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Pit Bull Rescuer Faces a Mountain of Fear and Misunderstanding

Chicago-area woman rises to the challenge of rescuing mistreated pit bulls and changing the image of the maligned breed. Sponsored by Grape-Nuts.

About this sponsorship: In honor of the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic ascent of Mount Everest, Patch and Grape-Nuts are teaming up to highlight those who inspire people around them to climb their own mountains. 

When Tracy Garcia goes out for a walk, she will say "hello" to a dog being walked before greeting the owner.

“I’m more of an animal person first," says the founder of It's a Pittie Rescue, a nonprofit pit bull rescue organization serving the Chicago area. "I guess because I have been caring for animals since I was a child. I started with baby birds and after working at Forest South Animal Hospital, I developed my skills with other animals including wildlife. ...

"I can’t really pinpoint why I chose to work with pit bulls. I started about 10 years ago and haven’t stopped since."

Q. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve taken on?

A. My biggest challenge has been trying to change people’s perception of the American Pit Bull Terrier. The media has really ruined the image of the breed. Most of the newspapers rarely publish a positive story about a pit bull, they love to sensationalize the negative or even spin it into something that it never was. 

Q. What inspired you to take on this challenge?

A. My inspiration for taking on this challenge is to be a voice for the voiceless. There is no happy medium involved with this breed. You tend to have people hate the breed and want them extinct. Then there are people like myself and others involved in rescue who are always trying to change people’s perception of the breed and love them unconditionally.

Q. What will you do when you succeed?

A. I’m not sure we will ever be able to achieve our goal in changing people’s minds about the breed, but we will never stop trying. It’s A Pittie Rescue takes on this challenge every day. The plea to help needy dogs is never ending.

Our voicemail, e-mail, Facebook and rescue pages are flooded every day with people looking for a pitbull in need. We recently took in a dog named Petunia who was picked up in the south suburbs after being set on fire. More than 20 percent of her body is covered in burns. A few days after being rescued she gave birth to five healthy puppies and is doing her best to take care of them in her painful state. In addition to Petunia, It’s A Pittie has several other dogs who are also in need. Maybe not in a way Petunia is, but in need nonetheless.

Eleven hours after this interview, Petunia died of her burns. To see other dogs that need a home or foster home, please visit It's a Pittie's Facebook page or the Chicago Heights-based agency's website at www.rescueapittie.org.

This post is published throughout the Chicago-area Patch network.

me April 16, 2013 at 02:09 PM
While we are focusing on the fate of these mistreated animals we are allowing the real issues to slip through the cracks. I suggest much Harsher penalties and more funding for the prosecution of the humans responsible for these animal mistreatment. If we can afford seatbelt roadblocks and red light cameras I think that this funding would be realitivley simple to obtain.
Jacob Lee May 22, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Keep up the good work. Pitbulls are a loving breed and are the best dogs in the world.
John Oh June 06, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Jerry Smith, you're an incredible idiot, even for an internet comment thread, and that's saying a lot.
Gwen Lebec June 09, 2013 at 06:42 PM
The media just reports the stories. They don't make these dogs attack people or pets. You want pit bulls to be loved and trusted? Do something to stop these attacks. Make it possible for people to walk their own dogs down the streets again.
Ercie Berwick June 22, 2013 at 02:16 PM
Pit bulls are outlawed in Britain. It's been several years now. I think we need to learn a valuable lesson from the Brits and stop making excuses for pit bulls. And I am a hopeless dog lover. I would much rather be bitten by one of our former pekingese than a pit bull any day. Too many people in the Chicago area have been mangled and torn to shreds by pit bulls, whose owners invariably were quoted as saying, after the damage had been done. "Buddy never did anything like that before." (YAWN)

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