SURREY — Some passionate animal lovers are hoping the public will support their efforts rescuing and retraining bully breeds.
Surrey-based Loveabull Rescue Society is planning a family skate in February to raise money and bring awareness to their efforts.
This, amidst the City of Surrey’s review of its dog bylaw after several people were attacked last year.
Surrey mom Kate Crew, formerly a foster co-ordinator for the SPCA, founded the rescue organization four years ago.
“I kept seeing posts on Facebook about dogs needing help,” said Crew, a Clayton resident. “It ate away at me and I knew I had to do something.”
“I basically just started from home,” she added, “just going on sites and seeing dogs in need of a home and taking them in, getting them cared for and finding them homes. The adoption fees would pay it forward to the next one. It started off really, really small.”
While she initially imported dogs from the U.S. to rescue, Crew said she soon realized there are so many in Canada that need help.
“You just have to check any shelter or posting about a dog needing a new home and voila,” she said. “Pit bulls are being dumped daily… So our dogs are definitely being overlooked.”
STORY CONTINUES BELOW
(Loveabull Rescue Society member Tara Black and founder Kate Crew with Kyrie, a three-year-old pit bull terrier currently up for adoption.)
Crew estimates the foster-based non-profit has helped “rehome” nearly 300 “bully” breed dogs – such as pit bulls and boxers – since its inception. The group now has about 10 volunteers, plus fosters who regularly take in dogs and help rehabilitate them until permanent homes are found.
“At the SPCA I worked with a lot of different pit bulls that came through. Three of those dogs were considered dangerous. I used to go in the kennels with them and they were loving dogs.
“They were with wrong owners who had trained them to be aggressive. So I slowly started to really like the breed.”
These dogs, she added, don’t do well in shelters.
“They deteriorate very quickly, especially when 80 per cent of them have fear-based dog reactivity. People are afraid to socialize them and we set them up for failure.”
She said she has since owned multiple pit bulls, all while raising two children, with no problems.
“My six-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with Autism and Charlotte is her best friend. I couldn’t imagine a better dog to sit with her all day and allow my daughter to dress her up and play games with her.
“They’re so misunderstood,” Crew added. “We only see what’s being portrayed on social media. People feed off that, they don’t like to hear the good stories… They’re such a loving animal and they’re so loyal and they love to please.”
She admits she’s encountered some who are against bully breeds – including her own father.
“When I rescued my first pit bull, I brought her to his home for him to meet. She was merely three months old. He thought she was absolutely beautiful, but then he asked me what breed of dog she was. I hesitated, but replied ‘pit bull,’” said Crew.
“The look on his face when he heard that. No words were needed. But he raised his voice and said to me, ‘Get that thing out of my house.’ I’ll never ever forget that moment. I was heartbroken. How could he not see that this innocent little creature was not a monster? I left and didn’t know what to do. I thought about rehoming her.”
It took some time, said Crew, but her dad came around.
“When he saw how amazing my Saydee turned out to be, how well I had trained her and how loyal and gentle she was, he definitely changed his opinion on the breed. I’m lucky today because my dad is now one of my best advocates. He constantly shares my posts and talks about me to anyone who has or brings up a dog. Even if I can change one person’s view on how what they thought a pit bull was, I’ve done good.”
Crew said she feels people “have come a long way” in their understanding of the breed.
“However, the ones that want this breed banned have either never met a pit bull or they have not met a well behaved one. That tells me the dog was in the wrong hands,” said Crew.
She stressed not everyone is cut out for bully breed ownership.
“Some people just think they’re cool – especially young people – and those are often the ones we get. It’s a lot more than just what they thought they were capable of handling.
“They need a strong owner… and they need to be well trained.”
That’s why her rescue society focuses on rehabilitation and training, said Crew, noting she’s become a certified dog trainer and plans to further her education. And all of the dogs they take in receive full medical treatment, are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and receive tattoo or microchip identification.
“We want to take these dogs in, help them out so we can help new adopters set them up for a good life.”
But with large vet bills and supply costs, this work is expensive, Crew said, which is why the fundraiser is planned next month.
Tara Black, a member of the group and a regular foster for the incoming dogs, is planning the event.
“Having the money for these emergencies is an ongoing battle,” Black told the Now. “So we wanted to be able to raise a little extra funds, plus we really wanted something that was fun for everybody. When I suggested roller skating, everybody’s eyes lit up.”
The fundraiser is set for 2 p.m. on Feb. 13, which is Family Day in B.C., at Central City Arena (10240 City Pkwy., Surrey).
Tickets are $15, and family packages are available. The event will include concession, a bake sale, 50/50 draw and door prize.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for advance tickets, or buy them at the door.
DOG BYLAW REVIEW TO BE REVEALED IN FEBRUARY
Meanwhile, the City of Surrey is expected to publicly reveal its dog bylaw review next month following several attacks in 2016.
Last December, Surrey’s bylaw enforcement manager Jas Rehal told the Now a pair of pit bulls were euthanized after two separate attacks in the Tynehead area in about two months.
Rehal said Surrey labelled the pit bulls as “dangerous” after the first attack, which meant the dogs were required to be muzzled and on a leash when outdoors.
“But these ones got free and were not muzzled and were at large,” he said. The owners could face a $2,400 fine per dog, Rehal added.
Surrey had other attacks last year.
On June 20, a 65-year-old woman was attacked by a dog outside a Mac’s convenience store at 92nd Avenue and Scott Road.
Ten days earlier, four women were rushed to hospital after they tried to break up three pit bulls who were fighting. Media reports said the dogs were put down.
Rehal said it’s hoped the forthcoming dog bylaw review will result in stronger legislation.
“We’re engaging with the experts in the field as well as looking at other municipalities in the Lower Mainland and the country, because there are other reviews going on.”
According to Crew, regulating breeders is key.
“Many people overbreed because of the money,” she said. “So I definitely think breeding restrictions should be in place. I think there should be licensing. But I don’t think banning the breed is going to do anything – some people will still backyard breed and sell.”
And Black thinks training is important to regulate as well.
“I know there’s been talk in Surrey, should we ban pit bulls or specific breeds… but I think the training for these breeds needs to be a little bit mandatory, especially if it’s a pit bull.”
Black said many of the dogs she’s fostered were never – or improperly – trained. Her current foster, a three-year-old pit bull terrier named Kyrie, still has a lot of “pup traits.”
“No one’s taught her how to play properly so she wants to nip and use her mouth. As soon as people see that, they’re scared,” said Black. “So I’m teaching her I won’t play if she bites and nips. If she’d been taught that early on, her life would have gone a whole lot differently…. There’s trust being rebuilt from what somebody else has done.
“We’re always trying to raise awareness,” she said. “If people just meet the dog, usually it takes them two minutes to change their mind on what the dog is all about.”
Visit the group on their Facebook page, Loveabull Rescue Society, which has more than 3,400 followers.
(From left: Kim, Tara and Harmony walk Kyrie, a three-year-old pit bull terrier that the rescue society has up for adoption.)