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Coast to Coast Bully Walk National Pit Bull Awareness Day to be held at Sunset Hill Farms

Written by Kate Vanderlin. Posted in Community News, Featured, Pets

Published on October 09, 2013 with No Comments

Piper is ready to greet walkers to the Coast to Coast Bully Walk to be held Saturday, Oct. 26 at Sunset Hills Farm in Valparaiso

Piper is ready to greet walkers to the Coast to Coast Bully Walk to be held Saturday, Oct. 26 at Sunset Hills Farm in Valparaiso

The Coast to Coast Bully Walk is a national, all-breed protest walk held to fight for the rights of families and their dogs who may be considered a “bully type” breed.

Locally, the mile-long Bully Walk will be held on Saturday, Oct. 26 at Sunset Hills Farm County Park, 775 Meridian Road in Valparaiso from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bully type is a category of dog breeds that is often stigmatized as dangerous or aggressive when, in fact, that is not the case when the dog is raised in the care of a responsible owner. Some of the breeds that are placed in the bully type category are pit bulls, bulldogs, Rottweilers, Dobermans and German shepherds.

The walk was originally designed after some states tried to enforce laws prohibiting or banning these certain breeds, though focusing on pit bulls. This ban is known as Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) and has resulted in emotional distress across the country, leaving families devastated.  Thanks to educational campaigns, such as the protest walk, change is making its voice.

Laura Bruccoleri and her certified therapy pit bull, Piper, committed to join forces with the campaign director of the Coast to Coast Bully Walk to represent Northwest Indiana.

Bruccoleri and Piper were contacted by Cheryl Huerta of Portland, Ore., the originator of the global Coast to Coast Bully Walk. Huerta discovered the pair on Piper’s Facebook page, Piper’s Page of Life, which Bruccoleri designed specifically to promote Piper as an ambassador of her breed. Huerta showed interest in Piper as a host representing Northwest Indiana, which Bruccoleri accepted.

Bruccoleri’s goal in hosting this event is to educate the public and gain their support in helping to end BSL.

When Bruccoleri decided to take on this campaign, she knew immediately she wanted to tie in and promote the Porter County Animal Shelter. Running as a no-kill shelter, it supports, at times, 60 percent of pit bull types. She connected with her friend, Kate Vanderlin, the shelter’s community outreach coordinator, on ideas on how this could benefit all of the animals.

Vanderlin holds years of experience in animal welfare including campaign, humane education and pit bull advocacy. This, coupled with Bruccoleri and Piper’s expertise in therapy work, have made them an unstoppable team.

“Finding good homes for pit bulls and encouraging responsible ownership of the breed has become a personal goal for me,” said Vanderlin. “I want families to understand these dogs for the amazing breed they can be.  I want to educate the public. Helping organize such an event was a no-brainer for me. Piper is a prime example of the breed and the shelters are full of dogs just like her.”

Piper visits facilities, including children’s hospice, across Northwest Indiana, bringing joy to human companions. “She not only proves herself to me in our home, but also in the therapy work she does in every facility that she visits,” said Bruccoleri. “Piper is an example of this breed, not an exception.”

The walk takes place on the weekend of National Pit Bull Awareness Day, a newly celebrated day in honor of the misunderstood breed used mainly for education.

“I want to put a stop to the negative stigma of this breed. These dogs need a voice. I owe it to Piper and the breed to be that voice by helping to educate the ignorant and put an end to BSL,” said Bruccoleri.

Registration for the Bully Walk is $15. All breeds are welcome. People wanting to walk but cannot afford the registration fee will not be turned away. There will be raffles, a dog costume contest, live music and educational guest speakers are lined up for the day.  All proceeds will go to the Porter County Animal Shelter.  For more information, contact Kate Vanderlin, office manager and community outreach manager at the shelter at 219-465-3550.

Piper is ready to greet walkers to the Coast to Coast Bully Walk to be held Saturday, Oct. 26 at Sunset Hills Farm in Valparaiso

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle.

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