“Stepping Up to Serve” tells the stories of people in Mississippi who are going the extra mile to give back to their community through non-profits, acts of service, or other demonstrations of compassion. This segment is made possible by:
“Stepping Up to Serve” – Shaw Pit Bull Rescue
This year, Shaw Pit Bull Rescue is celebrating a full 10 years in operation.
10 years of making a difference in the lives of a dog breed that has fallen prey to irresponsible dog ownership: the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT).
In fact, the APBT was traditionally bred to be a performance working dog with a steady temperament and low aggression towards humans.
They are athletic, affectionate, and happy dogs; but still, today, some people see them as disposable objects.
For the past decade, Aimee and Kenneth Shaw, a husband-and-wife dog-rescuing team, have dedicated all their extra time and resources to the rehabilitation of abused, abandoned, and neglected pit bulls.
Shaw Pit Bull Rescue (Shaw PBR) is located in Columbus but has taken in pit bulls from all over the country.
Aimee started Shaw PBR ten years ago when their local humane society received an animal abuse case where fourteen pit bulls were rescued from an abusive situation – but with nowhere to go, the dogs had to be euthanized.
After hearing the news, Aimee told her husband, “We could rehabilitate one or two dogs at a time. We could do that.”
“The first call we got was for six dogs.” Aimee laughed at the end of the sentence, knowing now that those six dogs were only the beginning of their journey.
Once a pit bull has been picked up by Shaw PBR, the dog is there to stay until a suitable adopter shows up.
Shaw PBR takes adoptions very seriously and screens every applicant before releasing a dog to their ownership.
“They’ve already been failed by somebody else, and we won’t put them in a situation where they’ll be failed again,” said Aimee.
“Once we commit to them, we’re committed. We won’t give up on them,” Kenneth added.
Currently the rescue has 27 dogs, but they have taken in up to 69 dogs in the past.
Shaw PBR is able provide necessary medical and physical treatments for the new arrivals with the help of the community.
“Our supporters are wonderful. They’ll pull together to cover the cost. It’s really rare that we come out of pocket for anything these days,” says Aimee.
Every intake is carefully evaluated upon arrival. And, sometimes, there are lives on the line.
One dog named Nakoa’s journey was described as “going from Death’s Door to Cloud 9.”
Nakoa came to Shaw PBR after he was found laying in a ditch and presumed dead. A stranger saw him from her car, and as she got closer realized that the bony gray pit bull was somehow still breathing.
Aimee and Kenneth were called to come save the dog, and they decided they’d do everything they could do give him a second chance.
With a little extra care and a lot of extra love, Nakoa became a success-story and went on to stay at the rescue for over a year before being adopted to a family that uses him as a couch potato.
(Photos 1-3: Nakoa when he was found on the side of the road; Photo 4: Nakoa after he was taken in and rehabbed at Shaw PBR)
Nakoa is now “fat, and happy and worthless,” according to Kenneth. “He has kids as friends and is absolutely spoiled. His pit bull grin just goes over his whole face.”
In 2021, Shaw PBR received over 715 calls for help. This included 345 owner surrender requests; 166 transfer requests; 146 stray sighting; 18 welfare calls, 1 abandoned call; and 13 requests for them to take other animals.
They had 5 adoptions, 9 intakes, and 1 return for the year; and a 100% life saving percentage.
But great work like this isn’t possible with only two people.
Shaw Pit Bull Rescue has a team that works together to make sure the every rescue that walks through their door is well taken care of.
Lesley Bailey and Rhonda Ryland are the daily employees that keep the operation going.
From cleaning kennels and serving meals, to training the dogs and administering shots – these two are happy to do whatever is needed at Shaw PBR.
“If I could prop up a bed in the kennel next to one of our dogs out there, I’m telling you, I would lay out there and just live here with them,” said Lesley. “It’s so peaceful for your soul. And just seeing the look on their face when you walk up – it makes your day.”
Shaw PBR has recently moved to a larger facility with more kennels, greener grass, and even a covered play yard.
One of their goals is to use the new facility to host workshops and Q&A sessions for their community in an effort to educate about pit bulls in general, provide basic dog care and training, teach about general handling, walking on a leash, trimming nails, or how to properly approach a strange dog.
When we asked Aimee what the best way the community could help, she matter-of-factly replied:
“Spay and neuter.”
There are nearly 70 million stray cats and dogs in the U.S. Spaying and neutering is the best thing a pet owner can do to help reduce the overpopulation of animal shelters and rescues.
There are clearly still a lot of other dogs out there that need Shaw PBR, but there are only so many they can take in without compromising the care of the current residents.
But you can help.
Aimee and Kenneth are celebrating 34 years of marriage and 10 years since opening Shaw PBR this year; please help us wish them a Happy Anniversary by donating to Shaw PBR, purchasing a Shaw PBR shirt, or voting for them to win a $5,000 grant from CUDDLY.
And please, spay and neuter your pets.
(More photos of Shaw Pit Bull Rescue; Photo credit: Shaw Pit Bull Rescue)