KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - Dogs with a "pit bull" label haven't always had the best reputation. Young Williams Animal Center is hoping to change negative perceptions into positive ones by celebrating National Pit Bull Awareness Month this October.
The Isenberg family owns two pit bulls named Hershey and Crunch. They are playful dogs with plenty of love to go around, but not everyone is receptive to the friends they have to offer.
"They're a great breed. They get a very bad rap. When we had our pitbull at church, a lady started petting him and said he was cute. She asked what breed he is. I said, pit bull. She stepped back and didn't want anything else to do with him," said Kevan Isenberg.
Isenberg says a lot of people are stuck on viewing pit bulls as a stereotype: a dangerous type of dog, often used for fighting.
"Looks can be deceiving," said Isenberg.
Courtney Kilman at Young Williams Animal Center adds, "One thing people may not know is that pit bulls are people pleasers, so they're very eager to learn new tricks and they're easy to train."
The animal center is hoping to highlight how each dog should be judged on their own merit.
"It's just how they're raised. Any dog, however you treat it, that's how they're going to respond," said Kilman.
In the past year alone, the shelter has taken in 800 pit bull mixes. Young Williams Animal Center says many people have misconceptions about these types of dogs. A common belief about pit bulls is they have a different kind of bite with a locked jaw.
"That's one myth out there. That they're going to bite on something and not let go. That's simply not true," said Kilman.
Dispelling the myths and promoting the truth about pit bulls are just part of the shelter's mission. Young Williams Animal Center also hopes to encourage potential dog owners to come by for a visit.
The organization is offering spay and neuter surgeries for pit bulls and mixes for $20 to help reduce the number of homeless and stray pit bulls.
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