CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Walking down the halls of any area animal shelter and it’s obvious, most dogs in the kennels are pit bulls. They’ve historically been bred for dog fighting and experts say they’re abused more than any other type of dog. A bad reputation leaves them sitting in the shelters longer, and more likely to be euthanized.
But a new initiative spearheaded by a Charlotte family and non-profit is seeking solutions to the overpopulation problem.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, like so many others, Amanda Levine was thinking about adopting a dog. She went to CMPD Animal Care and Control with a plan to take home the dog who had been there the longest.
She was told it was Artemis.
“I decided first just to foster her then we fell in love, so I ended up adopting her,” Levine told WCNC Charlotte.
Artemis started her life as a bait dog and had been in and out of the shelter. She’s a pit bull, and with that comes a stigma.
“When my daughter told me she was going to be adopting a pit bull I was a little concerned. Like so many people I was ignorant as to how incredibly wonderful they can be, and they inherently are. I fell in love with her the moment I met her,” Cindy Levine said.
Realizing the shelters were overrun with dogs just like Artie inspired Cindy and Mandy Levine to dream up the Artemis Cares Fund. It’s a partnership with Stand For Animals, a local non-profit providing affordable veterinarian care.
A $500,000 donation made by the family over the next five years will allow Stand For Animals to fix 1,000 pit bulls a year, give rabies vaccinations, and with a donation from Merck Pharmaceuticals, heartworm preventative treatments.
All of it for only $25 for pit bull owners in the area.
“We’ve fixed 120,000 animals since 2011 and before all this ying yang with COVID, we saw the death rate at the shelter go down. So, we know that fixing pets actually fixes a problem, so this is another way to make a strike at that,” Cary Bernstein, the Executive Director of Stand For Animals said.
And while the overpopulation and health of the dogs is being addressed, the Levines are also hoping more people will realize what they now know, chipping away at the bad reputation of the breed.
“It really is unconditional love,” Amanda said. “Despite everything Artie has been through in her life, the abuse and neglect, she really still has that ability to love and it’s so special.”
The Artemis Cares Fund has already helped one pit bull experiencing a postpartum medical emergency. She was given the care she needed at Stand For Animals and is doing well.