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Adoptable Ideas Part 3: Pit Bull Terriers and Mixes 

January 2013

Do your Pits need some pizzazz? Looking for ways to give your bully breed dogs an image makeover? Need some tips on creative and successful strategies for finding homes for your Pit Bulls, Pit mixes, and Pit-appearing dogs? Check out these ideas and resources!

From the SPCA Serving Erie County in Buffalo, New York: "We dress our Pits and Pit mixes in fuzzy sweaters and soft pastels (bandanas, collars) to warm up their image. We place stuffed animals next to them in pictures and write endearing copy to describe their personalities. For example: ‘If you adopt this dog, you'll never stop laughing.' Adopters love it if the dogs know a few razzle-dazzle tricks like ‘jump over my knee' and ‘roll over'."

To enhance the image and appeal of their Pits and Pit mixes, the SPCA of Tompkins County in Ithaca, New York, started a training program called Pit Pals. The dogs learn impulse control (particularly important for big, strong dogs like Pits): off, drop it, leave it and "do nothing and settle". "In this exercise, we take the dog into a nice relaxing setting, give them a blanket, a massage and reward them for being calm," explains trainer Debby Lalley. "Shelters are extremely stressful for dogs. This exercise reduces their stress level and, of course, they really enjoy the massage and the attention." The program also provides enrichment activities like stuffed Kongs and "nose work" to keep the dogs mentally challenged and stimulated.

The Majority Project is a fantastic idea from the Animal Farm Foundation to de-stigmatize Pits and Pit owners. Take a look

For tips on how to speak to the media about Pit Bulls and prevent them from getting bad press, check out Cathy Rosenthal's PowerPoint presentation Ending Breed Discrimination Against Pit Bull Terrier Type Dogs from last year's No More Homeless Pets Conference. The presentation also recalls how Pit Bulls came to be negatively stereotyped and clarifies the confusion between dangerous dogs and dangerous breeds.

What are you doing to promote adoptions? Send your best ideas to info@maddiesfund.org and we'll post them in our newsletter.