Every pit bull on the street who’s greeted with a smile instead of a flinch marks progress. When pits are adopted into new homes, or legislation is passed in their favor, lives are saved. Here are tips on helping your community say no to stereotypes and yes to action.
1. Say It Ain’t So
You know all the myths – pit bulls are vicious, trained to fight, dangerous around children… Need help setting the record straight? Bad Rap, an organization devoted to improving the breed’s reputation, provides excellent in-depth responses to these major myths and more on their website: http://www.badrap.org/monster-myths.
2. Tell, and Show
Since pits are often misunderstood as unsafe to have in the home, use visuals to promote pits as the wonderful family companions they are. Start by sharing Bad Rap’s slideshow of vintage photos — one powerful image after another displaying a history of families with their beloved pit bull pets.
3. On Their Best Behavior
Well-trained, well-socialized dogs make the best pit bull ambassadors, as they show even the most skeptical adopters how well-behaved the breed can be! Learn valuable training skills from this Canine Communications webinar series presented by ASPCA behavior experts Trish McMillan Loehr and Heather Mohan-Gibbons.
4. Network, Network, Network! Want to give your pits an extra push? Take a page from one agency’s book — they created a Facebook page just for their bully breeds: Pit Bull Ambassadors of Hillsborough County Animal Services. The photo and caption below are an example of successful storytelling that educates. The image is oh so sweet, the story is engaging, and HCAS emphasizes the positive relationship that pits can have with other dogs.
“This pair is something else… they didn’t come in together, and are in no way related, but to watch the two of them together is like watching Forrest and Jenny, Peas and Carrots, Lucy and Desi, and all those other famous couples or things that go together like one.” -HCAS.
5. Seize the Day— National Pit Bull Awareness Day that is, coming up on October 27. A few ideas on building a bully buzz:
- Offer adoption discounts on pits
- Hold a pit bull-related event and register it here:http://www.nationalpitbullawarenessday.org/
- Visit classrooms and spread awareness to kids
Whatever you plan, don’t forget to alert the media!
6. Put On Your Creative Marketing Hat Nothing is too out-of-the-box when trying to capture the public’s attention. For inspiration, take a look at the pit bull promotions we gathered here on Shelters’ Edge. Pick-a-PITunia campaign from Seattle Humane Society — Never underestimate the power of a pun.”
7. Get Them in Therapy What better way to promote the breed’s lovebug potential than certifying them as therapy dogs? Staff or volunteers can show off your pits’ TLC skills in places like schools, hospitals and nursing homes.
8. Enlist Your Lobbyists Have you rallied supporters who want to end breed-specific legislation in all forms? Awesome – next step is to give them specific action to take. CheckStopBSL.org to find out if legislation is pending in your state. The good news – a number of states have already prohibited BSL!
9. Hold an Event in Their Honor Invite your community to say “we love bullies” loud and proud by putting on an awareness event. It can be an adoption event, a fundraiser – anything goes, as long as your pits are the stars of the show!
10. Grab Your Virtual Megaphone 2-4-6-8, get online and educate! Here are some great resources devoted to improving the pit’s rep and spreading the word:
P.S. #11 – Want to get the ball rolling on promoting your pits? Share this blog post! Do you have pit bull ambassadors at your agency? Let us know what they’re up to in the comment box.