As of November 2011 the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County now treats every Pit Bull type dog that enters its facility just like any other breed. We are so proud of wha they have accomplished. See below for an outline of the 3 year partnership between BullsEye and
the Humane Society.
A cooperative Pit Bull education and adoption program between the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County and
BullsEye Dog Rescue.
In 1987, the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County (THS) ratified a policy that prevented the adoption of Pit Bulls from its shelter. This policy came about during a time when the shelter was seeing too many adopted Pit Bulls being returned as strays with obvious injuries from dog fighting. Frustrated by this revolving door of Pit Bulls, and without the resources for a more extensive adoption process, the THS board felt their only course of action was to end the chance of adoption for these dogs.
Twenty years later, a lot has changed for this beleaguered breed. More people are warming up to the Pit Bull breeds, and they are increasingly being adopted by young urban professionals looking for an athletic family dog. Recognizing this trend, staff and volunteers at the Humane Society were increasingly bothered by euthanizing healthy, adoptable dogs for nothing other than the label of a breed.
In search for a solution to help end the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals, THS contacted BullsEye Dog Rescue (BEDR) in February of 2007 after learning of a model adoption program for Pit Bulls in Oakland, California called Pit Bull Hall. A cooperative adoption and education effort between shelter and rescue, Pit Bull Hall has proven to be a win-win situation for all. After months of meetings, the “Adopt-a-Bull Program” (modeled after Pit Bull Hall) was approved by a vote of the THS board of directors in May of 2008. Thus began a partnership between BullsEye Dog Rescue and the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County.
The Adopt-a-Bull Program provides an extensive, structured assessment and adoption process as well as Pit Bull specific training for the staff of THS. All Pit Bulls considered for the program undergo a two part behavior assessment; first by the THS Behavior Coordinator, and then a more stringent Pit Bull specific assessment by a board member of BEDR. If a dog passes, s/he is transferred to a BEDR approved foster home for a four week observation period. At the foster home, the dog will begin its household manners training and also be monitored for classic Pit Bull temperament that includes intense human devotion, intelligence, and an eagerness to please.
After the four weeks, dogs will be returned to kennels at THS that are reserved exclusively for the Adopt-a-Bull Program. Not only will these Adopt-a-Bull Program dogs enjoy the extra adoption exposure of being in a shelter environment, they will serve as education ambassadors to the public about the Pit Bull breed. A team of BEDR trained volunteers will visit the shelter daily to exercise and continue to provide obedience training to each dog while in shelter, and at night and on the weekends the dogs will be able to return to their foster homes.
Potential adopters will apply through and be screened by BEDR. As our adopters know, the BEDR screening process is more extensive and specialized than most rescue organizations. This directly addresses the THS screening process concerns and helps assure the safety of the animals.
The first dog to go through the entire process is Hannah, a 1 year old Pit Bull that was found abandoned and emaciated in a Tacoma apartment. A Good Samaritan brought her in to THS and she successfully and easily moved through the Adopt-a-Bull process. She’s a wonderful girl, recuperating quickly and bouncing back with the bully spirit! She’s currently enjoying the company of dogs, cats, kids, and even rabbits in a foster home that turned into her forever home. Congratulations Hannah!
The Adopt-a-Bull Program has been approved for an initial nine month trial period. It’s only with the support of BEDR volunteers and donors that we can help THS and dogs like Hannah. Volunteers are critical in the efforts to provide daily exercise, training, and potty breaks for the Adopt-a-Bull dogs. While we need a number of volunteers in the Tacoma area, everyone can help! Having additional resources in the surrounding areas frees up our Tacoma volunteers for the new program. Also critical to the success of the program are the foster homes that provide the four week in home assessment period for these amazing breed ambassador dogs. BullsEye Dog Rescue and the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County are excited about the Adopt-a-Bull Program; we hope you can join us in making it a success!