Rescue Takes 'Pittie' on Pit Bulls That Need Homes

Chicago Heights resident Tracy Garcia of It's a Pittie Rescue says the organization has rescued more than 250 pit bulls in the area since last year.

The reputation of the pit bull precedes it — often painting the animal as a vicious and uncontrollable.

But Chicago Heights resident and “pittie” advocate Tracy Garcia said the stigma doesn’t represent the true spirit of the animal, but it’s bad owners (and bad publicity) that give the dog a bad rap.

“I don’t think the breed is any more dangerous than other dogs,” said Garcia, 35. “But you do have to be a responsible owner. And unfortunately, negative people are drawn to this dog because of the size of the dog and the portability of the dog and if the wrong person gets their hands on it, obviously as we know, negative things will result.”

That’s why volunteers at It’s A Pittie Rescue, a nonprofit organization serving the south suburbs that Garcia helped establish more than a year ago, are dedicated to matching pit bulls that need homes with the right people.

It’s A Pittie has rescued 250 dogs in the last year, and have more than 100 already adopted, Garcia said. The rescue doesn’t have a facility and is completely foster-home based, meaning they place dogs with families while they’re waiting to be adopted.

The three-page application to adopt a pit bull from It’s a Pittie is extensive and reference checks are utilized, she added. The dogs are screened as well, including being given temperament tests to determine if they can be around other dogs, cats or children. Even volunteers who walk the dogs that are waiting for foster homes or take them to the vet are screened.

And Garcia is no amateur when it comes to pit bulls — or any kind of dog, for that matter. She began working for South Animal Hospital when she was 15, worked on and off there for years and she also worked with animal control for five years. She's also had various trainings and certifications over the years.

“Sometimes I get the nickname the Dog Whisperer,” she said with a laugh, noting that animal control and law enforcement officials have called her to deal with aggressive pit bulls.

Although she has run into officers — and others — who don’t like pit bulls, Garcia is quick to point out, “You have to understand that if you’re dealing with negative people, you’re dealing with negative dogs. If you have a dog in less than favorable conditions, if [officers] have to respond to a house with bad owners, you’re gonna have bad dogs.”

, a Cook County cop, agrees with Garcia.

“I believe pit bulls do have a reputation undeserved,” Wiley said. “I blame the owners for not properly training the dogs.”

To properly train owners, It’s A Pittie also sends detailed instructions home with every family. Owners are cautioned to avoid certain things, like letting the dogs ride in the back of a pick-up truck and taking the dogs to a dog park, where although they may not be the aggressor against other dogs, they may be forced to defend themselves, Garcia said.

The nonprofit exists solely on donations, which are mainly solicited through events and the organization’s Facebook page. More volunteers are also always welcome. For more information, log on to the website, call (708) 792-3311 or email itsapittierescue@gmail.com.

Garcia also wants to share organization's mission — to find homes for pets that just wanted to rubbed, petted, played with and loved.

“We just want owners not to put [the dogs] in situations where they’re gonna be a statistic,” she explained. “We want them to be breed ambassadors, not a statistic.”

Lauren Mieszala April 14, 2012 at 02:28 PM
It's A Pittie Rescue is an amazing organization with nothing but the BEST intentions for the dogs. IPR pulled our pittie, Turbo, from an animal care facility literally hours before he was due to be euthanized, all the while having a foster lined up for him. That foster backed out, so Turbo was placed in boarding at no fault of his own or IPR's. The few weeks he spent in boarding before we adopted him, he was well taken care of by the wonderful volunteers who made sure he was exercised and loved. We are forever grateful to IPR and the volunteers who spent time with him and who made our boy KNOW what love truly means. I had the pleasure of meeting some of these volunteers at a recent Pet Expo, where IPR was there educating everyone on the breed. Keep up the great work It's A Pittie Rescue! You are making a difference.
Karen April 15, 2012 at 05:45 AM
That is so disheartening! These dogs are the most misrepresented breed. Hearing this is so sad! We work so hard to educate the public and this is the madness we are up against! The media strikes again, whatever sells!
Karen April 15, 2012 at 06:06 AM
I am also one of the volunteer walkers. I can assure you these dogs get the best of us while they are in boarding. We all have dogs of our own at home and it kills us to think of these dogs in boarding for any amount of time. Therefore, we go above and beyond to make sure they are getting the love, exercise, training, socialization, etc. that they so deserve. They have been let down by people already and we are not about to do that to them again! They are "our dogs" until we find them an awesome foster or forever home. We love them and care for them and cry when they leave because we get so attached. But we are so happy for them and to see updates from their new homes. It's sad that you felt such a strong judgement of us that you needed to voice a very uninformed opinion. Along with the other offers, please come see what we are truly about. I'm so impressed by the level of commitment to every aspect of IPR! What an awesome rescue! Karen Krasowski
Pamela Lopez-Lewis June 12, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I am being forced to surrender my pit/ boxer mix to out side of the city limits because by accident he was playing with another dog and hurt him badly.Please tell me who or where i can take my two year old -so he can continue to be loved. No animals or children please.
mary lu April 05, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Please don't let Karen h ever adopt any dog. I have a beautiful pit that is in love with my grandson. He's only 9 months old and my wonderfu rescue pit loves him


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