Saturday, June 25, 2011
Pit Bulls: Saving America's Dog in Washington, D.C.
“I don’t want you or your dog in our neighborhood,” a neighbor told Kirstyn Northrop-Cobb, while walking her then newly adopted Pit Bull companion, Gus. Kirstyn vividly remembers the double prejudicial, cutting remark. It was winter; she had crocheted a cute, red sweater and hat to keep Gus warm from the Chesapeake Bay chill.
Oddly, several blocks from her Calvert County home is Prince George’s County, MD where Breed Specific Legislation bans Pit Bull ownership; illegal ownership results in Pit Bull impoundment and fines up to $1,000 or a sentence of up to six months imprisonment for Pit Bull owners.
It is only natural that Kirstyn, a former Veterinary Technician, experienced Pit Bull Foster, volunteer and Board Member of the Humane Society of Calvert County, plays a major role in Best Friends Animal Society National Campaign, Pit Bulls: Saving America’s Dog, in the Nation’s Capital. As the Best Friends Animal Society Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Local Coordinator, Kirstyn leads the Washington D.C. Pit Crew in partnership with the Washington Humane Society.
Wahington D.C. is one of five cities in the Shelter Partners program, chosen for its Pit Bull overpopulation to reduce Pit Bull and Pit Bull Mix euthanasia in shelters. “Overpopulation is a problem easily controlled,” Kirstyn says. To increase responsible ownership, “we are providing free Spay/Neuter services to D.C. Pit Bulls.” Furthermore, the health benefits of Spay/Neuter include reduction of cancer and aggression, improving overall behavior.
“It's all about education.” To increase Pit Bull adoptions, Kirstyn organizes in-shelter and off-site Pit Bull events. “Holding more off site events with a focus on Pit Bulls, educates the public, lets them know what wonderful dogs Pit Bulls are and improves the image of Pit Bulls.”
Several times a week, Kirstyn walks an adoptable Pit Bull on the National Mall. Coined, “Mutts on the Mall,” Kirstyn introduces Pit Bulls to the local, national, and international public. “Allowing people to interact with Pit Bulls shows them that Pit Bulls are dogs, like any other dog. Some minds will never change, but most people are very receptive and pleased to interact with the Pit Bulls.”
“It's wonderful to work with an organization who shares my passion for improving the tarnished image of Pit Bulls.” With the help of Best Friends attorneys, many U.S. cities are repealing Breed Specific Legislation. “Lawmakers everywhere are realizing that Pit Bulls aren't the problem.” With time, we can improve laws nationwide, protecting Pit Bulls and the public; Kirstyn says, “We're moving in the right direction.”
Meet the Washington Humane Society Pit Bulls of Georgia Avenue and WHS Pit Bulls of New York Avenue.
Friend the Washington D.C. Pit Crew on Facebook and stay up-to-date on Pit Bull events.
Article and photos by: Jeannette Smith