Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saving Pit Bull Dogs: Best Friends New Shelter Program

Best Friends Animal Society recently launched Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls, a project designed to encourage responsible pet ownership, increase adoptions, reduce euthanasia and improve the public's perception of pt bull terriers and similar dogs.  Thanks to the myths, many of them perpetuated by the mainstream media, that surround these wonderful dogs, pit bull terriers, once America's most beloved family dogs, have become vilified in recent years.  the sad result is that many of these dogs end up in shelters and often don't find their way out again.

Some communities have banished pit bull terriers altogether by enacting unfair breed discriminatory laws.  Shelter Partners for Pit bulls is trying to change all that.

The Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls project is made possible through a $240,000 grant from PetSmart Charities.  Along with additional support from Best Friends, the funds support pilot programs in five shelters across the country.  They are:  Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Adoption Center in Cucamonga, California;  Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter in Baltimore, Maryland;  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.  Best Friends has hired local coordinators for all five shelters to oversee the programs in their communities, which will include kennel enrichment for shelter dogs, community education and training programs, creation or support of foster and transition home programs, adoption and other outreach events, targeted spay/neuter efforts, post-adoption support and educational opportunities for shelter staff.

The Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls program is modeled after a very successful partnership between Best Friends and Salt Lake County Animal Services that began back in July 2009.  The save rate for pit bull type dogs climbed from 57 to 71 percent in the program's first year, and the number of dogs adopted doubled from the previous year.  Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls hopes to duplicate that success in the five pilot communities and eventually bring about a time when there are no more homeless pets.

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