You’ve seen it before – people crossing the street when they see a pit bull on a walk, even self-proclaimed dog lovers putting their pups on leashes when they see a pit bull come to the park – pitties have a bad rap, but Jason Flatt is set on changing the public’s opinion and giving pit bulls a chance.
Jason Flatt started rescuing strays at a young age. As his mother puts it, he would “bring home strays ever since he could walk.” However, it wasn’t until 2005 when Flatt’s life changed drastically that he started getting serious about rescuing strays. His brother had passed away that year, sending him into a deep depression. During this same time, he crossed paths with a 5-week-old flea-infested pit bull named Angelo who desperately needed Flatt’s help, and after taking the pup in and nursing him back to health, Flatt found that he’d snapped out of his depression.
From that moment on, he jumped head first into impacting change for pit bulls. Flatt left the financial sector where he’d been a Wall Street trader for twenty years and started the pit bull rescue Friends to the Forlorn.
“Forty years ago, people didn’t look at pit bulls the way they do today,” he reflects, “The negative stigma wasn’t there.” Ever since the media started to overhype news stories about the actions of a small percentage of pit bulls, the breed has not stood a chance.
“1 out of 800 pit bulls make it out of the pounds alive,” Flatt tells us, “Those odds are horrible. Trying to educate people who have already judged the breed based on a few dogs’ actions, who already have their minds made up, who view pit bulls as monsters before they’ve had any personal experience with them – that’s the biggest challenge we face in our work.”
Along with rescuing pit bulls in need of permanent homes and medical attention, Flatt and his team also do remarkable work with their new project, Tails In the Hood. They go to inner city neighborhoods to combat overpopulation and educate residents about the importance of spaying and neutering, as well as putting up fences to improve the quality of life of pit bulls, keeping them from being chained up for hours at a time.
Flatt’s enthusiasm and passion for the literal underdog is both inspiring and infectious – “The rewards are priceless. Being able to take in pit bulls from bad situations, then watch them overcome their trauma and grow into beautiful, loving creatures, and then to see their new families get to experience the love of a pit bull – that is incredible. There’s good and bad in every breed – if people open their minds to a pit bull, they’ll find themselves opening up their hearts and homes to the breed as well.”
To check out more of Jason Flatt and Friends to the Forlorn’s amazing work, check out their website as well as their Facebook page (and don’t miss out on the adorable pit bull videos they have on their YouTube page).