25 Rescued Pets Join Pit Bull Hall of Fame

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Twenty five once-homeless pit bulls and pit mixes have earned prestigious Canine Good Citizen (CGC) awards as part of a program offered by Oakland pit bull group BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls). Dogs with CGC certification are more likely to be accepted by landlords and insurance companies.

Former Vick dog Uba is proud of his new accomplishment.

We want to celebrate dog owners who go above and beyond the call of duty to present their dogs as breed ambassadors. Just about any dog can shine if his owner cares enough to commit to a minimal amount of obedience training. Pit bulls are generally eager beavers when it comes to learning new things so training comes quickly to most.

Twenty five pit bulls climbed from misfortune to fame this past weekend by earning prestigious Canine Good Citizen titles during a test in Berkeley CA. Dog trainer and AKC (American Kennel Club) examiner Jennie Keifer of Dixon, CA conducted the series of exercises one dog and handler at a time while supportive onlookers crossed their fingers and held their breath. Keifer's face broke from careful scrutiny to a wide smile when she tallied one pricked-eared dog's test scores. She alerted Betty Bling's owner, "You've done it. Congratulations!" and onlookers broke out in cheers. Betty Bling was once an untrained puppy abandoned in an east bay shelter, but today she was a super star and a well loved ambassador for her breed.

All of the pit bulls now boasting CGC titles were originally rescued from difficult beginnings: Two of the dogs ('Jonny Justice' and 'Uba') were from Vick's Bad News Kennels, three dogs ('Sallie' 'Leroy' and 'Bailey') came to CA after losing their homes to Hurricane Katrina and the rest were once homeless shelter dogs. Now in loving homes, their owners are eager to break breed stereotypes by giving their pets an honor that sets them apart from most household canines.

The AKC Canine Good Citizen program rewards owners who encourage good behavior in their pets. Each of the 25 dogs has been added to a growing list of accomplished pit bulls on BAD RAP's popular Hall of Fame webpage, which highlights photos of the dogs and their owners.

Executive director Donna Reynolds explained, "We want to celebrate dog owners who go above and beyond the call of duty to present their dogs as breed ambassadors. Just about any dog can shine if his owner cares enough to commit to a minimal amount of obedience training. Pit bulls are generally eager beavers when it comes to learning new things so training comes quickly to most."

BAD RAP offers free weekly classes to help prep pit bulls and their owners for the exam, which is broken down into ten separate tests. These include: Accepting a friendly stranger, sitting politely for petting, allowing grooming, walking on a loose leash, walking through a crowd, sitting on command and staying in place, coming when called, relaxed reaction to another dog, calm during distractions and supervised separation.

BAD RAP trainer and CGC Coach Linda Chwistek explains why she gives her Saturdays over to help other pit bull owners. "I've spent many years volunteering with dog rescues and local humane societies in my community. During those years, I saw first hand many dogs dropped off at my local shelter because these dogs lacked basic good manners. And so, I realized that a trained dog is more likely to stay in its home. BAD RAP had an opportunity to create a CGC coaching program for pit bulls in our community and I wanted to be a part of it. For every pit bull with a CGC certificate, I see one more pit bull with a better chance of being a treasured member of the household."

Pit bull owners interested in helping their dog earn their CGC can contact BAD RAP for an appointment to see if your dog is ready. Dogs who have good obedience skills but who may need to brush up on a few manners before testing may quality for BAD RAP's CGC Prep Class.

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