Pit bull in spotlight in GV parade

Scooby, one of about a dozen pit bull-type dogs awaiting adoption at the Animal League of Green Valley, will walk in a community parade on Saturday.

Volunteers with the no-kill shelter plan to carry a banner that reflects the pit bull’s history as a once-beloved American icon – with images such as Petey from “The Little Rascals” and the Buster Brown mascot – along with the faces of dogs, including Scooby, awaiting adoption (see Page 26 for parade details).

Today they are the nation’s most notorious breed, due to fears reinforced by high-profile cases such as NFL player Michael Vick’s involvement in a brutal dogfighting ring.

“We think they are wonderful dogs that have really gotten a bad rap and as a result it is harder to find homes for them – and that’s distressing to us because they deserve homes,” said Jean Davis, TALGV’s board president, and intake and adoption coordinator.

“We enjoy having them here, but we think they deserve to have homes as much as a cocker spaniel or anything else,” she said.

Saturday is National Pit Bull Awareness Day and October is National Pit Bull Awareness Month – both efforts to bring positive attention to the pit bull terrier and related breeds.

Scooby, a gentle 9-year-old Staffordshire terrier with a silky coat covering nearly 70 pounds of muscle, has been at Green Valley’s no-kill shelter for about a month. Several others have been there much longer.

Last weekend he was one of about six adoptable dogs that TALGV volunteers took to Pitbulooza, which drew about 750 people and several hundred dogs of all breeds to Brandi Fenton Memorial Park. Next year, Davis said, the shelter wants to take part with a focus on the importance of spaying and neutering.

Pitbulooza started last year as a way to give breed owners and advocates a place to come together and do something positive, said Rachel Molyneux, program coordinator for Pit n’ Proud, an event sponsor.

One of the booths was for “Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent,” an unreleased documentary that looks at Ohio’s statewide restriction of pit bull-type dogs. There’s an invitation-only test screening at 10 a.m. Saturday at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway. Email gtpifilm@gmail.com for an invitation.

On Nov. 4, Pit n’ Proud plans to walk in the All Souls Procession to increase awareness and “to commemorate all of the pit bulls who have been killed due to ignorance and fears,” Molyneux said.

The nonprofit group was founded two years ago to try to foster the acceptance of related breeds through education, training and promotion of responsible ownership.

About TALGV – a no-kill shelter for dogs and cats

The Animal League of Green Valley was founded in 1984 to give peace of mind to Green Valley residents unable to continue to care for their pets.

The no-kill shelter moved into its first building in 2001, and a few years later started taking in strays as the surrounding community grew.

The shelter adopted out 96 animals in 2004 – and 713 in 2010. Adoptions are on pace to be in the 700s again this year, said Jean Davis, TALGV’s board president, and intake and adoption coordinator.

The shelter, at 1600 W. Duval Mine Road, is also in the midst of a $1.2 million capital campaign to expand the shelter, while increasing outreach services.

Despite the tremendous growth, the shelter continues to operate entirely by volunteers – nearly 400, who do everything from clean kennels to run The Attic, the shelter’s thrift store.

“It really does belong to the community,” Davis said.

“The Animal League reflects what’s important to them,” she said. “Why people feel so good about volunteering is that they know the animals are safe.”

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