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HugABull Advocacy and Rescue Society

Posted: Mar 18 2015



UKUSCAdoggie is really excited to partner with HugABull, a network of rescuers, adopters and supporters of pit bulls. We're sure that once you learn about the work of this amazing rescue organization and their many achievements, you will want to help!

Run entirely by volunteers, HugABull not only rescues this amazing breed, but aims to change the negative perception that media sensationalism, irresponsible ownership and breeding has perpetuated. The organization describes pit bulls as athletic, fun-loving, intelligent and eager to please, noting that they excel in obedience classes and make great Rally-O competitors, agility stars, therapy dogs, activity partners and couch potatoes. For every "unstable" pit bull you might read about in the newspaper, there are hundreds who live with doting families as gentle pets.

Why Pit Bulls?

Pit bulls need help more than any other breed. Their tough reputation often results in the kinds of owners who beat, starve and neglect their animals and ultimately abandon them. There are also people out there who are so convinced that these animals are "monsters", they will abuse, poison, steal and even kill pit bulls that belong to others. Almost every week, the rescue hears another sad abuse story. They are very aware, however, just how resilient this breed can be, having seen dogs "bounce back" after they have been beaten, starved, locked away or even set on fire, retaining their ability to love and trust unconditionally. They believe it truly is a privilege to match these dogs with the homes they deserve. 

Lowest Adoption Rate

Pit bulls have the lowest adoption rates of any breed of dog in the shelter system and even though it is not advertised or admitted to, a large number of BC shelters still have an "automatic euthanasia" policy for pit bulls. In situations where there is not much shelter space, hostile attitudes, or Breed Specific Legislation, a shelter will often opt not to "waste" its precious resources on less adoptable dogs. Even when a dog does make it through to the adoption process, they still face the slowest adoption rates. Most people really do not understand the breed and so will avoid even the friendliest, best behaved dogs because of the misconceptions that exist. Sadly, people who do love the breed will often be concerned about the reactions of families, neighbours and their community. Whatever the reason, pit bulls tend to languish in kennels, while less stable/friendly/trained dogs of other breeds get adopted first. Working dogs, pit bulls are bred to follow and please their owner. With very little human contact surrounded by stressed-out barking dogs, they tend to suffer greatly in a kennel environment. Some become depressed, despondent and sick, while others may become hyperactive, making them less adoptable and the shelter will ultimately consider putting them to sleep.

All dogs benefit greatly when they are placed in a foster home, but a homeless pit bull truly gets a new lease on life when he enters a program such as the one run by HugABull.

A great history...

Founded in 2003 by pit bull owners, Katie Ernst and Danielle Cross, who wanted to help the many pit bulls languishing in shelters across the Lower Mainland, the organization is based in Vancouver but serves all of British Columbia. After building relationships with local shelters and identifying great dogs who were being overlooked due to breed stigma, Katie and Danielle set up a network of foster homes and adopters, offering support and information to ensure a successful match. They chose the name "HugABull" in 2004 and launched a website drawing attention to their cause.

Over the years the organization has seen so many positive changes as they have endeavoured to change the public's perception of this great breed. In 2004, they organized Pits in the Park and Volunteer Recruitment events which drew new faces and planted the seeds for the thriving community that exists today. 2004 was also the year that the Ontario breed ban was working its way through the court system and the City of Vancouver was contemplating a ban on the breed. HugABull made their voices heard against the existing BSL and it was ultimately reversed.

In 2005, the HugABull team attended a conference hosted by Bad Rap. They learned a great deal from this organization which had extensive experience in pit bull rescue and advocacy. They subsequently developed the Pit Ed program and initiated many of the policies and procedures that are in place today.

Registered as a non-profit society in 2006, Samantha Andress and Shelagh Begg joined Danielle as directors. Kirsta Thorleifson also joined and was tasked with developing the rescue's presence on Vancouver Island. The group's first fundraiser to garner support for their newly "official" organization was launched and the HugABull discussion forum was established. The following year, the group took part in the 2007 Pet Expo and marched in their first Pride Parade, showing off their lovely, rainbow-covered crew! A blog was launched and the organization celebrated their first class of Pit Ed graduates.

After Kirsta left BC in 2008, Kristen Neratini and Carla Anderson joined the Board. This was also the year that Danielle launched The Lovely Fund after meeting its namesake in a local shelter. The group also hosted their first Canine Good Neighbour evaluation. 

In 2009, a strategy session resulted in the election of a new Board with new roles designed to streamline activities and focus resources in three key areas: rescue, education and community. They marched in their very first Canada Day parade and hosted a holiday Open House at their new space at Dizine Canine Training Centre.

2010 saw the development of the group's Okanagan branch. An increasing number of supportive volunteers and foster homes offered the group more opportunities and areas to raise awareness and place dogs in homes in this new region of BC. They proudly hosted signature advocacy events in 2010 and 2012, including a presentation by Bill Bruce, a Calgary-based international leader in breed-neutral animal legislation. They also screened the documentary Beyond the Myth to sold-out audiences.

Today, HugABull has rehomed over 400 dogs and has a community of thousands and they continue to expand each year. One of their goals is to ultimately become the "go to" organization for pit bull related issues in BC, and to one day have their own shelter. The most important goal, however, is to see a day where no pit bull is euthanized or passed by for adoption because of its breed.

We invite you to get involved and see how you can help this great organization achieve their goals. As a community, we can change minds - one good dog at a time! Please check out their website.

For our part, UKUSCAdoggie will donate 10% of each sale to the organization. When completing your purchase, please be sure to indicate that you wish us to donate to HugABull.


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