The Portland Pit Bull Project was formed in February of 2011 by co-founders Katie Williams and Cheryl Huerta who at that time belonged to a ‘Meet Up’ group on line called Portlanders Against Breed Bans. Katie posted a request to meet for a ‘bully walk’ late in January of 2011 and eighteen of us showed up at a popular Portland waterfront park with our dogs. We had a nice group walk through downtown Portland and when it was done Katie asked if anyone would be interested in doing it again next month. Cheryl contacted Katie asking if she could be of assistance and by the middle of February the advocacy was formed and there was a website, a Facebook page, business cards and flyers posted around as well as the next walk was scheduled.
Since January of 2011 there have been monthly bully walks scheduled rain or shine, heat or cold that continue today. The bully walks are an attempt by our advocacy to bring pit bull owners, pit bull lovers and supporters together at least once a month to walk together to show the public who in our community choose to have pit bull type dogs and what well-behaved and socialized dogs we have because we choose to be responsible dog owners. The premise of the walks to ‘show’ the public who we are and what our dogs are like is based on a belief that those who have chosen to believe all of the negative media about pit bulls and the people who have them will not listen to words trying to convince them that it’s not the breed or type of dog that determines how safe or dangerous it is but that it is the human being who owns a dog that makes that determination. We feel that by ‘showing’ the public who we are and how our dogs behave as a large group that perhaps those who won’t listen to our testimonies just might choose to doubt the negative media they hear and see because they have seen a large group of pit bull type dogs walking in peace and harmony together being led by owners who are not thugs, not criminals, not drug dealers, not gang members and are not dog fighters. Over the years we have been blessed to have steady participation from many pit bull owners and supporters, some of them driving for hours to come walk with us, and have walked together in groups as large as 130 dogs.
The advocacy participates in as many dog related community events as possible with our Pit Bull Education Booth in a public outreach capacity to help the general public learn more about these dogs and the majority of people who have them. The advocacy gives presentations, when invited, at local shelters on Breed Specific Legislation and Responsible Dog Ownership as well as supports local animal shelters and pit bull rescues by having intermittent Donations of Love Events where our ‘bully walkers’ bring donations of all sorts to the walk for the chosen shelter or pit bull rescue. In addition to our education and support efforts we also work behind the scenes whenever needed with municipalities around the state to repeal or avoid Breed Specific Legislation by encouraging them to form breed neutral dangerous dog laws that target irresponsible dog owners rather than dogs that are a certain breed type or that look a certain way.
One of the main, and perhaps most important, goals of the advocacy is to support and assist the pit bull owning community in any way we can. The advocacy is contacted on a regular basis by pit bull owners who are in need of behavioral training for their dog, who are in need of a rental property where pit bulls are allowed, who are in need of re-homing their dog for one reason or another. We feel that by assisting people in keeping their dogs or in finding a new home for a dog that they can no longer keep that we are helping the local shelters and pit bull rescues by keeping more dogs in good responsible homes rather than in the shelter/rescue system which makes more room for dogs that are truly in need of rescue.
The goals and purpose of The Portland Pit Bull Project is for ever changing and growing as the needs in our community and around the globe continue to change. Our hope is to be a part of the growing community of pit bull owners/lovers/supporters in manifesting change around the world in how this and other breeds are perceived by the public in the hope that if we can convince people that it is not the dog’s breed or even the dog that determines it’s behaviors but it is the human being who handles the dog we can put an end to breed discrimination entirely.