Mutual Selection, a Perfect Pair, and the Saving Pets Challenge

Rescue Pit lists “Mutual Selection” as one of its core values. Mutual Selection means that dogs adopted out of the rescue are not only selected by their adopters, but are paired with owners based on the dog’s specific needs, facilitating a seamless transition into the new home. Today, Rescue Pit is highlighting the value of Mutual Selection at work and sharing a heartwarming story of the perfect pair: Angelo and Dino.

Only weeks after purchasing his prized Harley-Davidson, Angelo was in a very serious motorcycle accident when he swerved to avoid a deer and veered into a utility pole. Angelo lay alone for hours before he was found and flown to a hospital where he would spend one week being treated for his extensive injuries. Angelo returned home with two broken wrists, a broken jaw, and 14 additional facial fractures. He found himself alone, and battled depression for months before he finally decided to search for a companion.

Meanwhile, Dino appeared at a local shelter with an injured jaw. Unsure of the cause or seriousness of his injury, the shelter transferred Dino to Rescue Pit where he was seen by a vet who confirmed that his jaw was broken. Dino was placed in a restrictive tape muzzle and was not allowed to chew or play for several weeks in order to allow his jaw to heal.

Angelo contacted multiple rescue organizations about adopting a dog, and when he eventually found Rescue Pit, Dino was the first dog that he noticed. Angelo, with his jaw still wired shut, saw that Dino was also healing from a jaw injury. Angelo expressed an interest in adopting Dino and was informed that there were at least one dozen other applicants interested, and that Dino would not be placed into a home until he was fully healed. Angelo was patient and, as fate would have it, Rescue Pit ultimately determined that of all the applicants, Angelo was best suited to accommodate Dino’s needs.


Dino and Angelo


Dino is now happily at home with Angelo, who believes that they helped each other heal. “I know that’s hard to believe for some people, but he is more than just a dog to me. He was someone that loved me unconditionally, someone I didn’t feel bad crying in front of, and someone who needed me as much as I needed him. What can I say, he’s one of the best things that ever happened to me”, reflected Angelo.

During the month of May, Rescue Pit is participating in the Saving Pets Challenge, an online fundraising competition that benefits animal welfare organizations dedicated to keeping companion pets out of shelters and in loving homes. This is Rescue Pit’s fourth consecutive year participating in the challenge and the organization has set a goal to raise $10,000 in hopes of earning additional cash prizes at the end of the competition. All funds are used to benefit dogs like Dino and help them find their perfect match. To donate, please visit Rescue Pit’s fundraising page at:

Why your off-leash dog is ruining my life.

It’s finally summertime! The time of year to get outside and walk the dog, so you get your buddy all leashed up and head outdoors. The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and as you smile and soak in the vitamin D you have been craving for so long you see it out of the corner of your eye—the off leash dog. The reason you have to wear running shoes when all you ever want to do is take a leisurely stroll in the park. “He’s good with other dogs!” the owner screams as you sprint in the opposite direction. And you’re left telling the same old story you’ve likely had to tell your friends a million times before; which usually ends with “Other dog owners just don’t get it.” If this situation sounds all too familiar, then you know the feeling of panic and anxiety that can come with the simple act of wanting to exercise man’s best friend. If this situation sounds all too familiar because you are one of those people screaming at me while I run away — then I implore you to continue reading.

Not every person wants to be approached by your dog.
As a dog person, I agree, this seems odd. When a dog passes me, I smile ear to ear and don’t stop staring until the dog is out of my sight. Typically combine with blurting out some sort of “aww” noises and if the moment is appropriate, asking if I can pet the dog. However, there are plenty of people out there who have had bad experiences with dogs, are fearful of dogs, or just don’t like dogs! Respect these people and do them the common courtesy of leashing your dog.

Not every dog wants to be approached by your dog.
Much like people, not all dogs are keen on the idea of your four-legged friend running up to them without their consent. Again this could be due to the dog having previous bad experiences with other dogs, being fearful of meeting new canine companions, or maybe they just don’t like other dogs. And get this—dogs can’t even talk to you to tell you to get away! They will have to resort to barking, lunging, growling and in the worst cases biting to tell you how unhappy they are. Here is where the owner of that “friendly dog” just doesn’t get it.

I assume they think something along the lines of—“it’s not my fault your dog isn’t trained.” This is where there seems to be a breakdown in communication, and we do not understand one another, and here is what you may not know. Many dogs who have issues with other dogs are working hard every day during every single walk to maintain control and not bark or pull. These dogs may not have been given a good start to their lives, may not have been socialized, may have been taken away from their litters too early, may have been attacked by an off leash dog in the past, or their temperament may just be a nervous one… the list could go on and on. These are dogs that are working tirelessly to be good dogs, and every experience with an off leash dog has the potential to set that training back tremendously. It’s not for lack of training or trying; some dogs just need a little extra TLC. For the sake of these dogs, please leash your dog.

Even a well-trained dog can be unpredictable.
In an exciting situation, any dog could ignore recall. Any dog has the potential to bite. Any dog’s prey drive could kick in and they may take off after a squirrel or bird, so just leash your dog! If your dog really wants to run free, I’ve heard of these cool places called dog parks, and back yards which sound like they would be worth checking out!

It’s the law.
Need more convincing to keep your dog on leash? It’s the law, and there are fines for not following the law. Here in Rochester, NY first offense $100, second offense $250, and third and subsequent offenses $500. You can find the leash law in full in Section 31-4 at the following website:

Whether it’s to respect the fearful person or dog, to keep your own dog safe, or because it’s the law, please remember this post the next time you take your walk. The above-mentioned reasons are true for all dogs of any size, shape, or breed. Many dogs prefer not to be approached by a new or unfamiliar dog; however, this fairly common animal response coupled with being a pit bull owner has a whole new meaning. Because of the stigma that still surrounds this breed, an altercation between two dogs is likely to be deemed instigated by the pit bull regardless of the facts. The pit bull will be more likely to be labeled “aggressive, ” and this is likely to have negative consequences for the dog and owner. So please, for the love of dog– leash yours!

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.  

Launch Press Release

Rescue Pit, Inc.

A new dog rescue has come to town!

Rochester NY – Rescue Pit, Inc. is Rochester’s newest 501(c)(3) not for profit pit bull rescue. Pit bulls are flooding the city shelters and fighting a negative stigma that stems from humans, not nature. As very social dogs, they thrive in relationships with humans but are all too often taken advantage of because of their unassuming and accommodating nature.

Founded by RIT alumni Stephen DeVay, 27, and John Cicolella, 22, Rescue Pit aims to save lives by creating a network of pit bull advocates who will foster homeless dogs, educate the public, and increase general awareness. As a foster network, Rescue Pit will obtain a unique knowledge of each dog to be shared with potential adopters, ensuring a mutual selection and ideal fit. By knowledge sharing, personal outreach, and eventually larger community programs, Rescue Pit will educate the public in hopes of keeping more dogs in loving homes. By being transparent, public, and reaching into areas and markets not currently addressed by the rescue community, Rescue Pit will increase general awareness.

Rescue Pit will bring a new face to the rescue community and new members along with it. As young technology professionals in the area, John and Stephen hope to tap into this market to bring a new energy to the dog rescue world. Their younger ages have not prohibited them from gaining a substantial amount of knowledge about dog rescue. Between the two, they have already fostered and rescued over 10 dogs and helped care for and save dozens more. With this experience and a passion to share this experience, Stephen and John look to bring more people into rescue and save even more lives.

In its first two weeks since launch, Rescue Pit gained over 1,000 Facebook likes and received over 20 Volunteer Applications. However, they have also already been contacted over 15 times by community members seeking to surrender their dogs. The need is real and help is required. You can get involved by fostering a dog, volunteering in various areas (events, marketing, fundraising, dog care), or just getting the word out about this fantastic new organization.

Email, visit, like, follow, and share to learn more and support their amazing cause!





Twitter: @rescuepitincLaunch Press Release

Instagram: @rescuepit


PDF Version: Launch Press Release