The Erie County SPCA is on a mission to change the public's perception of pit bulls following a number of abuse cases in Western New York over the past months involving this breed of dog. YNN's Kate McGowan has more on the SPCA's fight against what they call "pit bull prejudice."
TONAWANDA, N.Y. -- Behind the locked cages, these pit bulls sit; waiting for their chance at a new home.
"We currently have 25 pit bulls here that are up for adoption. That's pretty consistent; it's pretty consistent," said Barbara Carr, SPCA Executive Director.
Carr said a number of dogs come into the shelter and stay no longer than five days before they're adopted. But it's a different case for pit bulls, who remain there on average for more than a month.
"People are so afraid of these dogs that they actually think that something awful will happen to them if they come in contact with them," Carr explained.
It's what she calls "pit bull prejudice." A myth, she said, ignited by reports of dog fighting rings and pit bulls attacking humans.
But Carr said these canines are the true victims.
"Almost all of our abuse cases, our beating cases, our starvation cases, our drag behind car cases, our shot in the head cases, they're pit bulls," she exclaimed.
Just this weekend, a pit bull was shot and killed by a Buffalo police officer after someone let the dog loose as several people were being arrested on the city's east side.
And in November, Metro, an emaciated pit bull puppy was left outside a Buffalo animal shelter in freezing temperatures.
SPCA officials said the public is turning their back on these dogs.
"These are just dogs, and they just need a shot," said SPCA Deputy Director, Beth Shapiro. "People just need to understand that that's all they are."
The SPCA has held adoption events, in the hope to give sheltered pit bulls a loving home.
But Carr said changing people's perceptions is challenging. That's why the mission is to educate and raise awareness on the pit bull myth.
"The more we know, the more we can make a better, informed decision," Shapiro expressed.
Carr explained, "I wish the public would trust us a little more and consider these dogs for adoption because they certainly will be great pets."