An animal rescue organization in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania is coming under fire from neighbors because it rescues pit bulls, ABC 27 reported yesterday. Speranza Dog Rescue, which was established in 2012, works to rescue dogs who would otherwise be overlooked, but not everyone is supportive of the organization’s mission – or its rescue animals.
There are approximately 47 dogs currently at Speranza Rescue, most of which are pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Beautiful, loving dogs like Arnold, Bambi, Buttons, and Goldie Locks. Dogs who deserve to know what it means to be loved and to be a part of the family – and who will get that chance, thanks to Speranza. And people are afraid.
According to the rescue’s founder, Janine Guido, she’s reciprocating what these dogs have done for her. “Pretty much they’ve saved my life and I’m just returning the favor to them,” she stated. “We get them from bad situations, we rehab them and then we adopt them out to loving homes.”
So why are people so afraid? Is it because they’re influenced by a media bias against pit bulls? Is it because pit bulls are disproportionately represented in dog attack stories because the term “pit bull” is an umbrella category for dogs who have certain physical characteristics? Is it because a dog bite typically story doesn’t list the dog’s breed unless it’s a “pit bull?”
Those who fear pit bulls like to cite the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) bite study that cites “pit bull types” as the dogs who have the highest rate of bite incidents, but even the CDC realizes that this categorization is misleading. The CDC is opposed to Breed Specific Legislation, stating in its fact sheet: “Many practical alternatives to breed-specific policies exist and hold promise for preventing dog bites.”
Or are people afraid because they’ve never even met a “pit bull?” Some people near the rescue believe that they’re “one accident” away from calamity.
Stephen Catalano, who lives near Speranza Rescue, stated: “Someone could simply make a mistake, they trip, they fall, it gets loose and our dog, he’s just a little guy and who knows what could happen to him in the back yard.”
Catalano wants the dogs at Speranza to be behind fences when they’re walked, but according to Guido, it would cost $100,000 to fence the entire property, and that’s money that the organization doesn’t have. Catalano notes that he’s glad that Speranza is “doing this for these dogs who get a bad name.”
He added: “We don’t really want to get rid of it. We love dogs…we just would like the assurance that we’re safe at our own property.”
“It’s just ignorance. It sucks,” Guido countered. And animal advocates are hoping to overcome this negative perspective on pit bulls. A hearing is planned for Jan. 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the Monroe Township Planning Commission. A petition has been created to gain support and it has almost 1,500 signatures. Sign the petition here.
In the meantime, Speranza continues to save dogs who would otherwise be overlooked. Dogs just like Arnold, Bambi, Buttons, and Goldie Locks. Dogs who have never met the people who are so afraid of them – and who only want the chance to be loved. Updates to this story will be posted as they occur.