Working against a bad reputation: pit bull awareness - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Working against a bad reputation: pit bull awareness

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by Danielle Wagner

WATERLOO (KWWL) You've probably heard it before: pit bulls are aggressive, they're fighters, they can't be family dogs. But many experts say that's simply not true and the bad rap pit bulls get isn't fair.

In fact, the American Temperament Test Society rates pit bulls at more then 83 percent when it comes to positive temperament, that's higher than border collies.

Saturday was National Pit Bull Awareness Day, hoping to educate people on the truth about pit bulls.

The Cedar Bend Humane Society in Waterloo has several pit bulls up for adoption.

Unfortunately, it's often more difficult for the shelter to find good homes for pit bulls. One reason is people wrongly believe all pit bulls are aggressive, fighting dogs. Another reason is many communities have "breed" bans against pit bulls.

Black Hawk County Animal Control Officer and veterinarian tech Vania Warns has worked with pit bulls for more than ten years.

She admits some pit bulls are trained to be fighters but not all.

"A lot of pit bulls we get on our stray side, a lot of pit bulls we put up for adoption, they don't have a fighting background. They're wonderful dogs and they really aren't more dangerous than your black lab or any other dog,"said Warns.

Warns said the bad rap often associated with pit bulls is more from poor owner responsibility. She said there is dog fighting in the Waterloo area, and for some people pit bulls are a "status" symbol.

"There's a very big pit bull phenomenon in this area. We have a stray site of 20 dog kennels and at anytime those are half full with pit bulls," said Vania Warns.

She knows the reputation, But she's disappointed when people stereotype all pit bulls as dangerous.

Warns said any pit bull up for adoption at the CBHS passed an assessment test.

"We cannot put up aggressive dogs, not dangerous. We can't put dangerous dogs in the community," she said.

Among other tests, Warns tugs on the dog's tail and ears and sees how they respond to other dogs.

She's been working to educate people on pit bulls, and just hopes people looking to adopt a pet keep an open mind.

"Pit bulls are a great family dog, they're very loving dogs, playful. So I just want people to stop putting their hackles up so to speak when they see a pit bull because chances are it's going to be a great dog," said Warns.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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