"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."
~ C. S. Lewis

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Great Lakes pit bull lovers celebrate the breed

Posted by Jo Collins Mathis
The Ann Arbor News
May 31, 2008

Phil Chiappetta of suburban Chicago says he's had a lot of girlfriends over the years, but none of them could match the loyalty of his pit bull terriers.

"These dogs don't let you down," said the 39-year-old Teamster. "They don't lie, cheat or steal. And they don't do drugs. The meanest dog I have is that much nicer than my girlfriends."

Chiappetta was in Lodi Township Saturday attending a show of the Great Lakes American Pit Bull Terrier Club at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds, where about 25 dogs took top prizes in a variety of categories.

Every breed of dog has its die-hard followers, but those who love the pit bull say they must sometimes overcome the prejudice of those view their dogs as aggressors.

Chiappetta said the guys on the loading dock call him "Phil Vick," referring to Michael Vick, the NFL quarterback convicted of training and fighting dogs.

"These dogs have a bad rap," he said. A few irresponsible owners have made it tough for others, he said. "But I like their attitude, their faithfulness, their unsurpassed dedication."

Club president Dave Wolf said the pit bull is a "wonderful, loving, athletic dog that's been misrepresented in the press."

Just as each breed was bred for a specific purpose, the unfortunate legacy of the pit bull is that their strength and courage have been exploited by "a lawless element of society" and used for dog fighting.
Leisa Thompson, Ann Arbor News

Debbie Wacasey, a volunteer at the Great Lakes American Pit Bull Terrier Club's show, gets a smooch from her dog as her husband, Ed Wacasey, waits for judging Saturday at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds

"As a result, these owners suffer because people see your dog and pull their kids back off the sidewalk," said Wolf, who has owned pit bulls since 1963.

Daniel Stone of Ypsilanti attended the show with Schoolboy, a handsome 22-month-old reverse blue brindle pit bull which stood quietly by his side watching the other dogs, and sniffing their scent in the breeze.

Schoolboy is Stone's first pit bull, and he's a satisfied owner.

The pit is "everything I hoped to get in a dog: a family pet, guard dog and good companion," he said. "He's eye candy. He's a show dog."

Stone said Schoolboy hasn't bitten anyone, but he believes in using caution. When children come up and ask if they can pet him, he declines.

"You never know what character a kid carries," he said. "A dog can pick up on that."

Loyalty is the biggest reason Dawn Greenfield of East Stroudsburg loves her pit bull, Angus.

"You've never been loved till you've been loved by a pit bull," she said, describing how Angus is nice and calm until she leaves the room, when he goes berserk worrying - she said - about her welfare and whereabouts.

Adrian resident Jose Casanova is the proud owner of 11 pit bull terriers - and one Chihuahua.

"And he's the one who runs the show," said Casanova, referring to the tiny dog.
As for all those pit bulls?

"They're a cool breed," he said. "They can be a bad breed. But it's people who make them a bad breed. We're trying to get a good name for them."

Jo Mathis can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 734-994-6849.