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WNY Pit Bull Rescue Groups Participate In First-Ever Buffalo Stand Up For Pits Event

Her name is Lady. She came to the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter (CBAS) as a stray. Scared and confused and with a history that she would forever keep a secret, this 2-year-old pit bull mix was now on the hopeful road to recovery. But little did she know, she had an extra hurdle of public acceptance to overcome simply because of how she looked — something the Stand Up For Pits Foundation and Western New York pit bull rescue groups are trying to change.

“Stand Up For Pits is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to ending abuse and discrimination and saving the lives of pit bull-type dogs,” explains Rebecca Corry, Comedian, Actress, and President and Founder of the Stand Up For Pits Foundation. Touring across the country, the Stand Up For Pits Foundation hosts live events, raises funds, and provides adoption opportunities that benefit educational programs and front line rescue efforts.

For the first time on September 24th, Stand Up For Pits will make a stop in Buffalo, NY, and host an event at Helium Comedy Club. Kicking off at 4:00 pm, Buffalonians can look forward to an adoption event and donation drive, followed by a silent auction and a show with performances by Ms. Corry and several local comedians. “The people of Buffalo can help by attending the event and encouraging others to do the same,” Corry continues. “You can also support participating groups and local shelters.”

“CBAS is proud to be chosen by Stand Up For Pits to participate in their event,” says Kelly McCartney, Director of Animal Control at CBAS. “Their foundation is known nationally and internationally for helping to educate the public about the prejudice and discrimination surrounding the pit bull and ultimately saving lives.”

In addition to CBAS, The Silver Lining for Pit Bulls and Rock-A-Bully/Fix A Bull WNY programs — two groups dedicated to reversing pit bull stereotypes and saving the lives of these dogs — will also participate in the event. “The Silver Lining for Pit Bulls is very excited to be part of the Stand Up for Pits event,” says Skye Lipton, President and Founder of The Silver Lining for Pit Bulls, Inc. “We’re all excited Buffalo is part of the tour this year.”

“Being given the opportunity to work side by side with Stand Up For Pits in our hometown is amazing,” adds Suzanne Laba, a volunteer at Rock-A-Bully/Fix A Bull WNY. “We hope to get the word out about what we do, educate more people on the misconceptions of pit bull-type dogs, and bring organizations together for a common goal.”

Currently, shelters across the country, including Buffalo, are overloaded with pit bull-type dogs — but not because they’re dangerous or incapable of adoption. Although there are several reasons for this disparity, according to Ms. McCartney, one factor is very clear. “Irresponsible owners and backyard breeders whose only interest is trying to cash in on the ‘pit bull’ reputation as a cheap and effective guard or fight dog are to blame. This is common, especially in the urban areas.”

Often misunderstood, “pit bulls” actually comprise several breeds, including the American Staffordshire Terrier (Am Staff), the American Pit Bull Terrier (Pit Bull), and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. With similar physical traits, these dogs are widely recognized and wrongly generalized as pit bulls, which often leads to inhumane treatment and false portrayal — especially by the media.

“Pit bull-type dogs are far too often misidentified by the media,” Laba says. “This means these dogs make headlines more than any other dog, often just to make a story, when in reality they aren’t allowed to behave like a normal dog and are held to higher standards.”

This misinformation by the media is often why pit bull-type dogs have a difficult time being adopted out. “Many people are very reluctant to adopt an adult dog of any breed, but if they might be part pit, people automatically think there’s something wrong,” Lipton mentions.

Once known as the beloved “Nanny Dog” for children and bred for its loving and affectionate nature, pit bull-type dogs are now being labeled as aggressive — a trend that has been happening since the 1980’s. “To defend these dogs, I’ve learned that you have to be honest, know that each dog is an individual with limitations, and go by facts and reputable resources,” Laba advises.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has concluded that controlled studies have not identified pit bull types as disproportionately dangerous, and that an owner’s behavior can affect how a dog reacts. American Temperament Test Society (ATTS) Breed Statistics — a behavioral tool used for both purebreds and mixed breeds that look for things like aggression — support these findings. The latest report showed the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier together scored an average of 87.9% — higher than the Chihuahua (69.6%), the Cocker Spaniel (81.5%), and America’s cherished Golden Retriever (85.4%), just to name a few.

“ATTS tested over 30,000 dogs through May 2011,” McCartney comments. “Pit bull types showed an above average temperament coming in second for the most tolerant breed tested. That being said, any dog can bite and be trained to become aggressive. How dogs behave is purely due to how we train and socialize them.”

Despite their affectionate nature, the disconcerting truth is that pit bull types are often abused and trained to be fighting dogs — a crime they were never bred for and one that could be happening right in your neighborhood. Just three months ago, a Buffalo man was sentenced to jail time and probation for running a dog fighting operation from his home. Officials reported finding two severely injured pit bulls and various equipment used to train dogs for fighting.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), estimates based on fight reports taken from underground dog fighting publications and dogs coming to shelters with evidence of fighting suggest the number of people involved in dog fighting in the US alone is in the tens of thousands.

This is something Rebecca Corry and the Stand Up For Pits Foundation are trying to shut down. To end dog fighting and abuse faced by pit bull-type dogs, Stand Up For Pits works to empower others to take a stand against this injustice. “The inspiration for all we do is and always will be Angel,” Corry explains.

Angel, an overly bred pit bull-type dog, was found on the streets of Los Angeles in 2007 with brutally cropped ears and chemical burns along her back, among other injuries most likely sustained from being used as a bait dog in fighting. Originally considered a “leave alone” in the shelter, Angel surprised everyone and within two months was adopted by Ms. Corry.

“She was the embodiment of truth. She taught me and so many others around the world without saying a word,” Corry continues. “Her inherent goodness changed, inspired, and saved countless lives and continues to do so.”

Since Angel’s passing, Ms. Corry has adopted and rehabilitated two more pit bull-type dogs rescued from deplorable conditions — something many mistakenly believe is impossible or even unsafe.

“I never intended on getting another dog after Angel passed, but Sally and Todd had other plans,” Corry says referring to her two rescue pits. “Sally was bred repeatedly, and Todd is a dog fighting operation survivor. They both have a lot of fear issues and require special care and attention, and they are worth every second of it. Their love for each other and their incredible spirits after all they have endured is yet another example that pit bull-type dogs are born inherently good.”

“To say pit bull type-dogs can’t be rehabilitated is the furthest thing from the truth,” McCartney adds. “Our most heartfelt letters from adopters come from families that have adopted pit bull-type dogs. Many of these dogs that end up in CBAS have been abandoned and had rough starts, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be saved.”

Referring to these dogs as “diamonds in the rough,” Ms. McCartney says CBAS, The Silver Lining for Pit Bulls, Rock-A-Bully/Fix A Bull WNY, and other programs in Buffalo work together to tackle adoption issues pit bull-type dogs face from different angles.

CBAS provides behavioral modification training, veterinary care, and daily enrichment activities to heal these animals while in the shelter. Once adopted, CBAS ensures its animals are placed in homes that have been screened and best matched to each dog. A volunteer dog trainer is also available to families of newly adopted pits to help with the transition.

On the other hand, The Silver Lining for Pit Bulls runs an entirely “foster-based” program. “We help to provide a safe home environment where pit bull-type dogs can learn to adjust and do things like learn to play with fur siblings,” Lipton notes. “Then once someone wants to meet that dog, it makes an adoption transition that much easier because they already know what love is and what a loving home is like.”

Taking a “behind-the-scenes approach,” Ms. Laba says Rock-A-Bully/Fix A Bull WNY works by running a spay and neuter program with the goal of keeping pit bull-type dogs out of shelters in the first place in order to avoid overcrowding and the potential for euthanasia. The program also helps people who have taken in stray pits. “We educate those who do not know the importance of spaying and neutering and have helped in training so that dogs stay in the home.”

In an effort to spread the truth about pit bull-type dogs, Stand Up For Pits invites you to Helium Comedy Club on September 24th from 4–7:00 pm to meet adoptable velvety hippos — as Ms. Corry calls them — and make donations that benefit local rescue groups. Showtime is at 7:30 pm and falls within a silent auction that lasts from 5–10:00 pm. Tickets are $40 and 100% of funds raised go directly to the Stand Up For Pits Foundation.

It’s the hard work these organizations do that turn a happily ever after into a reality. Ms. McCartney was happy to announce that Lady was recently adopted into a family with a senior pug and a couple of cats. “We received an update that Lady, now Luna, loves her new sibling and is very respectful of the cats,” McCartney says. “Lady could’ve easily fallen through the cracks if not given the TLC she needed. We’ve had many ‘Lady’ type stories over the years, and those are the happy endings that make volunteering, adoption, and donating so important.”

Are you ready to make a Buffalo pit part of your family? Come to the Stand Up For Pits event. The velvety hippos will be there waiting for you — bum wiggling, excited to find a forever home.

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