By Jarissa Aquinde, Positively Woof Rescue and Adoption Story Editor
Nancy Vlahos is the owner of The Pit Bull Princess. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, two Pit Bulls and their cat, Bridget. Until she was 30 years old, she considered herself a “cat person” and never owned a dog, but that all changed the day she saw Lexi in a local shelter. Lexi changed Nancy’s life in so many ways and motivated her to volunteer to help Pit Bulls, educate the public about Pit Bull type dogs and inspired her to start her business, The Pit Bull Princess. Nancy had Lexi for ten wonderful years, and sadly lost her to cancer in 2014.Nancy is the proud parent of two pit bulls, Doyle and Bruno. Both started out as foster dogs for Out of the Pits, and quickly became foster fails. Although she did not get them at the same time, they are both the same age – ten years old. Nancy adopted Doyle first. He was only eight months when she started fostering him. He is an adorable, silly boy. She took in Bruno two years later, and at the time, he was three years old. Bruno has a great disposition and Nancy saw it right away. She took him to training classes and he quickly earned his ATT, CGC and TDI titles (ATT = American Temperament Test, CGC = Canine Good Citizen, TDI = Therapy Dogs International). Doyle and Bruno are best friends and get along great with each other and with their feline sister, Bridget.
DOYLE AND BRUNO
BRUNO AND BRIDGET
Nancy founded The Pit Bull Princess because she was a frustrated consumer – when shopping for dog breed merchandise, she found that stores either did not carry Pit Bull products, or if they did, the items they sold portrayed ferocious looking, cropped ear pit bulls in spiked collars. That was not the type of Pit Bull she knew and loved. Nancy wanted to open a store that promoted an image of Pit Bulls as happy, loving, family pets. Lexi was a bit of a Diva, so she was the inspiration for the name, The Pit Bull Princess.
LEXI WITH NANCY’S OTHER DOG, MILES, WHO ALSO CROSSED THE RAINBOW BRIDGE
Nancy knows that Pit Bulls get the short end of the stick in so many ways: dog fighting, over breeding, cruelty and neglect, misrepresentation by the media, and legislative breed bans. It is Nancy’s belief that the best way to improve their lives is primarily through education at all levels, from kindergarten to senior citizens. Nancy and Bruno, who is a certified Therapy Dog. visit schools to teach children about responsible pet ownership, dog safety and misconceptions about Pit Bull type dogs. Nancy also manages the Out of the Pits low cost Pit Bull Spay-Neuter (Fix-A-Bull) program in her local community.
The Pit Bull Princess donates a portion of net profit to pit bull rescues and animal shelters around the country. They do this because Pit Bulls desperately need help to undo the damage that has been done to them by humans, and they try to help in any way we can. They do what they can to help local rescues and shelters. For example, The Regional Animal Shelter (RAS) is a small, no-kill animal shelter located in Gloversville, NY. It is run entirely by volunteers and funded by donations. Their motto is “The Small Shelter with a Big Heart” and it could not be more true. Nancy has never met a more compassionate and dedicated group of volunteers as she has at the RAS.
The Pit Bull Princess’ target market is Pit Bull lovers. Some people, such as shelter workers, love Pit Bulls, and for various reasons cannot own one, but still love and support the breed. They carry products that are useful, beautiful, creative, can help dogs get adopted or in some way, help organizations raise money. Their products are well made and items that are not readily available elsewhere. Many of their items did not exist in the marketplace before and were custom made. Nancy would look for a particular product in the Pit Bull breed, and if it was not available, she had it made as their own exclusive item – such as their Pit Bull cookie cutters and chocolate molds. Nancy herself makes some of the products by hand, such as custom jewelry, ornaments, and hand painted signs, just to name a few.
What began a couple of years ago at Christmastime has now become a Pit Bull Princess Holiday tradition. Nancy loads up her car with stuffed Kongs, dog food, dog toys, blankets, collars, leashes, beds, cleaning supplies, etc. and delivers them to the shelter on Christmas Day. She spends the day at the shelter, walking and playing with the dogs, and leaves each tired out pup with a fluffy blanket and a stuffed Kong to keep them busy with after everyone has left.
Nancy wants people to know that Pit Bulls are no different from any other type of dog. All dogs are individuals and they are a product of their genetics, environment and training. The owners of dogs are the ones responsible for how their dog behaves. Many of the nicest, sweetest, friendliest most loving dogs out there are Pit Bulls. She knows from experience!
NANCY’S FOSTER DOG, POLAND, WHO WAS RESCUED BY SNARR NORTHEAST
The response to The Pit Bull Princess and their products has been overwhelmingly positive. Customers love that they can find gifts and merchandise that celebrate pit bulls as happy, silly, loving family pets!