Local group launches responsible dog owner campaign - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Local group launches responsible dog owner campaign

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A local animal rights group is on high alert this Halloween night, after a "Kill a Pit Bull" night message when out. Some web sites indicate it's all a hoax, but Gracie's Guardians isn't' taking any chances.

They've launched a city wide bus advertising campaign to encourage responsible pet ownership.  

"Get people to stop and think, hey, how do I treat my dog? How does my dog see me?" explained William Lowrey, a volunteer with Gracie's Guardians.

On a night like Halloween, experts say it's even more important to encourage being a responsible pet owner, because of threats like "Kill a Pit bull" night.

"We have our animal control officers on alert, we know exactly what to spot," said Paula Ritter with the Richmond Animal Shelter, though she says she hasn't seen any of those violent acts lately.

Even though Kill a Pit Bull night has been labeled a hoax, experts say an abused pit bull isn't actually all that uncommon.  

 "The dogs are fighting, they're being bitten, they're being torn apart," said Lowrey, explaining that the breed is often used in illegal dog fighting.  "You get people that are doing their own medical treatment post fight using staple guns and all sorts of medicine, they're not veterinarians."

Experts say all too often, abused dogs- often pit bulls- are fenced into a lifestyle that prevents socialization or they are chained up and neglected. Most recently, Lowrey pointed to a case out of Chesterfield County where a neighbor tried several times to report what she called an abused dog, then found it dead.  

On this Halloween night, the local animal shelter is encouraging responsible pet ownership with a Halloween adoption event. But well past the holiday, the responsible ownership ad campaign will ask owners to reflect on who is really the problem.

The campaign: 

Gracie's Guardians, the pit bull initiative of the Richmond Animal League, has launched an advertising campaign using Greater Richmond Transit Authority (GRTC) buses to promote responsible pit bull ownership in the Richmond area and to encourage the public to understand the connection between behavior and living conditions imposed by a dog's owner. 

The campaign is extremely relevant at the present time based on the following:

1.       Recent case of animal cruelty in Chesterfield County (Carroll Dyke) involving a pit bull chained in a backyard that died of neglect/cruelty despite the owner hearing its cries.

2.       October is National Pit Bull Awareness month, a yearly, national celebration of pit bulls and a recurring promotion of positive awareness.

3.       Recent news stories highlighting "National Kill a Pit Bull Night" on October 31, 2012


As part of their ongoing efforts to improve the living conditions for pit bulls in the greater Richmond area, Gracie's Guardians has paid for advertising on the back of 2 city buses and the interior of another 10 buses. By leveraging public transportation, the group hopes to reach a wide audience of individuals who may not have access to this type of information or the resources to improve the lives of their dogs.

The advertisement depicts two pit bulls, one happy and eager to please and one depressed, living outdoors on a chain. The advertisement asks "What kind of owner does your dog see?" The group hopes that owners of pit bulls living in less than desirable conditions will stop and think about how they treat their dogs and make efforts to improve their standard of living. The advertisement encourages owners to spay and neuter, report dog fighting, provide proper food, water and shelter and to stand up against cruelty.

The campaign is one part of an ongoing, concerted effort by the group to provide education, resources and support to the community to improve the lives of these dogs, and goes hand in hand with previous events including free dog training for low income owners, free giveaways of collars, leashes, food, etc. and spay and neuter clinics offering a free day of spay and neuter surgeries for low income pit bull owners.

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