CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE
By Lauren Gibbons
LANSING — Long-held misconceptions about pit bull breeds still have negative effects on adoption rates, but increased awareness and community support have somewhat improved the situation, officials from animal shelters statewide say. Since the 1980s, American pit bull terriers and similar breeds have had a reputation for toughness, aggressiveness and violence, leaving them susceptible to exploitation by dog fighters and breeders, said Kevin Hatman, a public relations coordinator for the Michigan Humane Society in Bingham Farms.
That bad reputation comes with a cost — of the estimated 30,000 animals taken into the humane society’s shelters each year, about 30 percent are pit bulls or pit bull mixes, Hatman said. Although some prospective pet owners will take pit bulls into their homes, he said most gravitate toward smaller dogs or avoid the breed. The society has shelters in Detroit, Rochester Hills and Westland. “It’s sad, because they really can be wonderful dogs,” Hatman said.