The Softer Side of Pit Bulls

A reviled breed gets a makeover

Jeff Minton for TIME

Katie Larkin met her first pit bull during college in the 1980s, when a friend brought home a small, muscular terrier with short fur and a big, square head. "He was adorable," Larkin recalls of Kilroy. "But anytime I walked him, people would cross the street."

That reaction is familiar to many owners of pit bulls, whose aggressive reputation and association with dogfighting have made them one of the least adopted and most euthanized breeds in the U.S., according to shelter operators. It isn't even legal to adopt or own a pit (unless it's a guide dog) in Miami or Denver,...

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