Pits4Tits

In three weeks, Lizz Whitacre turned a pit bull into a therapy dog.

The therapy dog, named Turner, is the same dog that was said to be “too vicious” to be adopted.

Turner was a day away from being put down before Whitacre took him into her home. Now, he sits alongside the elderly at nursing homes and at the library for kids’ reading programs.

Whitacre said a lot of people are still stuck on viewing pit bulls as the stereotype: vicious all the time and only used for fighting. Whitacre said she knows differently as she has three pit bulls of her own: Turner, Hooch and Scout.

“It’s sad when I take Hooch out in public and the first reaction is always, ‘Is he going to bite me?’” she said. “To them a pit bull is a pit bull, but it’s not. It’s not fair to them.”

Whitacre and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s No Kill Advocacy Club decided to inform the community and take action by holding its second annual Pits for Tits 5k in honor of pit bull awareness month, as well as breast cancer awareness month.

The Pits for Tits 5k will be held Saturday, Oct. 3, in front of the UNL East Campus Union. Doors open at noon, and the race starts at 12:30 p.m. Friendly dogs of all breeds are welcome. Prizes catered toward the dogs of the first, second and third place winners of the race will be awarded.

The 5k is $15 to enter, and Pits for Tits T-shirts will be available for sale for $15. 40 percent of the contributions will go to the American Cancer Society and 60 percent go to the Villalobos Rescue Center, a rescue, rehabilitation and placement facility for abused and abandoned pit bulls.

“The causes are the same in the way that anyone can be affected,” Whitacre said. “Anyone can be affected by breast cancer, whether you’ve had it yourself or someone you know has. Anyone can love pit bulls. They’re just another dog: a good companion, a source of therapy and a stress reliever.”

She explained that “pit bull” is not a real breed, but just a term made up for dogs that are a mixture of any breed with 1 of the 12 bully breeds: “Johnson” American Bulldog, “Scott” American bulldog, dogo argentino, Alapaha blue blood bulldog, boxer, American Staffordshire terrier, American pit bull terrier, bull terrier, American bully, miniature bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier and Boston terrier.

“I’m just the type of person to stand up for the underdog,” Whitacre said. “It’s not about how you raise the dogs, but it’s about how you’re treating them at the time. If you give them a lot of love you can take them away from their bad raising.”

Whitacre’s dedication to “taking a stand for the underdog” stemmed from the moment she started watching Animal Planet. Even at a young age, she spent her time worrying about the 3 to 4 million animals that are killed a year.

“I would be running around to my friends yelling, ‘They’re gonna euthanize them! We have to adopt them!’” she said. “I don’t even think any of them knew what ‘euthanize’ meant… but I don’t like seeing a problem and not being able to fix it myself.”

So, Whitacre began to fix the problems she saw with animal cruelty and sheltered animals herself, so much that she was recently nominated and chosen as one of the “Top 10 Most Inspirational Women in Lincoln” and was awarded the top “Future Business Leader” by the 2015 Inspire advisory board.

She stays busy with fundraising for Caffeline,a downtown café for both students and cats to promote the rescue offline friends from overflowing city shelters and with her latest project Progressive Animal Welfare Rescue.

But with more than 200 members of the No Kill Advocacy Club, she has no problem with donations and support, she said.

With more support from the people of Lincoln, the club members said they hope to see an increase in runners and their loyal dog companions in the 5k Saturday, even with the challenge of getting sponsors because of the negativity linked to pit bulls.

“It’s all worth it in the end: raising awareness,” vice president of No Kill Advocacy Club, Maddy Wilson said. “We’re a smaller UNL club, but we’re still making a difference. Sometimes, it’s the small accomplishments.”

news@dailynebraskan.com