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Parade to promote pit bull awareness

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Too many pit bulls and pit bull mixes are either abandoned or given up and find themselves in shelters. Advocates say there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. (journal file)

Too many pit bulls and pit bull mixes are either abandoned or given up and find themselves in shelters. Advocates say there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. (journal file)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — National Pit Bull Awareness Day is Saturday, and local shelters are inviting you to help celebrate “the unique qualities” of the pit bull terrier and its mixed relatives – a group of dogs so misunderstood and maligned, advocates say, that special efforts must be made on their behalf.

The day in the pit bull’s honor, according to a city Animal Welfare Department news release, “was established as a day to educate and foster positive communications and experiences in the communities in which we and our dogs live.”

Pit bulls come with characteristics and a mythology that contribute to their popularity among irresponsible dog owners – those who want a fighting dog, a macho dog, even a terrifying dog. Those dogs capture the imagination.

A whole new group of dog owners, such as Babes & Bullies, women who love their sweet pit bulls, as well as rescues and shelters, has worked in recent years to capture another kind of imagination for pit bulls and pit bull mixes: the loyal, lovable, friendly and trustworthy family dog.

If you’re thinking of adopting or already have a pit bull, Saturday is your day. About 140 city shelter dogs will be available to meet and get to know.

“It is a special day to focus on these incredible dogs, and a day to change perceptions and stereotypes,” AWD says.

Here are the events and offers available at both city shelters, 8920 Lomas NE and 11800 Sunset Gardens SW, and at the Lucky Paws store in Coronado Center:

• $20 adoption fee for all pit breeds and mixes 1 year and older. Adoption always includes spay/neuter, shots, microchip and license but Saturday also gets you a free goodie bag.

• Free Pit Bull 101 information booklets for owners and adopters.

• Professional training advice, assistance and guidance for adopters and for pit bull owners.

(journal file)

(journal file)

• Already have a pit bull or mix? City residents can get a coupon to have it spayed or neutered for free and, at the east-side and west shelters, free microchips.

Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the shelters and 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Lucky Paws.

Meanwhile, National Pit Bull Awareness Day is also being celebrated with a party and Pittie Parade and costume contest at the Downtown Grower’s Market at Robinson Park, Eighth and Central, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The day begins with a parade prep training class at the Flying Star parking lot, Eighth and Silver, at 9:30 a.m. The Pittie Parade, hosted by Animal Humane New Mexico, starts an hour later, and there’s an “ask a trainer” session at 11 a.m. Also at that time, “Doggie Trick or Treating” with Animal Humane, Babes & Bullies and city shelter personnel. Costume contest registration is at 11:30 a.m. and the Dog Boo costume contest is at noon.

Categories in the Dog Boo costume contest include best homemade owner and dog costume; best purchased owner and dog costume; best group costume; most unique trick; and best pit bull ambassador.

There’s food, live music and lots of dogs to meet and myths to dispel. Celebrate the day and let a dog needing a good home capture your imagination.

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