By Andres Castro
Student, Julia Catalano and her boyfriend take a drive to the Brookhaven Animal Shelter. They are excited to choose their new pet or as some may call it their new family member. Her boyfriend knows the exact dog breed he wants but Julia is a little hesitant. He is looking for a pit-bull puppy.
“I was nervous to get a pit-bull because I’ve heard they are aggressive but my boyfriend has had them before,” Catalano said.
The Animal Attendant walks them to the backroom where they find three adorable puppies playing in an open kennel. The ground is covered in bedding, like the bedding that goes in a hamster cage. One puppy is all black from head to toe, the other one is black but with a white strip going down her chest and stomach, and last but not least is the third puppy. Who is chocolate brown with two white front paws, as if she dipped them in paint, and eyes a beautiful changing green.
“I chose her because she just stood out, she was so cute and I think her color was so unique,” Catalano said.
They adopted the chocolate brown puppy, now named Gia.
The pit-bull’s reputation is a reputation that is extremely controversial. Once considered America’s darlings are now being banned from many communities.
“Pit-bulls are misunderstood because of what humans have done to them in their past. They train them to fight, be watchdogs, and protect stash houses,”New York Bully Crew Owner, Craig Fiods said.
NY Bully Crew is non-profit rescue organization, founded in 2010, that specializes in rescuing Pit-bulls.
“We rescue, rehabilitate, train, and adopt out. Since 2010, we have had over 500 dogs adopted out,” Fiods said.
Pit-bulls are largely known for being used as fighting dogs due to their strength, stamina, and protective nature. Even on the news, many stories have come up about pit-bulls attacking other animals and even people.
“People train pit-bulls as puppies to be aggressive, they are trained to tolerate pain and their self-defense is attack,” English Professor and NY Bully Crew rescuer, Maria Kranidis said.
One of Kranidis’ first encounter with a pit-bull was not a good one. She was walking her two dogs, a Jack Russell Terrier and a Doberman, when a loose pit-bull ran at them and went for her Jack Russell. She then picked up her Jack Russell to keep it away from the pit-bull. Kranidis fought off the pit-bull protecting her dogs.
The stories we hear on the news maybe true but an explanation can be given.
“80% of all dog bites are by unaltered males. 97% of the time when a dog kills a human it is done by an unaltered dog. 90% of dogs and cats run away because they are designed to mate and are looking for one,” Fiods said.
An unaltered dog is a dog that has not been spayed or neutered, it still has the capability of producing puppies. Altering a dog can decrease its tendency to roam and make them less aggressive towards people and other animals.
“Male dogs have a dominance thing and there is no way to take that out of a dog. Altering a dog can help make them less territorial. Putting two unaltered male dogs in a room together is like putting two guys on steroids together, there are going to be problems. And that is not just with pit-bulls, that is with any dog,” Fiods said.
With their bad reputation, Pit-bulls are filling up animal shelters and are having more trouble being adopted compared to other dog breeds.
Kranidis’ second encounter with a pit-bull shows that fact. She was driving with her daughter in the Mastic area looking at a house. It was extremely cold outside and she was blasting the heat inside the car.
They stopped at the house and her daughter got out of the car leaving the car door open. As her daughter is walking up to the house, Kranidis sees a dog running toward her direction. She yells to get her daughter’s attention but the dog runs past her daughter jumps into the car and falls asleep right on her lap.
“I didn’t know what to do so I opened my door and pushed the dog out,” Kranidis said.
Kranidis later told her husband what happened and he convinced her to go back and pick up the dog because it was sure to die in the cold. Kranidis found the dog, it was a pit-bull, it was filthy, the ears were crusted, and the dog had mange.
“I was not going to keep that dog, so I called every shelter, and they all said the same thing, “Oh we have 60 pit-bulls,” I thought what is it with pit-bulls that nobody wants them,” Kranidis said.
In the end, Kranidis made the decision to keep the dog and take a step toward change. It is up to us to change the reputation of the pit-bull. By showing people that they are no different from any other dog.
“People shouldn’t be ignorant, don’t listen to what you hear go and see for yourself,” Fiods said.
“Gia is so sweet and loyal. She loves to give kisses and she is friendly with other dogs, cats, she just loves to play. Having her I know it’s the way you treat an animal that makes them aggressive and I plan to always give her love,” Catalano said.