Three weeks after being rescued from brutal conditions at a south suburban home, 20 pit bulls, some just a few weeks old, have found foster homes all over Chicago thanks to Players for Pits, a volunteer-run, not-for-profit dog rescue.
Those dogs now have their own hashtag — #Furever21Crew, a tally that includes one pup already dead when Cook County sheriff’s officers found them caged in the back yard of a home near Thornton Township on Sept. 21.
The surviving 20 dogs required treatment for everything from large leg wounds and shredded tongues to worms and parasites — conditions that could have proven fatal if not treated quickly.
The dogs were seized by Chicago’s Animal Care and Control, then handed over to Players for Pits once they were healthy enough to begin the rehabilitation process.
“This is a second chance at life for these pups,” said Stephanie Paluch, founder of Players for Pits. “Pit bulls seem to be the targeted breed for animal abusers because these dogs will do anything for their owners, but they deserve not be neglected, too.”
Paluch founded the organization in 2013 to give pit bulls the support she believes they deserve, including medical care and training services. The group stays afloat through donations, grants and business sponsorships.
The organization rescued 10 dogs its first year. They’ve already rescued more than 300 this year, as it has grown into the largest home for pit bulls rescued in the Chicago area, Paluch said. She expects that number to keep growing due to the stigma surrounding the breed.
“People still don’t fully understand pit bulls, so a lot of people see a pit bull-type dog and automatically think that they’re dangerous,” Paluch said. “They don’t understand that any dog can be dangerous in certain situations, but not every situation. One of our goals is to educate people about that.”
Pit bulls’ intensely loyal nature also makes it easier for owners to take advantage of them, Paluch said.
The original owner of the #Furever21Crew had faced previous animal abuse citations, according to the sheriff’s office but is still at large.
Paluch urges neighbors to alert animal control if they see animals chained outside for days at a time.
“It’s really important that when people see bad things happening or they’re concerned that they do call animal control. These dogs deserve access to food, water and shelter just like us,” she said.