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08-14-2008 08:22 PM #1
Utah group works to help pit bulls beat a bad wrap
Salt Lake City -- Pit bulls seem to get a bad wrap, but can they be good citizens? A group of Utahns is out to prove the dogs do have a place in society and should not be banned. In fact, there was a special training demonstration at the Human Society of Utah on Thursday.
Michelle Rizzi's Handle With Care dog training cl$#@! specialize in Canine Good Citizen Certification. Several pit bull owners and the Human Society are backing her up to show that pit bulls can be well behaved dogs, just like any other breed.
Pit bull attacks make headlines. The day after Christmas, a California woman was killed by a pack of pit bulls.
Close to home, a four-year-old boy was flown to the hospital after a pit bull attack in Salt Lake County just two weeks ago.
Now some Utah cities, such as Provo, Orem, Mapleton and Sandy are considering restrictions on pit bulls.
“We don't think any breed specific bans work. We'd much rather see a dangerous dog ordinance,” says Gene Baierschmidt, Executive Director of The Humane Society of Utah.
That's why the Human Society sponsored a pit bull training demonstration Thursday.
“In the right environment and with the right strong handlers - strong and gentle handlers, the dogs do well. Pit bulls are intelligent, they like to learn,” explains Michelle Rizzi, owner of Handle With Care dog training.
Rizzi takes the dogs through a ten step program. Upon completion they are given a Canine Good Citizen Certificate.
“It's to promote responsible ownership for well mannered dogs. And the dogs that receive the A.K.C. certification that means they are well behaved in the home and community,” adds Rizzi.
Well behaved like Miss Piggy, a four-year-old pit bull. It's not often that a pit bull is seen as a therapeutic dog, but that's exactly what Miss Piggy has become - especially to people in wheelchairs.
“They just hit it off, it was like they know, she knew, you're like me, says April Hollingsworth, Miss Piggy’s owner.
18-months ago, Miss Piggy was hit by a car and paralyzed. She now gets around on two legs and two wheels.
“There was no way I was going to put her down. She's so good with kids,” says Hollingsworth.
“And really, she's happy. She doesn't even notice,” says Miss Piggy’s owner Daniel Alix.
Baierschmidt adds, “Pit bulls have been given a bad wrap. We're here today to show that they're actually good dogs and they do have a place in society.”
To help encourage Canine Good Citizen Certification, Michelle Rizzi offers a 15-percent discount for the beginners program for all shelter dogs.