Rest Well Sweet Walter

After much consideration and great sorrow, Rescue Pit made the incredibly difficult decision to euthanize Walter and to release him from his anxiety riddled mind.


Walter came to Rescue Pit from Rochester Animal Services severely emaciated after being found as a stray. He needed to gain some weight, but was otherwise a gentle and calm dog. As Walter became more comfortable with his environment, he showed signs of anxiety – deep, crippling anxiety. It was not only stranger danger, new things, or typically fearful items; it was everything. It was the couch, or the wind, or his shadow. He would even wake up scared of his surroundings. During these situations, Walter became so petrified that his fear became aggression, and he would turn that aggression on the people and dogs around him.


Rescue Pit began work on a behavior modification, and consulted our veterinarian on a path forward. As Walter’s anxiety continued to spike, we were faced with a difficult decision. Simply put, we imagined the world from Walter’s perspective: moments of joy, ripped away because of fear and anxiety that could strike at any moment. We saw a terrified dog, trapped in his own mind, acting out in hopes of gaining relief. We talked with multiple behaviorists, and the conclusion was clear – the humane thing to do was to release Walter from his fear.


We wish more than anything that our efforts would have been enough to heal his hurting soul. It pains us to realize that Walter would have never escaped his terrified mind, and would have always been a risk to those who loved him.


We know nothing about his past, whether it was full of love or neglect, and we cannot begin to guess at what he experienced before he came to us. We do know that we loved him for every minute that he was with us. For a short time, he experienced the comfort of a warm sweater over his skinny body, the security of a home, the love of his foster parents, the kind gentle hands of compassionate trainers.


We here at Rescue Pit volunteer every day to help dogs and save lives. We foster and care for dogs in hopes of giving them a better situation. During this, we often lose sight of the most difficult side of rescue, and the hardest, most unfortunate truth: not every dog can be saved.


We do make a promise to every dog we care for: to be their advocate, to love them, and to always make the most humane decision on their behalf. We also made a promise to you – to be transparent about our organization and the decisions we make. We are not the first rescue or family to make this difficult decision and unfortunately, we will not be the last. We hope that Walter gains release from his life of hardship. And for all those who have had to make a similar decision, know that our hearts break with yours.
Rest well sweet Walter.

Pepper’s Transition to the Rescue Pit Family

Back in August, Rescue Pit was contacted by our friends at Pitty Love Rescue to see if we had space for a pregnant pit bull they were contacted about. We looked at our current foster situation, our current dogs moving to adoption, and our finances; and made the sound decision that we could commit to Pepper and her future babies.

We worked with Pepper’s owners and set up a plan: we would take Pepper into Rescue Pit, care for her as she cared for the babies, vet her, have her spayed, and then return her back to her family. The family clearly loved Pepper and had no intentions of her getting pregnant. They were very thankful for our support, and the proposed solution.

A very pregnant Pepper
A very pregnant Pepper


In the days leading up to the birth, Pepper was shy, slow moving, and lethargic. On August 10th, Pepper gave birth to 12 puppies, 6 boys, and 6 girls. She started at 5:45 AM, and continued till 11:30 AM. Her instincts took over, and she quickly took care of her puppies.

Over the next several days, we saw a different Pepper, a more guarded Pepper. She trusted those of us who had been there since she came into Rescue Pit, but was timid around new folks. Knowing that this can be common after giving birth, we limited exposure and made every experience a great one.

As the weeks went on, and the Peppercorns grew, Pepper started to show her true character. She is a young, energetic, and loving dog. She started to welcome new people in, even looking forward to it (puppies which are being held can’t bother their mom). We began to introduce her to other dogs, and she loved them.

As the puppies began to approach 8 weeks, we began thinking about next steps for Pepper. We set up the timeline for her spay, and contacted the family again. Unfortunately, the situation had changed for them. Their landlord said the dog couldn’t come back. We worked with the family on this all too common situation, but they didn’t want to risk Pepper being bounced around again. They asked us to find her a forever home.

And this brings us to today.

Pepper is officially an adoptable Rescue Pit dog. She will be spayed in several weeks, and then looking for her forever home. With her babies in foster homes, we have begun to see the real Pepper come out. She has begun to welcome every person into her life, without hesitation. She also loves meeting new dogs, and enjoys her time on leash.

The Pepper and the Peppercorns’ journey is still underway. Working with the community in this fashion is what Rescue Pit wants to do. Our goal was to re-unite Pepper with her family, but other circumstances prevented this.

Now, we will look to find homes for Pepper and her 12 babies. Pepper is truly a special dog, who deserves a special family. If you are this family, or are interested in learning more about the Peppercorns, please visit us at 

Pepper and the Peppercorns.
Pepper and the Peppercorns.

The Rescue World Needs To Stop Buying Puppies

Rescue Pit, along with many other rescues, are working to ultimately limit the number of dogs in need. Our policies reflect this, and it is true for most organizations. but not all.

There are rescues across the country, and here in Rochester, who use your donations to support backyard/irresponsible breeders and ultimately increase the number of animals in need. They purchase puppies, and leave mother dogs in potentially horrendous conditions. 

14459786_10154404138206327_325708157_nThese are the dogs a rescue leaves behind when they purchase puppies.

Typically purchased dogs are located on craigslist or Facebook sale pages (Now, the Facebook Marketplace). Often donations are used to purchase the dogs to “save them”. This act encourages dogs just like the one above to continue being locked up, and used for breeding. At times the volunteer will “purchase” the dogs, and then surrender them. This is a technicality and the rescue is still supporting irresponsible breeders, especially when they continue to do it, and are not curbing this behavior in their volunteers.

Purchasing puppies creates space for the breeder to continue breeding. 

The individuals whom breed dogs are in it for the money. Their goal is to sell puppies at $25-$500 each. Once a dog has a litter, the only desire is to sell them, and quickly. Any rescue purchasing dogs validates this behavior, shows support for their practices, and encourages them to do it again. Purchasing puppies creates space for the breeder to continue breeding. 

Please don’t misunderstand; we see these posts too. They pull at our hearts, and bring us to tears. We often reach out, explain the overpopulation problem, and encourage them to surrender the dogs to Rescue Pit. This is discussed without any exchange of cash and the expectation that we will facilitate, and pay for, the mom being spayed. The moment the person says “they are only for sale”, the conversation is over. It hurts, and we feel deeply for the dogs, but we cannot continue to support the selling of dogs in this manner. Supporting the irresponsible breeder means they will do it again, and again, and again. And now purchasing these five dogs could result in 10, 25 or 50+ more being in need.

There is no other activity where people would financially support something in hopes of ending it or curbing the behavior.

Another argument for the policy of buying dogs is that “well, someone’s going to buy them, might as well be a rescue”. While true on its surface, it is ignoring some basics of an economy. If rescues are purchasing dogs, the demand will increase. As demand increases, the market will respond and supply will increase. The higher the supply, the more dogs in need.

We all want to help the dogs, and part of this is limiting irresponsible breeding and its effects. To do this, rescues must adopt a policy of not purchasing dogs. There is no other activity where people would financially support something in hopes of ending it or curbing the behavior. Five years ago rescues would have never bought a dog from a pet store – so why are we buying dogs from craigslist today?

The Power of Facebook in Educational Campaigns

October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month, a period of time specifically dedicated to raising awareness around pit bulls and their need for advocacy. During this past month, Rescue Pit executed an educational campaign. We brought myths, definitions, awareness, and facts to our followers, and we encouraged other to get involved in #pitbullawareness.  Posts  such as:


National Pit Bull Awareness Month - 2015-5


The campaign reached thousands of people, we learned a lot, and we want to share some of the insights with you. We also would like to thank our followers, because it was their involvement that was key to the success of this campaign. We encouraged everyone to share, and ultimately it was this sharing of our posts that led to success. All in all, our followers shared our posts 842 times.


To help increase the likelihood of success in our campaign, we made a few up-front decisions:

  • We would follow the same theme for every post (including template, hashtags, and language)
  • We would use high quality and/or impactful photos
  • We would not post every day as to not flood our followers
  • We would align with the facts, even if this meant being provocative
  • We would vary the day of the week, and the time of day.


At the end of the campaign, we saw amazing results:

  • Increased Engagement (Sept to Oct): 618%
  • Increased Reach (Sept to Oct): 514%
  • Total Campaign Reach: 82,730
  • Total Impressions: 142,334
  • Total Engaged Users: 4,855


To put this another way, our #pitbullawareness posts were shown 142,334 times on Facebook, reached 82,730 people, and were liked, commented on, or shared 4,855  times.


Points of Interest


  • Rescue Pit went across the country
    • Multiple organizations and people across the US engaged with our page. Specifically, we saw high engagement in OH, VT, and Las Vegas. While we as an organization will continue to focus on Rochester, NY, the potential for new network partners is amazing.
  • Weekend posts thrived
    • Typically we see weekend posts perform about half as well as weekday posts. The exact reasons for this are unknown, but it’s something that we have seen. During this campaign however, our weekend posts performed at or above the weekday posts average.
  • Massive increase in reach
    • Reach is the number of people who see a post. They can see it on your page, their newsfeed, from a friend sharing it, or simply by visiting your page.


Our best performing post was:




This post saw an amazing reach of 16,527. That is over sixteen thousand unique people who saw this one post. Beyond that it saw 184 share and a total of 625  likes (likes from page, and shares).


What did we learn and what would we recommend?


Planning a social campaign is similar to planning an event. It requires upfront effort, a purpose, planning, execution, and review. You should treat it as such if you want your campaign to be successful.


So, what can we share?

  • Decide on a theme and stick with it
    • A common theme unifies your campaign and makes it instantly recognizable. Only change for very intentional reasons (our Halloween post for example).
  • Use high quality photos
    • Chances are your cell phone photo, from the dark room, probably won’t cut it. Reach out to local photographers to see if they would be willing to dedicate their time and expertise to your cause.
  • Schedule your posts in advance
    • We scheduled 75% of our posts on October 1st. This meant that the program executed on its own and the posts went out at their desired times.
  • Cross post to other social channels where appropriate
    • This does not mean link your accounts so your exact Facebook posts go to Twitter automatically. It means log into Twitter, post your photo, and use relevant aspects of each platform.
  • Keep it short
    • Your Facebook posts should never require the “See More” link to show. If it does, it’s probably too long.


Social media is not defined and is rarely consistent. There is no, “If you do this, that exact thing will happen.” There are best practices and generally recommended steps to take for higher engagement, but social media must also be personal. It should reflect your brand’s personality. Play with it, have fun, and most importantly, spread the word.


– Stephen


Stephen DeVay is the co-founder and president of Rescue Pit, Inc., Rochester, NY’s newest 501c3 pit bull rescue. During the day, he is a Client Delivery Manager at Brand Networks Inc, the leading social marketing platform provider in the industry. He currently resides in downtown Rochester with his partner John. Together they have 2 dogs (Monty and Misha) and space for 1-2 foster dogs.