COLUMBIA — Pit bulls, bull terriers and mastiffs lined Big Bear Boulevard alongside their owners on Saturday morning, eagerly awaiting the race ahead of them.
More than 50 people came out to show their support for these bully breeds for the first Running of the Bulls 5K run/walk at the Central Missouri Humane Society.
The 3.1 mile race began and ended at the society and ran along Bear Creek Trail.
The event raised about $1,800 for the Bull Runs program, which was started at the Humane Society during the past month. The program finds homes for bully breeds such as pit bulls, bull terriers and boxers.
Proceeds will go toward the adoption of pets and will cover the costs of training, veterinary care and home visits, Allison Brown, shelter relations coordinator, said.
Bully breed is a broad generalization that can refer to breeds of dogs that are bred for fighting, Bull Runs staff member Katie Steckel said. Before the program began, the society did not house bully breeds and instead tried to find other rescue shelters to take them in.
Bill Peterman, who placed first in the race, said he wanted to show support for the society because he owns a bully breed. He ran the race in just over 19 minutes but without his boxer, who he said is not a distance dog.
The first woman, man and canine to cross the finish line received a $20 gift card to Petsmart.
MU student Layne Moore ran the race with her roommate’s dog, Frankie, a pit bull-Boston terrier mix who was rescued from an abandoned litter. Moore runs for the Missouri track team and heard about the event from a teammate.
“Pit bulls have a bad reputation, but I’ve been around a lot of them, and they’re the sweetest dogs,” Moore said. “People always ask if Frankie bites, but he’s actually a wimpy dog.”
The first dog to cross the finish line was Gracie, a border collie mix owned by Nancy Taube. Gracie and Taube finished in 20 minutes and 16 seconds, and have participated in several other races in Columbia, including the Dog Jog at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and Paws in the Park at Stephens Lake Park.
Taube and her husband also own a bully breed mix, Cooper, who came out for the event.
“We’re so happy the Humane Society started a program to adopt out bully breeds,” Taube said. “We always thought the problem was at the other end of the leash, not with the dog."