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New partnership works to create pit bull ambassadors

By Bonney Bowman Photojournalist: Emily Landeen - 8:21 PM May 28, 2015

A new partnership is working to change how people see pit bulls, making local dogs ambassadors for their breed.

New owner Crystal Hermosura and her 7-month-old pit bull Kenai have started working on basic obedience skills.

“She loves ball,” Hermosura said. “We’re still working on drop it though. Dropping it is still kind of hard because she wants to chew on it.”

They’re about to take that training up a notch.

The group Stubby Dog is sponsoring free, six-week classes for new pit bull owners. They hope to change the public’s perception of the breed. Stubby Dog Executive Director Mitzi Bolanos says the myths about pits started back in the 1980s.

“They had all these supernatural powers. They had lock jaw and they didn’t feel pain and all these crazy things that today, science tells us is completely bogus,” Bolanos said.

Studies have shown more pit bulls pass temperament tests than golden retrievers. Also, their bite strength is similar to that of other big dogs, like German shepherds, which are one of the most popular dog breeds in the country.

Bolanos and her pit bull Bubba are working to bust the myths many still believe one at a time.

“We want to show people that pit bulls are just dogs, just dogs like any other dog,” she said. “They just want a loving home, just like anyone else. They just want a couch and a lap.”

Stubby Dog partnered with the Anchorage Animal Care and Control Center, where pits are just one of the breeds that come through the doors.

Any pit bull adopted from the shelter is eligible for the free course. The hope is owners will take the time to get to know, and work with, their new dog.

“They’re going to be more willing to work on that issue because they’ve formed a bond and a true relationship with that animal,” said AACCC public relations coordinator Laura Atwood.

It’s a work in progress for Hermosura and Kenai, but this young pit bull is on the right track to be an ambassador for her breed.

“She’s my very first puppy I’ve ever had, and very first pit bull, so I want to do it right,” Hermosura said. “I don’t want people to be afraid of her because there’s nothing to be afraid of. She’s a little baby.”

Alaska Dog Sports is providing the obedience classes.

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