Rescue Takes 'Pittie' on Pit Bulls That Need Homes

Chicago Heights resident Tracy Garcia of It's a Pittie Rescue says the organization has rescued more than 250 pit bulls in the area since last year.

The reputation of the pit bull precedes it — often painting the animal as a vicious and uncontrollable.

But Chicago Heights resident and “pittie” advocate Tracy Garcia said the stigma doesn’t represent the true spirit of the animal, but it’s bad owners (and bad publicity) that give the dog a bad rap.

“I don’t think the breed is any more dangerous than other dogs,” said Garcia, 35. “But you do have to be a responsible owner. And unfortunately, negative people are drawn to this dog because of the size of the dog and the portability of the dog and if the wrong person gets their hands on it, obviously as we know, negative things will result.”

That’s why volunteers at It’s A Pittie Rescue, a nonprofit organization serving the south suburbs that Garcia helped establish more than a year ago, are dedicated to matching pit bulls that need homes with the right people.

It’s A Pittie has rescued 250 dogs in the last year, and have more than 100 already adopted, Garcia said. The rescue doesn’t have a facility and is completely foster-home based, meaning they place dogs with families while they’re waiting to be adopted.

The three-page application to adopt a pit bull from It’s a Pittie is extensive and reference checks are utilized, she added. The dogs are screened as well, including being given temperament tests to determine if they can be around other dogs, cats or children. Even volunteers who walk the dogs that are waiting for foster homes or take them to the vet are screened.

And Garcia is no amateur when it comes to pit bulls — or any kind of dog, for that matter. She began working for South Animal Hospital when she was 15, worked on and off there for years and she also worked with animal control for five years. She's also had various trainings and certifications over the years.

“Sometimes I get the nickname the Dog Whisperer,” she said with a laugh, noting that animal control and law enforcement officials have called her to deal with aggressive pit bulls.

Although she has run into officers — and others — who don’t like pit bulls, Garcia is quick to point out, “You have to understand that if you’re dealing with negative people, you’re dealing with negative dogs. If you have a dog in less than favorable conditions, if [officers] have to respond to a house with bad owners, you’re gonna have bad dogs.”

, a Cook County cop, agrees with Garcia.

“I believe pit bulls do have a reputation undeserved,” Wiley said. “I blame the owners for not properly training the dogs.”

To properly train owners, It’s A Pittie also sends detailed instructions home with every family. Owners are cautioned to avoid certain things, like letting the dogs ride in the back of a pick-up truck and taking the dogs to a dog park, where although they may not be the aggressor against other dogs, they may be forced to defend themselves, Garcia said.

The nonprofit exists solely on donations, which are mainly solicited through events and the organization’s Facebook page. More volunteers are also always welcome. For more information, log on to the website, call (708) 792-3311 or email itsapittierescue@gmail.com.

Garcia also wants to share organization's mission — to find homes for pets that just wanted to rubbed, petted, played with and loved.

“We just want owners not to put [the dogs] in situations where they’re gonna be a statistic,” she explained. “We want them to be breed ambassadors, not a statistic.”

Tracy Gibson Garcia April 13, 2012 at 05:26 AM
help these dogs, but change people opinions about the breed and the stigma behind them. The Patch has graciously said they would post our events schedule, so maybe you can find sometime to actually meet the people you think are "unprofessional" and see what we do.
Lori Talevski April 13, 2012 at 07:17 AM
Loved reading the article Tracy, thank you for all you do for these animals. God bless, they're lucky to have you
Debbie Wilke April 13, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Pretty strong judgement Karen for someone who knows nothing of us or what we do. Unlike some rescue groups, we never give up on our dogs. We spend money training them, getting them whatever they need to succeed ansd find their forever home. What is amazing about our website is the amount of dogs that we've rescued and the very few that are actually in boarding. Our dogs in boarding probably get more love, exercise and attention than most people's pets. many rescues that have dogs in boarding, the dogs just sit in there and rot, ours get walked/exercised 3 times a day by our numerous and dedicated volunteers. Instead of sitting back criticizing and judging, come see what we're about so you can make an informed judgement. Must be sad to read such an inspiring article and only see negative things, negative unfounded things. One would think you might have an agenda???
Robyn Johnson April 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Just a little info that I heard from a colleague of mine who works for one of our local papers. While at work, she overheard one of the reporters informing her boss that there was a brutal attack by a German Shepard in the area. Her boss's response was that he only wanted Pit Bull Attacks! First hand how not only bad owners hurt our pitty's reputation but the media plays a HUGE role!!!!! Makes me sick!
Robyn Johnson April 13, 2012 at 12:54 PM
It's a Pittie Rescue.........YOU ROCK!!!!
Janey Udowitz April 13, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Karen I am a PROUD volunteer of ITS A PITTIE . I am not sure where you are getting your information from but I think you need to get the facts before commenting. We are one of the LARGEST PITTIE rescues in Illinois. We have adopted out over 200 pitties that we have rescued from deaths door and had no chance at life to some really AWESOME families. We have over 80Pitties in loving and caring foster homes. Yes we do have a few pitties in boarding that is the only thing you are right about . If you have ever volunteered in rescue then you would know at some point a dog may be returned by a foster for many reasons. When that happens we must do the best we can until we find another foster home. We have over 30 volunteers that are specifically used for walking and caring for our dogs in boarding. We even have a volunteer who makes a schedule every week to make sure our dogs are either walked, able to play in a huge fenced in yard, taken on car rides or just loved at least 3 times a day. We also have a trainer that comes out and trains our dogs in boarding twice a week.We take our rescue and dogs very seriously and for you to make accusations that you no nothing about is wrong! We would love for you to come out and meet our dogs in boarding, meet our trainer and meet the owner at the boarding facility we use , and meet our AWESOME volunteers then you can state your opinion and only then. Janey Udowitz
Nancy Hernandez April 13, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Great to hear about your pittie Jessica B., as a volunteer it is amazing to be able to help a dog who someone has thrown away or given up on, and to know that they are now in a loving home being part of a family :)
julie tappan April 13, 2012 at 01:51 PM
But the news never seems to publish any attacks other than pit bulls. :(
julie tappan April 13, 2012 at 01:53 PM
I also must say I was very ignorant to the breed until I learned about them and am still learning as being a dog walker (and lover) for the pitties. I miss them since I haven't been there since Monday!
Jennifer April 13, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Not only do I volunteer for ITS A PITTIE but I have also gotten 2 of my dogs through them. The dedication that we all have for these dogs is amazing. I am a proud volunteer and we all give so much of our time for these dogs. We could easily adopt out all these dogs to every application that comes in but we are advocates for the breed and we make sure we place our dogs in the best home for them. We educate, We train, and we LOVE each and every dog that comes into the rescue. Fosters are not a dime a dozen so we screen them too and to have 4 dogs in boarding kills us.. We give them such a loving life while they are in there but believe me our goal is a foster or forever home. The group of dedicated walkers we have for these dogs in boarding is incredible.. I bet there are dogs on your own block who do not get as much love and enrichment, along with training as these dogs. Do not make comments about things you not have facts on.. instead fill out an application and we will see if you meet the standards to meet our dogs!
Traci B April 13, 2012 at 01:56 PM
It's A Pittie Rescue is "Our" rescue. I contacted a couple pit bull rescues to volunteer for and offered myself up to do just about anything I could do. Not one of the other rescues contacted me. I emailed and Facebook emailed them. It's A Pittie welcomed me in and I have been (and still am) a foster, I help with the database, I have been to events and even create events to help clear up the misconceptions of Pit Bulls. I helped create the Pit Bull brochure and have even gotten friends and family involved. I am here to help and It's A Pittie is open to whatever I have to offer. They say to do how little or as much as you can do. The thing is, once you start realizing that even the littlest thing makes a difference, like taking phone messages or calling people that fill out application, you want to do more. I am proud to be part of this rescue and all that it has done. I look forward educating more people about Pit Bulls and working with It's A Pittie Rescue. I have 3 Pit Bulls of my own and have had 20-30 Pit Bulls and Pit Bull Mixes come through my house. Sometimes our foster dogs get more attention than our own dogs, but it's all worth it. Educate yourself before you make a comment on something you don't have a clue about. Ask to meet a dog in a foster home, or a dog in boarding, come to one of our events, or just educate yourself about the breed and our rescue. Traci B
Michele Taylor April 13, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Well said everyone!! I just love the volunteers of It's a Pittie!!!!!
Debbie Wilke April 13, 2012 at 03:15 PM
So true Michele, it's a pittie has the BEST volunteers!!! Criticism and judgement only give us an opportuinty to show how great we really are. It was a great article, we're so proud of Tracy for her words of wisdom. Prejudging and negativism is what the article is about and Karen proves it's alive and well.
Angela April 13, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Karen sounds like a hater from another so called "rescue" group that is most likely unsuccessful. No need to bash a selfless group of people who dedicate time, love and resources to four legged creatures that are venerable. Whats appalling is people who neglect animals, and ITS A PITTIE does the exact opposite. I can attest that there are only four beautiful dogs in a boarding and the others in loving homes. The communications between the volunteers is amazing, and effective. So I don't think there is any justification to any of your ill comments, KAREN. Great job ITS A PITTIE! As an animal lover and humanitarian I know these pups are well taken care of and if they could speak, they would say : THANK YOU FOR SAVING OUR LIVES! XOXOXO
Karen Travis April 13, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Rescue is about saving lives and educating people. Being negative and/or speaking poorly against a rescue who clearly is saving lives (responsibly I might add) from deaths door does nothing but kill more dogs. Most responsible rescues are cleaning up after people who do not take responsibility for their 'pets'. For the Karen who is not aware that 'SHELTERS' would be considered boarded dogs (that is what you see, dogs in cages/runs and some NEVER leave them) and ALL rescues 'beg' for money. No rescue is 'funded' by a rich person. Its called donations, which is, besides having dedicated, hard working, volunteers who sacrifice their lives to save the animals is how a rescue runs successfully. By successfully, I mean, completely vetted animals & adopting them into responsible homes, & this rescue goes above and beyond by giving them high quality food, outside paid training as needed and I might add, some of the most amazing, dedicated volunteers who have committed themselves to enriching dogs lives that are unfortunately boarded due to circumstances such as: a foster was NOT committed & 'rescued' a dog for the glory of the statement 'I saved a dog' and tells their friends they did so, but never tells them how they dumped the dog. We encourage you to not only meet, but become an educated volunteer, so you too can enrich the lives of these wonderful dogs & meet dedicated, hard working, selfless volunteers. Karen Travis
Judy Christman April 13, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I am volunteer for Its A Pittie Rescue , I am very proud to be part of this rescue. I spend many hours with the dogs we have in boarding walking, and providing them with love and affection until they find there forever home. I believe they have changed my life in many ways. Thank you Its A Pittie for everything you do to save a life.
Pamela Lubert April 13, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Well Karen Haecker looks like you have been running your mouth without doing your research. I currently work with several rescues and It's a Pittie Rescue is every professional and filled with hard working volunteers that put all the dogs before themselves. Please go crawl back under the rock you camefrom and I hope my Pittie pee's on it!
Bridgette Outten April 13, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Folks, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I just want to remind everywhere to be courteous and polite and respect each other's opinions without insults. Have a great weekend!
Resident April 13, 2012 at 05:56 PM
@Karen Haecker: You certainly are not familiar with It's A Pittie Rescue. IPR is an excellent nonprofit organization that helps humans and animals in the most caring and professional manner. How dare you compromise their reputation. They are nothing like what you have described.
Resident April 13, 2012 at 06:00 PM
IPR is a fantastic group of volunteers that truly care about animals and about humans. IPR is a tremendously worthy-of-your-donations nonprofit organization. They are assisting our community in ways most people do not understand. Our communities would be lost without IPR and other rescues/shelters in the southland area.
Resident April 13, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I think that since Karen Haecker has posted untrue information her post should be removed. Four dogs in boarding is not excessive by any stretch of the imagination. Plus, every single nonprofit org on facebook is asking for donations. That's the only way nonprofits are able to help our communities: DONATIONS! As for them "begging" for money, well, that is a totally warped opinion of a nonprofit reaching out to its FOLLOWERS (not to trolls looking for fodder) to kindly ASK for donations for specific cases. If you don't ask, you don't get. It's NOT begging!
Val Sershon April 13, 2012 at 06:42 PM
As a volunteer of It's a Pittie, it saddens me that someone would pass judgment and say untrue thing about us before getting to know us and understand what we do. Currently, my main function is an application processor, but I have also set-up a fundraiser and adoption event for the fosters in my area. I also fostered a pittie that IPR pulled from CACC, who has since been adopted into a wonderful loving home. All of us no matter our function put in count-less hours for these dogs and would probably give our own life to save one. Fundraising is far from begging and as a non-profit we function thru donations. This provides us with the funds necessary to help the dogs on various different levels from vetting to training to boarding to food to toys to crates, the list goes on. Many volunteers not only donate their time, but they also donate things like money, crates, food, toys, training, etc. So when we ask for donations it is a far cry from begging. We are trying to provide the absolute best care for all the dogs, and we are very successful at doing so. I have seen this rescue bring dogs back to life when they were literally on death's door. Please check out Ace's story, this is a great example of what this wonderful rescue can do.
Val Sershon April 13, 2012 at 06:43 PM
As far as boarding, 4 dogs is hardly excessive, there are plenty of rescues out there with more than that. Life happens and sometimes a foster has to stop fostering or backout for whatever reason and unfortunately sometimes the dog has to be placed in boarding until another home can be found. But I assure you those dogs are loved, played with, trained, etc. by some of the greatest people. Please reconsider your opinion or give us a chance to show you what we are all about. I guarantee your mind will be changed.
Clay Hund April 13, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Good job IAP!! Briefly correct, then ignore people that do not know what they are talking about. At least you do something good, while the critics sit back and play armchair QB, and that is all they do. Keep up the great work!!!
Cait Boskey April 14, 2012 at 02:48 AM
I recently just started volunteering at the boarding facility, getting the dogs out and exercised. I must say I am extremely impressed with how well taken care of these guys are. I go to vet tech school where the kennels are run like well-oiled machines and this rescue is nothing short of that. If anything the dogs in boarding sleep extremely well at night, get fed a proper diet, are taken to the vet and given medications appropriately as needed, and can play fetch until their heart's content. I don't see where the unprofessionalism is...
Lauren Mieszala April 14, 2012 at 02:28 PM
It's A Pittie Rescue is an amazing organization with nothing but the BEST intentions for the dogs. IPR pulled our pittie, Turbo, from an animal care facility literally hours before he was due to be euthanized, all the while having a foster lined up for him. That foster backed out, so Turbo was placed in boarding at no fault of his own or IPR's. The few weeks he spent in boarding before we adopted him, he was well taken care of by the wonderful volunteers who made sure he was exercised and loved. We are forever grateful to IPR and the volunteers who spent time with him and who made our boy KNOW what love truly means. I had the pleasure of meeting some of these volunteers at a recent Pet Expo, where IPR was there educating everyone on the breed. Keep up the great work It's A Pittie Rescue! You are making a difference.
Karen April 15, 2012 at 05:45 AM
That is so disheartening! These dogs are the most misrepresented breed. Hearing this is so sad! We work so hard to educate the public and this is the madness we are up against! The media strikes again, whatever sells!
Karen April 15, 2012 at 06:06 AM
I am also one of the volunteer walkers. I can assure you these dogs get the best of us while they are in boarding. We all have dogs of our own at home and it kills us to think of these dogs in boarding for any amount of time. Therefore, we go above and beyond to make sure they are getting the love, exercise, training, socialization, etc. that they so deserve. They have been let down by people already and we are not about to do that to them again! They are "our dogs" until we find them an awesome foster or forever home. We love them and care for them and cry when they leave because we get so attached. But we are so happy for them and to see updates from their new homes. It's sad that you felt such a strong judgement of us that you needed to voice a very uninformed opinion. Along with the other offers, please come see what we are truly about. I'm so impressed by the level of commitment to every aspect of IPR! What an awesome rescue! Karen Krasowski
Pamela Lopez-Lewis June 12, 2012 at 02:43 AM
I am being forced to surrender my pit/ boxer mix to out side of the city limits because by accident he was playing with another dog and hurt him badly.Please tell me who or where i can take my two year old -so he can continue to be loved. No animals or children please.
mary lu April 05, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Please don't let Karen h ever adopt any dog. I have a beautiful pit that is in love with my grandson. He's only 9 months old and my wonderfu rescue pit loves him


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