In the 21st century, dogs are more a part of their owner’s lives more than ever. So naturally if you own a dog, you start to get connected with social media groups related to dogs, inquiring about training sessions, and even volunteering at your local shelter to raise awareness so that millions of other dogs get to sleep at night feeling loved just as your dog does. But, as a pit bull owner, you have a breed that is deemed vicious, aggressive, and even “monster” like. As the owner of a pit bull, you don’t see any of that in your dog. You see a loyal companion who likes to give sloppy kisses and whose tail thumps against the floor, but how do you get other people to see what you see in your dog? How do you begin to change people’s views about these dogs?

Shine A Light ATL founder, Colleen Cruz, partner Dan, and Charlie Brown

This is exactly what Shine A Light ATL founder, Colleen Cruz, set out to do. Colleen did
not grow up with pit bull dogs nor did she really know anyone who even owned one. Her family adopted many Great Danes as a child which help to build her foundation for rescuing the misfortunate. It wasn’t until the investigation of Michal Vick and Bad News Kennels dog fighting rings that made her more determined than ever to help change the view of pit bull dogs. Her journey began by volunteering at the Best Friend’s Humane Society in Utah that housed many of the dogs from the Michael Vick case. It was there that she saw that despite their scars from their past, despite what they had to go through, they were forgiving individuals just waiting to be loved. When Colleen returned from her visit in Utah, she continued to volunteer at the local Fulton County Shelters in Georgia and decided to participate in Rebecca Corry’s Million Pibble March to end breed specific discrimination. It was during this time, that Shine A Light was created.

Shine A Light wasn’t just created to showcase pictures of dogs with their families but to
showcase pictures of pit bull dogs with their families. Through these pictures and descriptions of people’s pit bull dogs, Colleen hoped to help persuade the public’s view that these dogs are just like any other dogs. Colleen’s first struggle was to find volunteers for her session. What individual would be willing to set for a picture with their dog? She found her answer with the social media group, Atlanta Pitbull Parents, who was more than happy to participate because as a pit bull parent, you’re all about raising awareness. Any opportunity you get to raise awareness of something that you’re compassionate about is something that you do not pass by which is exactly why Colleen was excited when Life Line Animal Project reached out to her about showcasing Shine A Light on their pit bull awareness page. This meant that if more individuals saw her pictures, read their stories, that there might be a chance of more pit bull dogs being adopted or at least an individual pondering the thought, “Are pit bulls really just like any other dog?”.

Shine A Light is a project that Colleen is very compassionate about, and when she is not
working on projects for Shine A Light, she is working as a Senior Director for a Software
company or you can find her and her partner, Dan, hanging out with their English Mastiff, Zsu Zsu and their pit mix, Charlie Brown.

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This post was written by Samantha. Samantha and her husband now live in Georgia after spending some time in San Diego. She has grown up rescuing all types of animals including horses, goats, ducks, and many more. She has a passion for rescue and hopes to become more involved with the community to raise awareness. When she is not at her day job she is with her dogs hiking and working on ideas to open her own shop. You can follow her dogs on instagram at @chevyandtank. 

August 24, 2017 by CJ Miyake