Today’s honoree for National Pit Bull Awareness Month is Dawn Capp. Many of you have been introduced to Dawn through the documentary Beyond the Myth, but I was inspired by Dawn and her work in the pit bull community long before the movie. Through her organization, Chako, Dawn has worked for many years to assist and educate pit bull owners and elected officials on responsible ownership and sensible, breed-neutral laws, all while extolling the exceptional qualities of pit bulls.
Dawn leads by example, and I admire her greatly for all she has accomplished, and I asked if she would share what inspired her to work with pit bulls and what drives her passion to make positive change for this wonderful breed. I hope you, too, will be inspired by this extremely dedicated pit bull advocate, as well.
I became inspired to start Chako Pit Bull Rescue in graduate school. I was on my own, just purchased my own, very small house, and decided it was time for me to bring a dog into my home, and I wanted to adopt one from a shelter. Though I’d grown up with Pit Bulls and spent much of my childhood at shows, weight pull events, etc., I had not yet had a dog all my own. I walked into the local shelter and asked if they had any Pit Bulls available for adoption. The woman scrunched her face and said, “No. We don’t adopt out vicious dogs.”
Aghast, I told her that Pit Bulls aren’t vicious dogs. She asked, “Why do you want to adopt a Pit Bull? Only drug dealers have Pit Bulls.” I explained to her that I was not a drug dealer. I was a graduate student at Texas A&M University. Curious, and very new to the world of animal shelters, I asked her what they did with Pit Bulls when they got them in. She said, very matter-of-factly, “We euthanize them.” I was shocked that any shelter would just euthanize a dog based solely on how it looked. I asked her what they did with puppies. I couldn’t imagine they killed puppies. She said, “We euthanize them.”
I asked, “Well, if you get one in that you’re going to euthanize, can you call me so that I can come take a look at it.” She quickly shook her head. “No, we can’t do that.” Then she cocked her head for a moment and seemed to ponder my request, then asked, “You mean…like a rescue?” I had no idea what a rescue was. I had grown up around show and working Pit Bulls.
Emphatically, I nodded my head. “Yes! A rescue!”
She pushed a book my way and said, “Put your name in the rescue book.” I did. I went home, researched Pit Bull rescues. There weren’t any that I found at that time (it was around 1996 or 1997, and the Internet was still young). I started Chako Pit Bull Rescue (originally called the Chako Rescue Association).
I chose the name Chako because, after leaving that shelter where I discovered Pit Bulls were all euthanized, I had an image in my head of my childhood dog, Chako, ending up in a shelter and sitting all alone in a cement cell. I pictured someone putting a leash on him as he wagged his tail and taking him down to a room where they would end his life for no reason other than he was born the wrong breed. Knowing what an extraordinary, intuitive, and loving soul that Chako was, I couldn’t bare that thought.
So, I started Chako Pit Bull Rescue for all the phenomenal, intuitive, and loving dogs like Chako that just happened to be Pit Bulls and, through no fault of their own, ended up in a shelter, alone and unwanted. I eventually went on to law school, and my law degree has helped me gain a solid foundation to continue to be a strong advocate for Pit Bulls and responsible Pit Bull owners.
Today, Chako Pit Bull Rescue is based in Sacramento, California, and in addition to Pit Bull Rescue, we help Pit Bull owners in need, put on educational workshops, obedience classes, and events geared toward Pit Bulls and their owners, and do community outreach events to promote awareness about breed discrimination and educate people about Pit Bulls. We also stand against breed specific legislation of all kinds.
On behalf of Bless the Bullys and the National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign, thank you, Dawn, for all you have done and continue to do to improve the lives and the image of the American Pit Bull terrier, as well as helping pit bull owners be the best advocates they can be. I am so proud to work along side you in bringing about positive change for these incredible dogs!