Support for abused pit bull may change shelter adoption policy

It won't be until Tuesday when 10-day quarantine against "Champ," a pit bull at the center of an animal cruelty case in Harlingen, is lifted.

The dog's owner has been charged in the case.

Police accuse Jose Gonzales of punching his pet in the face, leaving the dog bloodied and cut, according to a report.

The Harlingen Humane Society has been flooded with calls from people interested in adopting "Champ" should a judge decide the owner can't have him back.

But the shelter doesn't adopt pit bulls to the general public.

It's a rule the shelter's manager, Frank Quinones, says dates back years.

"It's been something they've worried about as far as a liability issue," he said. "Especially because of the ones from the area that come in... They're not really to sure about their past."

"Champ" has 2 strikes against him.

It's not just his breed but also because he's been reportedly abused.

Frank says only specialized handlers or rescue groups can potentially save him from being put down.

"We've run into a lot of people who are upset... And all I can say is that... We're working hard to a point where we can adopt them out... And hopefully all of this exposure can pave the way," Frank explained.

Animal lovers and pit bull fans alike have turned to social media outlets like Facebook to try and save "Champ."

"Gentle," one person posts.

"Loving animals," explains another Facebook user.

Janie Vega sums it up with 2 words: "...Best dog..."

The Harlingen Humane Society isn't alone with its policy to not adopt pit bulls to the general public. A shelter in Edinburg has a similar rule in place.

A shelter in Brownsville does adopt them out.

So why does the breed get the short end of the leash?

Frank believes negative media exposure plays a large part in the fear.

"I guess it's because it's been sensationalized... Because it makes more news when a pit bull bites than a Chihuahua... Even though a Chihuahua can be just as viscous," he said.

"Champ" has been a model resident.

His daily report card shows well behaved.

The same goes for other pit bulls currently at the shelter.

And while all of their futures remain up in the air, it's "Champ" who may ultimately lead the way to change.

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