Even though I don’t have a Pit Bull, I fancy them. They are beautiful, and my heart bleeds for those awaiting permanent homes in shelters across the country. As someone who became involved in animal rescue only a couple of years ago, the realities Pit Bulls face continue to amaze me — the enormous numbers of animals in need, the stark truth that many are killed due to lack of homes, and the breed specific legislation that prevents people from providing them a place to live.
Pinups for Pitbulls is an organization that advocates on behalf of the Pit Bull and similar types of dog. Started by Deirdre Franklin more than 10 years ago, the group uses an artistic aesthetic to promote the well-being of Pit Bulls through its annual calendar and in partnership with rescue organizations across the country at events scheduled throughout the year.
In October, Pinups for Pitbulls is releasing its first book, published by the Overlook Press. The book is filled with gorgeous photos of models and Pit Bulls, along with the educational message about saving Pitties.
I was really excited to have the opportunity to connect with the brilliant founder Deirdre Franklin. Below is our interview conducted exclusively for Dogster.
Kezia Willingham for Dogster: Tell me about current public policy campaigns you are working on.
Deirdre Franklin: We are working with Safe Humane Aurora in Colorado to help them with their efforts to eradicate breed discriminatory practices in their city. We are always working on a national level with various cities and residents to help them stay aware of local ordinance changes or shifts in policy.
Additionally, I completed my master’s degree in Public Policy in June 2013 at Drexel University. My case study dealt with the subject of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and I am working on getting it published so that it can help more cities and legislators understand the scope of education needed to keep communities safe with breed neutral laws.
What can people do to help with these issues and campaigns?
Stay on top of local news and city meetings. Listen to Pit Bulletin Legal News Radio, which is a weekly BlogTalkRadio show that I am a guest on every Tuesday. We discuss all of the latest BSL news to make sure that the public is aware of what is happening in their region. Contact local newspapers about positive press stories and thank them for publishing good information about all dogs. Get involved with us! We accept volunteers year-round. They can write us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What made you decide to publish a book? Do any of the proceeds go to Pit Bull rescue? What excites you most about this endeavor?
I have always wanted to publish a book, especially about this topic, which I am so passionate about. It is an excellent tool to reach the public in a new forum that we otherwise might not have access to. Barnes & Noble has purchased a significant number of books to feature on their holiday endcaps. We could not imagine a better way to reach a group that may not understand what is happening to innocent dogs and families worldwide. Our publisher, the Overlook Press, sought us out and wanted to feature my story and the story of Pinups for Pitbulls over the last decade. It is an incredible opportunity that we are forever grateful for.
We are a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. The proceeds benefit our mission to educate and advocate on behalf of all dogs. This directly affects rescue groups, as it helps people to understand that all dogs are individuals and worthy of a loving home. We also offer the book at a wholesale rate, should any rescue group or store want to carry it for their benefit.
What excites me most is that our cause is gaining traction at the speed of light. It makes me so happy to know that our book will fall into the hands of folks who might just be attracted to it for the beautiful photography. But when they open it and begin to learn about what has happened to these dogs and some of the transformative hero tales within the book, their hearts will open and more dogs will have a future.
When is the new calendar coming out? Tell me something exciting about the newest edition.
I am so excited about our 2015 calendar! Not only is it our 10th anniversary calendar, but it is by far the best calendar that we have ever produced.
Celeste Giuliano and her amazing team make working together a blast. You can see it in the photos and some of the behind-the-scenes images that we’re including in this edition. We chose an Archie comics style this year, because we display our educational booths at various comic-cons throughout the U.S. It is very fun and so colorful! It’s like nothing that we have ever produced before.
Every year it seems impossible to figure out how we can do better than the last year, and then, somehow we do! It’s a team effort and we’re so lucky to have such amazing advocates grace the pages this year.
You use volunteers to host events throughout the country. What are you looking for in potential volunteers?
We are looking for men and women who are well-spoken, caring, and compassionate individuals, and who are ready to speak well on behalf of dogs. We arm our volunteers with science-based facts that are irrefutable and emotion-free.
It is important to us, as the voice for dogs, that we speak in a concise and educated manner about these dogs. The bottom line is, they are simply dogs and they deserve the same TLC that any other dog deserves. We are looking for people who do not simply want to be in our calendar, but rather who want to share booth space with our advocates and enjoy the honor of speaking for dogs.
Do you have any tips to share for how you balance your day job with your rescue and advocacy efforts?
Ha! Thankfully, after nearly 10 years, this is my day job. I’ve always worked two-plus jobs and volunteered, keeping myself rather busy for years. My best advice would be: If you feel yourself getting tired, impatient, or angry, take a step back and take care of yourself first. You’re no good to the cause or yourself when you yourself need TLC. You can do better work with a well-rested, kind-hearted lifestyle.
Remember also that a little bit goes a long way and that we are all cogs in a much greater machine. We can do a little bit for a long time and still affect change. Try not to take on the world all at once. Together, we will make a difference.
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About the author: Kezia Willingham works for Head Start by day and is a freelance writer on the side. She lives with her family, which includes 6 cats and 4 dogs, in the Pacific Northwest. Her writing has appeared in xoJane, Literary Mama, and the Seattle Times. You can follow her on Twitter.