Saving The Underdogs

Cece, a 10-year-old female mastiff mix. (Photo courtesy Pitties & Pals Rescue)

HOWELL – What comes to mind when you think of a “bully breed?” Pit bills? Rottweilers? That’s only half the story.

Daisy, a 5-year-old female pit mix. (Photo courtesy Pitties & Pals Rescue)

It is thought that the term originated sometime during the 19th century in England, when Molossers – solidly built, large dog breeds that date back to ancient Greek times – were bred with mastiffs and Old English bulldogs to protect livestock and property. The trouble started when owners started breeding them for other, less favorable purposes, such as bull baiting.

Donna Kenevich, President of Pitties & Pals Rescue, knows a thing or two about them, too. In her opinion, the bully breeds of today are tough, sometimes older, fearful dogs struggling with issues like guarding their food.

In other words, dogs that aren’t highly adoptable.

“That’s our goal, to help the underdog,” she said.

Kenevich and her team of employees and volunteers spend time with these underdogs to get them to feel more comfortable, get them moving, and walking nicely on a leash. Then, the dogs can move into foster homes and ultimately be adopted into their forever homes.

Shadow, a 5-year-old male pit mix. (Photo courtesy Pitties & Pals Rescue)

The group tries to rescue dogs from shelters that might soon be euthanized, but have nothing wrong with them. A couple months ago, they rescued a dog from a shelter in New York that was about to be euthanized, and it ended up being adopted.

Kenevich has had dogs her whole life. She started Pitties & Pals with four other friends who were volunteering with other rescue groups. They wanted to do more to help the bully breed, and decided to “jump into the deep end of the pool” and start their own organization. It’s been about three years, and things have started to get off the ground. While not an animal facility, the rescue focuses on fostering and boarding dogs until they can be adopted.

Fundraisers throughout the year have helped cover the expensive cost of boarding, medical bills and dog food. There was a motorcycle run in July, as well as various dinner and wine events that have helped them get through the winter months when it’s harder to fundraise.

“All money goes to boarding, food, the vet, anything that the dogs might need,” she said.

Zeus, a 4-year-old male pit mix, was recently adopted by his forever family. (Photo courtesy Pitties & Pals Rescue)

On October 6, Pitties & Pals will host their 1st Annual Putting For Pooches at Gamblers’ Ridge Golf Club in Cream Ridge. Entry fee is $125, including lunch and dinner, and sponsorship opportunities for businesses are also available. Anyone not interested in golfing can make a $35 donation and just attend the buffet dinner at 6 p.m.

Right now there are 10 dogs up for adoption. Three are in foster homes, and seven are in boarding. Kenevich said that with the help of volunteers, they are able to get the dogs outside to stretch their legs at least four times a day.

Zeus, a 4-year-old male Pit mix, was recently adopted by his forever family.

Pitties & Pals is always looking for new foster families and volunteers. For more information, visit