It seems as though American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers (all of which are commonly called simply “Pit Bulls”) have been unfairly labeled by some as vicious beasts, which is an extremely sad fact in today’s world. This is due to the ignorance of the public, since this breed can make a loving and honorable pet. Many of these poor dogs have suffered at the hands of owners who abandon or mistreat them, even going so far as to pit the dogs against one another in illegal and reprehensible dog fights. In a world where news travels seemingly at the speed of light, there is a chance to change this situation. Pit Bull Rescues now exists across the country with the shared goal of placing rescued Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes in responsible and loving homes, as well as restoring and preserving their positive image. These programs also encourage education for new owners, and many strive to ensure that the owners can adequately provide for their new pups by having them spayed or neutered, giving them access to proper veterinary care and providing the necessary food, water, shelter and general comfort they need.
When it comes to pet ownership, there is no greater bond than that between a family and its dog. Mankind and canines have been so closely tied for centuries now that dogs are commonly referred to as “man’s best friend.” This close link is evident in the 72 million households across America that have at least one pet residing in them.
Unfortunately, as the American Humane Association points out, each year there are some 5 to 8 million dogs and cats that enter shelters across the United States. While a significant number of purebred dogs end up in shelters, the most common breeds to end up in shelters or with rescue agencies are mixed breeds that suffer from overbreeding and behavioral issues.
Pit bull breeds make up one of the largest segments of shelter and rescue populations in the United States, often due to behavioral issues and concerns from previous owners. According to the Chicago Tribune, pit bulls make up nearly 40% of the shelter population in the city of Chicago and account for two-thirds of the dogs that are euthanized each year.
As devoted lovers of the breed, or an animal love in general, there is a lot that Americans can do to help save the pit bull breed from shelters, rescue organizations, and the bad image the breed has received in recent decades. There are a variety of rescue shelters, adoption resources, and educational organizations working hard to rehab pit bulls and their image across the country.
Rising Shelter Populations
There are a myriad of cities across the country just like Chicago that deal with rising pit bull populations in their shelters and adoption centers. Those familiar with the pit bull breed are well aware of the issues facing the breed. Illegal dog fighting rings predominantly use pit bull and other bull terrier breeds in their activities because of the immense power and fierce loyalty the breed possesses.
Over time this has created a negative image for the breed as a whole. Insurance companies and landlords refuse to support renters with these breeds, families shy away from them, and there are even national organizations that have advocated euthanizing pit bulls over rehabilitation. The most famous incident involved Michael Vick’s fighting dogs and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Following the arrest of Michael Vick and exposure of his dog fighting ring, PETA actually advocated euthanizing the pit bulls and other breeds used in Vick’s dog fighting ring. An animal advocacy group pressing for the immediate death of dogs is concerning, but rest assured there are plenty of groups and organizations across the nation fighting to lower pit bull numbers in shelters and adoption centers.
Nationwide Pit Bull Shelter and Adoption Services
While not every community in the United States has an animal shelter, rescue center, or adoption agency located within its borders, there are thousands of organizations operating throughout the country that work to provide a safe home for pit bulls in need of rescue. Looking at the situation from a wider, national viewpoint there are plenty of resources available for pit bull owners.
There are a handful of organizations that operate satellite facilities across the country, each of which is devoted to rescuing, housing, and adopting out pit bulls each year. The following are the most notable and reputable of these national groups:
· American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
· Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS)
· North Shore Animal League (NSAL)
· Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
Each of these organizations represents the highest caliber of animal rescue, sheltering, and adoption services in the United States because of their strong funding and smart management style. All four groups have a national headquarters that oversees a number of satellite branches spread across different states, counties, and cities in the U.S.
The Humane Society is the largest and most effective animal protection service in the U.S. This year HSUS is celebrating its 60th year (founded in 1954) of saving animals, advocating better laws for animal protection, and investigating animal cruelty. HSUS is based in Washington D.C. and operates rescue shelters and adoption centers across the country.The ASPCA is America’s oldest animal protection and advocacy group, opening its doors for operation in New York City in 1866. The ASPCA, like HSUS, has satellite centers throughout the country and focuses on rescuing dogs that have been abandoned, rehabilitating them, and facilitating adoption to give animals a new lease on life.
North Shore Animal League
North Shore Animal League is actually 10 years older than HSUS, but is less well-known than its larger partner. Headquartered in Port Washington, NY, the NSAL is America’s largest no-kill shelter organization. The focus of NSAL is entirely on the rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption of pit bull and other dog breeds. The group also boasts a fleet of mobile adoption units that are loaned out to smaller shelters across the country to help them build and grow adoptions and rescue services.
By far the youngest of the group, the Best Friends Animal Society is also one of the more unique national groups. Although it has managed to develop a large national profile since its founding in the 1980s, BFAS has just one location in the desert region of Kanab, Utah. Here, BFAS operates a sprawling sanctuary that takes in rescue dogs from around the country each year.
BFAS is focused solely on rescue and adoption of dogs and has the strongest track record in the country for rehabbing dogs that are deemed impossible to rehab. In recent years BFAS made headlines by taking in the majority of the pit bulls and other fighting dogs from Michael Vick’s operation. BFAS is one of the nation’s loudest voices in fighting the discrimination that occurs against pit bull terriers. The organization’s satellite No More Homeless Pets Network Partner program has expanded its reach into Los Angeles, Jacksonville, San Antonio, and Albuquerque, just to name a few cities.
Each one of these organizations offers detailed information on their websites for dog owners. Whether owners are looking to find a more suitable home for their pit bull, have come across a dog in need of rescue from the streets, or are looking to make a difference through adoption, these organizations all have the knowledge and information to help accomplish these goals.
While these national organizations are doing good things for all breeds, pit bulls and bull terriers included, there are a few breed-specific groups across the country leading the charge to save pit bulls from the streets and rehab the dogs, along with their image.
Focusing on Pit Bulls and Bull Terriers
Those with a deep and abiding affection for pit bulls and other bull terrier breeds may be interested to know that there are rescue organizations, shelters, and adoption centers across the United States that direct the majority of their focus on preventing discrimination against pit bulls. These groups range from “virtual shelters” and foster programs to full-fledged shelter and adoption centers.
Among the growing number of pit bull-focused rescue, adoption, and rehabilitation centers in the U.S., the following have the biggest profile:
· Pit Bull Rescue Central (http://www.pbrc.net)
· The Merit Pit Bull Foundation
· Change of Heart Pit Bull Rescue
· Mid-America Bully Breeds Rescue (MABBR)
· Lovers NOT Fighters Pit Bull Rescue
Pit Bull Rescue Central is the largest source of online information for pit bull owners and rescuers in the United States. A virtual shelter with no physical shelter or adoption center, PBRC works to use the wide reach of the Internet to help connect those looking to shelter a pit bull in a safe environment or rescue a pit bull. PBRC also has a vast array of information about rescue centers, shelters, and adoption facilities along with information about the breed to help people make informed decisions regarding pit bulls.
Change of Heart Pit Bull Rescue is a small but growing pit bull rescue that operates both a physical location and an increasing foster program. Currently, the group’s physical facility can only host 15 pit bulls. A fund-raising effort is underway to expand its capacity to 40, but in the meantime it relies heavily upon a foster program. The main goal of the group is to raise awareness of the breed’s gentle side through public education and interaction with rehabilitated pit bulls.
Both the Merit Pit Bull Foundation and Lovers NOT Fighters are small groups that are growing. Located in North Carolina and Oregon, respectively, these groups are both dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating pit bulls that would be abandoned, euthanized, or otherwise mistreated. The Merit Pit Bull Foundation is working to combine with other, smaller pit bull rescues throughout the Carolinas to improve its service scope.
MABBR is the largest pit bull rescue in the American Heartland. Founded as the Kansas Pit Bull Rescue in 2003, MABBR has expanded across the Midwest with a two-fold approach to saving pit bulls and other bull terriers. MABBR volunteers start by combing the high-kill shelters of the Midwest for pit bulls in need of saving. Once the dogs are rescued from death row, MABBR works tirelessly to find foster and permanent homes for these dogs.
Without question, the most well-known organization dedicated specifically to pit bulls and bull terrier breeds is Villalobos Rescue Center. VRC has garnered media headlines as the focus of the Animal Planet TV show “Pit Bulls and Parolees,” but this center is about much more than rehabbing pit bulls and saving dogs.
VRC was originally founded in California in the 1990s, but recently moved to the 9th Ward in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. VRC is a no-kill, never-say-no shelter dedicated entirely to pit bulls and bull terrier breeds. The center is the largest pit bull facility in the world with an average residency of 150 dogs.
The center works tirelessly to rehab each and every dog it saves or finds abandoned on its doorstep. All pit bulls are painstakingly reconditioned to the kind, loving touch of human hands so they can eventually be adopted by a loving “forever” family. The center manages to adopt out five dogs a month, on average.
Pit Bull Rescue Resources Aplenty
The plight of all dogs, and cats, in the United States is shocking at times. For the pit bull and its related breeds, the situation is especially critical. These breeds have gained an unfair and inaccurate reputation as violent animals. The fact of the matter is that humans, in one way or another, often turn these wonderful animals into the beasts that other people fear.Through the hard work and dedication of all the groups mentioned in this guide, pit bulls and bull terriers are finally getting the assistance, rehabilitation, and love they deserve. Whether you are looking to donate time or money, find a safe home for a dog you can no longer support, or want to open your home to a new pit bull, these centers have all the information and assistance you’ll need in your quest.
If you were unable to find a resource to adopt a pit bull in this article, many Pit Bull Rescue Shelters offer city by city searches to find the closest shelter in your area. One in particular that offers this feature is http://www.adoptapet.com/s/adopt-a-pit-bull