Love-A-Bull is one of the biggest Pit Bull advocacy and rescue groups in Texas. Making a difference for thousands of dogs across the state is what Love-A-Bull does best!
We recently spoke to Austin, Texas non-profit, Love-A-Bull, who provided us with tons of valuable information regarding the organization, and why it’s so important to give Pit Bulls a good name.
1.Why and when was your organization founded?
Love-A-Bull is an outgrowth of the former Austin American Pit Bull Terrier meetup group, which was formed in 2003. As the political perceptions around the breed began changing in a negative way, a small group of people joined together to advocate for the breed by educating the general public on the common myths that had arisen from skewed public misconceptions perpetuated by propaganda published by various media outlets. Love-A-Bull received its 501(c)(3) status in 2008 so that the group could better attain its mission and goals.
2. What is Austin like for dog lovers? Is it friendly, welcoming? Is there a big Pit Bull community?
Austin is one of the most dog friendly places in the country. Anywhere you go: local farmers market, outdoor patio at neighborhood restaurants, and city parks, you will run into a fellow dog lover!We have tons of parks and trails that are dog friendly making it a great place to be a dog guardian.
Yes, we have a very supportive pit bull community here in Austin. We are the largest no-kill city in the U.S., and we have many pit bull advocates working within our shelters as well as a wonderful network of rescue groups. Our organization is continually working towards equality for all dogs–regardless of breed. We believe many of the other groups here in our city would agree and are working towards the same goal.
3. What are the biggest challenges your organization faces rescuing Pit Bulls in Austin? Are there unique challenges that face these dogs in general?
Housing and the never-ending requests for dogs in need! We know the housing crisis for what some label as “aggressive breeds” is nation wide and pit bull type dog guardians aren’t alone in this struggle. Through our advocacy work here in Austin we have found that a majority of the apartment complexes’ are managed by National Companies. It is at the national level that many of the breed and weight restricted policies are created and passed down to our local apartment management. The blanket breed restrictions do not give guardians the opportunity to show that their dog (regardless of breed) is well-behaved and not a threat to the apartment community. We keep an updated list of pit bull friendly housing on our website.
Although Austin may be a super friendly towards our pit bull type dog population, just outside the city limits you will find many shelters that do not adopt out or release pit bull type dogs to rescue groups. We find ourselves struggling to reach a balance of saving dogs right here in our own community and giving pit bull type dogs that find themselves on death row in a rural shelter a second chance at life.
4. How important is advocating for this breed? Have you changed some minds?
Advocating for this population of dogs, pit bulls, is one of the most important things our organization does. Over the years we have come at it from a standpoint of advocating through responsible guardianship, while helping the general public to understand that these dogs are just that…dogs. We believe that our organization does an excellent job of offering educational material to our local communities members and officials. We have such great resources here in Austin that we often extend our reach to communities who desperately need resources such as free spay/neuter, vaccinations and microchipping for pit bull type dogs. We truly feel that we change minds every day just by showing the positive side of this breed through education and training. One of the programs that we have found influence a positive change and overcome the stigmatization often associated with these dogs is our Pit Crew Program. Love-A-Bull’s Pit Crew is an all pit bull therapy dog program where trained certified therapy dogs visit local schools, nursing homes, summer camps, and domestic violence shelters. Animals have a way of accepting without conditions. An animal’s acceptance and approval is non-judgmental, forgiving, uncomplicated, and unconditional and this is just what our dogs do when they visit folks that include at-risk youth or hospice patients at an aids group home. We change minds on the regular.
Our rescue program has organically grown over the years with the need for dogs that live for days, months, and years on chains. There is an ever-growing need to educate our rural communities on responsible guardianship, spay, neuter, and vaccination opportunities. Several years ago we pulled the first two pit bulls to ever be released from one particular rural Texas Animal Shelter. This community has a wonderful group of hard working animal advocates who worked tirelessly to make changes at their local shelters. The powers that be at their shelter gave them the opportunity to save pit bull type dogs from being killed at the shelter as long as the dogs were transferred to reputable organizations outside of their city and county. Over a period of four months or so we watched the dogs pop up on social media and then into our email inboxes and we knew that it was time to step up to assist this group in letting their shelter know that there are people who care about pit bull type dogs just as we care about all dogs.
5. What is one of your most memorable rescue to success stories?
One key belief of our organization is that we will always accept a dog into our program if he or she is living in a backyard or on a chain and the “owner” is willing to surrender the dog. We believe dogs should be part of a family and that means being inside family pets. In our minds if we have a chance to provide a family environment to an animal that has been abused or neglected we will do so.
Frida was one story that stands out for us. We received a call from a worried neighbor who had watched this pup slowly fade away for months living on a chain in a backyard. The mom worked nights and left her young children home alone and often the only thing the neighbor could see near the dog was empty buckets of old chicken bones. After advising the caller to respectfully approach the woman and find out if she wanted the dogs taken off her hands–she found out she actually didn’t want the dog and was open to allowing her to be rescued. Apparently, the single mother was struggling after her boyfriend went to jail and she was so mad at the boyfriend she stopped feeding his dog as punishment.
As soon as we were given the green light to rescue her two of our team members hopped in the car and made the hour drive to Frida. Barely standing and head hanging from a chain that weighed only pounds less than her, we started talking to the children about their dog. They let us know she had puppies and they sold them, but we’d like to think we made an impact on the children that day as we explained that this was no way for any animal to live. As we lifted the chain off of Frida’s neck and watched the 100’s of fleas jumping around in her fur, we knew this was the start of the rest of her life! Her eyes lit up as we lifted her into the car and she never once looked back as we drove off. Today Frida has been living in her new fur-ever home with a loving family where she enjoys snuggling in a big bed at night and taking family trips to the beach!
6. Who are some of the dogs at your organization that are having a hard time finding a forever home?
Our dogs that need to be only dogs can sometimes face more challenges finding a fur-ever home. Many times this is because they come from a background where they didn’t grow up being properly treated or socialized and in some instances don’t even know proper play behavior. When we have a dog that is selective about his or her friends, then we of course are more selective on what type of home or adopter we will place them with. We always do our very best to match our adopt-a-bull dogs with our adopters but unfortunately, it has been our experience that many dog savvy, dog lovers already have a house with other pets. With all of this in mind it often narrows down the pool of potential homes.
7. What do you think of breed specific legislation laws?
Research shows, without a doubt, that Breed Specific Legislation is not only incredibly costly but it does not work. According to the National Canine Research Council (NCRC) there are multiple cases from the U.S. to Canada to Spain where BSL was enacted and had little to no effect on decreasing the number of dog bites. The absolute biggest issue with BSL is that it does not take into account the irresponsible owner and the overall environment the dog is kept in. It punishes responsible owners/guardians who genuinely love and care for their pet and BSL has been the reason that many, many well behaved Pit Bulls, including certified therapy or service dogs, have been torn from their family members simply because of their “breed”.
8. How often do you deal with dogs who have been suspected of being involved in dog fighting or bait dogs?
We have now rescued 12 dogs that have come from nationally publicized dogfight busts from all over the country. We have been called upon by HSUS and ASPCA when dogs are rescued from large-scale dog fighting rings. We find that many of the dogs are some of the most loving and well-behaved pups we’ve ever had in our program. We don’t often come into contact with dog fighting dogs from our area, but when we do we are very careful not to make assumptions about a dogs history especially if he/she comes to use with scars or cropped ears. We believe making assumptions about any dog with scars or cropped ears can be very damaging to who they really are as an individual. We do not know their history so we never assume to know their history. Our organization has rescued multiple neglect cases off chains and has recently worked with law enforcement on a cruelty case.
9. What is the biggest issue facing your rescue that you would love to conquer?
Housing issues–the discrimination that renters and homeowners face when owning pit bull type dogs.
10. Where can people find you online?
11. What is one thing an everyday person can do to make the world a better place for dogs?
“If you can’t adopt – foster…
If you can’t foster – sponsor…
If you can’t sponsor – volunteer…
If you can’t volunteer – donate, or transport an animal to safety….
If you can’t donate – educate, network, and crosspost…
Everyone can do something, large or small, to help save a life…”