Pit bulls about town

DOG PACK: The Auckland Endurance Dog Association meets weekly for training in Mangere Bridge.
DOG PACK: The Auckland Endurance Dog Association meets weekly for training in Mangere Bridge.

Coming face to face with 20 pit bull terriers in a quiet street could be an alarming prospect for some.

But the Auckland Endurance Dog Association is out to change that perception.

The club's members can often be seen walking their dogs - most of which are pit bulls - en masse around Mangere Bridge.

And their numbers can turn a few heads, association president Ian Mrkusich says.

"It's quite foreign to people. Obviously because of the image of the breed people assume the worst."

The association also attracts a fair bit of attention on its regular training days, when the dogs are put to the test running on treadmills, pulling heavy tyres and performing other feats of strength.

"A lot of people sort of buzz out about it and people pop in and ask what we're doing," Mr Mrkusich says.

That's welcome attention for the founders of the club, who, as vice-president Jesse Papali'i says, sets it up with the hope of "doing something positive in the public" with the breed.

It was also borne out of frustration at the lack of suitable activities for pit bulls in the area.

Originally bred for their strength and athleticism, the dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy and content.

"They're working dogs so they need that physical stimulation," Mr Mrkusich says.

The club now boasts around 20 members and holds regular competitions for all those wanting to test their dog's strength.

It's one of four groups of its type in New Zealand and some keen owners travel throughout the country attending competitions.

And while the competitors of the members own pit bulls, all breeds - and all ages - are welcome.

The Auckland Endurance Dog Association will hold its first treadmill tournament of the year on February 23. It starts at 11am at Greenwood Rd Reserve, opposite the Watercare treatment plant in Mangere Bridge.

Email aeda@hotmail.co.nz for more information or to sign up.

Manukau Courier