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Eric Rayvid: 917-861-8290 or ericr@bestfriends.org

PetSmart Charities® Grant to Help Save Rancho-area Pit Bull Terrier-Type Dogs

Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Adoption Center logoRancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Adoption Center, 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 guardianship 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, the funds will also support pilot programs at shelters in four other cities across the country.

This partnership was formed to raise public awareness about the pit bull terrier type of dog and to promote adoptions of the hundreds of pit bull terriers surrendered at the Rancho Animal Center each year.

The Rancho Animal Center takes in approximately 5,000 animals each year, and is working toward building a community in which every adoptable pet finds a home.

The project will provide information on pit bull terriers in the Rancho Cucamonga 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 Animal Society logoThe Rancho Animal Center’s local coordinator for the project, Dana Keithly, will manage all project activities and work with the public to decrease the percentage of pit bull terrier-type dogs euthanized at the Center by 10 percent, as well as increase adoptions.

An 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 Rancho Animal Center is currently holding training classes with 10 adoptable pit bull terrier-type dogs and one of the Center’s community training partners. The dogs are handled in the class by Pit Crew volunteers.

“This is very beneficial not only in helping the dogs become more adoptable,” said Keithly, “but it also allows the volunteers to get to know the dogs’ personalities, which also helps them promote the dogs to potential adopters and find the perfect match.”

In addition to training, Keithly plans to enrich the kennel environment and decrease stress for the dogs by giving them interactive toys and activities to keep them happy and healthy. She also will create frequent media opportunities to show the positive side of pit bull-type dogs to counter the image often presented in the news, as well as hold a series of promotions and events to educate the public, increase the dogs’ visibility and improve their chances of being adopted.

The center recently held the “Pitcademy Awards” promotion, selecting 10 VIPs—“Very Important Pits,” where people voted for their favorite dog. The winners were announced March 7 and raffle prizes, including a Blu Ray player, a Coach purse and dinner/ movie for two were awarded to people who came in to vote during the promotion.

The next promotion will focus on the pit bull terrier’s place in American history and its role as “America’s dog,” showing how dogs became war heroes and served as nanny dogs and constant companions.

There also will be bi-monthly pit bull adoption events at local businesses, so that potential adopters can better interact with the dogs and see how they behave outside the shelter.

The Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project also includes partnerships between Best Friends Animal Society and shelters in other areas of the country, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md., Carlsbad, Calif. and Tampa, Fla.

The program’s cities were selected from among 20 city-applicants for the yearlong 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 initiative’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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