How the Richmond Pit Bull Project is fighting fear and bias

RICHMOND, Va. — Kelley Blanchard is on a mission to restore the image of America’s most bullied breed, the pit bull.

Determined to fight fear and bias, Blanchard launched The Richmond Pit Bull Project to bring attention to rescuing, rehabilitating, and loving the American pit bull terrier and dogs with bulldog lineage.

As part of her initiative, Blanchard began arranging professional photoshoots earlier this year for a self-published book and website that highlights pit bulls living in Greater Richmond.

“I started this project because I love my own two bully breeds and I wanted to do something that brought the pit bull community together—to show this love,” explains Blanchard.

Within the first week of her project Blanchard received over 100 submissions.

A local entrepreneur and supporter of the arts, Blanchard quickly enlisted the help of some of Richmond’s best photographers.

Kourtney Smithson of KSmithson Photography served as principal photographer.

In addition, James Loving, Peter Beliaev, and Mary Maier contributed their works.

Blanchard also enlisted the support of the local business community by securing sponsorship from hometown favorites like The Veil Brewing Co., High Point Barbershop & Shave Parlor, LaDiff, Studio Two Three, and Sacred Waters Holistic Spa & Boutique.

A percentage of the money from Blanchard’s book, titled 101 Pit Bulls, benefits Ring Dog Rescue, a nonprofit rescue group dedicated to pit bull-type dogs.

In addition to celebrating the beauty and gentleness of pit bulls, the new book also profiles small, local businesses and Richmond landmarks.

“The project is about providing an understanding for what the commonly used term ‘pit bull’ means in the eyes of owners, trainers, haters, heroes, and most importantly, Richmond,” says Blanchard.

This story was written by Stuart Spicer. Photos were taken by Kourtney Smithson and James Loving. It was originally published in Richmond GRID magazine.  

Launched in July of 2009, Greater Richmond Grid has profiled living, working and playing in the region.

With an eye on innovation, inspiration and individuals’ accomplishments in Richmond’s business, retail, arts and entertainment, the magazine and its website RichmondGrid.com strive to profile the area’s creative vibrancy and authentic character.