LEWISTON— Two organizations have devoted themselves to fostering and finding forever homes for pit bulls throughout Maine.

Katie Liberty and one of her shelter dogs. Blessed be the Bullies photo

Blessed be the Bullies and Pulled from the Pits are both run by dog owners who seek to address the stigma that surrounds pit bulls.

The organizations’ work encompasses all breeds, but focuses on being liaisons for shelters that cannot place pit bulls that are in their care.

“I do whatever needs to be done to successfully rehome dogs.” said Katie Liberty, founder of Blessed be the Bullies, who works alongside Katie Powers, the vice president and dog trainer, and Jan Clark, who handles the administrative side of the Lewiston-based organization.

“We work with the ‘bully breeds’ or ‘blockheads’ — pit bulls, bulldogs, boxers, mastiffs, Rottweilers — because they are the most maligned and discriminated against,” said Kelly Ouellette, who founded Pulled from the Pits after her experiences working in the veterinary field.

Ouellette started her shelter in 2019, based at her home in Livermore Falls.


“We give them a voice,” Ouellette said. “We save all breeds; however, we don’t discriminate. If they are a dog, we’ll try to save them,”

Since its inception in 2020, Blessed be the Bullies has found homes for more than 250 dogs, promoting heavily through the organization’s Facebook page and community outreach events, and connecting with future volunteers and adopters, while dispelling what the group’s members say are misconceptions that demonize pit bulls.

Their behavior is 100% environmental. They are loyal to a fault, which means they will be mean if taught to be mean,” Ouellette said. “They are the most loving dogs when they are surrounded by love. Like any dog, they react to the way they are treated. Their past traumas may affect them, but it doesn’t have to define them.”

Pit bulls are considered to be any type of dog that descended from bulldogs or terriers, such as American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American bullies.

According to Pawsome Advice, an online pet care resource, pit bull mixes make up about 6% — 4.5 million — of the U.S. dog population, 40% of which are euthanized at shelters each year.

Pit bulls are also abused more than any other dog breed, according to experts.


“The stigma that follows pit bulls is why I am so committed to them,” Ouellette said. “I do my best to change peoples perception of them. We work with German shepherds and Great Danes, as well,” Ouellette said.

Kelly Ouellette, founder of Pulled from the Pits, with one of her rescue dogs from the South. Pulled from the Pits photo

Ouellette’s organization brings dogs primarily from Louisiana and Mississippi, providing pet owners with support, from training their dogs to spaying and neutering services. The majority of work these days, Ouellette said, is assisting owners of COVID-19 pandemic dogs with separation anxiety brought on by owners’ return the workplace.

“When an adopter sends me videos or pictures telling me how wonderful t the dog is and how great they’re fitting in, and seeing their faces when they pick up the dog, have to be the most rewarding parts of the job for me,” Ouellette said.

Before the dogs are brought into the state, owners must wait two months on average before they can receive their puppy, while the dogs are checked for vaccines and heartworm, in compliance with Maine regulations.

Although Ouellette’s energy is primarily devoted to running the shelter, she continues to work full time in the veterinary field at Medical Urgent Care in Portland, although the responsibility to the shelter is nonstop.

“Rescue is 24/7. It doesn’t matter if you’re sleeping, your phone never stops ringing and you always have messages that people are always wanting to surrender dogs,” Ouellette said. “Rescues down south are always wanting you to pull their dogs because they’re running out of space to hold them. It’s definitely exhausting to work and run a shelter full time.”

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