Love a-bull, beyond labels: Advocating for all dogs
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Love a-bull, beyond labels: Advocating for all dogs



Presented at the American Pets Alive No-Kill Conference 2014.

Presented at the American Pets Alive No-Kill Conference 2014.



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Love a-bull, beyond labels: Advocating for all dogs Love a-bull, beyond labels: Advocating for all dogs Presentation Transcript

  • Beyond Labels: Advocating for All Dogs Ideas on how to better serve at-risk dogs, their guardians, and the community
  • Quick Intros Who are we? Who are you?
  • Love-A-Bull 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 Current Wins
  • 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 applications •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 Requiring experience for all “pit bull” dogs sells both your dogs and your adopters short. First dog!
  • Pit bulls can be great family pets Don’t limit a dog’s future by placing child age restrictions on its adoption. Treat each dog and each child as an individual to make good matches!
  • • OBSERVING the dog while in your care; • DOCUMENTING your observations; • DISCLOSING known facts; and • TRANSFERING ownership to the new owner. 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 Research Council
  • • Start a Meetup group • Build partnerships (vets, GoLocal, Pit Stop, etc.) • Use social media • Focus on positive information • Work with other types of rescue groups to cross- promote • Provide adopter support (training, socialization, etc.) Community Momentum
  • Mix ‘em up! Instead of placing pit bull type dogs in separate rooms or sections, integrate them with other dogs -- After all, they’re just dogs like all the others!
  • Use photos that paint a picture
  • Use photos that paint a picture
  • Breed-Discriminatory Legislation (BDL)
  • 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. _legislation.html 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: 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 House Calendars Committee
  • State silence -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 the same -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 11098350.html - 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.
  • Housing
  • Best Practices • 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 Insurance Providers* that do not discriminate: • Amica • AAA • Chubb Group • Farmers Insurance Group • Kreigel Insurance Agency • Liberty Mutual-Nationwide** • State Farm Sunny SoCal Insurance Service* (national) • United Services Automobile Association (USAA) • 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
  • 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’ insurance.
  • Post-Adoption Support
  • 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 Changing responses: Shelter intervention programs Mission shifts Partnerships Pet Owner Support is Human Being Support
  • Responsive community programs and resources “Resource Deserts” 3 most needed assistance areas: Spay/Neuter; Affordability; Training Don’t focus the message on exceptions – pittie owners are more likely to live in poverty than in places with BDL Owner Support
  • 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 resources 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
  • Media: friend or foe?
  • Public Safety: Perception vs. Fact Source: National Canine Research Council
  • • Get to know a reporter sympathetic to your cause. • Cultivate a good working relationship. • 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: National Canine Research Council: Best Friends Animal Society: Saving America’s Dog Campaign: Stop BSL: BADRAP: StubbyDog: Other Positive Pittie Programs: HSUS Pets for Life (toolkit): life/#.Uv5TwIVLmZQ
  • Questions?