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6 Ways You Can Help Pit Bulls – Because Breed Discrimination Isn’t Okay

For reasons I can’t quite figure out, bully breeds and Pit Bulls are discriminated against left, right, and center. As a result, the data surrounding bully breeds and Pit Bulls is disheartening.

In 2014, the ASPCA pulled data from 30 shelters from their Comprehensive Animal Risk Database and learned that Pit Bulls were the ranked first in intake, first in euthanasia, and third in adoption. Considering that the 2014 State of Pet Health from Banfield, showed that Pitbulls were ranked 5th most popular among Banfield clients, the numbers don’t quite add up.

Dr. Emily Wiess from the ASPCA hypothesized that the relinquishment of large breed dogs, or in this case, Pit Bull-type dogs was due to the lack of suitable housing where you can have a dog or Pit Bull. Not to mention the increased breed-specific legislation in recent decades.

So if people like Pit Bulls, and want to give them loving and caring homes, but can’t, how are we ever going to make progress for the Pit Bull breed? Here are 6 ideas:

1. Know Your Facts & DeBunk the Myths 

The amount of data supporting that 1) Pit Bulls aren’t really dangerous, just advertised as more dangerous than other dogs, and 2) Pit Bulls actually make great family dogs, is astounding, yet the stereotype persists.

There are lots of articles and stories available that aren’t actually supported by fact or animal science and, therefore, shouldn’t be used in arguments against Pit Bulls or Bully Breeds. However, when someone wants to say something that is presumptuous and wrong, all you can do is fight with facts.

What exactly is a Pit Bull? 

According to an article published in Anthrozoös (A multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals) in 1987, there are several factors that can attribute to breed biases, but one, in particular, continues to cause issues; “difficulty identifying a breed” . When people use the term Pit Bull, they are actually including 4 different breeds: the American Staffordshire Terrier, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the Bulldog (possibly some additional breeds depending on the source) and a mixture of all of these breeds.

So, Step 1 is to educate yourself and others around you about how hard it is to identify a dog as a true Pit Bull. Identification is important because as of now, people are lumping many different breeds into the same category, and then assuming that one category is full of dogs that behave the same.

Do you think you can easily identify a Pit Bull? Try this online quiz: http://www.pickthepit.com 

After you have correctly defined what a Pit Bull is, it’s time to start debunking myths. Some typical myths about PitBulls that can be debunked include the following:

Myth #1 Pit Bulls have lockjaws. 

You will see the work of Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin from the University of Georgia cited several times in reference to this research. In 1987, he gave a presentation at the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine and referenced some interesting findings in his research and data.

1) The bite data available at that time was skewed due to a lack of AKC registrations for Pit Bulls. He stated, “Accordingly, registration statistics are an unreliable index of the general population, and reported relative bite-rate statistics by breed that use registration statistics have to be recalculated in favor of the pit bull terrier. If you indeed corrected the calculations to represent the number of Pit Bulls registered, Dr. Brisbin argued that you would see research listing several other breeds as more dangerous ahead of Pit Bulls.

2) Pit Bulls are no stronger than any other comparably sized breed: “Pit Bull terrier skulls showed no remarkable features that would support any claims that their bite is more powerful than any comparably sized dog.”

Myth #2 & 3: Pit Bulls are inherently aggressive & breed specific legislation is helpful

In a study supported by the National Canine Research Council and presented to the AVMA in 2013, a team of veterinary researchers determined that most dog bite-related fatalities were, “characterized by coincident, preventable factors; breed was not one of these. Study results supported previous recommendations for multifactorial approaches, instead of single-factor solutions such as breed-specific legislation, for dog bite prevention.”

I know I’ve put on weight but that’s completely irrelephant.

A post shared by DARREN & PHILLIP (@the_blueboys) on

How to Discern Fact from Fiction

When you, or anyone else, goes to research a breed, it is very important that you know how to identify sources that are not credible.

  • Look into the background of the author. Are they a veterinarian, veterinary technician, animal behaviorist, or another animal-related professional? If the answer is no, then consider their experience anecdotal, unless their claims are backed by credible sources.
  • Know your sources. Facts are not facts if they are from a generic website. You will notice that I don’t include facts in my writing without also including a source. Sources are important and should be from professional websites, peer-reviewed journals, and veterinary institutions.

Support a Pit Bull or Bully Breeds Cause

Recently, I was contacted by Jody, whose daughters, Gigi & Ryan wrote a beautiful children’s book called “Too Licky”, all about the experience of adopting their rescue dog, Sugar. Along their journey to rescue Sugar, Gigi & Ryan learned about breed discrimination, and have decided to give 50% of the proceeds from their book sales to Shelter Organizations and Bully Breed Advocate Organizations. For more information, and to show your support, please check out their Kickstarter campaign here!

Share the Positive Stories

Between the dog fighting industry and the media, it’s really easy to find negative stories about Pit Bulls, but harder to find good positive stories that debunk the myths and have the power to change people’s perspectives.

Recently, I was contacted by Scott Smith, who writes for ConsumersAdvocate.org. Scott put together 15 stories from Pit Bull owners and rescues titled “Pit Bulls Straight From the Heart”.

“One common theme throughout this story is that Pit Bulls are so grateful despite the horrors of their past. Once rescued and loved, their resentment seems to just dissipate. Boy, people could learn a thing or two from Pit Bulls, that’s for sure.” – Scott Smith, Pit Bulls Straight From the Heart

His post is a must-read as it includes feel good stories about Michael Vick’s dogs who passed their Canine Good Citizen test, a Pit Bull helping a pregnant mom back to consciousness with Pit Bull kisses, a dog helping a pet parent recover from heart surgery, and so much more!

Contact Your Local Government to Eliminate Breed Specific Legislation 

According to the ASPCA, Breed-specific Legislation can be defined as:

“Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain dog breeds in an effort to decrease dog attacks on humans and other animals.”

Breed-specific legislation affects more than just Pit Bulls. In some cities, the following breeds are also regulated:

  • American Bulldogs
  • Rottweilers
  • Mastiffs
  • Dalmatians
  • Chow Chows
  • German Shepherds
  • Doberman Pinschers

While some cities have taken a more pragmatic approach to dangerous dogs by individually tracking and regulating dogs who show active aggression, over 700 U.S. cities still have breed-specific laws in place.

The ASPCA elegantly outlines the problems associated with breed-specific legislation and the alternatives. If you live in an area where Breed-Specific Legislation is enforced, take action by calling your local representative. The ASPCA has outlined their complete positioning on Breed-specific legislation, providing facts for pet parents to use in their own communities.

It must also be considered that if limited animal control resources are used to regulate or ban a certain breed of dog, the focus is shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best chance of making communities safer: dog license laws, leash laws, animal fighting laws, anti-tethering laws, laws facilitating animal sterilization and laws that require guardians of all dog breeds to control their pets. – ASPCA

6 Ways You Can Help Pit Bulls - Because Breed Discrimination Isn't Okay

Support a Local Bully Breed Program

Search through your local rescues to see if there is a Bully Breed specific rescue you can support in some way. Suggestions for supporting a local rescue include:

  • Provide gently-used towels blankets, leashes, collars and other pet-related items from your home
  • Volunteer! Don’t forget that volunteering comes in many different shapes and sizes. You can volunteer to help out at the shelter, or even lend your professional services. For example, if you are a marketer, you could help design marketing materials and campaigns for your local shelter or rescue.
  • Donate! Of course, donations are always welcome and will go a long way to help the dogs in your community.

Become a Foster Pet Parent

Being a foster pet parent can help your community by providing more space in shelters and rescues by buying more time for Pit Bulls to find their forever home. I recently wrote a post about why people should adopt and foster here. Here are the top 3 reasons to Foster:

3 Reasons to Foster for Your Local Rescue or Shelter 

  1. You are helping a rescue help the community! Rescues and shelters need foster homes for pets so that they can take in more animals.
  2. Short-term commitment. Not all people have the lifestyle to be pet parents. However, you might have a few months to dedicate to a local shelter or rescue.
  3. Costs are covered. According to FosterFurKids.com, most rescues or shelters cover the costs and supplies associated with fostering a pet.

Any of the above ideas, even if you don’t have a Pit Bull, can help you fight Pit Bull stigma and legislation, as well as actively support the Pit Bull community around you! 

Why You Should Adopt & Foster – Petcurean

Opening your home to a dog, whether through adoption or foster, is an amazing and rewarding life experience. Not only are you rewarded with unconditional love, but you are also saving a life.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that my husband and I adopted Rooney back in 2012 from a local Corgi rescue, and Rooney has brought us so much joy since then! Today, Petcurean has asked me to discuss why pet adoption and fostering are so awesome!

3 Reasons to Adopt from Your Local Rescue or Shelter 

  • You will be saving a life. And providing a safe, secure loving environment to a dog or cat who really needs it.
    • I remember having an epiphany when my parents had adopted several dogs from the local no-kill shelter, that if they had been taken to a different shelter, there was a possibility they wouldn’t have made it. I remember looking into their faces and feeling overwhelming sadness at the thought that their lives were at risk at one point, but then also feeling relief that my parents had chosen to adopt them, and made room for other pets at the local no-kill shelter. Anyone who has adopted an animal has directly contributed to saving the life of not only that pet, but other pets as well.
  • Very often rescue or re-homed dogs are already house-trained and have some basic behavioral training as well. 
    • This was completely true for us! When we adopted Rooney he was already crate-trained and potty-trained. So his adjustment into our lives was quick and easy. Rooney also knew his basic manors, however, as a herding breed, he has thrived from further training.
  • Shelters and rescue groups often include vaccinations, microchipping, and spaying or neutering in the adoption fee.
    • Also true for us! When we adopted Rooney he was vaccinated, microchipped, and had recently been neutered.

Check out more reasons to adopt a pet on Petcurean’s website here.

Consider Adopting a Senior pet!

  • There are no surprises with a senior pet. Their personality traits are established already and they are normally very accepting of whatever life throws at them. The puppyhood or kittenhood headaches of housetraining are well behind them, and their more mellow demeanor is a comfort to live with.
    • Having a pet in their Golden Years is an amazing blessing. They ask very little of their people, yet give their people so much. I highly recommend senior pet adoption!
  • Senior pets are also usually less destructive. The urge to chew and scratch is much less likely to cause problems. Dogs are often content with a sedate walk in the neighborhood or a gentle game of fetch as a form of exercise, as opposed to the more energy draining needs of a younger dog who needs more activity. Many senior cats will also still enjoy chasing that little red dot of the laser pointer, but perhaps for not quite as long as their kitten counterparts.
    • While at working the veterinary hospital, my senior patients were some of my very favorites. They were so calm and loving, and their personalities and demeanor made it an easy choice to go the extra mile to make them happy. Two senior patients that I remember very fondly were Mabel the elderly Basset Hound who preferred her toenails trimmed outside on the grass in the sunshine, and Tank, the elderly cat who preferred to be held while in the hospital.

Why You Should Adopt & Foster - Petcurean

Check out the many benefits, as well as things to consider before adopting a senior pet here.

3 Reasons to Foster for Your Local Rescue or Shelter 

  1. You are helping a rescue help the community! Rescues and shelters need foster homes for pets so that they can take in more animals. Often, local rescues don’t have a formal facility and all of their pets are with local foster parents.
  2. Short-term commitment. Not all people have the lifestyle to be pet parents. However, you might have a few months to dedicate to a local shelter or rescue. In the past, I have recommended fostering to families who are thinking about getting a pet, but want to see if their kids will step up to the responsibility. Fostering is also a great option for people who love pets, but like to travel. If you know that you won’t travel for the next 4 months, that might be a great time to open your home to a needy pet in your local community.
  3. Costs are covered. According to FosterFurKids.com, most rescues or shelters cover the costs and supplies associated with fostering a pet.

Rescue groups supply pet food, bedding, leash & collar, bowls, litter, and cover veterinary care, so you don’t incur any financial expense. If you are interested in caring for a pet but are not in a financial place to be able to afford one, fostering is a great option.

Don’t feel like you can adopt or foster right now?

Check out a list of ways you can help local rescues and shelters that won’t break the bank here, many of which you can do as a family!

This post was inspired by Petcurean and Eastwood Ranch Foundation!

Eastwood Ranch Foundation, a non-profit animal rescue organization founded by actress/director Alison Eastwood, has launched FosterFurkids.com a website that connects rescue groups and animal shelters with a nationwide network of pet fosters and transporters. To support the launch of FosterFurkids.com, the first 100 people that sign up to be a foster pet parent will receive a Petcurean care package!

Tell us about your foster or rescue experience in the comments below!

Your New Pet’s First Week

Many people add pets to their family during the holidays! If you added a new puppy or kitten to your family this past week, I want to share with you a few tips for your first week as a new pet parent.

My experience: Rescue versus Puppy

When my husband and I adopted Rooney from a rescue, it took only a few days for Rooney to adjust to our schedule since he was already potty-trained and crate-trained. Initially, Rooney made a little noise and wasn’t too sure about our schedule, but everything quickly fell into place. When I had Rocky as a puppy, it was incredibly different.

I can remember meeting Rocky like it was yesterday. When I was 11 years old, we went to my Aunt’s house after Christmas dinner. When I got there, I was delighted to see that she had 3 puppies at her house. I was so excited. Immediately, I sat on the ground and started petting the puppies. Then, almost as if I was talking to myself, I said, “I like this one”. Without skipping a beat, my aunt looks at me and says, “Well, he’s yours.”. I immediately looked up at my mom and dad and all my face said was, “is this a joke?”. It was not a joke. Rocky was our new puppy! I immediately started jumping, screaming, and thanking everyone involved.

Rocky would spend the next few months growing and adjusting in our home. Initially, he was so small that we had him sleep in a cardboard box at the end of my bed. I was so worried about him that I would sleep with my hand in the box every night so that he didn’t get lonely or worried that no one was there. Within the first few months, we spent day and night taking care of Rocky and helping him acclimate to his new home. My point is that while Rocky represents an amazing time in my life, a puppy takes more time to adjust to a schedule. Therefore, I recommend mentally preparing your family for a few months of work and adjustment with a new puppy.

Puppy-Proofing versus Rescue-Proofing

Before your pet arrives (or the same day), you will want to research potential household dangers. There are puppy and kitten dangers in the kitchen and the yard. Not to mention the regular everyday life poisons. It is very overwhelming to learn the long list of things that can harm your new pet. Therefore, I highly recommend looking at the lists provided, in addition to a few others, and then ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What poisonous items, if any, do I use the most?
  2. What poisonous items are within the reach of our new puppy, kitten, or rescue?

Once you have narrowed down the most dangerous items, make sure you relocated them to an out-of-reach area and/or a pet-proof container.

Puppy-proofing (or rescue-proofing) is a great time to consider pet insurance. Pet insurance will protect you from unforeseen financial expenses regarding your pet’s health.

Routine Adjustments

As mentioned above, your pet needs time for adjustments. During your pet’s first week at your home, you might be asking yourself, what exactly am I getting them used to?

Sleep Schedule

The first schedule you need to get your pet used to is your sleep schedule. When you bring a new pet into your life, especially a puppy, it will help you, in the long run, to get them adjusted to your typical work week sleep schedule. Making these adjustments early will save you from midnight crying and whining in the future.

Work/School Schedule

Even if you are on vacation now, you might want to wake up and get ready the same way you would for work or school. Maybe even leave the house for a few hours at a time (start small and work your way up), so that your pet gets used to their environment and the idea of you leaving.

Exercise Schedule

Getting your pet used to an exercise schedule now can help you prevent unwanted behaviors when you return to your normal routine. If your pet gets exercise before you leave the house and knows that when you return, they will get exercise again, you may avoid some destructive behavior.

Basic Training

Training can start right away. During your pet’s first week at your home, I recommend working on three types of training: crate training, potty training, and basic commands.

For information and tips on getting your dog to love their crate, check out our guest posts on 4knines here. I recommend reading materials from your rescue or veterinarian’s office on potty training basics (or research potty training tactics online from reputable sources like Victoria Stilwell).

For basic training skills and other useful training tactics, please check out our training page.

Take Your Pet to the Vet

During your pet’s first week, take them to the vet to ensure they are healthy (and established with your vet) in case they become ill in the future. An initial veterinary visit is often required to sign up for pet insurance as well.

I hope this information will help your new pet acclimate quickly to your home!

Was this your first week with a new pet? How are things going?

Finn the Border Collie Needs Your Help

If you have followed our blog for a while, you might know that occasionally, we put together campaigns to support local dogs who need veterinary care and a forever home (Check out the inaugural foster campaign and success story, Bella the Basset). My good friend Kim Adams is a veterinary technician at our local emergency veterinary hospital. When she sees a dog in need, she always goes the extra mile to make sure they get the care they deserve and a forever home. A few days ago, she met Finn. Today, I want to share with you Finn’s story.

Finn the Border Collie Needs Your Help

This is Finnegan (Finn for short). He is a 1-year-old (as of Halloween this year) male neutered purebred Border Collie.

He was brought in to SAGE Dublin ER on December 15th because he was limping and not using his right rear leg. When he arrived at the clinic, the technician who received him was told by the owner that he had been stepped on/kicked by a donkey on the ranch he was living on. It was later discovered that he had actually probably been hit by a car which the owner didn’t see happen. (There were also several small wounds and abrasions in various places that the medical staff found once he was anesthetized and being prepped for surgery, further supporting that Finn was hit by a car).

He was given pain meds and the staff took X-rays and found that the right femur was broken (see photo). The only treatment option was surgery. This is not an injury you can splint or allow to heal with any expectation that the pet will be pain-free or able to walk normally ever again without surgical intervention. 

Finn the Border Collie Needs Your Help

When the veterinary technician reviewed the surgical estimate for pinning and plating the bone (ranging from $6000-7000), the owner immediately declined it. He looked upset and crest-fallen, saying he may have to euthanize the dog, knowing that not operating and fixing the leg would be cruel and against medical advice. My good friend and veterinary technician, Kim Adams, told him we won’t euthanize him, he can sign a Relinquishment of Ownership form and she would take Finn, fundraise for his procedure, and foster him until we found a home for him.

Finn is excellent with kids and other dogs (he’s very submissive to other dogs, and great with kids. He chases cats, and will not do well with chickens. But he’s a fantastic house-dog (even though he has spent most of his time outside). Based on the info his owner provided he knows “Sit”, “Stay”, “Lay down”, “Come”, and “Load”- he will back up and get a running start, then jump in the back of a pickup truck. He’s house-trained and has no other pre-existing medical history. 

He was super sweet when he was brought in to the veterinary hospital, wagging his tail and giving kisses despite his limp and obvious fracture. He was very healthy on exam (normal bloodwork, no evidence of heart murmur, etc), and made it through his surgery late in the afternoon of December 15th with flying colors. 

He is now recovering in CCU at SAGE-Dublin. His fracture was not clean, he had several small bone fragments that broke off making aligning his femur and pinning it in place a challenge, but they were able to stabilize it and get the hardware installed after about an hour of fine-tuning and lining everything up just right. 

The funds we are raising will go toward the cost of his surgery, x-rays, medications, and ongoing treatment in the CCU as Finn takes some time to recover before we find him a forever home.

We would be so grateful if you would take the time to share Finn’s story. If you would like to donate to Finn’s campaign, please visit his GoFundMe page here. Stay tuned for updates!

Everything You Need to Prepare Your Pets for Natural Disasters

As a Californian, I am grateful that there are very few natural disasters we need to worry about. However, we are not completely safe from Mother Nature. Specifically, us Californians need to be prepared for two common natural disasters earthquakes & wildfires!

Being prepared for natural disasters to happen is difficult. Specifically, because there isn’t always time to prepare for evacuation (especially with earthquakes). Although it is difficult to prepare for natural disasters themselves, we can prep necessities to react in the event something does happen.

Necessities for natural disasters:

First-Aid Kit

I have a first-aid kit for a variety of reasons; road trips, hiking trips, and emergencies. You can purchase one at your local pet store, or online, or you can make your own. If you already have a human first-aid kit, the DIY first-aid kits can be particularly helpful because you can combine the needs of you and your pets.

Secure Transportation

If you need to get in the car to evacuate, you want your dog or cat to be secure in the car (especially considering the additional chaos). Be sure to have an accessible crate that you can quickly secure in your car. It is also very helpful if your pet is used to a crate to avoid additional stress in an emergency situation.

List of Contacts

It’s always a good idea to have a list of contacts with you during your evacuation. Be sure to include your regular & emergency veterinarian along with a few other people that can be contacted in case of an emergency. If you want to be extra prepared, make sure the list is laminated so that it can’t be damaged by water. 

Know Your Surroundings

The Red Cross recommends having a map of pet-friendly hotels and motels where you can stay in the event of an evacuation. For health and safety purposes, Red Cross stations don’t take pets that are not service animals.

Paperwork

Be sure to have a copy of your pet’s current vaccine records, and make sure their identification is up to date. Vaccine records are very important for staying at hotels and any other place of refuge in an emergency situation. As always, I highly recommend microchipping your pet and keeping the contact information up to date. In the event that your pet gets away and also loses their collar, any veterinary professional will immediately scan them to see if they are microchipped.

Leashes & Harnesses

I have said it several times before, and I will say it again. Extra leashes and harnesses are always a good idea (because you never know if you will see a stray dog while walking or driving, OR your leash might break). I also like to keep a slip leash with us because you can slip it on and move out of the house quickly and take your time to put on the proper leash and harness when you have the time. This is most appropriate for surprise evacuations like house fires or earthquakes.

Medications

Make sure that you have a few days worth of your pet’s medication if they are medication-dependent. For example, if you have an epileptic dog, be sure to keep a week’s worth of non-expired medication in your pet’s first aid kit and make a reminder to replace it every 6 months.

Basics

Although these items are basic, when you aren’t sure how far you will be from your home or how long you will be away, the basics are important.

Towel/Blanket – for warmth

Pet Bed (can keep this in the crate)

Water/Food Bowls

Food (weeks worth at least)

Can Opener (especially for cats)

Water Bottles (weeks worth at least)

The Red Cross has some additional tips and a printable checklist for you, which I highly recommend checking out.

What Can You Do if Your Family Isn’t Affected by the Natural Disaster?

Sometimes when natural disasters hit your area, your family gets lucky. You didn’t have to evacuate, and all of your family, pets, and friends are safe. But chances are, not everyone was so lucky.

Here in California, it isn’t unusual for us to know of a wildfire 50 miles North of us. While we are in many cases exempt from worry, there are still things we can do for the families and pets affected in those areas.

1. Call Your Local Emergency Hospital

Every year, there is a wildfire in Northern California. Last year my friend Kim, who is an emergency veterinary technician at my local emergency hospital went up to the fires to care for pets who were injured. She even brought back two kittens who needed long-term care due to severe burns.

Had I know that Kim was going up there, I would have called her and asked her if she needed any extra blankets, towels, collars or leashes (chances are I have a few of these in my house). So as soon as you know about these emergencies, make a call to your local emergency hospital and see if their staff is going to provide relief and if they are in need of anything you might be able to provide.

2. Foster

Contact the local animal shelters and let them know you have space in your home to foster. Chances are the animal shelters will be inundated with lost and injured pets from the disaster and they could use any extra space they can get. Offer to take some pets for a few weeks to provide the shelter with the much-needed space.

3. Offer to Provide Transportation

Work with the local shelters and rescue centers to help transport people and pets, or people with pets. Sometimes people not only lost their homes but also lost their form of transportation and it would be really helpful if they could visit their family or friends a few towns away. However, not everyone has the space or means to transport pets. If you have a vehicle that could be useful (like a van) offer to take people and/or pets to other destinations.

4. Donate

Donations to the Red Cross and local animal shelters can help support the rescue and response efforts. Often, social media pages and campaigns are set up quickly to help support the additional donations, so keep your eyes open for that information in the event of a disaster.

5. Share on Social Media

If you live in the area (or surrounding areas) you can share any lost pet posts. It may seem small, but social sharing can be very powerful and very important for getting pets reunited with their families.

I would love to hear your ideas!

What do you have in your disaster preparedness kit? What do you do when your local area has a natural disaster to help others?

Everything You Need to Prepare Your Pets for Natural Disasters

Rooney and I would like to thank everyone for his birthday wishes! He had a great play day all day last Tuesday, and I think he really enjoyed his day.

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