by Lorie Lewis Ham
Often Bully breed dogs, such as Pit Bull Terriers, are tainted with a bad reputation, and in some cities, they are even banned. However, they have a friend and ally in the Valley in Fresno Bully Rescue.
Fresno Bully Rescue was established in early 2008, according to rescue director Bridgette Boothe. It was started by a small group of people who had a passion for the breeds and saw the great need in the Valley. Since its founding on May 1, 2008, they have rescued over 600 dogs. “At our shelter, we house over 40 resident dogs at all times. Some rescued from the community, from abusive homes, and county shelters where they were designated to be euthanized. FBR’s job is to provide a healthy and loving temporary home while we look for forever homes for our Bullies. In addition, FBR is committed to promoting responsible ownership of Bully breeds, fighting against breed discrimination, spaying and neutering pets, reporting dog fighting, and demonstrating to the community that Bully breeds are loyal, loving, and wonderful forever companions.”
Because of foreclosures in California, an overwhelming amount of dogs were being surrendered to shelters, continued Bridgette, and Bully breeds are the first to be euthanized if no one adopts or rescues them, so the founders of FBR saw a definite need for a breed specific rescue. “Since over one million Pit Bulls are euthanized in the United States yearly (statistics provided by Best Friends Society, Kanaab, Utah), the service provided by FBR is critical for the Central Valley, which has one of the highest rates of euthanization in the whole of California. (statistics provided by CCSPCA). The Central Valley also has one of the highest numbers of pet overpopulation. Pit Bulls are some of the most over-bred dogs and there are just not enough responsible homes to house them all.”
Bridgette began at FBR as a volunteer just wanting to help, having owned a Pit Bull of her own and having experienced first hand some of the discrimination that the breed and their owners are unfairly dealt with. “Wanting to help make a difference is what motivated me to volunteer. Now we have about six other board members who also help run the shelter and all of the operations.”
At their shelter they house about 45 resident dogs at all times and use foster homes primarily for young puppies. All of their adult dogs are usually kenneled at their facility. “Our shelter is open to the public four days a week for visitors and volunteers,” continued Bridgette. “Our volunteers play a vital role for our shelter dogs, getting them out for walks, training, events and more is a big part of keeping our dogs happy and healthy.”
“So glad to see an organization so dedicated to a breed that is so misjudged,” shared FBR Facebook fan Cheryl Turnmire. “To know a Bully is to love them. I have always had Pits and Poodles together. I had my last Pit for 17 wonderful years. She was one in a million. I support the rescues.”
According to Bridgette, one of the main challenges FBR faces is finding responsible and capable homes to adopt the dogs out to. She stated that many people get a young, cute puppy but do not realize that they will soon grow up into a large and powerful dog that will require lots of exercise, socialization and training. “If all of this is not done, then you have a high-energy, poorly trained and socialized Pit Bull that is left in a backyard or tied up alone outside. A little training, exercise and socialization go a long way in helping raise good dogs who will breed advocates.”
Another issue is that many landlords/rentals/apartments do not allow Bully breed dogs. Many have breed restrictions and some homeowners insurance will not cover them. Many people who loose their homes are forced to move into an apartment and their beloved pet is not allowed to come with them.
FBR tries to be involved in as many community events as possible. Getting their shelter dogs out into the public helps educate people on the breed and also dispel common misconceptions and myths. Many people usually start off fearful of a dog because of the bad things they hear in the media. Usually meeting a well behaved and properly socialized Pit Bull in person, will quickly change people’s minds. “We are big advocates of breed education,” said Bridgette. “We frequently visit schools to teach our youth about pet safety, breed myths and proper pet care. We also provide therapy services and pet retention help.”
With all of the bad press given to Bully breeds, education is a very important aspect of what FBR does. Bridgette stated that they have heard every comment there is. Sometimes strangers will come up to them at an event and just start yelling and saying mean comments. “People can be very judgmental and rude sometimes. Then there is the other side where we get to see that people are becoming educated, more accepting and more open minded. The longer we work at trying to educate our community, the more we see a positive change.”
Many people are not aware that Bully breeds are often used as therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs and even police dogs. Bully breed dogs are one of the most versatile breeds around, shared Bridgette. “They make great family dogs and are known for their great nature with children. The American Pit Bull Terrier is exactly that, a Terrier. They are athletic, loyal and very smart.”
Like any dog breed, it is important for an owner to research their desired dog so that an owner is prepared to take on the responsibility of their chosen breed. Make sure when choosing your new pet, you are educated on the breeds needs, positive and challenging characteristics. A Bully breed is not for everyone, just as Yorkie is not for everyone.
“Adopting Roddy is one of the greatest things we have ever done,” stated Lorence Noli Liscano, who adopted from FRB. “Fresno Bully Rescue should be a model for all pet adoption shelters across the US.”
Last year FBR adopted out over 120 dogs to responsible and loving homes. Their future goal is to raise enough funds to be able to purchase a large property so that they can have more room for their current residents, accommodate their adopters better, and house more dogs in need.
While animal rescue is always a lot of work, FBR believes it is well worth it. “Over the years we have come across so many amazing stories of survival,” said Bridgette. “Bully breeds are one of the most abused, neglected and mistreated breeds around and they are also one of the most forgiving and resilient. From absolute starvation, abandonment and even dog fighting, we have seen it all. We have also seen these very same dogs come to us with out one ounce of grudge or fear towards people – and the best part, seeing them get adopted into a loving home and living out their lives with a great family.”
FBR is run entirely by volunteers and donations/community support. They are always looking for more volunteers to help at their shelter and at adoption or fundraiser events. They do not receive any government funding, and constantly fundraise to meet the monthly needs of their facility and dogs. They hold monthly volunteer orientations and offer many easy ways for donors to help. Consider helping them make a difference for these wonderful dogs. Learn more about what you can do to help and donate on their website! You can also follow them on Facebook! Their shelter is located at 8547 W. Herndon Ave, Fresno, CA 93723
To learn more about Bully breeds check out these websites:
Pros & Cons of Owning a “Pit Bull”
Being A Responsible Owner
AKC American Staffordshire Terrier
Before Getting a Pit bull