Cassie Douglas ’18 wanted to make a difference in the world by using her talents as a writer.
With the help of her partner and a nonprofit, she’s making a difference for American Pit Bull Terriers in Minnesota through a children’s book the team published late last year, called “A Chance to Rescue.”
Back in 2020 Douglas reached out to a rescue shelter for Pit Bulls in Minneapolis named Save-A-Bull to see if her writing could help.
The nonprofit was overjoyed to get the request.
“I was completely blown away,” Jolene Coleman, an employee at Save-A-Bull Rescue said.
The organization had been hit hard from not hosting fundraisers during the pandemic and was in desperate need to replace funds that were lost.
“The idea of writing a children’s book was initially one of those far-fetched ideas that we would explore making it happen,” Coleman said.
With Douglas as the author and her WSU alum fiancé Zach Spanton ’17 as the illustrator, their book was published in December 2020, has sold more than 200 copies, and has raised $670 to go directly towards the organization.
“I do not believe this idea would have happened had it not been for Cassie reaching out to inquire about assisting with a writing opportunity,” Coleman said. “And the fact that Zach was a talented illustrator was a bonus.”
The story highlights a Pit Bull’s journey from being a stray living on the streets to being rescued by a local organization and later adopted by a loving home. More importantly, the book directly confronts stereotypes that have been placed on Pit Bulls as being aggressive, dangerous, and having a negative temperament.
When writing the story, it was important to both Douglas and Spanton to debunk the negative stereotypes and raise awareness on the importance of adopting.
The book also hit on a passion for Douglas and Spanton. The couple already own two cats and look forward to welcoming other animals, including a Pit Bull, into their home. Previous to the book, Spanton had experience with understanding the stereotypes and negative restrictions owners of Pit Bulls are faced with.
“(My brother) moved from California to Wisconsin and typically you would fly a pet in a kennel, but they don’t allow Pit Bulls (on the plane),” Spanton said. “He had to have his dog delivered to him through a truck shipping company that transports pets.”
As for the organization, the book is making a difference in the Minneapolis community.
“We were able to raise money that is desperately needed so we can continue to not only provide the basics of food and supplies for foster dogs but also much-needed vetting care,” said Lorelei Noire, a Save-A-Bull Rescue employee and the book’s project manager.
It also inspired and validated that the organization was doing great work.
“Cassie and Zach believed in what we do as a rescue and that was important,” Noire said. “The actual production of the book, especially in this time of COVID where philanthropy is low, was even more generous.”
A number of books were put into “free” library stands around Minneapolis as a way to spread the word about the Save-a-Bull Rescue organization. The organization also used the book as thank-you gifts to those who donated to a recent campaign for a Pit Bull going through heartworm treatment.
“The overall goal is to change perceptions of Pit Bull type dogs and hopefully raise another generation of kids and people who are opting to rescue animals when trying to get a pet.”
From Douglas and Spanton’s side, there has also been a lot of positive feedback. Family and friends have said the story tugged at their heart strings.
Douglas and Spanton are thankful to have a hand — or paw — in changing the perception of Pit Bulls.
“The overall goal is to change perceptions of Pit Bull type dogs and hopefully raise another generation of kids and people who are opting to rescue animals when trying to get a pet,” Spanton said.
If you are interested, “A Chance to Rescue” is available for purchase through Save-a-Bull Rescue of Minnesota.