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Pit Sisters Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animal Training, Animals

Mission: The mission of Pit Sisters is to ensure dogs that risk shelter euthanasia can eventually thrive and be adopted into loving homes. A focus is on harder-to-adopt dogs, especially those needing extra training and care for whatever reason. Tactics used to save lives include; prison inmate dog training, mobile training and education, all focusing on partnerships with animal welfare groups.

Results: Pit Sisters have always dedicated themselves to ‘giving a voice’ to the most misunderstood dogs. This has been done by providing love and homes to harder-to-adopt dogs in need. The mission has expanded to be more proactive and innovative with efforts focused on the following programs. The Pit Sisters Mobile Training Program launched in 2015 to provide a way for families to be able to receive professional training for their pets, regardless of breed, where the dog came from or training issue. This program is proven to help keep dogs with their families and out of the shelters, which is crucial, as 48% of all shelter dogs come through the system through owner surrenders. Since 2015, over 150 dogs have been trained, free of charge, by certified positive reinforcement trainers. This number is expected to increase each year, as more support is garnered. Our community engagement intitatives have touched thousands of people over the past six years, as we were founded in 2011. Helping break the myths and educate entire communities about pit bull type breeds has been a life mission for our team. TAILS (Teaching Animals & Inmates Life Skills) is a collaborative effort bringing together prison inmates and hard-to-adopt shelter dogs. This is one of the largest programs of its kind in the country. We are in five prison facilities to date and plan on expanding as more support is given to this life saving program. We partner with city shelters across Northeast FL; the State of Florida Correctional System; and Sheriffs’ offices, as shelter dogs are placed in correctional facilities to be trained, socialized and cared for so they have a chance of finding a new forever loving home. This program currently resides at, The Jacksonville Bridges Community Release Center; Raymond James Correctional Institution; Baker Correctional Institute; Lawtey Correctional Institution; and Montgomery Correctional in Jacksonville. To date over 400 hard-to-adopt dogs have been served by our TAILS program.

Target demographics: ensure dogs that risk shelter euthanasia can eventually thrive and be adopted into loving homes. A focus is on harder-to-adopt dogs, especially those needing extra training and care for whatever reason. Tactics used to save lives include; prison inmate dog training, mobile training and education, all focusing on partnerships with animal welfare groups.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Hundreds of hard-to-adopt dogs!

Geographic areas served: Northeast Florida

Programs: Training: The Mobile Training Program launched in 2015 to provide a way for families to be able to receive professional training for their pets, regardless of breed, where the dog came from or training issue. This program is proven to help keep dogs with their families and out of the shelters, which is crucial, as 48% of all shelter dogs come through the system through owner surrenders. Since 2015, over 150 dogs have been trained, free of charge, by certified positive reinforcement trainers. This program is offered as a life saving resource for; Jacksonville Animal Care & Protective Services, Clay County Animal Care and The Jacksonville Humane Society and is also offered in area shelters throughout Northeast FL. This program focuses on potty training and excessive barking, among other issues. A Pit Sisters canine aggression expert gives dogs with more serious issues additional assistance. Training is also about working with pet owners, as often times they cause issues unknowingly. Community Engagement and Involvement: We believe in order to save homeless pets, more involvement and engagement from the entire community is needed. Pit Sisters continually works on collaborative relationships with animal shelters, rescues, businesses, government, etc. to breaks myths and educate entire communities. TAILS: TAILS (Teaching Animals & Inmates Life Skills) is a collaborative effort bringing together prison inmates and hard-to-adopt shelter dogs. This is one of the largest programs of its kind in the country and fully implemented and paid for by Pit Sisters. Through partnerships with city shelters across Northeast FL; the State of Florida Correctional System; and Sheriffs’ offices, shelter dogs are placed in correctional facilities to be trained, socialized and cared for so they have a chance of finding a new forever loving home. Pit Sisters assesses dogs at the city shelters to find those who are in need of training and socialization and at risk of euthanasia. They provide all transport to one of the five facilities in which this program currently resides, which include The Jacksonville Bridges Community Release Center; Raymond James Correctional Institution; Baker Correctional Institute; Lawtey Correctional Institution; and Montgomery Correctional in Jacksonville. Each TAILS dog is assigned to two pre-screened prisoners so they won’t bond to any one person and learn to respond to a variety of voices and personalities. Once matched, inmates are fully responsible for the dog’s care, which include feeding, grooming, housebreaking and obedience training. Pit Sisters provides food and medical care for the dogs and employs a trainer to teach the inmates and correction staff how to handle and train them. Each dog is with at least one inmate 24 hours a day, and a member of the Pit Sisters team will visit each facility frequently to observe interactions and troubleshoot any problems. The dog’s stay at their respective prison for eight weeks and at the end of the program, they are crate-trained, know basic commands such as ‘sit’ or ‘stay,’ walk on a leash, and are generally well-mannered. Upon graduation, all dogs will receive an APDT CLASS Certificate and inmates will be asked to take a written exam based on what they have taught. All data is compiled and monitored. Immediately upon graduation a new set of dogs arrive to enter the TAILS program. If a dog does not get adopted prior to graduation, it is not returned to a shelter to risk euthanasia again, rather, the dog will stay in the program until adopted, go to a foster home, or will be brought to an adoption event. TAILS benefits dogs, trainers, families, prison staff and entire communities. It has beneficially impacted behavior as inmates learn teamwork. The wardens have observed prisoners increasingly deal with problems by talking rather than fighting. Stress has been noticeably reduced. One inmate who recently spoke at a graduation stated, “For the dogs to listen to us, we have to be stable. This program is bringing stability to unstable people. It’s better to give than receive and we are truly blessed to receive the opportunity. This program gives us all renewed strength to strive to become better people in our everyday lives.” Inmates who have gone through this program leave with employable skills and life-saving stories to share. One Northeast, Florida animal welfare group has hired two TAILS inmates. TAILS is truly saving lives from the inside. This program is so hugely important because it is estimated that 48 percent of all shelter dogs entering come from owner surrenders. More notably, many dogs come in unruly, un-socialized and just don’t have basic training skills. This program helps solve this common, potentially deadly problem. Since 2012, close to 400 dogs have been through the TAILS program. All dogs leave with letters from inmate trainers about their personalities, and also a professional training certificate.

Community Stories

45 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Pit Sisters rescue offers second chances to many dogs that would otherwise not have a bright future. The TAILS program is a Win-Win for people and dogs. I have been volunteering for over a year now and am proud to be part of this very dedicated, hard working and caring team.

Chelsea K.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Pit Sisters changes the lives of both humans and dogs. Anyone who spends an afternoon volunteering with this organization sees what an impact they make. Through the TAILS program, they give low-risk inmates a purpose, while saving the lives of homeless dogs at the same time. Many of the inmates say they never had a purpose before joining the program. These inmates are people who will be released onto our streets in the matter of months or a year. The program gives them life skills they need to be successful outside of jail, making them less likely to re-offend. I encourage everyone to spend some time getting involved with this group. It's impossible to volunteer with them and not be changed for the better. And their dogs are amazing.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve been volunteering with Pit Sisters for over a year. It has been a pleasure seeing all the hard work and dedication the rescue has for the dogs. I can honestly say it has been the best rescue I have worked for, and I’ve been involved with a couple others. The director is hands on with her years experience and expertise. Thank you Pit Sisters for your life saving mission! It’s all about the dogs

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with Pit Sisters since the beginning of this year. This is an amazing group of people who truly care for the animals they look after. Pit sisters takes in dogs that are in extreme danger of euthanasia and through training programs work so hard to help them gain enough skills to be adoptable. I am proud to do what I can to help them.

Donor

Rating: 5

I love Pit Sisters. They gave me my sweet Shaina. My greyhound had been an only dog for a year as we had lost our 17 year old Shiba Inu the previous year. I wanted to adopt a pit bull and, as I’d had black cats and dogs in the past (hating the fact that being black is a negative to so many people), I was hoping for a black buddy for my Shiloh. A friend put me in touch with Pit Sisters. Soon Shiloh and I were on our way to meet Shaina (not so named at the time) and her foster mom Carol. When Shiloh & Shaina met it was instant love. They have been together ever since. As I said in the beginning, I ❤️ Pit Sisters!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with Pit Sisters for over a year. I am so proud to be a part of a group that gives both dogs and people a second chance.

Donor

Rating: 5

I met the sisters in 2012 when they were starting up. it was my first deep dive into rescue and all that it entails. Pit Sisters is the total package in rescue. Intelligence, knowledge, education, integrity. I was lucky enough to volunteer with Jen until we relocated (military) to Alabama where we started our own rescue. IMHO Pit Sisters/ Jen is responsible for every dog we have saved.
She not only works for her organization but is at the ready anytime someone needs help. All rescues could learn a thing or two from PS business model. I know i did and i am thankful every single day. Karrie Matlock

1 Jennifer B.13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve been following Pit Sisters for years, going to their events, watching them educate the public, celebrating their successes & crying with them when something doesn’t go quite right, which yes, can happen. Rescue work is a gnarly business, having to say no sometimes, & relying on volunteers, not paid employees, begging for donations, fundraising, adoption events, etc. Two years ago, after sponsoring dogs & witnessing transformations in both humans & dogs, I decided to become very actively involved. This organization gives more than 100 percent of their dedication to the dogs who need it the most, the most being the key word there. Their are people who critique Pit Sisters saying they didn’t help them, well honestly, unless you have walked in their shoes, you may not understand. Pit Sisters works with some of the toughest cases you cannot even imagine & I won’t go into the graphic details but I can assure you, they do everything humanly possible to save lives. It has been my pleasure to foster to adopt two dogs from them & I will continue to fight for these dogs until no more need saved.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with Pit Sisters in May and it has been the most amazing experience! This organization helps so many dogs that wouldn’t have a chance if Jen hadn’t stepped in and saw their potential.

I’ve had the amazing opportunity to help with not only caring for the dogs we have but also helping with the TAILS program. I’ve seen firsthand how proud these individuals are that they have a dog to care for and how accomplished they feel when their dogs learn something new and excel at it.

Jen saves not only the lives of dogs but human lives. It has been an absolute honor being able to work with her and the other volunteers of Pit Sisters that pour their hearts in to these amazing dogs.

Amy Stringfellow A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Pitts sisters responded to a call about a dog fighting ring that had just been busted in Gainesville. When they arrived on the scene they realized that it wasn’t just Pits that had been affected but there were other breeds of dogs that were there as well. One of those dogs was a hound mix who had double ear infections, was heartworm positive, and weighed only 16 pounds even though she should have weighed closer to 30. Without hesitation Jen and her team also scooped up this poor dog and brought her back to Jacksonville. They would go on to name her Phoebe and would work relentlessly to help her to put on weight and fight off the double ear infections and heart worms, even though they didn’t know at the time if they would be able to find an adopter or not.
Little did Jen know that just a few months before our family had suffered a tragic loss when our 11-year-old rescued beagle, Maggie, suddenly passed away from COPD. Even though our hearts were broken the most broken hearted member of our family was our other beagle Sport. He desperately missed his sister and the other member of his pack. When we saw Phoebe’s story we knew immediately that she was meant to be ours. We contacted Pitts sisters and the rest, as they say, is history. She has been a member of our life for three years now and we can’t imagine her not being here with us. She is our spoiled little princess and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Thank-you Jen and the entire Pitt Sisters Team.

Lori L.3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Pit Sisters stepped up and took some dogs from the shelter I work for in Ontario Canada, Jen poured her heart and soul into these dogs and loved them as we had for so long, not only that but she understood our love and devotion and kept us undated, she runs a wonderful world class rescue

Di R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Pit Sisters Inc. stepped up during Hurricane Florence and rescued 10 babies from The Dillon County Animal Shelter and sent transport for them. Hours before the storm hit a terrible person dumped a mama and her 3 puppies in a field. They, without hesitation, said to put them on the transport too. So grateful for their help in evacuating the shelter before the Hurricane and all the flooding.

Kimberly R.2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Amazing group, they care deeply about every dog that comes into their rescue, every dog is placed with utmost care to ensure a permanent loving home. I've never seen a rescue work so hard. Thank you for saving Miss Honey. You all Rock!!

Perrin F.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I had spoken to Pit Sisters when I knew it was time for me to adopt a dog. I told them that I had two small children and a busy day. I went and did a meet and greet with puppies and fell absolutely in love with their mom, Daisy. I work with animals for a living and Daisy is truly one of the sweetest most well behaved dogs I have ever met. Anyone who has ever met Daisy including her vet hospital says that she is one of the sweetest dogs ever. She loves every dog she meets and has been to several dog parks with me and has played with all of my neighbors dogs too! That was important to my lifestyle. Pit Sisters did an amazing job matching me with the perfect dog for me! She is wonderful with my children too. I am looking forward to the day I can call them again to add a friend for Daisy!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Absolutely awesome. For the dogs!!! TAILS program is just one of the great ways of helping.

Mritter1112

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Pit Sisters truly does always put the dogs first. When I began fostering for them 2.5 years ago, I quickly realized that I had found my place and my purpose in the world. So far, Pit Sisters has given us the opportunity to foster almost 100 dogs! From puppies, mama dogs, dog fighting cases, hoarding cases, mangy dogs, emaciated dogs, you name it. Jen's passion and dedication to changing the perception of the Pit Bull breed is unwavering. I am so lucky to be a part of this wonderful organization.

Jennifer C.5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can’t say enough positive things about Jen and all of the volunteers! The dogs come first, and this organization makes sure things to keep them at the forefront. Jen is always available when I have questions and has even stepped and helped me with some tough cases when no one other organization would. I admire Jen and all the volunteers for all of their hard work and the many lives they have saved !

Client Served

Rating: 5

Pit Sisters is a wonderful organization, who invests in people and dogs that others in society may pass by. They work hard to make sure they take good care of the dogs they rescue and they find great homes for the dogs they adopt out. We adopted an amazing dog my wife is working with to certify as a therapy dog. Thank you, Pit Sisters, for all you do for the community here and beyond.

Suzanne Peters V.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Jen and all the volunteers really are all about the dogs! We got our dog from her 5 years ago. She did a House Check and made sure Radar was a fit for us. She’s readily available for any questions you have. Thank you for all you do for all the dogs!

Lindsay H.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Pit Sisters does great things and I’m happy I get to be a part of it. It’s a lot of hard work but the volunteers are PHENOMINAL and it’s my priveledge to take care of the pups. They deserve it.