Know a Good Pit Bull?
By Renee Burrell
Photo by Ingrid Brustad SPCA volunteer
LARGO - Many pit bull owners know that the breed is loving and loyal and not the menace widely publicized attacks have perpetrated. On Saturday, August 4, this fact can become certifiable through the American Kennel Club (AKC) when the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Tampa Bay holds their Canine Good Citizen Test for well-mannered pit bulls and mixes from 10 a.m - 3 p m.
The certification program was founded by the AKC to reward dogs who have good manners at home and in our community. Area Pit Bulls and mixes that pass a 10 step criteria will win for the SPCA's homeless pets a $150 donation from the Animal Farm Foundation. Based in New York, the foundation strives to change the negative perception of pit bulls nationwide.
On their website (www.animalfarmfoundation.org) they state, "We fund programs that are pit bull specific, are reproducible, have measurable outcomes and can become self-sustaining. . . We favor requests from organizations that address the problem of fad-breed overpopulation, cruelty and discrimination with a mix of programs: spay/neuter, adoption, outreach partnerships, compassion, positive image and cruelty prevention."
"Pit Bulls are not inherently bad dogs," said Beth Lockwood, Executive Director of the SPCA Tampa Bay. "If they are raised with responsible owners who understand their working breed nature they can be wonderful companions." Pit Bulls and mixes didn't always get a bad rap. Prior to fad-breeding during the past two decades, they were viewed as symbols of Americana. Remember RCA's logo dog Nipper? The Buster Brown dog, Tige? Our Gang's Pal the Wonder Dog and Petey and his pups? Brought to America from England, the breed was developed by crossing bull- and bear-baiting dogs with terriers used in rat-baiting competitions. The end result of that crossbreeding produced canines with the strength and jaw-power of bulldogs and the agility and persistence of terriers.
According to Lockwood, "We are confident that this test will bring out the best of the breed. It is not an easy test. The graduates will earn the honor of Canine Good Citizenship and become ambassadors for their breed." Test givers will be grading on how well the pit bulls: accept friendly strangers; sit politely for petting; appearance and grooming; go out for a walk; walk through crowds; follow the stay, sit and down commands; come when called; react to other dogs and distractions; and undergo a supervised separation.
Owners will be charged a $10 testing fee and need to schedule an appointment for the test. All dogs who pass receive a certificate from the AKC. Log on to www.SPCATampaBay.org or call 727-586-3591 ext. 167 to schedule or to obtain further information.
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