The Bulls are Back in Town
Save-a-Bull is a nonprofit organization assisting pit bulls and pit mixes in a process of rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming. The dogs are cared for by volunteers in foster homes until they find their forever families. Once the dogs are rescued, they receive the proper vaccinations and medical treatments as well as temperament testing, health screening, and microchipping. Because the staff is entirely unpaid, Save-a-Bull holds several events and fundraisers to get these furry critters the help that they need.
Save-a-Bull helps any bully breed or bully mix because they face the most discrimination based on their appearances. In U.S. shelters, more than 700,000 bullies are euthanized each year because the way they look frequently turns people away from adopting them. Although Save-a-Bull focuses on rescuing bullies and bully mixes, they do not discriminate and accept any and all dogs that are in need of a loving home.
“We have a careful and thoughtful intake and adoption process!” says Save-a-Bull foster Lorelei Noire. “Since we are foster-based we can only take in as many dogs as we have homes open. The intake team finds dogs that match our available open foster homes from either animal control or owner surrenders. The majority of our adult dogs are from local sources since we prefer fosters have a chance to meet the dog before placing them together. We also intake puppies from our rescue partners out of state. Thanks to spay/neuter efforts and ‘adopt don’t shop’ campaigns, unwanted puppies aren’t as common in the Twin Cities as one would think.”
Once the dogs are in foster care, they receive spay/neutering, vetting, training, and love while learning to live in a home with a family. Potential adopters fill out applications online, which include resident animal vetting status and homeowners or renters insurance that covers bullies and personal preferences. Once an applicant is approved, they can meet with the foster for a home visit and meet and greet. “We want to make sure that it is a good fit. I love that fosters are part of the decision. They know the dog best and are given the opportunity to work with the adoptions team on finding the perfect home for the dog,” Noire says.
Following the adoption of a dog, Save-a-Bull sends a follow-up team that connects with the adopter every few months throughout the first year, and then yearly after that to see how they are doing and if any assistance is needed. Once someone adopts a bully through Save-a-Bull, they become a member of the Save-a-Bull alumni forever, so resources are always available to the adopter and their new furry friend.
Because bullies are so often overlooked or stereotyped as mean, aggressive dogs, they seldom receive the homes that they so badly need. Save-a-Bull is trying to undo this slanted way of thinking with workshops and educational resources for people to learn more about the bully community. “We highly recommend and actively promote obedience training, regardless of breed, that includes positive reinforcement. Find a trainer that is bully savvy and understands the breeds. We even offer a training reimbursement to our adopter to encourage training—training is most important! In general, anybody who adopts a bully should be an advocate for the breed. Be ready to have conversations about breaking the myths and stereotypes created by the media. Educate yourself on the facts. We write and source a lot of articles on our website that are a good resource for people who want to
learn more about pit bulls. We also have a dog bite prevention workshop that we take into local schools to help teach kids about dogs—all dogs—and how to properly interact with them,” says Noire.
Noire and her partner, Ian Noire, have always been passionate about dogs and dog rescue. They knew all of the stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding the bully community, but they quickly fell in love with bullies once they started rescuing. “After fostering for a while, Ian joined the board of Save-a- Bull. Ian took on more responsibility and is now the vetting manager,” Noire explains. “As the organization grew, the current foster manager needed some help so I started as the foster coordinator and then shifted to the foster manager role. Even though we both have roles within the rescue, we do not feel any more important than volunteers or fosters. Nothing in Save-a- Bull would be possible if it weren’t for the people that open their homes and hearts to dogs in need,” says Noire.
“Ditto came into rescue after being bitten through the spine by another dog when she was seven weeks old. Found as a stray, her spine was surgically realigned and she was on very strict kennel rest for six weeks. Nerve damage was done to her spine that caused ataxia (a loose jiggly back end) but did not affect her bodily functions. Her left rear leg was mangled and the hip joint was out of the socket. When she was young we opted not to amputate the leg since she used it like a kickstand to potty and use the stairs. At six months old a wheelchair was purchased for her. Even though she could get around without it at home, walks outside of the home and public outing were too much for her to manage. At eight months old the decision was made to remove the left rear leg. Now she is a three-legged champion. Don’t tell her she is missing a leg or has any spine damage…she runs faster and plays harder than most dogs and rarely uses her chair. We only use the chair now once she is worn out and hits her stump on the ground. She loves all people and dogs. A total lover—a typical pittie that is all about wiggle-butt and huge smiles,” Noire says.
Unlike Ditto, Oscar de la Hoya came from a family that could no longer care for him due to medical reasons. Noire tells this fighter’s story, “Oscar came into rescue this August. He was owner-surrendered for medical reasons. He is named after a human boxer since he has cauliflower ears from repetitive ear hematomas and infections. Both eyes have minor eye ulcers. His biggest challenge is that he tested heart worm-positive. He started heart worm treatment and will be in rescue for at least four to six months while he completes heart worm treatment. He is amazing! Loves to cuddle with humans and the other animals in the home, sniff in the yard, and learn new tricks. Quiet, super smart, and very social,” she says.
Despite the love and joy that dogs like Ditto and Oscar bring to families, approximately 75 percent of municipal shelters euthanize pit bulls immediately upon intake, which means they never have a chance of being adopted. Studies have shown that up to one million pit bulls are euthanized each year, which is about 2,800 every day. Other estimates are up to double that number. A recent study by the American People organization reported a 93 percent euthanasia rate for pit bulls and only one in 600 finds a forever home.
Save-a-Bull encourages everyone to get involved in any way that they can. Whether that be volunteering, fostering, donating, adopting, or advocating for the adoption of bully breeds and mixes, anything helps. Volunteers shared their reasons for working with Save-a-Bull and advocating for bullies in relation to the GLBT community.
As a gay Latino, I feel a kinship with pitbulls and other bully breeds that are often maligned in the press and demonized as some ‘other.’ Pit bulls are dogs, just like any other. LGBT individuals are humans, as any other human. The struggle for equality has resulted in great strides for the LGBT community, but without advocates who have shared stories to humanize our community, I doubt we would have secured to right to marry or serve openly in the military. Dogs can’t advocate for themselves, which is why I do. I hope one day we won’t have to prove that our dogs are dogs like any other, deserving of love and companionship.
Manuel Solano, Jr.
When I moved to Minnesota, I had just finished caring for my father for the last five years of his life. Instead of returning to the work force, I decided to take early retirement. Shortly after moving to Minnesota with my three dogs, my dalmatian, who was 13 years old, became sick and I made the difficult decision to say goodbye. For the next six months, I felt a void in my life. Even though I still had my golden retriever and chocolate lab mix, I felt I needed to something more with my life in my retirement years.
My neighbor posted on Facebook that she was connected with a rescue group Save-a-Bull and there were puppies arriving and they needed temporary foster until they were ready to be adopted. I said to myself, ‘Oh this is easy, the pup will come here and be gone in a few weeks!’ Well, my first foster pup stayed with me for eight months. I thought about foster failing and keeping the pup, but I told myself that if I don’t get her adopted, I won’t be able to bring more foster pups into my home that need my help. My foster pup was finally adopted by a family who was looking for an older pup that was trained, housebroken, and ready to be with another pup. She was exactly what they were looking for and she also hit it off with the resident pup, so my little girl went off to her new home.
Since then, I’ve had many more pups that have been adopted. I don’t get attached to them but I give them as much love as I can until their new family adopts them. The smile on the families’ faces when the adoption is complete is what keeps me going. I’ve been very lucky that a few of my pups have been adopted by friends, so I get to see my foster pups, and they even come stay with me for short vacations. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. I sometimes wonder if I missed my calling when I was in college. I should have ventured into a career having to do with dogs because I love them so much. The only tie I have back to my community is that many of my LGBTQ friends have adopted pups through me or already have pit bulls as pets. We all know that education is important to get the word out that these pups are not dangerous. So each time I get a new foster the word gets out fast. Each successful adoption in our community continues to keep spreading the word to help get more pups adopted through our rescue group.
Anna Meyer and Roxanne Anderson
I met a pit bull, fell in love, and it was over for me; it was because of her that I adopted my first pittie, Peach. She volunteered with young people at my job working with youth experiencing homelessness for years and provided love, comfort, and education for many youth and me before her cancer. My partner and I continued to adopt rescued pit bulls because we wanted to give dogs that get a bad rap a good home. Pit bulls are often portrayed as an aggressive breed when they were historically a nanny family dog. A dog of any breed can be aggressive; it’s about the particular dog and about how that dog is treated. Pit bulls deserve good and loving homes with people who can stand long walks, cuddling, and also stubbornness, because pit bulls tend to be hard-headed lovers who need exercise. We have two pitties—Lilah (aka Miss Delilah) from Save-a-Bull and Jazper from the Animal Humane Society (we knew him before then but officially adopted him through AHS)—and they are a goofy inseparable pair and part of our family.
I have been fostering on and off for Save-a-Bull for 7 years. Though animals have always been my first love, I have a special spot in my heart for bully breeds. I have felt that being a part of the pittie rescue community, it is my job to educate those that may only have ideas based on media, rather than fact. The truth is, bully breed dogs often get a bad rap. There was once a time when being gay was a mental illness, not simply a part of our genome. The rainbow community fought long and hard to change that. Well, here I am, fighting for the dogs that get a bad rap based on their breed, not who they are at heart.