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December 9, 2010

Midnight Makes His Mark

PBTT duo graduates with flying colors

by Ariana Huemer

When Midnight strides down the sidewalks of his rough Atlanta neighborhood, people take notice. The young pit bull's shiny black coat and rippling muscles catch the eye, but it's his confident, gentle, and polished demeanor, marching alongside 16-year-old Markus Hill, that really stands out.

Making the grade

Midnight and Markus are recent graduates of The HSUS' Pit Bull Training Team Classes in Atlanta. His graduation culminated with Midnight testing for—and receiving—his Canine Good Citizen Star Puppy Certification.

It's hard to say who’s happier with the duo’s success, but Atlanta's PBTT trainer Amber Burkhalter knows one thing for sure: they’re not stopping anytime soon. "Markus and Midnight illustrate how to lead by example," says Burkhalter. "They continue to amaze us all every day, showing off a pit bull's true potential—outside the cruel world of dogfighting."

Changing lives

Midnight and Markus also exemplify how compassionate action can turn lives around.

Markus first spotted Midnight in a neighbor's back yard, emaciated and sick at the end of a chain. Unable to turn his back on a needy soul, Markus adopted Midnight on the spot.

From that point forward, Markus was determined to make life better for each of them, and Midnight more than happily cooperated. The two quickly became standouts in Atlanta's PBTT classes, and impressed with his dedication and talent, PBTT trainer Burkhalter soon hired Markus to help out. The motivated teenager has limited access to transportation and often bikes more than 10 miles to work.

Just Rewards

As Markus and Midnight continue to contribute to their community, others have stepped in to express their appreciation. With dog-friendly back yards few and far between in Markus' underprivileged neighborhood, Atlanta's Coalition to Unchain Dogs recently pitched in to build a solid fence around Markus and Midnight's back yard.

Now Midnight has not only has a loving family, but he has a safe, secure yard to romp, exercise, and express himself. Buoyed by Markus' love and attention, Midnight has overcome a past life of pain and neglect to find himself living a dog's life, just as it ought to be.

Ariana Huemer is cruelty case manager for the End Animal Cruelty and Fighting campaign

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