Greeting the more than 100 champagne-sipping guests at their Park Avenue home for the June 5 “Save the Pit Bulls” Kick Off Party — in advance of the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation July 18 th “Unconditional Love Dinner Dance” — were Martin Shafiroff and event co-chairs Jean Shafiroff and Patrick McMullen. Guests were also made welcome by daughter Elizabeth Shafiroff and the the two super friendly — once scheduled-to-be- euthanized — pit bulls Bella and Daisy whom she rescued.
As a dog lover who, after asking for permission, can’t resist petting leashed dogs on Manhattan sidewalks, I have always given pit bulls a wide berth — even crossing the street when I see one coming aware of press reports of attacks by these dogs.
“The problem today with pit bulls is that they are terribly discriminated against [like] the German Shepherds were after World War II,” informed Jean Shafiroff. “No one wanted to adopt them.” Touting the Southampton Animal Shelter as one that ranks among “the 10% of shelters in the U.S., it is a no kill shelter which means that 98% of dogs are adopted out or remain there,” she informed “Sadly, the first dogs to be euthanized at most shelters are pit bulls. They are also the ones that find it most difficult to be adopted. There is no bad dog—just bad owners. The only time a dog is euthanized is if the dog is dangerous to the community.”
“ Pit bull fighting is a crime in the United States… sadly it occurs in New York City,” informed Shafiroff. “We don’t need pit bull breeders in New York, we need rescuers to take them in and give them a loving home. When our daughter Elizabeth rescued [the dogs] whom my husband decided to adopt, I was petrified. They have [since] brought great love to us and they have been wonderful pets.”
“The main concern we have with pits is spaying and neutering,” Patricia Gray, Executive Director of Southampton Animal Shelter told the guests. “They don’t have little litters. They have 10-14 pups so it’s very important to keep the population under control. We have 38 pits [at Southampton]. We try to keep them healthy, get them adopted…it’s a difficult task. Big dogs are discriminated against because of their behavior, but they can be kind and gentle as a puppy. A lot of people [also] don’t take pits because they are worried about insurance… but Lloyds of London does not discriminate against pits.”
As I was listening, super friendly Daisy and Bella were doing figure eights around my legs and I could not resist repeatedly petting their rock solid bodies.