PetSmart Charities® Grant to Help Save San Diego-area Pit Bull Terrier-Type Dogs

Best Friends Animal Society, working in conjunction with the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services (DAS), announces its new Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project, with funding support from PetSmart Charities®. The project is designed to encourage responsible pet guardianship and reduce euthanasia of pit bull terriers and similar-type dogs, as well as strive to improve the public’s perception of this type of dog.

The project is made possible through a $240,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, and along with additional support from Utah-based Best Friends, the funds will also support pilot programs at shelters in four other cities across the country.

This partnership was formed to raise public awareness about the pit bull terrier type of dog and to promote adoptions of the dozens of pit bull terriers surrendered at DAS each month.

Best Friends works with the DAS shelter in Carlsbad to provide information on pit bull terriers in the San Diego area and educate the public and offer community outreach services such as free or low cost spay/neuter, as well as providing more playtime and learning opportunities for shelter dogs, adoption events, marketing support and training.

An important component of the program will be a dynamic group of volunteers called, the “Pit Crew,” which will assist with dog training, dog-walking, adoption events, photography, marketing and public education. The Pit Crew is looking for people who have a strong love for the pit bull terrier and similar type dogs and the desire to get these lovable and loyal dogs adopted into forever homes.

DAS’ shelter coordinator for the project, Nicole Rattay, will manage all project activities and work with the public to decrease the percentage of pit bull terrier type dogs euthanized at DAS by 10 percent, as well as increase adoptions.

Rattay also plans to create frequent media opportunities to show the positive side of pit bull-type dogs to counter the image often presented in the news.

“We hope to increase adoptions and reduce euthanasia of pit bull terrier-type dogs by providing training and enriching activities for the shelter dogs,” Rattay said. “We also will have more adoption and outreach events and find creative, positive ways to highlight adoptable dogs. We will target specific populations in the community to increase education and promote spaying and neutering and offer shot clinics for pit bull type dogs.”

The Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project also includes partnerships between Best Friends Animal Society and shelters in other areas of the country, including Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md. and Tampa, Fla. The program’s cities were selected from among 20 city applicants for the year-long pilot program.

The program is modeled after the very successful partnership between Best Friends and Salt Lake County Animal Services that began in July 2009, which increased the save rate of pit bull-type dogs from 57 percent to 71 percent in its first year, and doubled the number of these dogs adopted from the previous year.

“As with any dog that is loved, spayed or neutered, properly trained, and socialized, pit bull terriers are happy and affectionate members of the family,” says Jamie Healy, Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls manager. “It’s the person on the other end of the leash who decides if their dog is a good canine citizen.”

Best Friends Animal Society works to help pit bull-type dogs through its national pit bull terrier initiative which helps dogs who are battling everything from a sensationalized reputation to legislation designed to bring about their extinction. The campaign’s goal is to end discrimination against all dogs–because they are individuals and should be treated as such.

Best Friends works with humane groups all across the country to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets®.

For more information about the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, please visit www.sddac.com.

About Best Friends Animal Society®

Best Friends Animal Society is a nonprofit organization building no-kill programs and partnerships that will bring about a day when there are No More Homeless Pets®. The society's leading initiatives in animal care and community programs are coordinated from its Kanab, Utah, headquarters, the country's largest no-kill sanctuary. This work is made possible by the personal and financial support of a grassroots network of supporters and community partners across the nation.

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