"A breed of satin and steel. Pit bulls are a mixture of softness and strength, an uncanny canine combination of fun, foolishness, and serious business, all wrapped up in love."

-D. Caroline Coile

Sunday, September 30, 2012

How to Plan a Pit Bull Awareness Day Event

So, you want to show the public that pit bulls are good dogs. Well, you’re in luck! The National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign is a nationwide effort to bring positive recognition and attention to the American Pit Bull Terrier. The heart of the campaign is National Pit Bull Awareness Day (NPBAD), which was founded in 2007 by Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys.

NPBAD is an excellent opportunity to be a positive role model for responsible dog ownership, and to introduce the truth about pit bulls in the communities where we live with our dogs. Since the beginning, NPBAD has been extremely successful thanks to the pit bull advocates across the nation who are determined and dedicated to making a positive difference for pit bulls.

If you’re part of a rescue group, breed club, animal shelter or other dog-related organization, you may have some event planning experience. Even if you aren’t part of a formal group, you can still host a NPBAD event! The first step is to pick a date. Ideally you would host the event on the actual NPBAD; in 2012 it will be on Saturday, October 27, but if that’s not possible that’s ok, too. No matter which date you pick, be sure to allow enough time to advertise and spread the word about your event! You want to make sure people know about it and plan to attend!

There are lots of possibilities for events. For example, if you’re not part of a formal group, ask your local pet store if you can set up a table with information about pit bulls. PBRC has educational materials available for download and distribution at this link: http://www.pbrc.net/flyers.html Take your own breed ambassador pit bull with you! (If you aren’t sure if your dog is considered a breed ambassador, read the information at this link: http://www.pbrc.net/breedambassador.html.) Be sure to bring along the “Find the Pit Bull” flyer. It’s a great conversation starter and a perfect way to show one of the major problems with breed-specific legislation (BSL): identifying which dogs are pit bulls.

Here are some other ideas for events:

Bully Rally

Pit Bull Adoption or Spay/Neuter Event

Pit Bull Parade

Weight Pull

Dog Wash Event (which can double as a fund raiser for a local pit bull rescue)

Canine Costume Contest (since it’s so close to Howl-O-Ween!)

Kiss-a-Bull kissing booth

Canine Good Citizen Testing
                                            Lenox, a 10 yr old pit bull mix working a kissing booth

These are all great ideas, but you will likely need funds. You may need funds to secure permits for a park in which to host your event, or you may need to rent a venue. You may also need funds to print fliers or take out an ad to publicize your event. Consider approaching local pet stores, veterinarian offices, dog trainers, groomers and pet food companies to see if they would like to get involved by offering funds (or products for a raffle or silent auction) in exchange for having their company name listed on the promotional materials for the event.

Atlanta Underdog Initiative, located in Atlanta, GA, has been celebrating NPBAD since 2007 by hosting the Atlanta Bully Rally. The very first event consisted of about 30 people in a small Atlanta park. Since then, it has grown into a large and much-anticipated NPBAD event, featuring special celebrity guests, an amateur weight pull, educational presentations on topics that affect pit bulls and their owners, a pit bull kissing booth, the opportunity to showcase local rescue groups and their adoptable animals, a raffle with fantastic prizes, and free dog food and collars to pets in need. In order to plan your own Bully Rally, Atlanta Underdog Initiative offers the following tips:

-Secure a venue! A public park is usually a great choice!

-Invite other pit bull specific rescues as well as local animal control to bring 1-2 dogs each so people can see the types of pit bulls that end up in rescue and in the shelters. By including other organizations, you also increase your attendance because they tell their supporters.

-Recruit people to speak on various topics such as spay/neuter, unchaining, training, and BSL. Try to find people who can connect with your target audience.

-Give out free dog food, collars and leashes. More dog owners are likely to come if the flyer says “Free Pet Food”. Post flyers all over the neighborhoods where your target audience lives.

-For the sake of safety, consider offering a “waiting area” of crates where dogs can be crated while their owners walk around and talk to people and look at the rescue dogs. It allows people to bring dogs with controllable dog-reactivity to the event so that they get the educational info but still provides a way to keep those dogs contained if they get over stimulated. Also have “dog security” volunteers who keep an eye on the dogs’ behavior and the owners to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Atlanta Underdog Initiative hosts a LugNuts weight pull at the Bully Rally. This has proven to be very popular. They offer cash prizes for 1st ($50), 2nd ($35) and 3rd place ($20). The prize amount doubles if the dog is already spayed or neutered or if the owners allow the organization to spay or neuter the dog within 2 weeks. On the sign-up form is a field where owners of the winning dog can opt to forfeit the prize so that the funds can be put back toward rescue or spay/neuter. For info on Lugnuts visit this link: http://www.suesternberg.com//03programs/04lugnuts.html

                                         LugNuts weight pull contestant at the 2011 Atlanta Bully Rally

For further information on how to plan a Bully Rally, contact Atlanta Underdog Initiative. Contact information is available on the group’s website at www.atlantaunderdog.com. The Atlanta Bully Rally website is www.atlantabullrally.com.

Regardless of your location, please choose an activity to participate in on October 27, 2012, to promote and celebrate responsible pit bull ownership with other caring individuals. Visit the Bless the Bullys website (www.blessthebullys.com) to find NPBAD events in your area or to register your own.

Let’s make our voices heard across the nation on October 27, 2012!

By Pit Bull Rescue Central

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