The pandemic changed the landscape for plenty of nonprofits and pet adoption groups were no exception.
Adoption rates hit an all-time high. More than 23 million households, or 20%, adopted a pet, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. But as people’s lives returned to normal, sometimes their life didn’t include their new furry friends and they dumped their dogs.
The Pit Bull Pen in Benton City received plenty of these abandoned pets.
“During Covid, people adopted almost every dog they could. We were down to just our four pit bulls with bite histories,” said Trish Trickit, executive director The Pit Bull Pen in Benton City. “As soon as things opened up again, they started dumping their dogs, and in the meantime, (the dogs) were breeding. They were not socialized, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and it snowballed into this massive problem. It’s fortunate that we can take up to 20 dogs, but we are maxed out.”
The Pit Bull Pen is a 501(c)(3) located on a 2.5-acre facility at 22206 E. Kennedy Road. It has been a nonprofit since 2014 and at its current location for 12 years.
In July 2022, the group received a kennel building permit to expand its operations. It now can accommodate up to 20 adult dogs, up from just four before.
“With the dumping of Covid dogs, we maxed out right away and are still at capacity plus puppies,” Trickit said.
While the nonprofit’s name indicates the main mission behind The Pit Bull Pen, the rescue serves all dogs and has expanded its operations to home and rehome as many as possible.
After only serving pit bulls for the first couple of years, people started calling about other breeds and they were not turned away.
“We said we will help any dog that we can and it rolled from there,” Trickit said. “We know pit bulls and I laugh because we have to figure out the little white fluffies. We’re down to help any way we can. We don’t want to rehome everyone’s dog. We will help wherever we can, but that’s not our mission.”
Its mission is to rehabilitate and rehome pit bulls through the shelter, and search and rescue efforts. The group filled a gap in the rescue world at the time of its inception and still does to this day, Trickit said. The Pit Bull Pen is the only rescue that will consider taking a pit bull with a bite history, she said.
Trickit’s crusade began after adopting her own pit bull without knowing about the difficulty the breed faces in the rescue world.
“We want to advocate for them, get them rehabilitated, and find them that perfect forever home,” she said. “It started when I went and got myself a blue nose pit bull and I had no association with the breed. I fell in love with Blue. He had been at the shelter for two years, and they were trying to get a lot of their pit bulls adopted that were there for a year or longer. That kicked up some awareness for me.”
The Pit Bull Pen helps by rehoming, training, educating and rehabilitating, but needs help from the community to continue to operate at capacity and help as many animals as possible, despite some problems created by prior ownership.
“The dog always pays the price,” Trickit said. “Always.”
The Pit Bull Pen might be a great place to start for those looking to adopt a “soul-mutt” companion, from pit bulls to many other breeds, or even puppies.
Trickit said the shelter needs volunteers, foster homes and donations.
Volunteers can help maintain the property and socialize the dogs. This can come in the form of spending time with the dogs on the complex and taking them for a hike or public outing. Volunteers are especially important during the winter months when volunteer numbers decline.
Foster homes can take in rescues on a short- or long-term basis to help rehabilitate and train the animals so they will be ready for a forever home.
“We need fosters desperately,” Trickit said. “We prefer to not just keep 20 dogs here. Short term, long term ... people who can work with the dogs, those people are hard to find.”
The Pit Bull Pen gladly will accept donations of dog food, puppy pads and puppy food. Trickit said the dogs go through 40 pounds of puppy food every other day with nine growing puppies currently at the facility.
The Pit Bull Pen has an Amazon wish list, and it encourages people who want to help to sign up for its monthly donor program.
Go to: thepitbullpen.com.
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