For Severna Park resident Julie Newman, adopted pit bull Zeke is her family’s “perfectly imperfect match.” So much so that Newman was compelled to enter the Petco Love Story competition. Her submission was one of 101 out of 10,000 that was selected a winner in December.
The Newman family adopted Zeke in April 2021 after they’d originally been looking for a retriever. According to Newman’s submission:
“Zeke is nothing like what I thought I wanted, and yet he’s everything I didn’t know I needed. He is incredibly smart, loving, loyal, silly and sweet … Most importantly, he’s taught me not to judge a book by its cover. Although intellectually I had always felt bad for the unfair reputation of the pit bull and would donate money to their cause, I didn’t want to adopt one. On some unconscious level, I too was biased and afraid … Zeke has proven that pit bulls are indeed misunderstood.”
Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives. Winners get the reward of giving grants to the organizations that they’ve adopted from. Newman’s story won Pitties and Purrs in Baltimore a 2021 Love Stories award and a $10,000 grant from Petco Love and BOBS from Skechers. Newman also personally won a pair of BOBS shoes, a canvas print and $100 in-store Petco shopping spree, which she generously used to purchase Christmas gifts for the foster pups in Pitties and Purrs’ care.
Pitties and Purrs Rescue Inc. is a nonprofit, all-volunteer, all-foster organization that takes in approximately 100 dogs and 25 cats each year. Most of the animals it rescues have medical issues, which can add up quickly. In fact, last year, its expenses came to over $220,000.
“Grants like this literally save lives, like the three pups Pitties and Purrs rescued on Christmas Eve from being euthanized at a shelter in Georgia,” Newman explained.
After winning the initial $10,000 grant, Newman had a shot at winning up to $25,000 more in the People's Choice awards that were public voting based. While she finished heartbreakingly close at sixth place — when the top five won additional grants — Newman, along with her husband, Rob, and 11-year-old daughter, Cara, have all become advocates for pit-bull-type dogs.
“My daughter proudly wears her pit bull lover sweatshirts and T-shirts to school,” Newman said. “I continue to dispel myths/untruths and promote fundraising and advocacy where I can.”
Due to the pit bulls’ appearance and the heart-wrenching history of dogfighting, there’s a common misconception that all pit bulls are aggressive and dangerous. “But for those of us who know and love them, we know that pit bulls are often the biggest love bugs who just want to snuggle up with you on the couch and play with their friends at the dog park,” Newman said.
Most recently, Newman started a fundraiser through Facebook to crowdsource more funds. In two weeks, Newman raised $1,100 in donations through her Facebook page, plus a $500 matching gift from Rob’s employer, Stanley Black & Decker.
“Zeke is our first pit bull, but he won't likely be our last, and I will continue to raise awareness for him and dogs like him whenever I can,” Newman said.
To learn more about Pitties and Purrs or donate, visit www.pittiesandpurrs.org.
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