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Make a Difference
How Can I Help?
It's one of the most common questions we receive. Thankfully, there was never a better time to create lasting positive change for pit bull dogs in our country. Listed below are suggestions for making a difference in your city. We thank you for being one of the brave and committed people who are making animal welfare history with your words and actions.
Educate yourself about dog issues so you can help educate others. Recommended reading:
- National Canine Research Council for expert opinion on some of the bigger issues facing dogs and their owners. NCRC
- Malcolm Gladwell - What pit bulls can teach us about profiling. From the New York Times.
- Dr. Victoria Voith's important DNA analysis work concluded that relying on appearance for breed identification leads to inaccurate and misleading labeling practices in the sheltering world and elsewhere. Link
- Test your skills. Can you identify a "pit bull mix?" (We couldn't!) Pit Mix Poster PDF
- A must read: Pit Bull Placebo by Karen Delise. Free copy thanks to NCRC.
- Saving Audie for an excellent presentation of kid-friendly humane eduation lessons. Lesson plans linked here.
- The Lost Dogs for inside information on the investigation into NFL player Michael Vick and his dog fighting operation. High schools are beginning to use this book as part of their ethics curriculum. Lesson plans to come!
Educate your community about responsible ownership and dog issues.
- Parenting and dogs. Great info from the Dogs and Storks site.
- This booklet from US Department of Justice's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) division entitled "The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters" outlines ways law enforcement can do a better job with canine issues in our communities.
- Dog bite prevention programs. Learn what works and help others learn. Bite Prevention
Set the Example
Help your dog be the best ambassador he can be.
Pit bulls owners lead by example. By presenting your well-behaved pet to your community, you'll be changing the world for the better for pit bull type dogs everywwhere. Some important tips to help you reach the goal of being an Ambassador Team:
1. Obedience train your dog so he's a star in all situations .. around other dogs, in crowds, around skateboards, etc. Because of the current breed prejudice, our dogs have to display better manners than the average canine. The upshot is that our dogs tend to love obedience work so this goal can be easy to reach. Remember that obedience training any dog is not a one shot deal. To reinforce what your dog knows, you'll want to work short obedience drills into your daily routine for life.
2. Neuter/Spay your dog to curb territorial aggression, to prevent unwanted puppies, and to prevent your dog from roaming. All dogs are so much easier to live with when they've been fixed!
3. Keep your dog a Social Butterfly
Socialize him with as many different people as possible. With kids, seniors, disabled folks ... people from all walks of life.
4. Socialize your dog with other dogs
at a level that is GOOD for your dog. An excellent goal is maintaining dog tolerant behavior with your dog through play sessions with trusted dog friends while using obedience classes to help him stay comfortable around unknown dogs in an on-leash environment.
5. Become a dedicated student of 'Dog Body Language' so you can steer him clear of potentially bad experiences with other dogs. Get to know your dog and his signals like the back of your hand and you'll be able to lead him into fun and keep him away from trouble.
6. Respect the Leash Laws!
Leash laws are a dog owner's best friend. To help you navigate situations where another dog may provoke your dog into a fight, Know Your Rights As a Dog Owner
7. Exercise your dogs regularly so he can burn off that famous terrier energy.
Pit bulls are intelligent athletes, and young dogs may require two hours of your time each day - Minimum! A well exercised dog is a happy dog, and his owner is a happier owner.
8. Understand that many people have had negative experiences with dogs and are sincerely afraid of them. It's not always about your dog's breed - to some people, dogs are just scary. Cut them some slack when you can rather than force them to accept your view. Pit bull owners have to go above and beyond the call of duty at times to help some people get over their fear and prejudice, but lucky for us, our dogs are happy to do the heavy lifting.
9. Try to develop a thick skin to help you ward off any rude and hurtful comments about your pet. We can all take a lesson from our dogs, who love every minute of being a pit bull and are completely oblivious to criticism. Those lucky dogs!
10. When out with your dog, pay attention to your surroundings and balance the needs of the public with your dog's needs. This means picking up dog mess, not letting her jump on or annoy others, and avoiding off leash dogs that may run up and start trouble.
11. Research your dog's breed, including the history and original purpose of the terrier breeds so you can understand his behavior. It's no secret that pit bulls can show dog intolerance when challenged, so knowing the ins and outs of canine behavior will be your biggest help to enjoying great success with your pet around other animals. Spread the word to other pit bull owners and be a responsible example others can learn from.
12. Life is short - Enjoy every minute with your pet. Whether your buddy loves a long hike, a fast swim or just a rip snorin' power nap, you and your special friend deserve to keep soakin' up all the good memories that come from a life spent with a pit bull as part of your family.
Be a community partner and help your local shelter help its pit bull type dogs.
- Learn how some communities are working together to save 98% of their sheltered pit bulls. Berkeley's Example
- Support your local rescue groups so they can help more dogs in crisis. PBRC.net lists rescues across the country.
- Volunteer at your local shelter to help the dogs directly. Walk and train dogs. Start a Kong Ball drive and volunteer for the job of cleaning and stocking stuffed kongs at your shelter. Stuffed kong recipes.
- Photograph shelter dogs to help them find homes.
- Help your shelter start or maintain a facebook page to highlight their dogs. Look at Berkeley Animal Care Service's facebook page as an example.
Activism and Advocacy
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not." - Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
- Donate copies of The Lost Dogs and Saving Audie to your local classrooms and libraries to help young people learn humane education lessons.
- Watch your local city council agenda so you can be alerted when dog issues are added.
- Become familiar with animal protection laws and work to strengthen them to protect dogs in your area from neglect and abuse. Animal Law
- Politically minded? Run for a seat on your city council or animal humane commission to advance your community's care and treatment of animals, including its shelter animals.
- Work to create opportunities so under-served communities can access crucial resources that encourage responsible dog ownership (basic vetcare including spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, microchips and dog training). Consider organizing an owner support-focused pet fair or assist a local non-profit in creating one.
- To help pets stay in their homes, create a pet food bank for low income dog owners, or work to strengthen an existing one. Berkeley East Bay Humane's example.
- Stay open to opportunities to help your neighbors with dog care, including reinforcing insecure fences or walking dogs for elderly dog owners or people who are struggling with multiple jobs or other hardships.
- Organize a fundraising event for your local shelter or animal welfare group.
Our group is strong because active members thrive on forging positive change. If community activism and organizing is your thing, we'd love to meet you! Please visit our page on VOLUNTEERING to learn how you can help. Thank you!