Love a-bull, beyond labels: Advocating for all dogs
Advocating for All Dogs
Ideas on how to better serve
at-risk dogs, their guardians,
and the community
Who are we?
Who are you?
Promoting responsible guardianship and
improving the image and lives of pit bull type
dogs through education, advocacy, and rescue.
Shelters working with rescue organizations
Promoting all dogs equally
Off-site adoptions and foster programs,
Forming relationships with local city officials and the media
Promoting community and volunteer involvement
Shelter and adoption policies that work!
Pit Bull type dogs are just dogs.
Treat them that way!
There’s no reason to have special rules applying to certain breeds.
Dogs are individuals. Don’t discriminate.
BREED DISCRIMINATORY POLICIES include:
•Special screening processes (e.g., home
checks, background checks)
•Blanket restrictions on adopters (e.g., no
kids, no other dogs, experienced req’d)
•Mandatory training for adopters
•Extra requirements for volunteers who
work with “pit bull” dogs
Pit bulls can be great first dogs
for all “pit
Pit bulls can be great family pets
Don’t limit a dog’s future by
placing child age restrictions on
Treat each dog and each child as
an individual to make good
• OBSERVING the dog while in your care;
• DOCUMENTING your observations;
• DISCLOSING known facts; and
• TRANSFERING ownership to the new
Don’t be paralyzed by liability concerns
Many shelters and rescues do not adopt out pit bull type dogs, or place
heavily restrictions on their adoption.
This is not necessary!
According to animal law experts, shelters and rescues can effectively
manage risk by:
Bonnie L. Lutz, Esq.
President of the American
Veterinary Law Association
Advisor to National Canine
• Start a Meetup group
• Build partnerships (vets,
GoLocal, Pit Stop, etc.)
• Use social media
• Focus on positive
• Work with other types of
rescue groups to cross-
• Provide adopter support
(training, socialization, etc.)
Mix ‘em up!
Instead of placing pit
bull type dogs in
separate rooms or
them with other
After all, they’re just
dogs like all the
Use photos that paint a picture
Use photos that paint a picture
Any ordinance or law that bans, or places special restrictions on, a group of
dogs based upon breed or appearance.
Best Friends Animal Society
Bans OR restricts certain types of dogs based on their appearance, usually
because they are perceived as “dangerous” breeds or types of dogs.
The practice of using laws to regulate and restrict dog ownership based
solely on the physical appearance of someone's dog.
A common first approach that many communities take. Thankfully, once
research is conducted most community leaders correctly realize that BSL
won't solve the problems they face with dangerous dogs.
What is BDL?
What does BDL do?
•Fails to improve safety
•Causes an injustice to victims
•Costs a lot of money
•Relies on visual breed ID
•Creates an attraction to danger
•Allows for mismanagement
•Punishes the innocent
•Lacks support of professionals
•Fails to evaluate dogs as individuals
Notably, not a single canine welfare
organization supports BDL
• American Bar Association
• American Kennel Club
• American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
• American Temperament Test Society
• American Veterinary Medical Association
• Animal Farm Foundation
• Best Friends Animal Society
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Humane Society of the United States
• National Animal Control Association
• National Canine Research Council
• United Kennel Club
• United States Department of Justice
Sources: http://www.animalfarmfoundation.org/files/Organizations_That_Do_Not_Endorse_BDL.pdf and
Many prominent organizations, including the
U.S. Department of Justice do not support BDL
Akita, American Bull Dog, American Pit Bull Terrier, American
or Bull Staffordshire Terrier, Briard, Borzoi Hounds, Bull
Mastiff, Bull Terrier, Cane Corso, Chow, Dalmatian, Doberman
Pincher, Dogo, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Great
Pyrenees, Husky, Irish Wolf Hound, Komondor, Malamute,
Neapolitan Mastiff, Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Scottish Deerhound,
Spitz, St. Bernard, Staffordshire Terrier, Presa Canarios, Shar
Pei, Toso Inu and Wolf-Dog Hybrid.
Who does BDL impact?
What states prohibit BDL, and what
does that really mean?
BDL in Texas
- Several Texas counties refuse to adopt out “pit bulls”
- HB 2981—Bill introduced in March 2013 that would have
prevented public shelters from refusing to adopt out based on
“age, appearance, size, or breed”
This bill died in the
-32 states do not/are not addressing institutional breed
discrimination at the municipal/county level.
City BDL in 2013
-Since Massachusetts’ ban on BDL went into effect in Oct 2012, 10
cities have replaced their breed discriminatory ordinances with
vicious dog ordinances that address behavior and husbandry factors
-9 other cities, in Kansas, Missouri, Wisconscin, and even Ohio, did
-18 cities rejected proposed BDL
- Miami-Dade County: fine and removal for visually identified dogs
- Denver: ADA and constitutionality lawsuits prompted by BDL
Other states and BDL
Breed Discriminatory Legislation does not work
Breed Discriminatory Legislation does not work
at the political level:
- it does not reduce dog bites
- costs a lot of money to enforce
Special policies & practices that only apply to “pit bull” dogs do not work – and are
not needed – at the shelter level:
- separate paperwork and processing unnecessarily stigmatizes the dog
- segregation leads people to believe the dogs are “different”
- differentiation can equal scary and discourage adoptions
Alternatives to BDL
- Containment laws
- Abuse prevention
- Safety education
- Spay / neuter
- Low-cost training
- Breeder regulation
- Dog-fighting prevention
- Behavior / training helpline
- Non-breed discriminatory ordinances
- Enforcement of current laws
BDL tips, tracking, and resources
Tips / talking points
- No evidence that BDL reduces dog bites
- Focus on responsible ownership, not dog breed
- Implementation and enforcement costs taxpayers
- Punishes innocent dogs based merely on appearance
Bill tracking links
Love-A-Bull / Austin resources
BDL and advocacy
-Join an advocacy group
- Join some of the anti-BSL groups on Yahoo
- Join Forces with a Pro-Dog Owners Organization
Remember - people joining together CAN make a difference!
Public pressure in Oklahoma may be what prompted withdrawal of an
emergency bill to allow a municipal breed ban.
• Give yourself time when looking for an
apartment, insurance, any new housing
• Understand the situation—if the
landlord’s or insurance broker’s hands
are tied, move on
• Science and Honesty!
• Call the dog a “mixed breed”—but
only if it is indeed a mixed breed
• Get the DNA test to back it up
• Obedience training helps your
relationship with your dog, the impression
your dog makes on the community,
Insurance Providers* that do not discriminate:
• Chubb Group
• Farmers Insurance Group
• Kreigel Insurance Agency
• Liberty Mutual-Nationwide**
• State Farm Sunny SoCal Insurance
• United Services Automobile Association
• Evolution Insurance
- Having the right insurance can enable a landlord to lease without
discrimination, and offering to obtain renter’s insurance can help convince a
hesitant landlord to lease
*Contact information is available at http://love-a-bull.org/resources/pit-friendly
Talking to Landlords
• Create a “resume” for your dog with photos, age, temperament
•Highlight formal training and special recognitions, such as CGC
•Obtain letters of recommendation from former landlords, if possible
• Offer to do a “meet and greet” with the landlord, and even other pets on the
property, and allow the landlord to see the good behavior firsthand.
• If you can’t do a “meet and greet” send the landlord your best picture and a
letter outlining your dog’s story and meaning in your life—this can be as
effective in dispelling the negative reputation surrounding the breed
• Highlight your and your dog’s role in the community—be a member of Love-a-
Bull—and point them to our website!
• If nothing else works, offer to pay an increased pet deposit or obtain renters’
Helping people keep their pets is not a one-dimensional issue
Change the way we view owner surrenders
Remove judgment, focus on assistance
Look at individual communities’ needs
Shelter intervention programs
Pet Owner Support is Human Being Support
programs and resources
3 most needed assistance
Don’t focus the message on
exceptions – pittie owners are
more likely to live in poverty
than in places with BDL
Pitties are popular, well-loved dogs, but
be inclusive, not exclusive
Think about community diversity in
programming, message, and access
Encourage new coalitions and
consortiums to bring together community
Community-wide messaging (mixed breed
rescues promoting all dogs equally,
sharing in support of pitties for adoption)
HSUS Pets for Life
Don’t Forget about the Love
Public Safety: Perception vs. Fact
Source: National Canine Research Council
• Get to know a reporter
sympathetic to your cause.
• Cultivate a good working
• Allow reporter to open doors
for future positive coverage.
• Focus on positive, not
negative or combative.
• Use “canine ambassadors”
with tv spots/interviews.
Make Friends with the Media
Reading List/Additional Info/Resources
Animal Farm Foundation: www.animalfarmfoundation.org
National Canine Research Council:
Best Friends Animal Society: Saving America’s Dog Campaign:
Stop BSL: www.stopbsl.com
Other Positive Pittie Programs: http://www.pbrc.net/programs.html
HSUS Pets for Life (toolkit):