Sheltering Pit Bulls in Ohio

March 8, 2012  

At a time when no other local shelters were adopting out pit bulls, CHA Animal Shelter launched a special program

By Stephanie Wimbish, CAWA, Shelter Director

CHA Animal Shelter is a 501C(3) nonprofit animal shelter in northeast Columbus, Ohio. CHA is funded solely by donations from adoption fees, donations from the public and our own fundraising efforts. Our mission is to serve the people and animals of Central Ohio by providing safe, temporary shelter and care for abandoned or otherwise homeless cats and dogs, and to reduce pet overpopulation by means of spay and neuter, education and community outreach, and we have been doing so since 1975.

CHA’s pit bull program was started in 2005 by a group of pit bull loving volunteers. Pit bulls, of course, inspired our program. At that time there were no other local shelters adopting out pit bulls. The need for someone to give them a chance was overwhelming, and CHA felt it absolutely necessary. They can be difficult to shelter, so we make sure they are able to take advantage of all of our enrichment opportunities. They are often staff and volunteer favorites, so getting them extra attention is not difficult. CHA always has a few office fosters helping us work during the day, and you could make a pretty safe bet that one of them will be a pit bull. Our pit bulls otherwise are just treated like dogs. We take them to events, schools and TV spots. If they can’t go to an event because of discrimination, we won’t go.

My favorite success story is about Chi Chi and Violet, (above) adopted by one of our volunteers. Chi Chi was transferred to us from another shelter. She had been involved in a cruelty case and spent many months there. She took a while to warm up to someone, but once she did, she was a friend for life. Violet loved everyone and everything. I got a phone call from the interested volunteer that she wanted to adopt not one but two pit bulls together. That was one of my favorite shelter days.

The public has gotten more and more receptive as the years have gone by. The animal welfare community is extremely supportive, and there have even been a few programs started that were modeled after ours. It is our responsibility to only put up for adoption pit bulls that will be good ambassadors for their breed, and because we do that so well, the public sees only really great dogs!

My advice to others shelters is to have an amazing enrichment program in place and go for it. I’d also advise a tour of other shelters and meetings with staff members in an existing program.

I’d also add that CHA has placed pit bulls with all kinds of families, and we don’t have any one type that we look for. We have placed them with singles, with families with kids, dogs and cats, etc., and of course we love them!

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One Response to “Sheltering Pit Bulls in Ohio”
  1. katereeve says:

    Thanks, Ohio!! I’m an Ohio girl out in AZ and I am proud of the progress made and the good people fighting the fight every day.