Today’s honoree for outstanding advocacy for pit bulls is Erica Daniel, the founder and president of Dolly’s Foundation. Founded in 2011, Dolly’s Foundation is already making a big difference for pit bulls in their community and beyond! In addition to rescuing and rehabilitating shelter bullys, Dolly’s Foundation also works to preserve, promote, and bring positive awareness to the breed. I asked Erica if she would be kind enough to share how she started Dolly’s Foundation, and what drives her dedication and hard work for the breed, and got an inspiring response:
We started out as a rescue organization but quickly realized that by taking one by one, we weren’t making much of an impact on our community. While we may be saving that one animal, we weren’t making dent in our local shelters, so we decided to work our way towards the top of the pyramid by using preventative methods and starting our Snip-a-Pit program. We’re teaming up with local clinics and organizations and fundraising for our program. It is our goal to never have to turn anyone away who contacts us about fixing their dog, and so far we haven’t. So far this year we’ve spayed and neutered about 70 pit bull type dogs in central Florida.
We also focus on rescue, of course, but we strive for quality over quantity. We don’t adopt out large numbers of dogs but rather work on each individual dog to prepare them for adoption; training, exercise, basic obedience, socialization, and obviously health. We’re probably most famous for rescuing Harper, the ‘swimmer puppy’ who was never supposed to walk and made a miraculous recovery. This year was a tough one for us, in December of 2011 we were recruited to work on a cruelty case out of Sebring, FL consisting of approximately 40 pit bull type dogs. We took 2 cross country trips to rehome a handful of them, and managed to place the rest locally. We were fortunate enough to successfully place 32/39 dogs and it was no small feat for our small organization. It was a very emotional and trying experience, however, we learned a lot and made many, many wonderful friends during the process.
We also strive for education. It’s a goal of ours to educate the importance of losing labels and making everyone aware of the fact that pit bulls are just dogs and we have to judge them as individuals.
The inspiration to start Dolly’s Foundation came from working in a county shelter and learning the labels and generalizations pit bull type dogs are faced with. I started working with rescues and shelters in 2001 when I was about 17, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Prior to actually working in the shelter, I had never identified myself with one particular breed. I made it my motivation to change the negative perception and misunderstanding about pit bull type dogs. After I rescued Dolly from the shelter, it just gave me more of a push to start something on my own. I did it for her.
The driving passion comes from the families that confess their prior stereotyped feelings towards pit bulls and inform me that Dolly’s Foundation changed all of that for them. People have literally told me that Dolly and Harper’s story has caused them to adopt pit bull dogs and change their negative perception forever. That’s my motivation.
On behalf of Bless the Bullys and the National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign, thank you, Erica (and the entire Dolly’s Foundation crew), for the difference you are making and all the lives you are affecting in such a positive way! Keep up the outstanding work!