CAROL STREAM – Pit bulls have an unfortunate reputation that often prevents people from adopting them.
But Carol Stream resident Stephanie Paluch, co-founder of the nonprofit Players for Pits, says this is a misconception she and others are working to change.
“It’s a stereotype,” Paluch said. “Pit bulls are people-pleasing dogs.”
Paluch and her boyfriend, Ryan Copeland, a former professional baseball player with the St. Louis Cardinals organization, founded Players for Pits in May 2013 as a way to help raise money so pit bulls, like their own rescue Miley, would be saved.
Miley was rescued minutes before she was scheduled to be euthanized at Chicago Animal Care and Control, and it was this rescue that sparked the idea for the charity.
She now has lived with the couple for more than a year and is joined at the hip with their chihuahua, Paluch said.
Players for Pits’ goal is to rescue dogs from high-kill shelters and place them into loving homes throughout Chicago’s western suburbs. After being rescued, many dogs are placed with “foster parents” until a permanent home is found for the dogs, and they are adopted.
The organization raises money through special events to help rescuers care for the abused and severely neglected animals by covering veterinarian bills and other expenses.
Spending most of their professional careers in the sports field, Paluch and Copeland decided to combine their two passions, sports and animals, to create Players for Pits.
The nonprofit connects the community with professional athletes who take a stand against the abuse and neglect of animals. The athletes actively support the rescue efforts and help by spreading the word about dogs in need through social media.
Players who support the charity include such names as Trey McNutt of the Cubs, Donnie Veal of the White Sox and Illinois native Mike Foitynewics of the Houston Astros.
While most of the rescue dogs are pit bulls – because a majority of shelter dogs are that breed – the charity is an advocate for all dogs, Paluch said.
Players for Pits’ mission is to educate dog owners about proper pet care, both physical and mental, so that the dogs in their care can be happy, well-balanced members of society.
“A pit bull is nothing more than a dog, and any dog can be aggressive if not raised right,” Paluch said. “They mimic their owners.”
Foster homes are always needed in order to save as many dogs as possible. These homes create a great environment for a dog to succeed, she said.
They allow the dog a better chance of developing a stable demeanor, thus leading to a higher success rate for the dogs once they find their “forever homes.”
“To give these dogs a second chance in life is our objective,” Copeland said.