Brookhaven's town animal shelter wants to create a bull market for pit bulls.
The town said Tuesday it would give $250 to certified charities, animal welfare groups and relief organizations for every pit bull they "commit to taking and placing in a safe haven."
The Horseblock Road animal shelter, which houses about 175 pit bulls and pit mixes, has had a backlog of pit bulls for several years, and the new program will get them out of the shelter and closer to placement in homes, Supervisor Mark Lesko said. The pit bulls and pit mixes comprise more than 90 percent of the dogs at the shelter.
"As wonderful as these dogs are, they can be difficult to place because there is a stigma attached to them," Lesko said.
Money for the program will be provided by the Help the Animals Fund, a nonprofit group whose board of directors includes Dori Scofield, the Brookhaven shelter director.
Pit bulls constitute the majority of dogs at shelters on Long Island and beyond because of the dogs' undeserved reputation as aggressive, Scofield said. Many of the dogs exhibit aggressive behavior because they were mistreated as fighting dogs or guard dogs, but with proper care they are friendly and loyal, she said.
"They are the toughest to adopt out," she said. "If I had a shelter full of Yorkie-poos, they'd be gone in no time."
The dogs will be vaccinated, microchipped, and spayed or neutered at the shelter, Lesko said. The program is not limited to groups from New York State, he said.
The town will conduct a background check of every organization that wants to adopt dogs to ensure that the organizations are licensed nonprofits, Lesko said.