Cheryl Price of Beach Shop Bar & Grill not only owns five bulldogs, but also helps rescue them throughout eastern North Carolina.
If you ask Beach Shop Bar & Grill owner Cheryl Price how she feels about bulldogs, she’ll tell you they’re like potato chips — you simply can’t have only one. Currently the owner of five bulldogs (three English and two French), Price has spent the last four years as a lead volunteer with the nonprofit organization Bullies 2 the Rescue (B2TR). Affectionately known as the “Crazy Bulldog Lady” by her friends and employees, Price shares her passion for helping rescued bulldogs find new homes with everyone around her.
Known as a high-maintenance breed, English bulldogs are subject to a variety of health issues, many of which are the result of decades of heavy inbreeding. With skin issues caused by excessive wrinkles and chronic breathing problems resulting from their flattened, brachycephalic faces and narrow nostrils, these dogs tend to be too much of a responsibility for many owners to bear.
“I’ve always had bulldogs,” Price says. “Over the years they seem to have fallen in my lap from people giving me dogs they could no longer maintain. So when a couple from Charlotte who have a house on the island came into the restaurant one day and told me about Bullies 2 the Rescue, I knew I wanted to get involved.”
Headquartered in Charlotte, B2TR covers the Carolinas, Virginia, Alabama and Maryland. Price volunteers throughout eastern North Carolina, conducting application interviews, home visits, shelter pulls, dog transports and local fundraisers. Dogs come in from many different places and are placed with a foster family in which they are thoroughly assessed and rehabilitated before being put up for adoption.
“When we hear of a bulldog in a shelter, we try to get them out of there as quickly as possible because it’s a very scary place,” Price says. “When breeders retire their dogs, sometimes they’ll surrender them to us. We just want to make sure these dogs live out their golden years with the best life possible.”
Price says there are many reasons for owner surrender, including lifestyle changes, lack of time and attention and, most commonly, expensive medical needs. When dogs enter the rescue, she and the rest of the organization’s volunteers use better nutrition as a means of addressing the health issues plaguing each dog.
“Our founder and director, Courtney Vaux, owns an all-natural pet food store outside of Charlotte, and what we’ve learned is that if you feed them better food, you’ll have a healthier dog,” Price says. “Our mission is to heal through the gut, because food is the first medicine. Other rescues might feed what’s donated or what they can afford, but we use nutrition as our first defense for a healthier life.”
Last year B2TR took in a total of 219 dogs, adopted out 180 of them and accrued $262,000 in medical bills. Locally, Price has found homes in the area for more than 15 bulldogs. B2TR also works closely with directors of other bully rescues across the country, in some cases referring dogs to them when needed.
“My brother-in-law, sister and nephew are all pilots, and they volunteer for an organization called Pilots N Paws,” Price says. “It’s an organization where people with their own private aircrafts will transport animals to another rescue or their new forever home. All of these networks and rescues work together, and it’s heartwarming.”
Price holds three fundraisers a year on Topsail Beach in support of the rescue. On Cinco de Mayo and New Year’s Day, Beach Shop & Grill offers a fundraising lunch in which servers volunteer to work, vendors donate all food and 100 percent of proceeds go to the rescue. In the summertime, the restaurant holds a fundraising raffle for a high-ticket item, such as a scooter. Thanks to community support, last summer’s raffle raised more than $16,000.
“My husband, Jeff, and I have always believed in corporate social responsibility and giving back,” Price says. “The restaurant is such a wonderful vehicle for spreading the word of ‘adopt, don’t shop.’ Most people don’t know there are breed-specific rescues out there for any breed, even really expensive ones like French and English bulldogs.”
Those interested in finding out more about adopting a bulldog can fill out an online application through the rescue’s website. Through a subsequent telephone interview and home visit, Price and other volunteers can assess each family’s dynamic and discuss important factors regarding nutrition, schedules and transitioning a dog into the family successfully. This process helps the rescue find and place the right dog in the right home. B2TR stays connected to each family throughout the entire adoption process and beyond, offering a support system and inviting them to become a part of the B2TR family.
“I tell people during the interviews that owning a bulldog is like having a toddler that never grows up,” Price says. “Bulldogs are so full of love and personality. They make people laugh, and I think that’s why people fall in love with them. If I could save them all, I certainly would.”
For more information, visit bullies2therescue.com.