Shelter seeks homes for pit bulls, other dogs

Senior Volunteer Nicole Graham and three-year-old, Zara at the Los Angeles Animal Care: Castaic Shelter in Castaic on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The Castaic Animal Care Center is facing the prospect of overcrowding and, as a result, is in need of local residents who can provide a home to one of the nearly 40 dogs it currently houses.

There are a number of different breeds available at the shelter, but senior volunteer Nicole Graham hopes families will consider adopting one of the many friendly pit bulls that are currently available in Castaic.

Three-year-old Zara is available to the public. Dan Watson/The Signal

Graham has volunteered at the local shelter for three years after she witnessed how hard it was for pit bulls to leave the shelter.

“She’s been very successful in getting many of them adopted,” Shelter Manager Karen Stepp said last week during a showcase of the shelter’s adoptable dogs.

Pit bulls usually have a reputation as problem dogs who are prone to attacking, but spend a few minutes with dogs like Willow, Zara or Riley, and it’s easy to see that isn’t always the case, Graham said.

You might’ve seen stories online about attacks, but those dogs aren’t always pit bulls, according to Graham and Stepp, who said the phrase “pit bull” is more of an umbrella term for dogs related to bulldogs, boxers and terriers.

If the dogs are aggressive, then they probably come from a hard environment that would sully even the most well-mannered dog, Stepp said, acknowledging, “A dog is the environment they come from.”

One Year-old, pocket-pittie, Riley Dan Watson/The Signal

This is why the pair feel Castaic’s pit bulls would make a loving addition to families in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Most pit bulls come to the Castaic shelter because the owner moved to a complex that doesn’t allow the breed, Graham said. Even though they’ve proven to be friendly, they are still forced to surrender the animal.

“It’s discrimination, and it’s unfair,” she added, but there’s nothing more she can do besides get to work on finding a new home for the pups.

Thanks to off-site adoptions, which allow dogs to frequent local businesses around town in an effort to find a new home, the Castaic Shelter is able to show how well pit bulls interact with children and the wider public.

“It’s just about being their voice. A lot of people don’t realize how loyal they can be,” Graham said. “Any dog can be a good dog as long as it finds the right family to care for it.”

Three-year-old Willow. Dan Watson/The Signal

For more information on dogs like Riley, Zara or Willow, visit the Castaic Animal Shelter between noon and 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday or from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

You can also visit the website at animalcare.lacounty.gov, Graham said, adding anybody who is 18 and older can adopt a dog.

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