By Chris Mellides
The Huntington Town Board approved several measures Sept. 16 that relate to improving the health, care and safety of pit bulls and pit bull mixes as Pit Bull Awareness Month is now being observed nationally.
It’s during October that educating the public in a continued attempt to restore the image of the breed while dispelling stereotypes becomes paramount, said Huntington Animal Shelter Officer Michael Costa.
“Awareness gives us the opportunity to help the pit bull population in a big way,” Costa said. “We get more bites a year from Chihuahuas than we do with pit bulls. When it’s a Chihuahua no one seems to care, but when a pit bull crosses the street that’s when people panic.”
In its meeting earlier this month, the Huntington board agreed to waive adoption fees for pit bulls and pit bull mixes at the town animal shelter. In conjunction with agreements with the League for Animal Protection and the North Shore Veterinary Hospital, vouchers will be issued to pit bull owners to be used at North Shore Veterinary for free spaying or neutering of pit bulls and pit bull mixes during October. Half of the cost for the spaying and neutering will be shouldered by the League and the other half of the cost will be paid by the town.
Since pit bulls have become increasingly popular among young pet owners, dog breeders tend to contribute to the breed’s overpopulation to meet customer demand. This often leads to more pit-bull admissions at the animal shelter, Costa said.
“The breed has become so popular that more and more people who aren’t in the position to care for them will buy that breed, and unfortunately, many are just not prepared for that kind commitment,” Costa said.
“It’s the plight of the pit bull,” he added.
Eighty-percent of all dogs found in New York shelters are pit bull and pit bull mixes, according to Costa. He says it’s crucial that these pit bulls socialize with one another in open spaces, which in turn will calm their energy levels and make them into more manageable canine companions that are better fit for adoption.
“Pit bulls do better in assessments across the board, they are a tenacious breed, with many of their features bred into them over many generations,” Costa said. “Make no mistake, despite how they’ve been perceived, they will put their lives down for their owners.”