A Record Breaking Community Pit Bull Day

Like I briefly mentioned on Tuesday, I finally got the opportunity to volunteer at one of B-More Dog‘s Community Pit Bull Days last weekend. B-More Dog holds these events once a month to provide free or low cost vaccinations to dog owners in generally low income communities. As well as the vaccinations, B-More Dog schedules free spays and neuters for “pit bull” dogs, does a leash and collar exchange, and gives general wellness advice at these events. Working directly towards their mission of promoting responsible pet ownership, B-More Dog takes it as an opportunity to connect with the community and help those who might not have the resources or sometimes even the knowledge to provide their dogs with the care they need.

For these types of events, you can’t just put information out on social media and expect for your target audience to show up. B-More Dog went into the community and put up flyers, went door to door, and used word of mouth spread the news. That’s more effective to reach who you want, as evidenced by the amount of people and dogs that came.

From what I understand, this weekend’s event was record breaking with a total of 91 dogs vaccinated, and 23 (24?) spay/neuters scheduled! I can report that it is an utterly exhausting six hours – but it is so, so worth it.  I was lucky in that I spent most of my time at the “photo booth” capturing adorable images like this, and got spared some of the tougher stuff (dogs in very poor health, etc.).

For the most part, I got the impression that the people we helped loved their dogs as part of the family, and were extremely grateful that we gave them the opportunity to care for them properly.

Look at the collars we received back from the leash and collar exchange! Yes, there are a few chains in there. The way this works is they give us their old collars or whatever they’re using, and we give them a brand new leash and collar set. These are the types of things B-More Dog raises money for: to buy the new leashes and collars, in addition to of course covering the vaccinations and the spay/neuters.

What an amazing day with an amazing group of people!

Project Mickey

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of sitting in on the final class of an after school program aimed towards educating kids about humane relationships with animals. Project Mickey, named after a darling puppy that Jasmine’s House took in who passed away, officially kicked off its Pilot Program in April, and the results have been nothing but astounding.

Fifteen 5th grade students from an inner city Baltimore public school participated in the program where twice a week they learned about a wide variety of dog related issues. These kids not only gained knowledge about things like how to safely greet a dog, clicker training, and proper pet care – they also became very familiar with “pit bull” dogs, and the issues surrounding them. Most of these students began the four weeks with a negative image of a pit bull, and left just like the rest of us: with their hearts wrapped around the big square head of pit bull type dogs everywhere.

Project Mickey is one of the most inspiring things I have ever gotten the honor of participating in. While I was only around for the end result, I could still see how much passion, creativity, and intelligence was pouring out of these kids on this topic. They learned to appreciate that dogs have feelings and that it is up to us to keep animals safe and healthy.

Today was the day they worked on their final projects for next week’s presentation. While I don’t want to spoil much for any Jasmine’s House followers who are going to see the presentation next week, I will say that the ideas these children came up with to share what they’ve learned with their classmates absolutely blew me away. Kids are presenting on why dog fighting is bad, how to be safe around dogs, about pit bulls in general and why breed bans are no good, and more.  It’s amazing what they’ve learned and what they’ve really seemed to soak up from their experiences.

I’ll hopefully post more about Project Mickey as it evolves, but I can confidently say that Jasmine’s House has set up something magical here. These kids, many for their first time, experienced compassion for animals and will hopefully now be their voice among peers – something that likely never would have happened without the four weeks they spent with the school’s representative, the Jasmine’s House folks, a few ambassadogs, and a lot of great lessons.

In order to grow and help more students each session, Project Mickey needs financial support. If you would like to help this program continue so more children can be reached, please consider donating to the cause today.

Spreading Love to the Little Ones

Today a group of about twenty children, ages 5 – 10 years old, showed up to the shelter. Because of super limited space we’ve had to cut back the number of shelter tours we do, but they had made dog treats and really wanted to look around, so my coworker Nevie obliged. Of course they also asked about meeting a dog. Having faith in my handy little foster dog, I offered Baxter up for the job.

After asking all the kids to please sit still until I tell them it’s okay, I brought Bax out. He loves when we move around the office for whatever reason because it means he gets to say hi to all his staff member friends, and this time was no different in producing his infamous tail wag. The kids of course loved him, seeing how happy he was to be in their presence. They all followed the rules and sat politely as I told them a little about Baxter.

I asked them if they had heard of a pit bull before. Most said yes. I asked if they thought Baxter was a pit bull. Most said yes. I told them that because Baxter was a stray, we aren’t sure what kind he is, and that we can’t put a label on him just because of what he looks like. I asked who liked Baxter. Everyone raised their hands. I even got to drop the “never judge a book by its cover, no matter what they’ve heard in the past” line.

This whole time Baxter had been standing patiently next to me, wobbling from side to side as he wagged enthusiastically. I finally let him go greet the kids, and he calmly walked forward and licked all of their hands one by one. Each one squealed with delight as he sniffed their face and slurped on the palms of their hands. I felt like a proud mom watching him do so well with all the kids!

After all was said and done, I thought, “Huh. Well Bax, we may have just made a little bit of a difference there.” I’m so happy that these and many other young kids are getting exposure the the world outside of stereotypes through Humane Education programs. Experiences like this, no matter how small, are vital to the way they look at animals, pit bull type dogs included. I hope they went home talking about the little black dog with the big square head that they met after school today, and how great he was.

I know it was a brief meeting and we could only do so much, but I’m proud of my little monkey for being such a great advocate, and I can’t believe how far he has come. It was one of those days where you have to sit back and remember to appreciate the small things – like your once very shy foster dog tolerating twenty little ones : )

For more information on adopting Comeback Kid Baxter, click here or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.