In the Rescue Spotlight this month, we feature one of the most recognizable and squishiest breeds - the bulldog! I love every dog I meet and immediately want to become best friends with them, but there is something about a bulldog that just pulls those extra heart strings and I can’t resist their jiggly butts and Snuffleupagus snorts. Bullies 2 The Rescue, a Carolina-based organization that finds forever homes for English and French bulldogs, feels the same way!
B2TR was founded by Director Courtney Vaux after she found out about a broker who was importing bulldogs under terrible circumstances resulting in mistreatment and even death. Courtney took action by following up on complaints and gathering evidence on these unethical “bully brokers” and eventually was able to shut down the organization. Going through that experience opened her eyes as to how many bulldogs were in need of help and she created Bullies 2 The Rescue to address this need. Since its inception in 2011, over 400 English and French bulldogs have been rescued!
I spoke with Kristina Contreras, a bulldog mom herself, about her involvement in this rescue organization. She and her husband relocated to the Lowcountry in 2016 and wanted to get involved in some type of community efforts. Kristina had met Courtney years ago through her work in fundraising and reached out to see if any help was needed in the bulldog rescue community. Courtney responded with a resounding yes, and Kristina and her husband have been involved ever since. “That was the beginning of our efforts here in the Low Country. We have since in a year’s time fostered 21 bulldogs, completed home visits, fundraising efforts and really focus[ed] on growing our foster network and education efforts, because the need is here!” Kristina told me that the bulldog is now a very popular breed in Charleston. Unfortunately with that comes things like irresponsible backyard breeders and people who don’t know how to care for this unique and wonderful breed, resulting in sickness and even death.
Kristina said that the biggest thing people need to understand about bulldogs is that they are a high maintenance breed, health-wise. Much of this has to do with their characteristic squishy faces. “Bulldogs are a brachycephalic breed...and this makes them very susceptible to breathing problems. Charleston’s summers are brutal with the heat and bulldogs are at a high risk for heat stroke.” She says that it’s important to keep bulldogs inside and cool on days like that. They are also at high risk for having allergies. “It’s important that they are kept on a grain-free, limited ingredient diet and [the] majority need diets that do not contain anything with wings (chicken, duck, turkey).” Other issues may include eye health, possible hip and elbow problems and fungal and yeast issues if their wrinkles are not frequently cleaned. That being said, there are even more reasons why bulldogs are amazing and make great companions. Kristina told me that bulldogs are kind of like the city of Charleston - very laid back! “They have just as much personality on the inside as displayed in the wrinkly, floppy jowls and underbites exterior.” She says that one of her favorite things they do is something called Zoomies. “It’s a real thing!”, Kristina says. “Want a laugh, put that in your YouTube search...they really are stout, snorting goofballs.” Another plus, for the right owner, is that bulldogs don’t require lots of exercise. That doesn’t mean they can’t move, though! “What really cracks my husband and I up is dinner time. At our house, all is quiet and full of snoring bulldogs until the minute they hear the food container open! They run [to us] with the force of racing horses!”
I asked Kristina if she had a favorite rescue story to tell us and she said one definitely sticks out in her mind - the story of her foster-failure, Jasmine (now Vivian.) Jasmine was surrendered by an owner who originally purchased her off CraigsList. The woman saw right away what terrible condition Jasmine was in and called B2TR in for help. Kristina remembers the first time she saw Jasmine, “I almost cried right then and there. Her entire neck was bare from a large and very infected hot spot. She had green goop covering her eyes, also cherry eyes. Her fur was missing on both right and left side flanks. It was very obvious she was used to breed many litters of puppies.” After many vet visits and even more sleepless nights, Jasmine started to recover from her injuries and began to trust humans again. However, they were all faced with another setback when Jasmine’s vet called and said they had found mammary tumors. “In my mind, I thought, no way can she come this far and have cancer.” Thankfully, along with the help of an amazing veterinarian in North Carolina the tumors were removed and Jasmine is cancer free! Kristina told me “I held that little girl close after picking her up [from her surgery]...I was upset thinking how she was used, abused and could have lost her life. It made me want to be stronger and fight harder for all the Jasmine’s out there.”
If this sounds like an organization you would like to become involved with, there are several ways to help! B2TR currently has a huge need for foster homes. This involves providing a temporary loving home for a bulldog while they are evaluated and, if necessary, brought back to good health. The rescue is also looking for event volunteers. Kristina told me that with the growing popularity of the breed in Charleston, they continuously need lots of local support - help with fundraising efforts, promoting the rescue and educating the public on the breed.
Please visit their website at www.bullies2therescue.com to learn more about adopting, fostering, hosting a fundraiser or donating. You can also check their Facebook pages, Bullies 2 the Rescue and Bullies 2 the Rescue Adopt-a-bulls, for information about their upcoming events, fundraisers and adoptable bullies.
As a former bulldog mom (R.I.P. sweet Murphy), I can attest to all the joy, laughs and the insane amount of gas these dogs will bring into your life. They are loving, protective and loyal companions who will be there for you through all the Netflix marathons, porch sittin’ and road trips of life. By supporting this wonderful organization, you will ensure the future happiness of many bullies to come. :)
Written by Julie Murray, Rescue Spotlight Writer