Rescue Tales: Long-Term Shelter Pets Cupid and Cash Finally Find Homes
Cupid, a pit bull who got a bad rap, Best Friends
Best Friends Animal Society- Kanab, Utah
Best Friends is a Utah-based animal sanctuary home to about 1,700 animals. The no-kill organization specializes in special-needs animals and unique cases, providing shelter even to horses and waterfowl. The 3,700-acre ranch houses the animals but also works to rehabilitate them and find them permanent homes, with the lifetime promise that those animals can always come back to Best Friends if necessary.
Cupid -- A Shelter Dog For 3 Years Before Being Adopted
Nearly 50 percent of the dogs that come to Best Friends are pit bulls and mixes, which adoption manager Kristi Litrell thinks is due to the stigma that pits have. Often, the circumstances that bring them to shelters make it even harder to predict how a pit bull will do in a home. But then there are people like George and Victoria Bjornson -- who are extremely gifted when it comes to working with rescue pits -- who say the breed has "gotten a bad rap."
One of George and Victoria's five rescues is Cupid, an 8-year-old male pit bull who lived at Best Friends for three years before the couple adopted him. Others had fostered him and liked him, though he didn't get adopted because he was strongly dog-aggressive. But when George and Victoria had Cupid for a sleepover, George says, "What I saw was a dog that hadn't been socialized well and I thought I could work with him."
The integration of Cupid into the family was so successful that they've recently adopted Lila -- a pit bull who was seized in July during the largest dog fighting raid in which 500 dogs were rescued. The small, 4-year-old Lila had once fought in the ring, and also had shotgun pellets under her left eye and in her chest, but today, she has a new home and a new best friend in Cupid.
The Bjornsons are careful in the way they introduce a new member to their pit bull family. First, they spend a week alone bonding with the new dog, and then they introduce the dogs one by one. They watch for the dogs' energy level and body language. "Within 10 minutes, they are out playing in the backyard," Victoria says. "Most times, the last dog becomes the buddy of the new one." Just like Cupid and Lila. More than just attentive supervision, the Bjornsons' key to a peaceful pack is compassion and patience: "We don't set a timetable or expectations for them. We give them the space, time and love they need to adjust."