Record Turnout for Ambassador’s Charity Dog Wash

We had a blast at Bark N’ Bubbles in Fairfax on Sunday! According to the manager, our Charity Dog Wash broke the current record for most

A very big, happy customer!
A very big, happy customer!

dogs washed in one day at a charity event! To which we say — It’s because we have the best volunteers EVER! They were such troopers and took on some of the biggest, hairiest dogs we’ve ever seen! The fur was literally flyin’.  In just under four hours they washed a total of 28 dogs.  It was an awesome, but exhausting day!

Dogs of all breeds, shapes, and sizes streamed through the doors all day.  While some came specifically for the event, others were pleasantly surprised when they paid the “you wash” price and got to kick back while our fleet of volunteers got their pups squeaky clean!  For more pictures from this event click here!

Our volunteers are awesome!
Our volunteers are awesome!

If you missed us this time, be sure to put our next event on your calendar!  The super generous folks at Bark N’ Bubbles have offered to host a second Charity Dog Wash for Ambassador Pit Bull Rescue on Saturday, November 17th!  Click here for more information.

Ambassador Alum, Tink, waits patiently for her bath.
Ambassador Alum, Tink, waits patiently for her bath.

Mature Dogs and Why You Should Consider Adopting One

Volunteer Amber “wrangles” puppies at an adoption event.

There is a common misconception about dogs in general, but especially pit bulls, that it is best to adopt a puppy so it can be “raised right”. Don’t get us wrong, puppies are adorable and there isn’t a single one of us at APBR that doesn’t melt into a giant puddle of puppy loving goo every time one crosses our path.  We are guilty of fawning over them, cooing, and talking to them in voices most people reserve for actual human babies.  We get it.  We love puppies as much as anyone else. While we agree that puppies are absolutely adorable, we’re here to tell you don’t have to adopt a puppy to ensure that your family winds up with a good breed ambassador.  You have so many more options!

8 year old Delores can put the smack down on her teenaged foster siblings.

When a dog is “mature” it doesn’t mean that they are less energetic or more “set in their ways”.  In fact, we have a couple of senior dogs in our program right now that can wrestle with the whippersnappers like they’re youngsters themselves!  Pit bull type dogs are people pleasers and extremely smart.  They love to learn!  Many shelter dogs even have obedience skills from their previous life and are quick to pick up new skills and improve their manners. Some people lean towards puppies because they’re concerned that a mature dog won’t bond as closely with them.  Believe it or not, mature dogs who have been in a shelter environment recognize that they’ve been saved and they are grateful.  You will be the center of their world!  Also, mature dogs also tend to be better with young children.   They know how to be gentle, are less likely to knock a toddler down during play, and they’re patient enough to deal with ear and tail pulling until the child learns that it’s not nice to pull on ears and tails.  They’ve very forgiving that way. Pit Bull type dogs hit maturity between the ages of two and three.  During this time, they’re what we in the human world call “teenagers”.  A dog’s temperament is not based 100% on nurture, nature plays a pretty big role in that as well.  As they grow up, dogs differ in energy level, prey drive, and dog tolerance.  The benefit of adopting a mature dog is – what you see is what you get.  When a dog is mature, you know exactly what their temperament is, because their teenage years are behind them.  For example, if a mature dog’s prey drive is low, that’s not likely to change.  If a mature dog gets along with other dogs, that’s not likely to change either.  If a mature dog is friendly and good with strangers you then you know he’s temperamentally correct.  Having knowledge of your dog’s individual traits up front can help ensure a lasting placement and help you choose a dog that best matches your lifestyle.

Alfred and Minka are BFF’s.

The point is, choosing to adopt a mature dog that has characteristics like a high energy level is a whole different ball game than raising a dog from puppyhood with hopes of getting a couch potato and winding up with an Olympian.  This is especially true in multi-dog households.  While socialization helps, dog tolerance can change as puppies mature, so it’s hard to predict if puppy will grow up to love being around other dogs.

Alfred happily allows this little boy to show him some love.

What we’re trying say is that if you don’t like the element of surprise, adopting a mature dog that has spent time in a foster home is the way to go!  We can match you up with a dog that will best suit your family so you can all live happily ever after.

A Plea From a Shelter Evaluator: Stop Breeding Pit Bulls

One of the shelters we work closely with, that we admire for always going above and beyond to adopt out pit bulls, just forwarded us this plea and it nearly brought us to tears. We share their sentiment, their frustration, and the heartbreak of being unable to help.  There is nothing wrong with these dogs, other then there being way too many of them.  We want to help them help their pit bulls – but we can only take as many dogs as we have foster homes.

#296 S'more - I need a foster home.
#296 S’more – I need a foster home.

We adore pit bull type dogs, but it is impossible for shelters and rescue groups to keep up with the influx of these dogs.  In this post are just a few of the real dogs that might not make it past tomorrow.  The shelter has asked us to share this with you and we request that you do the same.  It was written by one of their evaluators:


To all of the people on here that continue to breed pit bulls: No harsh words, obviously that just makes you defensive. No statistics—everyone thinks it won’t happen to their puppies. Just me begging you, please, please stop breeding pit bulls.

#121 Duke - I need a foster.
#121 Duke – I need a foster.

I work at a local shelter and we are currently making our euthanasia list for tomorrow. It is all pit bulls. We are one of the shelters in the area that actually tries our hardest to adopt out pit bulls instead of euthanizing them all on intake. But, sadly, we are often just wasting our time.  Instead we keep them, and try desperately to find homes for them all. We get to know them, and then, heartbroken, we have to euthanize them because there is a flood of even more wonderful pit bulls waiting to come in. And the cycle continues.

#238 Remy - I need a foster.
#238 Remy – I need a foster.

Today, one of my favorites is on the list. I’m trying everything I can think of to find a spot for him. I doubt I’ll succeed. I’ve been trying for 3 months to find him a home with no success. There are just too many pit bulls out there and so few homes that are good for them. So, tomorrow morning, I’ll likely be holding him and telling him what a good boy he is, and how much I love him, as he slips off to his death. There’s nothing “wrong” with him. He’s a sweetheart and gorgeous. He’s less than a year old. He would make someone a fantastic pet. He has just been here the longest, and there are too many of them.

So, please, I’m begging you. If you love pit bulls, stop breeding more dogs born to die.

Thanks for reading.

 

#139 Tigre - I need a foster.
#139 Tigre – I need a foster.

 

Setting Your Dogs Up for Success at Adoption Events

Adoption events are an amazing way to get dogs exposure and introduce them to the public.  However, they do present their own unique set of challenges, which is exactly why we’ve put together this handy dandy list of tips for adoption day success!

The Right Mindset

Ending discrimination through education!
Ending discrimination through education!

Before the adoption event, a long walk, short run, or a quick game of fetch is helpful in burning off extra energy, allowing your dog to be more relaxed at the event.  It’s like the saying says, a tired dog is a good dog.  Adoption events are really exciting and sometimes it’s hard for dogs to focus, especially when they’re full of energy and there are tons of yummy treats and other dogs around.  Also, an excited dog can easily become bored and wonder why the heck everyone is just standing around for hours on end.

A Training Opportunity

Adoption events make excellent training sessions.  Just like trainers often tell you not to feed your dog immediately before class, holding off on breakfast or feeding a smaller meal beforehand (depending on the time of day) will help your dog remain food motivated.  If your dogs are anything like ours, they’ll get pleeeenty of treats and kibble throughout the event to supplement their mealtime.

Keep Your Distance

Often the last thing you’ll hear before a dog on a flexi-lead runs your way is, “Don’t worry, my dog is friendly!!!”  Be sure to keep an eye out for these bundles of energy and distracted owners.  Everyone wants their dog to be best buddies with every single other dog on the planet, but what many don’t realize is that your dog has already seen 50 other dogs today, has been standing around for a few hours, and well, some dogs prefer to take it slow.

Prevent over-stimulation by avoiding unnecessary introductions, especially face-to-face introductions.  If a potential adopter is interested in seeing if your dog gets along with theirs, that’s great!  The ideal situation would be to arrange a meeting on a different day in a neutral place.  However, if you do introduce dogs at an event, be sure to take them to a private place for a walk side-by-side, and introduce them slowly.

Safety First

It is important to remember that even though your dog has done well around adults, kids may pose a different set of challenges. Little ones don’t always realize that tails are not pull toys or that dogs should be approached with care. There are always kids at adoption events, so use this time to teach your dog proper interaction with smaller folk and educate children about dog safety.

Moosh showing off his sit/stay.
Moosh showing off his sit/stay.

First, make sure they ask you and their parents for permission before approaching your dog and don’t feel bad about reminding them if they forget – safety first!  Put your dog into a sit/stay and show the kids how to safely pet a dog (on his sides, not his face and to be gentle).  If they ask to give the dog a treat and the parents say it’s okay, show them how to put the treat in the middle of a flat palm to allow the dog to lick it out.  This will prevent any overeager snackers from accidently pinching a little finger.

Don’t Reinforce Bad Behavior

For many people, when a dog begins to bark or misbehave, their first instinct is to pet the dog, tell him it’s okay, and speak in their most soothing voice to reduce his anxiety.  However, this actually reinforces the bad behavior they’re trying to prevent.  For example, if a dog begins barking or growling at another dog and you pet him to calm him down (positive reinforcement), this tells her that you like what she is doing (keeping away those other pesky dogs) and reinforces the behavior of barking at other dogs.  Be aware of what behaviors you are reinforcing and that your attention and praise are rewards as well.

Keep the Peace

Whether it be from boredom or a strange dog giving him the evil eye as he walks past, if your dog begins to misbehave, you can try redirecting him, distracting him with training, or if necessary, removing him from the situation.   A fit of barking can often excite and rile up the other dogs at the event, so if after a few seconds you can’t seem to resolve the situation, your dog might be telling you it’s time for a break.  Many events are 3 – 4 hours long, so take him for a short walk and give him some time to relax away from the other dogs and excitement.

Don’t Push It

We all have bad days and our dogs are no different.  If you’ve tried the above tips and you’re dog just isn’t feeling it for whatever reason, call it a day.  You want the dogs to enjoy adoption events and also, it’s the responsible thing to do.  The safety of people and your dogs should be your first priority, so if they’re stressed, listen to what your dog is telling you and try again another day.

BSL Hits Home – A Look at Prince George’s County, Maryland

We recently had to deny our first application due to Breed Specific Legislation. It was heartbreaking. While we can sincerely say that we understand the family’s frustration, we can’t even imagine their disappointment. There is so much confusion surrounding pit bull type dogs in Maryland, particularly following the Maryland Court of Appeals decision and revision.

An already incredibly unfair situation for Maryland families is compounded by existing BSL in places such as Prince George’s County that remain unaffected. While it is our policy not to adopt dogs to PG County residents, it is only because Pit Bulls are illegal there and it is against the law to bring them into the county.

Unfortunately, the amended decision in Maryland does not have any impact on the laws in PG County. Unlike Virginia, Maryland does not have any State level laws prohibiting local municipalities from passing BSL. Because of this, PG County has had it’s own breed ban in effect since February 1997. Below are links and the wording used to describe the dogs included in the ban:

PG County Animal Control Ordinance

PG County Pit Bull Licensing

“Pit Bulls born after February 3, 1997, are illegal and must be removed from the County. Pit Bulls include any and all of the following dogs:

  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed of dogs
  • American Staffordshire Terrier breed of dogs
  • American Pit Bull Terrier breed of dogs or dogs that exhibit the characteristics of a Pit Bull more than any other breed of dog”

The worst part about Breed Specific Legislation is that “pit bulls” aren’t really a breed at all. It has become a slang term that encompasses a number of breeds and mixes that share certain physical characteristics… basically any muscular dog with short hair and cropped, rose or semi-prick ears is now a “pit bull mix”.

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It is not fair that what keeps these dogs and families from being together is the completely subjective opinion of one person.  What’s even worse is asking someone to make that choice. This injustice is exactly what fuels us and our advocacy efforts. The Animal Services department is amazing and works tirelessly to get as many of these dogs into rescue as possible (not a small feat when they can’t be adopted to the public or shared online).  We get emails constantly from Maryland residents being forced to give up their dogs (especially renters) and it breaks our hearts. These are good people, good dogs, and good families that are at the mercy of misinformed or prejudiced lawmakers.

In fact, in 2003 PG County performed one of the most detailed studies to date on Breed Specific Legislation. They recommended repealing their own ban, citing it as expensive, ineffective, and impossible to enforce!

The full taskforce report can be seen here.

We need to overturn unjust laws like this and spread the word to everyone why they are wrong. Lawmakers think that the only people that own pit bulls are criminals – we need to show them that this isn’t true and that responsible ownership is the answer – not breed discriminatory legislation.

Sips With Sweet Pits: Wine, Fundraising, and Positive Pit Bull Awareness

This weekend we packed up the dogs and headed for wine country!  We teamed up with The Pretty Chic With The Pits for Sips with Sweet Pits, an amazing fundraiser at Barrel Oak Winery.

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Alfred found his forever home at this event!

For each $10 tasting purchased when accompanied by our flyer, our incredibly generous host and donor,  Barrel Oak Winery, donated $5 to APBR.  Pretty Chic With The Pits and Dirty Paw Photography spent the day at the winery with us and Barkley Square Gourmet Dog Bakery and Boutique provided tasty treats!

Kelli Parker of Pretty Chic With the Pits and her pup Krush!
Kelli Parker of Pretty Chic With the Pits and her pup Krush!

We were all blown away by the number of pit bull families that showed up to support us and help generate positive pit bull awareness! We saw many dogs we knew and tons of new faces as well. Many came specifically to meet our adopt-a-bulls!

An APBR volunteer ambassadog!
An APBR volunteer ambassadog!

This was an amazing event and even multiple downpours couldn’t dampen our spirits. All of the dogs were true ambassadors and helped us dispel myths, change minds, and educate people about responsible ownership! To view more pictures of this event visit Dirty Paw Photography’s Facebook Page.