08 April 2011

Pit bulls helping kids learn to read with Love-A-Bull therapy program

A breed typically associated with locking jaws and a thirst for blood, pit bulls aren’t the dogs most people first think of when it comes to therapy, but a school in north Austin, Texas is using pit bulls to help kids who are struggling to read.

The dogs are part of a program call “Pit Crew” run by Love-A-Bull, a non profit group which educates and advocates on behalf of pit bulls. Through the Pit Crew program, the group is working with professional dog trainer Julie Eskoff to train pit bulls specifically to serve as therapy dogs for children and adults living with mental and physical challenges.

According to the group’s website, “Dogs provide therapeutic interaction that can improve mood, build confidence, and repair hearts. Pit bulls, as natural ‘people-pleasers,’ are perfect for this job, and have served as therapy dogs in many facilities around the country.”

In order to be accepted into the training for the program and become a Pit Crew member, dogs must be labeled as pit bulls and complete the Canine Good Citizen test administered by the American Kennel Club.

Lydia Zaidman, president of Love-A-Bull says, “The Pit Crew is a way to offer a unique community service and also rehabilitate the reputation of pit bulls at the same time. We hope that by showing the true nature of these loving dogs in a therapeutic setting, we can change minds for the better.”

For more information, visit www.love-a-bull.org.

Sara Best | @shbest
Sara was literally born into the animal welfare movement. While growing up, her father worked with various organizations on campaigns from the Canadian seal hunt to the slaughter of dogs in the Philippines to the ivory trade in Africa. Eventually, Sara became involved in animal protection projects herself. Now she is a writer living near Toronto, a mom to two little omnivores and married to one dedicated carnivore. Visit Sara's blog.

Photo credit: cc flickr.com/photos/rmcnicholas