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Kits & Pits

  • An Adopt-A-Bull participant cools off with help from Chad Naile, behavior manager for the Humane Society of Charlotte. Donna Ragan/Humane Society of Charlotte

by James Hettinger

Let’s Have a Party

Got pits? Throw a party! That’s the approach taken by the Humane Society of Charlotte (HSC) in North Carolina, which held its third annual Adopt-A-Bull event in August.

The festival-style gathering serves as a celebration of the bully breeds, showcasing the many charms of pits and pit mixes in a fun setting, says Donna Canzano, the humane society’s vice president of development and community relations.

Held on the HSC’s grounds on a Saturday morning, this year’s party featured food vendors, tables manned by other animal welfare organizations, and of course Adopt-A-Bull volunteers walking the adoptable dogs.

In a new wrinkle this year, the event was preceded by a two-hour vaccine/wellness clinic. About a dozen owners took advantage of the $10 vaccines, and several of them agreed to get their dogs spayed or neutered, according to Canzano.

Altogether, about 75 people attended Adopt-A-Bull. Pre-event promotion resulted in four dogs getting adopted, and another got adopted after the event.

Think something similar might work for your organization? “Try it,” Canzano advises, “and get as much media as you can, because the media loves pit bull stories.” A local radio station did an on-site broadcast, and three local television stations covered the event.

Yes, the media sometimes focus on sensational, negative stories about pit bulls, Canzano says, but she adds that it’s possible to sway the coverage toward the great things about them. The day before Adopt-A-Bull, for example, Canzano appeared on a local TV morning show, accompanied by an adorable baby pit named Judge. (View the clip at In the coverage of the actual event, Canzano says, owners got a chance to talk about what they love about their pit bulls.

Canzano also got to shatter some stereotypes by walking around the event with an enormous pit named Corwin. People marveled at how friendly he is, prompting her to reply, “Yeah, they actually can be nice!”

She sees that message getting through to people. “They see that there are good people out there that want to adopt them as well,” Canzano says.

by Nancy Peterson

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Thickened fur coats help feral cats weather winter. But it’s equally essential that the shelters constructed to protect feral cats are warm, dry, well-insulated, and appropriately sized to trap the cats’ body heat and warm up the shelter’s interior.

Straw is the best material to put in the shelter, because it allows cats to burrow (don’t use hay as a substitute for straw; it may look similar, but it can irritate noses and cause allergic reactions). Pillowcases loosely stuffed with packing peanuts and shredded newspaper also work. Straw and newspaper should be replaced if they’re moist or dirty. Pillowcases can be washed and restuffed. Avoid blankets, towels, and folded newspapers, which absorb body heat and chill cats lying on them.

If it’s really cold where you live, you can augment the interior insulations listed above by “wallpapering” the shelter’s inner walls and floor with Mylar. It reflects back body heat, so it’s OK for cats to lie on it.

If the privacy and security of the shelter won’t be compromised, place the shelter near the food to reduce the cats’ travel. You can also place two shelters, doorways facing each other, 2 feet apart, and create a canopy between them by securing a wide board from one roof to the other. Food and water will be protected under the canopy. A thick plastic water container that’s deep and wide provides better insulation than thin plastic or ceramic.

Canned food freezes quickly. But if shelters are well-insulated, you can put a bowl of moist food far from the doorway. Even if the food freezes, the cats’ body heat will defrost it when they hunker down in their shelter. Don’t put water bowls inside, though—a wet shelter would feel more like a refrigerator than a toasty haven.

There are some build-it-yourself and purchased options to prevent or delay drinking water from freezing; some of them can work for food, too.

Well-fed cats with adequate shelter can be safely trapped in winter. They’re less likely to be pregnant or nursing, kittens are rare, and you’ll beat the heat of kitten season.

See more information on winter care for feral cats at

Read the rest of this issue from Animal Sheltering magazine

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