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Training Class Offered for Pit Bull Owners

April 18, 1999|NEDA RAOUF

Teaming up to address public concern over recent pit bull attacks, Los Angeles Animal Services and an animal rescue group will present a training class for Valley pit bull owners on Monday.

Pit bull trainer Tia Torres, who works for the Villalobos Rescue Center in Agua Dulce, will conduct the two-hour class covering the history, socialization and training of pit bulls.

"With proper training and proper socialization, you could have a great animal," said Sheri Richardson, office manager at the Agua Dulce rescue center, which cares for pit bulls and other dogs until they are adopted.

Incidents in recent months include the fatal mauling of a South Los Angeles toddler, an attack on a North Hollywood man and attacks on two people and a dog in Granada Hills.

Stable behavior of the dogs is dependent on the behavior of owners, who need to raise and train their animals for stability, said Jackie David, spokeswoman for L.A. Animal Services. She acknowledged that pit bulls were initially bred to fight in pits.

The frequent reports of pit bull attacks may be attributed to the lack of training and the number of animals in Los Angeles, where people own three times as many pit bulls as other dogs, trainer Torres said.

Following the recent attacks, an increased number of pit bulls have been turned in by their owners to city animal shelters and the Agua Dulce rescue center, David said.

"[At the] East Valley, South-Central and North-Central city shelters, owners are dumping their pit bulls out of fear of the hype from the recent cases and concern that these animals can't be controlled," she said.

At the same time, adoptions have decreased.

"I don't think we've had a pit go out of here in the past month or two," Richardson said of the 45 to 50 pit bulls at the rescue center. "Owners that have had their dogs for years now all of a sudden want to give it up. That's why we're doing this training with the city now."

For Monday's class, L.A. Animal Services is providing the facility--the Reseda Recreation Center, 18411 Victory Blvd.

Monday's 7 p.m. class is free, but those attending are asked to donate a 20-pound bag of dog food to feed abandoned pit pulls in rescue centers.

Because of the limited class size, reservations are required. Call (661) 268-0555.

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