Best Friends, PetSmart Charities Team Up to Help Shelter Pits

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Generous Grant Will Fund Pilot Programs to Help Pit Bulls in Five U.S. Communities

As with any dog that is spayed or neutered, properly trained, socialized and treated with love and kindness, pit bull-type dogs can be well adjusted, happily balanced, and affectionate members of the family

Presentation of a $240,000 grant from PetSmart Charities to Best Friends Animal Society highlighted Friday’s activity at the society’s annual No More Homeless Pets Conference in Las Vegas.

The grant will support pilot programs at shelters in five cities to encourage responsible guardianship and reduce euthanasia of pit bull-type dogs, as well as strive to improve the perception of the breed.

The “Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project” will create partnerships between Best Friends and shelters in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Baltimore, Md., Washington, D.C., Carlsbad, Calif. and Tampa, Fla. The programs will be based on the very successful partnership between Best Friends and Salt Lake County Animal Services that began in July 2009, a program that resulted in a 10 percent drop in euthanasia of pit bull-type dogs in its first year, as well as doubling the number of these dogs adopted from the previous year.

The Salt Lake program, which will serve as a model for the new pilot projects, offers community education and free/low-cost resources such as training and spay/neuter for pit bull-type dogs to help guardians keep their pets in the family in order to reduce the number of dogs coming into the shelter as strays or as victims of abandonment/owner relinquishment.

The program benefits from a strong volunteer base, called the “Pit Crew,” which showcases dogs for adoption through outreach events, photos and descriptions online and also fosters dogs whose time is up in the shelter. There also is emphasis on creating frequent media opportunities to portray pit bull-type dogs in a positive light--to counter the image of the breed often presented in the news.

The program’s cities were selected from 20 applicants for the year-long pilot program. The participating shelters will be Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Services Department, BARCS – Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter, Washington (D.C.) Humane Society, County of San Diego Department of Animal Services – Carlsbad Shelter and Hillsborough County (Fla.) Animal Services.

Funds provided by PetSmart Charities and additional funds from Best Friends will be used to create a work plan in the five selected cities, pay for a shelter coordinator in each city, support marketing/ public relations and other media opportunities in those markets, and pay for a Best Friends program manager to oversee implementation and reporting in the five shelters. There also will be funds to pay for training for staff at one of our training partners and media and legal training to take place on site.

“As with any dog that is spayed or neutered, properly trained, socialized and treated with love and kindness, pit bull-type dogs can be well adjusted, happily balanced, 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 how their dog interacts with others and who sometimes put these dogs at the wrong side of the law.”

Best Friends Animal Society works to help pit bulls through its national campaign, Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog, 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.

About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a nonprofit, membership 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 support of a grassroots network of members and community partners across the nation.

ABOUT PETSMART CHARITIES®
Established in 1994, PetSmart Charities, Inc. is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that creates and supports programs that save the lives of homeless pets, raise awareness of companion animal welfare issues and promote healthy relationships between people and pets. The largest funder of animal-welfare efforts in North America, PetSmart Charities has provided $110 million in grants and programs benefiting animal-welfare organizations and, through its in-store adoption program, helped save the lives of more than 4.3 million pets. To learn more about how PetSmart Charities is working toward its Vision of a lifelong, loving home for every pet, visit petsmartcharities.org or call 1-800-423-PETS.

Contact for more information:

Temma Martin
Best Friends Animal Society
801-953-8876
temmam(at)bestfriends(dot)org

John Polis
Best Friends Animal Society
435-817-2980
johnp(at)bestfriends(dot)org

Kim Noetzel
PetSmart Charities
623-587-2872
mediacontact(at)petsmartcharities(dot)org

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