Today’s honoree for National Pit Bull Awareness Month is Ami Ciontos. Ami is an incredible breed advocate who, for many years, has volunteered a great deal of her time with Pit Bull Rescue Central (PBRC) helping countless pit bulls in need find forever homes, and she is also the founder of the Atlanta Bully Rally! Ami advocates for pit bulls and their responsible owners everyday, and works to educate the public and elected officials on breed specific legislation, and I admire her dedication and passion to make positive change for this incredible breed.
Ami met her first pit bull in New Orleans, LA when she found one that had been fought, shot and left to die in a dumpster. The prejudice she faced when trying to get help for that dog drove her to help change public perception of pit bulls. She was given a pit puppy, Lady Red, in 1999 and has been smitten ever since. Ami has been involved in pit bull rescue and advocacy for the past 13 years, and has spent the last 9 of those years as a volunteer for Pit Bull Rescue Central. She is currently the Vice President of PBRC and also serves on the PBRC Grant Committee.
Ami is the founder of the Atlanta Bully Rally (www.atlantabullyrally.com), an annual event to celebrate National Pit Bull Awareness Day. The Michael Vick dog fighting case was still fresh in the media and NPBAD was a new concept in 2007. Ciontos wanted to do something to show the public that pit bulls are good dogs, so with the help of Best Friends, the first Atlanta Bully Rally was born! The Atlanta Bully Rally features special celebrity guests, an amateur weight pull, educational presentations on topics that affect pit bulls and their owners, a pit bull kissing booth, the opportunity to showcase local rescue groups and their adoptable animals, a raffle with fantastic prizes and free dog food and collars to pets in need.
To improve the lives of pets and people in her community, Ami created a nonprofit called Atlanta Underdog Initiative (A.UD.I), which promotes responsible dog ownership, educates the public about pit bulls and mastiffs, and works to alleviate pet overpopulation. Ami was also involved in disaster and crisis relief efforts in Hurricane Katrina where there were literally hundreds of pit bulls. She also assisted in caring for the pit bulls of the Missouri 500 and the Ohio 200, which were large scale dog fighting raids.
Ami is a founding partner of Tails in the Hood, a project that targets Pit Bull owners in need of an educative approach to caring for their dogs. The members build relationships with those involved in hopes to help them better care for their dogs and work with them on spay and neuter efforts to reduce the overpopulation problem. Though she doesn’t have time to do as many outreach missions as she once did, the program is still thriving.
Ami currently lives in Atlanta, GA where she and her husband share their home with four pit bulls and two Dogo Argentino foster dogs. Ami met her husband, David, on a home check when he adopted Lenox in 2004. They will always have a pit bull (or three) in their home!
I have known Ami for several years, and have seen firsthand the love and dedication she has for pit bulls. I am so proud of her accomplishments and her hard work for the breed. On behalf of Bless the Bullys and the National Pit Bull Awareness Campaign, thank you, Ami, for all you do! Keep up the amazing job!!