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Western Pennsylvania has a strong tradition of neighborhood, personal and community commitment. Our pride in pulling together goes far beyond supporting our deep-rooted sports teams. 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference honors the individuals that are making a difference in people's lives on the ground level and reminding us we are all truly a part of each other's lives.This special series, supported by UPMC, will highlight, honor and celebrate Western Pennsylvanians who are unsung heroes daring to make a difference to others in our community.00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770c8000000000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770ca000000000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770cc000090.5 WESA PA listening area counties:Allegheny, Beaver, Washington, Westmoreland, Butler, Armstrong, Cambria, Somerset, Bedford, Fayette, Indiana00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770cd0000This project is made possible by a generous contribution from UPMC.

Hello Bully Fights Stigma Surrounding Rescued Pit Bulls

The idea that pit bulls aren't friendly is one that Hello Bully founder Daisy Balawejde has worked for more than a decade to squash.

“When people meet pit bulls, they’re always like, ‘Oh my gosh, this one’s so nice,’" she said. “That’s the pit bull, that’s the actual dog.” 

Hello Bully is a nonprofit rescue center that retrains pit bulls used in dog fighting and transforms them into family pets.

Balawejde started the rescue in 2005 and has recovered more than 1,500 dogs since then.

“The most important thing for people to understand about dog fighting survivors is that they are not the bad guy,” Balawejde said. “It’s the people. They (the dogs) didn’t choose this life. They were forced into it.”

Balawejde is also a certified dog trainer. About a dozen volunteers work on her behavior team and take the dogs on outings and test them with people. Each pit bull undergoes a personality assessment to see how it behaves around children, other dogs and in crowds.

“These dogs came from such horrific backgrounds,” said volunteer Kelly Baumgartel. “And this shelter is designed to – especially for them, to rehabilitate them.” 

Balawejde said some of the dogs adjust quickly and others take several months. But the goal is ultimately to provide each dog with the medical attention and training needed to place it with new owners.

“Daisy, one of her phrases is ‘Give ‘til it hurts,’” said Baumgartel. “And I love that. And I think that this organization shows that that’s exactly what she does.”