CHICAGO (CBS 2) – There is a Pit Bull population explosion in the city of Chicago’s Animal Care and Control Center. An estimated 7 out of 10 of the dogs being held at these centers are Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes. Now the city is making a frantic effort to save as many as possible from euthanasia. But as CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports, it will be a losing battle for many of those dogs.

In the dog adoption rooms at the center, the barking is ferocious and never seems to stop. The dogs in the cages poke their noses out as they want to be touched and spoken to. Most of them are Pit Bulls.

Center’s executive director Cherie Travis talks of the breed, “Unfortunately they are disproportionately euthanized. We don’t euthanize Labs or Cocker Spaniels or Poodles the way we do with Pit Bulls.”

Few people want to adopt Pit Bulls or their mixes. When they’re given up by owners, or turn up stray or are seized in court cases, the dogs face almost certain death. Their only salvation may come from Pit Bull rescue groups or No Kill shelters that will take in many of them.

Carolyn Giannopoulos is a volunteer with Chicagoland Bully Breed Rescue and denies that Pit Bulls are “killer beasts” by nature. “They’re very comical, really goofy, they’re very easy to train, easy to work with.”

Travis and the city are trying to make these dogs more sociable, more adoptable. Volunteer trainers work with the dogs at the center to teach them to behave and to interact well with people.

Trainer Janice Triptow said the training can be lifesaving for the dogs, “Initially they were not given a chance.”

Now it is hoped the dogs have a chance to join a loving family and perhaps to stay alive.

Director Travis said putting the dogs to sleep is, “Devastating, I go into the euthanasia room, I see the animals that we’re euthanizing and it breaks my heart. If people would spay or neuter their pets, if people would make better decisions regarding animals, we wouldn’t be doing that.”

Travis said she hopes that within 5 years, she can dramatically expand the number of cooperating no-kill shelters and rescue groups willing to help these dogs. She believes that when that happens, Chicago will become a “no-kill city” for its animal population.

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