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March 31, 2011


Janice Akers

I came to volunteer at the SPCA through the Running Buddies program @4 years ago. I, sadly, admit I had heard all the negatives of pit bulls and yet had never been around them growing up. I was hesistant to run one or interact. Wow, I did a 360. My first pittie was Bishop at the Richmond SPCA. Bishop and I had a strong bond and spent a lot of time together running up to 3-4 days a week. He showed me the love and loyalty that embraces the pit bull disposition- a love that I carry for the breed now. The love from Bishop encouraged me to join the Green Team and work with this breed exclusively in the shelter. So many I have fallen in love with and worked with: Barclay, Norris, Barnabus, Marsha, Olive, Carl, Indiana, Apollo and my sweet girl Lenora Jean just to name a few. It warms my heart to get the announcement that one of your pitties found their forever home. I am delighted to say that during my time with Running Buddies I have encouraged some of our folks to try taking a pit bull out for a walk or jog and the results are wonderful- new friendships formed and barriers brought down. Great work Rochmond SPCA on getting more information out on this wonderful breed!

Kelsey Cowger

I never believed that there was anything inherently negative about pit bulls as a breed, but I did think that "it was all in how you raised them" and thus I wasn't at all sure about living with a pittie who came with an unknown history. What if life had treated the dog unkindly? Would they ever be able to forgive people? Would they be that media-hyped dangerous dog? Would they want to eat my cats? Because of this, when I went to the shelter to get my first dog, I passed by many sweet, soft-eyed blocky-headed dogs because I couldn't shake my fear of their unknown past.

When I was ready for a second dog, however, the dog that I fell in love with was a sweet, goofy little pit mix who leapt into my lap, snorting and wiggling, the minute I entered her kennel at the shelter. I learned that the shelter employees did know a lot about this little girl's past and none of it was good: she was the victim of a cruelty bust that had left her with a severely injured front leg (which was ultimately amputated). This little dog had no reason at all to trust people, and yet she approached every new person she met with joy and a big silly grin. When I decided to bring her home, I went through all the normal precautions you'd go through when introducing any new dog (of any breed) to the family--she was cat-tested, she met my dog, we had a trial period to be certain that everything could work--and when she passed with flying colors, she became my beloved new family member. Today, she does dog sports at the SPCA, cuddles with my kittens and plays with my other dog at home and falls asleep curled up on the pillow next to me every night. She is totally unscarred by her terrible past: she's a sweet, happy, funny dog who makes my life immeasurably brighter every day.

I write this because I have heard time and time again that you shouldn't trust a bully breed dog unless you've raised him from a puppy, and I want to make it clear that I had the complete opposite experience. Pit bulls are simply dogs with their own likes, dislikes and personalities, just like any other dog, and it is unfair and unkind to stereotype them based on their breed. There is one thing that I will say has been true of every pit I've ever met: they are all great forgivers.

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