectively.
- Special Adoption T-shirt – To recognize adopters of pit bulls as a special breed of people.
According to BADRAP, well trained and socialized pit bulls are not only loving companion animals, but also become certified therapy dogs, reading assistant dogs, performance dogs in dog sports, canine detection dogs for State Police agencies, and education dogs for public presentations.
What do you think – are programs like these helpful and are they enough to accomplish the ultimate goal? Could our community benefit from implementing a program like these? Do you have other ideas for how we can help people see the positive attributes of this breed?
Specific Program Resources:
- StubbyDog – “Shelters With Innovative Pit Bull Programs”
- ASPCA – “10 Pit bull Campaigns”
- BADRAP – Mission and Programs
- SPCA of Wake County – Pit Crew
- Liberty Humane Society – PAL Program
- Safe Harbor Humane Society – Pit Crew
- San Diego Humane Society and SPCA – Dare to Bull-ieve
- Longmont Humane Society and Animal Farm Foundation Grants
- Humane Society for Hamilton County – Pit Bull Angel Program
- Bullseye Dog Rescue – The Responsi-Bull Project
Michelle Lidh is an enlisted weather forecaster for the United States Air Force. She lives on Oahu and volunteers with The Hawaiian Humane Society.