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Let’s have a party

From Animal Sheltering Magazine November/December 2012

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

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. 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.

About the Author

James Hettinger is the assistant editorial director for Animal Sheltering magazine at The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). He's responsible for editing copy and managing the production of the award-winning quarterly publication aimed at shelter and rescue personnel. Prior to joining The HSUS in 2008, James worked for several local newspapers and trade associations in the Washington, D.C., area. He shares his home with three cats: Edgar, Dana and Vinny.