Zachary Felts of Pauline, S.C., has the following quote posted on his bedroom wall: “You can’t trust a Pitt Bull because they will steal your heart.” Although he doesn’t know who wrote the statement, the 11-year-old strongly shares the sentiment and claims it as his favorite quote. So much so, he sacrificed all his birthday presents to help pit bulls. “People think pit bulls are so mean, and they’re not,” Zachary said. “It’s just the way they are treated.”
In today’s world, Zachary’s favorite quote can stir up a little controversy. Pit bulls have been associated with aggressive behavior and are feared by many people. “There is a cultural bias when it comes to the pit bull,” said Dr. Jim Dobies, a veterinarian who owns South Point Pet Hospital in Belmont. “Gaston County has a number of pit bull mixes that are pets and they have always been the most friendly dogs to work with.”
Zachary, who has grown up with all types of dogs including five pit bulls, described the breed as “sweet,” and decided he wanted to help all the abandoned pit bulls he believes people mislabel. Zachary’s mother, Summer Felts, said that five months before his 11th birthday party, Zachary told her that instead of getting presents for himself he wanted his guests to bring dog items to donate to a pit bull rescue center in Charlotte. Although she said he loves all dogs, his heart lies mostly with pit bulls. “He gets all fired up whenever he sees the media representing pit bulls poorly. He knows how devoted and loyal they are and how they love to please their owners,” Summer Felts said.
Zachary chose South of the Bully Rescue Center because it was the only one in their region that specifically rescues the pit bull breed. South of the Bully rescues pit bulls from Chester County, S.C., Animal Control and Gaston County Animal Control. “I don’t know if I will ever have another breed,” said South of the Bully Vice President Karrie Murphy. “We all believe they are misunderstood and we are trying to change that image.” South of the Bully is a nonprofit organization staffed by volunteers. It was established in October to rescue pit bulls and place them in foster care until they find a permanent home. “Pit bulls are euthanized more often than any other breed,” Murphy said. The organization provides all necessary veterinarian care and needs through public donations and adoption fees.
South of the Bully will have an adoption event on July 27 at Pet Essentials on Pineville-Matthews Road in Charlotte. Zachary along with his family will attend to deliver all the donated dog items, including 300 pounds of dog food, and to get a closer look at one of their rescued pit bulls he’s interested in adopting. The staff is looking forward to meeting him. “For a kid to say I don’t want presents, instead, I want to give to these dogs, and to pick us, we were all floored,” Murphy said.
Summer said Zachary’s excitement was not curbed by the fact he wasn’t getting presents. “He was so excited at the party,” she said. “He was ecstatic as though he was opening presents for himself.” Many guests brought both a donated item and money in case he wanted something for himself. “He took that and bought more dog supplies,” Summer said.
Zachary, who is a fifth-grader at Glenn Springs Elementary School in Pauline, has decided what he wants to do when he grows up. “I want to have a rescue organization,” he said.