Rude: WRAL Would Not Feature Dallas the Pit Bull on "Pet of the Day" | News
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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Rude: WRAL Would Not Feature Dallas the Pit Bull on "Pet of the Day"

Posted by on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO FROM FACEBOOK
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Meet Dallas, a two-year-old blue brindle pit bull. He's a Cause for Paws foster pup who's looking for a home. 

Last week, Dallas, accompanied by his foster mom Brittany Carpenter and Cause for Paws outreach director Molly Doll, thought he was going to be featured on WRAL-TV's "Pet of the Day" news segment.

Carpenter says the newscaster asked Doll some questions about Dallas, and when she mentioned that he's a pit bull, a cameraman on set started talking into his microphone. The next thing they knew, the cameraman was telling them that Dallas couldn't be featured on "Pet of the Day" because of his breed.

Carpenter says the newscasters intervened and asked if Dallas couldn't at least be featured on WRAL's website; they were all told no.  

"We waited and we were told someone would come talk to us about why he wasn't going to be featured," Carpenter says. "But no one came, so we just left. I was really shocked when they told us. I was really upset and disappointed."

Nicole Horabik, a Cause for Paws program director, says WRAL did follow up with her after refusing to feature Dallas, and the station did post on its Facebook page to try to start a conversation about why Dallas wasn't featured.

"We are not really sure what the reason is and there have been a couple of different stories," Horabik says. "We have been told that other dogs have been turned away."

Steve Hammel, WRAL-TV's vice president and general manager since 2008, said an incident on set several years ago brought about a policy where "Pet of the Day" would not allow "any pit bull or pit bull-type dog." He could not give details about the incident because, he says, it happened before his time there, but he agrees that Dallas didn't show any aggressive behavior while in the studio. 

Hammel says it's his understanding that Cause for Paws was told several months ago that they "could not bring a pit bull on to "Pet of the Day." He says WRAL-TV does not have a written rule regarding breed restriction.

"We have been doing "Pet of the Day" for about twenty years, and thousands of dogs have been adopted as a result," he added. 

Horabik says Cause for Paws was never informed of any breed restriction policy, and that the very first time the group went on the segment, it featured a pit bull-mix. And, she says, Cause for Paws has featured pit bulls again on "Pet of the Day" since.

"But Dallas is close to 100 percent mix," she says. "He's bigger and more pit looking."

Still, Horabik says Cause for Paws would never take in a dog that it didn't think was adoptable, and the group works to train dogs with behavior issues. 

"We hope we started a conversation, that it goes beyond what WRAL did and gets the stigma off of pit bulls," she says. "It's not the breed, it's how the dog is raised. Each dog has a different temperament that has nothing to do with their breed."

Since last Thursday, Horabik and Carpenter have started a Facebook page for Dallas with 850 "likes." A petition to WRAL to lift its breed restriction policy and allow all pets to be featured has more than 2,000 signatures. Tomorrow, a group from Cause for Paws is scheduled to meet with some managers from the station to discuss the petition and the breed restriction policy.

And there's even some more good news to come out of all this.

"We have had a couple of adoption applications come in for Dallas and we've also had a couple of meet-and-greets," Carpenter says. "We are just going through the process and deciding what family will be best for him. This will not hurt his chances of being adopted, I actually think it has helped him more, because just so many people are supporting him now, and saying kind words about him."

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