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PCAPS pit bull adoption promotion ends Monday

October 29, 2016

PEORIA — The same month a new pit bull ban was scheduled to go into effect in Montreal, Peoria County Animal Protection Service was giving them away for free.

Adoption fees for qualified families adopting pit bulls were waived during October. The special ends Monday.

We want to promote the idea that pit bulls are great dogs,” said director Bridget Domenghini. “We see a lot of really nice dogs here, and we want to promote the idea that dogs should not be judged by their breed.

Pit bulls are a controversial breed around the world. After a fatal dog mauling in Montreal early this summer the city passed a law banning residents from adopting pit bulls, and requiring those who already own one to muzzle it in public. Many people are unhappy with the new law. Opponents point out the fact genetic tests determining if the dog involved in the fatal mauling was indeed a pit bull have not yet come back.

People don’t know what a pit bull is,” said Janet Hill, a proponent for the breed who has adopted several pit bull mixes from PCAPS. “What they call pit bulls is like a huge number of dogs.

The term pit bull encompasses a number of registered breeds, including the American pit bull terrier, the American bully, the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, and even the American bulldog. Basically any dog with a wide, boxy head and a thick body gets labeled “pit bull.” A combination of terrier and bulldog, most of those breeds were originally created as fighting dogs for a variety of blood sports.

They are tough dogs,” said Domenghini. “Historically they are dogs that are not gonna back down or hide in a corner when they feel pain.” For this reason, the breed is still used today for dog fighting, an illegal but, unfortunately, fairly common activi
Those tough qualities have made them choice dogs for all kinds of bad activities,” said Domenghini. “But people also like them because they make a good dog for family activity. In the right hands they are very good dogs.

Hill agrees.

People who have these dogs know how wonderful they are,” she said “They are loving, sweet dogs.

Hill’s pit bull mix, Lola, was always with her master when Hill worked at Free To Bead, the shop she owned in Peoria Heights. Whenever a customer walked in the door Lola grabbed a toy and patiently waited to see if the customer wanted to play.

Lola was the best dog I ever had. She wanted to play with everybody,” said Hill. “And if people didn’t like animals, she’d go lay down. She could tell.

Neither Lola nor the pit-mix Hill owned before Lola ever showed aggression.

At PCAPS, human safety is the No. 1 priority, said Domenghini. All the pit bulls who come into the shelter undergo a behavioral assessment before going up for adoption. It’s something they do for all dogs, but for large dogs, like pits who can weigh upwards of 80 pounds, the assessment is extra important.

If you have a chihuahua who is food aggressive, you could have a finger injury. But with an 80-pound pit bull, you could have much worse,” she sa

The shelter does get aggressive pit bulls. They see a few more than other breeds simply because they get so many pit bulls, said Domenghini. While the number of dogs coming into PCAPS has decreased dramatically in recent years, pit bulls continue to come in at a high rate. That fact is what prompted PCAPS to create the special promotion waiving adoption fees for the breed. The only other time the shelter waives adoptions fees is in the spring when they get an excess of kittens. They also offer free spaying and neutering for pit bulls owned by Peoria County residents, an attempt to lower the number of unwanted pit bulls coming into the shelter.

As of Wednesday, 25 pit bulls had been adopted through the free pit bull promotion. Domenghini hopes to meet or exceed 27 by Oct. 31 — that’s how many were adopted last year.

On the first day of the promotion Nicole Kirley and her boyfriend Justin Hesek visited PCAPS to meet a 4-month-old blue-nosed pit bull they saw on the shelter’s website. The couple had been looking for a pit bull puppy for a while. Hesek was fond of a neighbor’s pit bull growing up, and the pair regularly babysit a friend’s pit bull.

They are really the sweetest dogs, and I know how smart they are,” said Kirl

Nearly a month after being adopted, Penny Lane is happily settled in the couple’s Peoria home.

You should see all the toys she has,” said Kirl

The pair had no reservations about adopting a pit bull.

I think it’s all in how they are raised,” said Kirley. “If you provide a loving home environment, there’s no reason to be concerned.
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