PetSmart Charities® Grant Will Help Save D.C.-area Pit Bull Terrier-Type Dogs

Media Contact
Eric Rayvid : 917-861-8290 or

Washington Humane Society logoWashington Humane Society (WHS), working in conjunction with Best Friends Animal Society announces its new Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project, with funding support from PetSmart Charities®.

The project is designed to encourage responsible pet care and reduce euthanasia of pit bull terriers and similar-type dogs, as well as strive to improve the public's perception of this type of dog. The project is made possible through a $240,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, and along with additional support from Utah-based Best Friends, a portion of the funds will support the WHS project, and the rest will support pilot programs at shelters in four other cities across the country.

This partnership was formed to raise public awareness about the true nature of pit bull terrier type of dog and to promote adoptions of the numerous pit bull-type dogs who are surrendered at WHS each month.

The Washington Humane Society has been the area's leading voice for animals since 1870. As the only open-access shelter in the nation's capital, and the only congressionally chartered humane society in the country, the organization provides comfort and care to approximately 30,000 animals each year.

WHS has many progressive resources that the program can utilize, including a great training facility, a spay/neuter clinic and a professional, compassionate staff.

"WHS is very excited to be working on this project," states Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO of the Washington Humane Society. "Educating the public about the true nature of these great animals is a key to decreasing their numbers in our shelters - and to viewing all dogs as individuals".

Best Friends Animal Society logoThe project will provide information on pit bull terriers in the D.C. area, educate the public and provide community outreach services, such as free or low cost spaying and neutering, and provide more playtime and learning opportunities for shelter dogs, as well as adoption events, marketing support and training.

Best Friends' local coordinator for the project, Kirstyn Northrop Cobb, will manage all project activities and work with the public to decrease the percentage of pit bull terrier-type dogs euthanized at WHS by 10 percent, as well as increase adoptions.

"This year I would really like to focus on public education and help encourage more people to spay or neuter their pit bull type dogs." said Cobb. "We are creating a voucher program to offer free spay/neuter to those who need it. We're very excited to make these vouchers available. They'll be handed out by animal control and humane law enforcement, and at the vaccine clinic and events."

Cobb also plans to create frequent media opportunities to show the positive side of pit bull-type dogs to counter the image often presented in the news. She plans a series of cute, clever events to educate the public and show what great dogs pit bull terriers can be.

Another important component of the program will be a dynamic group of volunteers called the "Pit Crew," which will assist with basic obedience training, dog-walking, adoption events, photography, marketing and public education. The Pit Crew is recruiting people who have a strong love for the pit bull terrier and similar-type dogs and are willing to help to get these lovable, loyal dogs adopted into forever homes.

The Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project also includes partnerships between Best Friends Animal Society and shelters in other areas of the country, including Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Baltimore, Md., Carlsbad, Calif. and Tampa, Fla. The program's cities were selected from among 20 city-applicants for the year-long pilot program.

The program is modeled after the very successful partnership between Best Friends and Salt Lake County Animal Services that began in July 2009, which increased the save rate of pit bull-type dogs from 57 percent to 71 percent in its first year, and doubled the number of these dogs adopted from the previous year.

"As with any dog that is loved, spayed or neutered, properly trained, and socialized, pit bull terriers are happy, 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 if their dog is a good canine citizen."

Best Friends Animal Society works to help pit bull-type dogs through its national pit bull terrier initiative 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.

Best Friends works with humane groups all across the country to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets®.

About Best Friends Animal Society®

Best Friends Animal Society is a nonprofit 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 personal and financial support of a grassroots network of supporters and community partners across the nation.

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About Washington Humane Society

The Washington Humane Society, the only Congressionally-chartered animal welfare agency in the United States, has been the leading voice for animals in the District of Columbia since 1870. As the only open-access shelter in the nation's capital, no call for help goes unanswered, and no animal is ever turned away. The Washington Humane Society provides comfort and care to more than 30,000 animals each year through its broad range of programs and services including: sheltering, adoption, humane law enforcement, spay and neuter, humane education, human - animal rehabilitation programs, and lost and found services.

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About Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 400,000 last year. Best Friends runs lifesaving programs across the country, as well as the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. Working collaboratively with a network of more than 4,600 animal welfare and shelter partners, and community members nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All®. For more information, visit