By Carrie Coppernoll
Dawn Pamplin decided she had to make a contribution. She had to do some good.
Doctors diagnosed her with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease this winter and told her she had six to eight years to live.
"I thought, What do I want my contribution to be?' she said.
So the Norman resident founded Oklahoma Bully Breed Rescue, a rescue operation for pit bull terriers, dogs that are often seen as more dangerous than loving.
Today, Pamplin and other advocates across the country are celebrating National Pit Bull Awareness Day.
Pamplin, 39, will be handing out educational information at the annual Second Chance Dog Day Afternoon. The event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 615 E Robinson in Norman.
Pamplin's rescue started as a one-family show. She took dogs in until she could find a rescue group to take them. Now she's built a small network of foster families to help keep the pups, but none of them live in the metro area.
Right now she's looking for homes for a female adult, Sarabus, and her puppies. So far she's adopted four dogs out one to Vermont, one to Pennsylvania and two to Texas.
Pamplin doesn't have room for any more, so she has to turn down requests nearly every day. Most shelters don't adopt pit bull terriers because of their aggressive reputation.
For example, pit bull terriers at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter are euthanized if an owner doesn't claim them within a few days. They don't have the chance for adoption. But, Pamplin said, pits don't deserve a death sentence because of their breed.
"Pit bulls aren't the only dogs that bite, she said.
Because of the public perception of pit bull terriers, Pamplin said she's treading lightly.
She's taking extra care with her selection of dogs to accept and owners to adopt them. Pamplin is serious about her adoptions. In the adoption contract, she lays it all out. The first thing on the list of requirements: "I agree not to allow this dog to participate in any type of fighting.
The image of the vicious fighting dog is something Pamplin and other owners are battling every day. Most individual dogs that give the breed a bad reputation come from irresponsible or cruel owners.
"Everybody thinks that the pit bulls that are fighting are really bad dogs, Pamplin said, "but you've got to look at the fact that these are dogs that were trained to do this. These dogs have an incredible desire to please their owner. ... If you take a dog with that kind of desire to please and turn that into something good and train them to do something good, they're only desire is to please you as their owner.
Most people, for example, don't know that pit bull terriers are used for search and rescue and for sniffing out narcotics, Pamplin said.
That's the kind of information Pamplin wants people to know, and she hopes through days like today, people will see the kindhearted animal she sees when she looks at a bully.
For more information, call 535-2900 or go to www.oklahomabullybreedrescue.org