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Meet pit bulls' new best friend

March 19, 2013|By Matt Lindner @mattlindner | For RedEye

Former White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle recently had to leave his beloved pit bull, Slater, behind when he was traded to Toronto due to Ontario's ban on the breed.

Blackhawks winger Bryan Bickell's fiancée, Amanda Caskenette, can't imagine having to go through the same thing with their beloved 7-year-old pit bull, Bailey.

"The way the ban and media in general portrays pit bulls couldn't be further from the truth," the 29-year-old Roscoe Village resident said via email. "We couldn't imagine our lives without Bailey and the joy, loyalty, and comfort she gives us."

While Bickell is known for doing whatever he can to help his teammates on the ice, Caskenette is hoping to do the same for Bailey off it.

Caskenette and her friend Alicia Boemi recently started Chicago Loves Pits, a not-for-profit designed to promote awareness and encourage adoption of what she says is one of the most misunderstood breeds.

"Over the years we have owned Bailey and been able to change the minds of even people in our family who were wary," Caskenette said. "We want to continue to do that in the public eye and the website is a great way for us to achieve awareness."

One of those minds Caskenette has already changed is that of her future father-in-law.

She said when the couple first adopted Bailey seven years ago, Bickell's father was apprehensive.

Now?

"After getting to know her over the years Bailey, is now his buddy," she said. "Anytime Bryan's dad visits they go for long walks together and all he can say about her is how friendly, fun and loyal she is."

Bailey was only 5 weeks old and apparently had a rough go of things before Caskenette and Bickell adopted her, something Caskenette said inspired her to take action now.

"We rescued her from a pretty rough looking guy who had cropped her tail with scissors," she said. "Over time especially as a puppy, Bailey suffered from separation anxiety from being taken too soon from her mom and siblings."

Caskenette said legislation such as what's in place in Ontario shouldn't be aimed at the dogs themselves.

"It is the irresponsible people, like the man who sold Bailey to us, who need to have limitations, not the dogs themselves," she said.

For information, visit chicagolovespits.org.

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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