Each day, as we approach Thanksgiving, we will spotlight an animal rescuer who works tirelessly to improve the lives of animals in need. Please join us in giving thanks to these generous, kind, and oh so pawesome folks.
I first learned about Bull Terrier Rescue a couple years ago. My husband spotted a strong, white bullie named Trieste being walked by her BTR foster mom, less than a block from our house. She met our feisty Boston terrier, they played like toddlers, I learned what hucklebutting was, and we sat down and considered adopting her. In the end, the timing wasn’t right, but we definitely developed a soft spot for these stocky, sweet eggheads.
Whether they’re the Target dog, Spuds MacKenzie, or “oh, it’s General George Patton’s dog” to you, bull terriers seem to find themselves in popular culture time and time again. They’ve certainly found a place in the heart of Susi Ming, President and Executive Director of the San Francisco-based Bull Terrier Rescue. In fact, they have since Susi was 10 and on a family trip to Hong Kong. A bull terrier rolled by in a convertible (not driving), and she was in love.
“I couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful that dog was,” she said.
Susi adopted her first bull terrier some 20 years ago, and she’s been involved in rescuing them for at least 15. She now heads an organization, the rescue arm of Barbary Coast Bull Terrier Club, that helps an estimated 125 dogs per year.
Space in our urban environment is the trickiest part of this rescue operation. Many foster families live in small apartments, contending with roommates, landlords, and pet deposits. One bullie is often the maximum. And, if a foster family falls in love with one of their charges, that usually takes them off the list for future fostering needs. One strategy is kenneling: BTR has a kennel near Santa Rosa that holds some 12-15 bullies at a time.
The internet has proven both a blessing and a curse for rescue operations, Susi says. On one hand, you’ve got a network of eyes and ears at your fingertips. The organization’s Facebook Page, piloted by Susi, has been especially helpful for spreading the word about the dogs and finding potential foster homes for the night, week, or month. People googling “surrender my bull terrier” find links upon links to BTR’s website. On the other hand, easy-to-post Craigslist ads — I once saw one proposing a washing-machine-for-dog exchange — abound, strengthening a pattern of sometimes accidental animal endangerment. Well-meaning posters sometimes don’t even realize the dangers of a “free to a good home” ad. In some of the saddest cases, Susi said you can find ads seeking $25 in exchange for a bull terrier that will be sold to a lab for research.
Susi says she employs a proactive strategy at times: contacting the ad-posters directly and asking them if they could (please) at least spay or neuter the dog before handing it out. Often, they hear that they just don’t have time or money to do it. Though it can be costly in time and money to arrange, BTR will take the animal in and start reviewing their options. Once that’s taken care of, the adoption wheels are set in motion.
Sometimes, a fix is all they need. Other times, there are more serious, costly issues: mange, orthopedic surgery, or unidentifiable internal issues. Scarlett, pictured above, is still being evaluated for her mystery health problems. What to do, in this case, when the medical costs start piling up?
The organization simply asks for donations, which compose the bulk of their revenue. Susi says the group tries to be judicious about when and how much it asks for money. Thanks to a generous online network, there are many success stories about even the sickest dogs that came her way.
San Francisco and Northern California thank Susi and BTR for their hard work. Viva eggheads!
Visit the Bull Terrier Rescue website for info on donating to the group or fostering or surrendering a dog.
All images courtesy of Bull Terrier Rescue’s Facebook Page. Become a fan today!
There are more to thank!