LAKELAND, Fla. — Hundreds of dogs are being saved from being euthanized thanks to a Polk County nonprofit.
“Biggest misconception about their personalities is that they are vicious, but they are not,” said Angela Lorio, co-founder of Polk County Bully Project.
Polk County Bully Project in Lakeland is working to change the narrative surrounding pit bulls and dogs labeled as “bully breeds.”
Lorio and Shannon Medina started the nonprofit in 2019 to rescue bully breeds from animal control, that would otherwise be killed.
The county does not allow them to be adopted out. Polk County leads the state in euthanasia rates.
“Seventy percent of what’s in the shelter is a blockheaded breed, it’s a bully breed and those are the ones that get euthanized. There isn’t anyone that stands up for them,” said Shannon Medina, co-founder of Polk County Bully Project.
The rescue organization says pit bull breeds are misunderstood and discriminated against.
“Score an 85% on temperament test. They’re wonderful family dogs. The handful that does bite have been starved, chained up, fed gun powder, abused,” Lorio said.
The rescued dogs are spayed or neutered and chipped. Then they are adopted out to applicants who pass a background check or are transferred to a rescue partner in New Hampshire.
Through education, they hope to find forever homes for not some, but all of man’s best friends.
“We have a program that we’ve established which is an ambassador program for the younger youth to join and be a part of to try to help remove the stigma of these dogs,” Medina said.