We recently had the opportunity to interview Melissa Mariner, founder and CEO of Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue, a non-profit organization dedicated to placing stray and orphaned animals in loving forever homes.
Q:Can you briefly describe the origins and history of your organization?
A:I founded Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue in January 2013. After adopting my first pit bull, McCready (AKA “Reed”) in 2005, I started volunteering for other local rescues; but did not find one where I really felt comfortable or agreed with how things were managed. It only seemed a natural transition to start my own rescue! The rescue is named after Reed, my first pit, and Bella Blue, my second pit, adopted in 2011.
Q:I see that BRPBR doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar shelter. Can you tell me a little about how your fostering system works?
A:We rely solely on foster homes to house our adoptable dogs until they find their forever home. It is basically advertised on our website, social media, and word-of-mouth.
A foster application is completed where we ask for references (landlord if applicable, three personal non-relative references, and a veterinary reference if other pets are living in the home). A home check is then done to be sure the environment is safe for a dog. We then match the foster home up with a dog that coincides with their lifestyle. If they have other animals, the foster dog we bring in must be okay with those animals. This is also true if there are children in the home, to ensure the safety of the children and the animal.
Q:How do you learn about the dogs you rescue, and how do you locate adopters?
A:Social media, shelters, and people contact us directly about them.
We have our own website on Petfinder, where we advertise each adoptable pet. However, interested adopters still must go through our adoption process (application, references, home check, and meet-and-greets with the dog).
Q:I see that quite a few of the dogs on your site are puppies, while others have clearly seen some battle. What percentage (roughly) of your dogs are adults?
A:Currently we have a ton of puppies (two litters). There is never a shortage of puppy foster homes in our rescue. However, adult dog homes are extremely hard to come by. We currently only have two adults in the rescue, as we just had a lot of our adults get adopted and those foster homes typically take a break between each dog they foster. We are always in dire need for adult dog foster homes.
Q:How are animals screened for possible behavioral issues like food aggression, aggression toward other pets, etc.?
A:We work with our partnered shelters to evaluate the dog prior to placing it in foster home. We do not adopt a dog out immediately. We keep dogs over 6 months old a minimum of 30 days in foster care. It takes about that long for dog’s true temperament to come out. This way we can learn more about their behaviors, see any issues and work through them prior to them going to a home. It also helps us better match potential adopters to a particular dog.
Q:What are the most persistent challenges you encounter when trying to improve the public’s image of pit bulls/Staffordshires?
A:The media!! The media is the worst at portraying pit bulls as demon monsters. For every two steps forward we make, the media will publish or air a story about the latest “pit bull attack.” Most of the time, they aren’t even pit bulls, just mixed breeds that are lumped in to the pit bull category.
Editor’s Note: Following the loss of their beloved dog, this family decided to adopt a shelter pet that had recently been recovered in a raid. As unique as her name, Canny-Belle (a pit bull mix) has a love of the outdoors, cats, and family. Learn more about Canny-Belle’s adoption here.
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.