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Bully love


A humane society for bully breeds works to change the perception of pit bulls, bulldogs and more.

Lea Terry June 8th, 2011

Since founding the Bully Breed Humane Society in 2008, Lizzy Druvenga has encountered nearly every stereotype about pit bull breeds. During adoption events, she’s watched many promising matches turn sour once prospective adopters discover the puppy they’re cuddling is a pit bull.

Lizzy Druvenga, founder of the Bully Breed Humane Society, sits with pit bulls Rogue and Nala.

“You may as well have told them it’s a beehive. They get all rigid, and slowly put it back in the cage,” Druvenga said.

But she’s also placed many of her rescues in homes nationwide. The organization began as an all-breed rescue, but when she learned of the challenges faced by homeless pit bulls, she focused on the breed full-time.

“What was shocking is that the pit bulls really didn’t get anything (at shelters), just a 72-hour hold and then they were put to sleep, even puppies, and mamas with puppies,” she said.

Metro resident Maeghan Hadley has fostered for the group since last year, and has two pit bulls of her own. Her pit bulls were abused before she took them in, but have an amazing capacity for forgiveness, she said.

“Pit bulls are very smart dogs, and they learn very quickly who to trust,” Hadley said.

Despite the misconceptions, Hadley recently has seen a shift in public perception of pit bulls, with the success of shows like Animal Planet’s “Pit Boss,” which focuses on their rescue and rehabilitation. Even negative publicity, such as athlete Michael Vick’s arrest on dog-fighting charges, may help change public opinion, she said.

“I think the Michael Vick situation opened a lot of people’s eyes with the dogs that they were able to rehabilitate, and now they’re showing their recoveries,” she said. “I think people are saying, ‘Hey, they can recover from situations, and they can turn out to be great dogs.’” Prospective adopters start by taking a dog home for a two-week trial.

Bully Breed thoroughly screens applicants and conducts home visits. The group would never, for example, place a hyper dog in a small apartment, Druvenga said.

However, given the variety of personalities and temperaments within the breed, there’s a right fit for anyone, from young families to seniors.

“There are your total couch potatoes, and then there’s your zero-to-100, going all the time,” Druvenga said. “Pit bulls come in every size and shape and color, and so I think there’s the right pit bull for anybody. They’d be great with children, and we have dogs in homes with babies and with cats and with autistic children.”

The group always needs more foster homes, as well as volunteers to help with adoption events and take dogs to vet appointments, she said.

All of Bully Breed’s dogs are spayed or neutered, microchipped, heartworm-tested and vaccinated. The organization also has offered training classes for pit bulls, which prepare them for the Canine Good Citizen/Therapy Dog certification test.

For more information, visit bullybreedhumanesociety.org.

 
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