We kicked off our Shop for a Pawsitive Cause campaign with AdoptaShelter.com last week with a story on Lisa Vanderpump’s Vanderpump Dogs Foundation. To read that story, go here.
This week, we’re highlighting another animal lover making her voice heard in the advocacy world. I’m talking about Deirdre “Little Darling” Franklin, founder of Pinups for Pitbulls, the very creative brand highlighting Pitbulls in kitschy, pop culture settings to showcase them as the fun, sweet, loving family dogs they are. I met Deirdre at BarkWorld, an industry conference for bloggers and brands, and the second I learned about her and her products, I knew she was perfect for Bark & Swagger.
When you shop for a cause, doing all of your personal and holiday shopping on AdoptaShelter.com, you automatically raise money, at no cost to you, for your favorite animal welfare organization. How cool is that?! If you choose Deirdre’s non-profit, Pinups for Pitbulls, which carries so many cool and colorful items for Pittie lovers, you’ll be entered to win an awesome basket of goodies from them. Stay tuned to learn what Deirdre’s chosen just for you!
What exactly is AdoptaShelter.com?
It’s an online shopping site that includes over 750 stores and services, including many major big boxes, in their free cash-rewards-mall (Amazon and Walmart to Zazzle and more). If that wasn’t good enough, add over 2,000 registered animal welfare organizations from all 50 states you can raise money for while you shop. The site has already paid out over $80,000 in donations to animal shelters and rescues.
Here’s the quick breakdown: When you shop your favorite stores and services through the AdoptaShelter.com site, a percentage of everything you buy is donated to the animal welfare organization you choose. And, they donate 50-75% more than Amazon Smile. How great is that?!
Did you know that 5-7 million animals enter U.S. shelters every year, and close to 3 million are euthanized? That’s why it’s so important to support our local no kill shelters and to adopt our pets. And, this is what inspired AdoptaShelter.com founder, Chris Ruben, to launch the site.
AdoptaShelter.com was founded five years ago to support the organizations doing great work for our homeless companion animals. “From the beginning, AdoptaShelter.com has been a total volunteer team effort,” declared Ruben. “We built this website for the singular purpose of generating much-needed cash donations from the online shopping of animal lovers.”
Tell me more about Pinups for Pitbulls!
Deirdre was inspired to start Pinups for Pitbulls (or PFPBs as it is affectionately called) in 2005 by her own Pittie baby, Carla Lou. After volunteering as a teen for a local shelter, thinking she’s helping to save animals, she learned when a woman dropped off a stray Pit that the shelter routinely euthanized them, just for the way they looked. She couldn’t understand that and reached out to another shelter that worked with Pitbulls in Texas, to see if they could help. It was too late for the Pittie at her local shelter, but in Texas, they’d just gotten in a dog left starving in a basement and Deirdre, not really knowing what she was getting into, said yes. When she met the dog at the airport and opened the crate, out bounded this big baby, who started covering her in kisses. It was love at first sight for both, and Carla Lou became Deirdre’s soul dog.
And, she inspired a movement.
“I was so scared that laws like Breed Specific Legislation would come to our front door and affect us personally,” Franklin recalled. “I couldn’t imagine what I’d just seen from the shelter experience, happening to anyone else. People love animals like they do. How could you tear someone’s family apart because a dog looks a particular way?”
The Pinups for Pitbulls aesthetic is so era specific, so well thought through. Little did I realize that Deirdre started as a model and the type of modeling she did fit perfectly with what would become her brand.
“At that time, I was doing a lot of pinup and boudoir modeling and performing in burlesque,” she described. “I loved dressing up, loved how those classic Hollywood pictures would look, I loved everything about that culture. Times were changing for women then. They were being empowered, having all of these new opportunities. And, Pitbulls were our war hero dogs, being received positively. I saw this opportunity. I know people who are photographers; who are costumers. I thought, why don’t I throw a little calendar together that could bring some awareness, and would showcase some fun dogs I was working with at the time. I thought it would be a one-off Kinko’s kind of thing. Little did I know, eleven years later, here we are.”
The calendars and brand became so popular, Deirdre went from being an advocate for her own dog in her own neighborhood, to being one on a national scale, almost overnight.
Today, Pinups for Pitbulls has about three quarters of a million followers on social media and have been instrumental in adopting out 1,000 Pitbulls last year alone. In June of this year, they were already up to 700 adopted Pitties. Their social media person tracks what happens to the dogs they post and collects all of the data.
As I write this, a family who are avid followers of PFPB’s, saw a posting of two bonded Pitties I rescued – Chip and Penny – and they want to adopt them. So, we are planning to fly to Alabama, where they live, to do a home visit and see if this could be a match. The power this brand has in connecting people who are Pitbull parents, who love these dogs and know them to be loving, lovable (and very large) lapdogs is awe inspiring.
The products are awesome!
Fast forward to 2013, when the calendar theme was a Norman Rockwell tribute. “This was one of my favorites,” Deirdre enthused. “All of them are office friendly, but they’re so sexy. We try to keep it as PG-13 as we can, so people can still hang it up in their kitchen. And, with this one, we re-enacted some of the things he did in his work – the girl on the beach or the baseball player.”
They also did an Agents of Adventure theme, which included a girl and dog on a beach with his paws on a TNT canister lever. You’ve got to see it! Deirdre told me that dog had been in a shelter for eight years and because of this shoot, got adopted by one of their volunteers.
Another session was with a deaf dog, who Deirdre said knew more commands than any dog she’s ever met. “This dog could go backwards and forwards and flatten out,” she described. “We had this dog in outer space with one of our pinups, and it was one of the coolest shots we’ve ever done.”
This year, the theme is Welcome to Darlingsville. “We created a town where all dogs are welcome,” Franklin shared. “So, we have a florist and people doing regular jobs but in a bright and poppy setting. We want people to get that these are just normal dogs who love hanging out with their people.”
Add tee shirts, hoodies, bags, home decor, these adorable dog tags and more to the mix, and there’s a plethora of fun, catchy and stand out items to raise money for the cause.
How Deirdre & PFPB’s is changing lives for dogs around the world…
Deirdre accomplished a lot, but she didn’t stop there. She knew she needed more to be the kind of advocate for these dogs she wanted to be. So, she went back to school and got her master’s degree is public policy. Now, she is equipped to challenge BSL laws around the country and the world, as PFPB’s has a global following.
And, she’s already done some amazing things. Remember that shelter she volunteered at as a kid? The one with the steadfast rule of euthanizing all Pitbull dogs without question? They asked Deirdre to lunch a few years ago and wondered why she always told this story about them. “It turns out the guy who started the shelter hated Pitbulls,” she discovered. “A guy on the board said to me, ‘I’m not comfortable with this; why are we doing this?’ I told him it doesn’t make any sense. Here’s the science; here’s the data. It took a little bit, but they lifted their Pitbull ban policy, and now take in and adopt out Pits.” There are others Deirdre has had a personal hand in turning around. Hers is the work of angels.
It’s easy to blame the dog and, no doubt, there are some scary dogs out there who have been exposed to lives of extreme cruelty and abuse. But, we know that almost all of the time, it’s not the dogs; it’s the people who ruin a dog. And sometimes, despite bad people, dogs still rise above. “I always say it’s the person at the end of the leash, if there’s a leash at all,” Deirdre said. With time, patience, love and positive training, many of the fearful dogs can come around.
Most Pitties are just mush balls, though! So please, when you meet a Pitbull type dog, don’t stereotype them. If you give each dog a chance, individually, I think you’ll find what we did; that Pitbulls as a type of dog, is more a family dog than anything else, who want to love you, get belly rubs and give you kisses. Heck, our rescued God child, Penny, will pull her 55 pounds of pure muscle into my lap, place her mitt-sized paws on my shoulders and nuzzle her cheek against mine. Now, that is about as gentle and loving as you can get.
What’s in the PFPB’s Goodie Basket & How Can I Win?
It’s pretty easy to participate. Just go onto AdoptaShelter.com, and sign up to their newsletter. That will enter you into the giveaway. Then, choose Pinups for Pitbulls as your charity to shop for and start shopping. The campaign ends on December 10th, 2016. The person who’s raised the most money for Pinups for Pitbulls will win the basket.
So, what’s inside?
- 1 8×10 photo signed by the Pit Boss, Shorty Rossi & Deirdre Franklin
- 1 2017 calendar signed by Deirdre
- 1 signed copy of Deirdre’s brand new book, The Pit Bull Life (releases on 11/22)
- 1 signed copy of Pit Bull by Bronwen Dickey
- 1 signed copy of Little Darling’s Pinups for Pitbulls: A Celebration of America’s Most Lovable Dogs
- 1 Pinups for Pitbulls’ organic farmers market bag
Total Retail Value: $150
Great information, a very fun calendar and other goodies from Pinups for Pitbulls, all when you Shop for a Pawsitive Cause! 🙂
All calendar photos are by Celeste Giuliano Photography for Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc.
For more info on Adoptashelter.com
For more info on Pinups for Pitbulls
Follow AdoptaShelter on Facebook
Follow PFPB’s on Facebook
An AdoptaShelter rescue story
OK, in the last post, I said I’d be sharing some AdoptaShelter rescue stories and it’s perfect, because November is also Family Stories Month. Did you know that? I didn’t, but it’s cool!
Here’s Woody’s story, as told by his dad:
“Rescue dogs are the greatest! When my Gus, who I rescued in January 2008 developed heart problems in August 2015, he seemed to lose interest in life and I hated to leave him alone while I worked. I decided to find another friend for Gus and me and we adopted 6 year old Woody in November 2015. Woody had been abandoned in a trailer park for at least six months and somehow survived until rescue volunteers were able to catch him. He was heart worm positive and after he was treated and fully vetted, he was adopted but returned to the rescue. I had my eye on him and he already had a piece of my heart. He and Gus have become like true brothers and Woody has given Gus a new lease on life. I am so grateful Woody came into our life – he rescued us!”
Do you have a Pitbull or know anyone who does? What’s your experience?