While back-to-school season might be just around the corner, we think there’s plenty time left to make the most of the remaining sunny summer days ahead. Whether you’re planning an August beach trip or an afternoon outing to your local park, we’ve got you covered in the ASPCA Online Store. Plus, each purchase you make will support the ASPCA’s life-saving work for animals in need nationwide. Here’s a roundup of warm-weather products for the whole family:
ASPCA Flying Disc: As you toss this flying disc down the beach for your pup to retrieve, the bright orange color will make it easy to find in the sand.
Black Jumbo Tote:This sturdy, oversized cotton twill tote bag is the perfect carry-all for your weekend getaway.
Pet Car Harness: Are you planning to bring Fluffy along on your next summer adventure? Use this pet car harness, which comes in sizes small, medium and large, to ensure that your pup will be safe and sound in the backseat.
ASPCA Baseball Cap: Shade your eyes from the sun with this soft, cotton twill baseball cap. This adjustable cap is one-size-fits-all and features the ASPCA logo.
Two-Pack of Tennis Balls: We think sunny summer afternoons were made for games of fetch in the park. Toss this two-pack of ASPCA tennis balls in your bag for endless fun with your pup.
Bonus: when you spend $50 or more, you’ll receive free shipping. Thanks for shopping for a cause in the ASPCA Online Store, and enjoy the rest of summer!
In my job, I see a lot of pit bulls, whether at an Austin shelter, a rescue in Los Angeles, or here in our New York City offices, where we occasionally foster dogs from the ASPCA Adoption Center.
I look forward to each visit, not just because I'm typically greeted with a clownish grin, big open paws, and a wildly flapping tail, but because each pit bull I meet is also an individual, distinct character.
This is why prejudice against the pit bull breed, which is really a combination of many breeds,makes no practical sense.
This isn't just a rhetorical debate; the lives of millions of animals are at stake. So it's important to identify what we actually know about this maligned and often misidentified breed, as well as what we don't know.
We know, for example, that every dog—even dogs within the same breed—is different. That's what makes each unique, special and beloved by its human family.
We also know that dogs' personalities aren't based on just a single influence any more than our own personalities are. A dog's behavior is a function of breeding, yes, but also just as strongly affected by socialization, training, environment, and how it's treated by its owners.
Historically, some pit bulls were bred to fight other dogs. Early bulldogs, forbearers of the modern pit bull, were pitted against bulls, bears and other large animals. When these fights were banned in the 1800s, people turned instead to fighting their dogs against each other. But even these dogs, bred to be aggressive to other dogs, were not bred to be aggressive toward people, since fighting dogs must tolerate frequent handling by the humans who train and fight them. Meanwhile, other pit bulls were bred expressly for work and companionship.
Pit bulls have long been popular family pets, noted for their affection and loyalty, but you don't hear much about gentle, loving pit bulls in the media because a well-behaved dog doesn't make headlines.
In American shelters, you'll find lots of pit bulls—with lots of different personalities. What they share in common is a sad fate. Because shelters and animal control facilities take in more pit bulls than any other breed, innocent pit bulls are euthanized more often than any other kind of dog.
At the ASPCA, we've seen and we study many factors that contribute to behavior development in dogs, resulting in sharp behavioral variations—even between dogs of the same breed. A pit bull bred for generations to fight may not fight, just as a Golden Retriever bred for generations as a service dog may bite.
But there are consistent measures owners can take to prevent or curb aggressive dog behavior. For example, if you chain or tether your dog outside, and isolate it from humans, you increase the risk that it will develop aggressive behavior. We also know that early, positive behavioral conditioning, including socialization, is probably the best way to reduce the likelihood of aggressive tendencies in dogs.
Puppies that learn to interact and play with people and other dogs are less likely to show aggression as adult animals. Finally, we know that no matter its breed or background, every dog needs to be raised responsibly, including early socialization, proper training and supervision.
States across the country largely agree that targeting breeds serves no useful purpose. Currently, no statewide policies discriminate against certain dog breeds, and 18 states have taken the extra step to ban breed-specific legislation, or BSL, most recently South Dakota and Utah. Even the White House has weighed in against laws that target specific breeds. Last year, the Obama Administration put out a clear statement saying, "We don't support breed-specific legislation -- research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources... the simple fact is that dogs of any breed can become dangerous when they're intentionally or unintentionally raised to be aggressive."
The statement also noted that the Centers for Disease Control concluded "the types of people who look to exploit dogs aren't deterred by breed regulations" and "it's virtually impossible to calculate bite rates for specific breeds."
The ASPCA supports breed-neutral dangerous dog laws that focus not on breed but on individual dog behavior, as well as laws that prohibit prolonged chaining and tethering, and legislation that holds dog owners accountable for the behavior of their pets.
Ask pit bull owners about their pets, and you'll hear the same things you'd expect from proud owners of beagles, retrievers, pugs, Labradors, or any blend among them. I encourage you to read about Domingo, Blue, and Spike through the words of loving owners who recently adopted those pit bulls from the ASPCA.
I've fostered a number of pit bulls over the years, many of whom were rescued from horrific cruelty. I'm reminded of Dawson, the white pit who was kept in a closet and beaten with weights; Taz, a brindle pit who was found in a dumpster in 2003; and Champ, a caramel-and-white pit who was being trained to fight. Each of them was loving, playful, loyal, and affectionate. And each was, at one time, on a short and certain path to sadistic abuse or euthanasia, but is now in a loving home.
Not every dog is a good match for every prospective owner, so educate yourself before adopting. Compare a dog's need for exercise with your availability to take it on frequent walks and runs. Compare its medical requirements to your ability to provide that care. And compare its behavior, as documented and explained by shelter staff, with your family's ability to maintain and manage that behavior. When taking in a new pet, ask questions, consider potential challenges, and remember that small children should never be left unsupervised around animals.
Understanding dog behavior, providing dogs with the care they need and the supervision expected by family and neighbors—these are the best ways to keep pets and people safe, to celebrate the joy pets bring to our lives, and to end the myths that unfairly and tragically cost so many their lives.
Not all families will open their homes to a pit bull, but I hope many will open their minds.
We’d like to extend a big thanks to the PEDIGREE Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping dogs in need find loving homes by supporting the good work of shelters and dog rescue organizations around the country. In 2013, the Foundation awarded a $25,000 grant to the ASPCA in support of our Behavior Rehabilitation Center. The ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, is the first and only facility dedicated to providing behavioral rehabilitation for undersocialized canine victims of cruelty, such as those confiscated from puppy mills and hoarding situations.
Julie Duke, Executive Director of the PEDIGREE Foundation, paid a visit to the Behavior Rehabilitation Center. She was so impressed with the work the ASPCA is doing to help turn severely fearful dogs into adoptable companions that she arranged for Kristen Collins, ASPCA Director of Anti-Cruelty Behavior Rehabilitation, to present at the 2014 Tennessee Animal Control Conference on August 4 and 5. Julie strongly believes that animal welfare shelters in Tennessee will benefit greatly from hearing our specialists talk about the Center and our work there.
We are truly grateful for the PEDIGREE Foundation's generous support. For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.pedigreefoundation.org.
A sweet and social kitty, this high-style beauty is sure to turn heads. But Gia doesn’t leap in paws first—she likes to take her time when getting to know you. Once you’re her friend, she’ll reward you with plenty of love and attention!
With the help of yummy treats and a little time to herself, Gia will happily adjust to her new home. We even think Gia could get along just fine with a few feline friends! This sweet girl suffers from bouts of asthma, and our medical team is available to speak with you more about her health needs. For this reason, Gia would be thrilled to go home with an experienced adopter in a non-smoking household. Adopt Gia today!
Gia is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting, please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about Gia, please visit her profile page.
Gia pictured with her foster sibling.
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You may have seen this photo before. It was taken last August at the scene of a dog fighting raid, and it has been used in ASPCA advertisements all around the Internet and on TV. It can be hard to look at—a small, vulnerable puppy tied to a heavy chain, alone and cowering in fear. With just the quick snap of a camera, this single moment captured so much about the fatal sport of dog fighting, and this puppy became the face of abused animals everywhere.
But Timmy’s story doesn’t end there. This sweet puppy was placed in foster homes that helped train him to become a well-adjusted pet. His final foster parents, Brian and Nadine DeCicco, just couldn’t give the little pup up and adopted him this past May. “We didn’t have any concerns about bringing a dog who had been associated with fighting into our home,” says Brian. “We’ve both had dogs our whole lives and know that they can reflect the way they are treated. Both of our previous dogs were pit mixes and they are just so unbelievably affectionate.”
Timmy now lives with Brian and Nadine in Maryland, where he is safe, happy and well-fed. “These dogs show amazing resiliency and forgiveness after being treated so poorly. They just want to be loved,” says Brian. Timmy spends his days snuggling with his family, snoozing in his “pita pocket” bed, playing tug-of-war with the neighbor’s Mastiff, and letting out his puppy energy—energy that at one time was restricted to a heavy collar and chain.
It’s hard to believe that Timmy is the same dog from that first photo. Fortunately, he will never have to worry about growing up to become a fighting dog, like so many generations of dogs tied to that very same chain before him.