Many of us have wished, or searched, for a way to spend our waking hours that aligns more closely with the things (and animals) that we hold dear. But it can be hard to find a job, or even side hustle, that truly speaks to our passions.
One couple has figured out a way to crack this code — by bringing together animal rescue and music.
Specifically, Mike and Shara D’Angelo, the founders of the nonprofit Pit Bulls and Jams, are on a mission to de-stigmatize the image of pit bulls, and to promote adoption and rescue. They do this through fundraisers — all based on carefully-selected artists and musical performances.
They intend to “end pit bull stereotypes one note at a time,” and their next event is in Brooklyn on June 5th.
This event will be the fifth in their series of fundraisers, and each has benefited a different rescue group. Pit Bulls and Jams specifically supports groups that promote adoption of “bully breeds.”
When asked why they chose to focus on pit bulls, co-founder Shara D’Angelo explained, “I grew up with American Pit Bull Terriers and have always loved them, as well as all bully breeds. They get such a bad rap and we truly feel that the more advocacy and support these ‘pit bull type’ dogs have, the better.”
She goes on to say:
“We believe that behavior evaluations, training, education and advocacy are the key to helping end the stigma…We will continue to fight the good fight to prove what loyal and loving companions these pit bull type dogs can be.”
For Sunday’s fundraiser, the rescue groups that will benefit are Mr. Bones & Co. and Rescue the Runway and All Breed Rescue Vermont.
Mr. Bones & Co. has used some unique fundraising strategies, such as strutting adoptable dogs down a runway, so it’s fitting that they are part of this event, which is a unique marriage of passions.
The two rescue organizations will also bring adoptable dogs to the event, and attendees will have a chance to meet (and maybe even smooch) them.
For music lovers, though, the pups will be only half the fun.
The event will feature performances from several New York-based musicians, including Anna Rose, Doobie of Shinobi Ninja, and Circadian Clock.
PupJournal asked Pit Bulls and Jams co-founder Mike D’Angelo about the origin of the idea to pair music and animal rescue. According to D’Angelo, “Music has always been a huge part of my life. I’ve played a ton of shows and work in the music industry.” Over the years, he’s noticed a number of problems faced by local bands, and he designs Pit Bulls & Jams events to address some of those issues.
D’Angelo tries to “do things like book bands and artists that might not typically ever play together…on the same bill, in hopes that they form new relationships with other artists…[and] grow their fan base.”
All of the bands that perform at Pit Bulls and Jams fundraisers do so for free, so the D’Angelos have also begun to hold showcases to raise money for the bands — in between fundraisers for pit bulls.
So, how is it that the Pit Bulls and Jams founders are able to pull together these performances, represent maligned pups, and raise money for other nonprofit organizations — all in their spare time?
Shara D’Angelo explained that there’s no easy answer: “I’m not going to lie, there are days where it can be a little overwhelming trying to keep up…after a long day at work.
“We are lucky…that we are both project managers in our everyday jobs. I think that helps to create organized chaos when planning one of our events. We are passionate about this organization, so we both put in the time to really make our ideas come to fruition.
“There is nothing better than spreading the word about the work that these amazing rescues do as well as promoting local artists and local businesses all at the same time.”
“We are so grateful to the communities, rescue organizations, local artists and local businesses who have welcomed our organization with open arms. We look forward to continuing to grow and raise funds for these fantastic people and dogs.”
For a preview of Sunday’s event, check out this video from “Pittiepalooza,” the third fundraiser in their series:
Tickets to Sunday’s event are available at the door. If you can’t make it, but want to support the cause, you can donate or purchase PBJ gear.
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Header images via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) and Pit Bulls and Jams