ENGLEWOOD —The Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation started by Chicago Blackhawks star Bryan Bickell and his wife Amanda will host its first Pit Bull Health Clinic Friday.
The free, 10 a.m. clinic will be at the Marquette Park field house, 6700 S. Kedzie Ave. Dogs will receive free vaccines, micro-chips, vouchers to have them spay or neutered, leashes, collars, and training information. Pit bull owners will need to show proof of residency in the 60629 or 60636 ZIP codes.
The Bickells said they would be present at the clinic starting at 2 p.m.
"We picked these two ZIP codes because data showed that is where shelters are receiving the most pit bulls," said Amanda Bickell.
According to the Chicago Animal & Control Center, 57 percent of pit bulls it received were euthanized from 2012 to 2013. Many of those pit bulls came from the 60629 ZIP code, which includes Marquette Park, and where the shelter received 412 pit bulls in 2012 and 598 the following year.
In the 60636 ZIP code, which includes Englewood, pit bulls are often used for dog fighting, said Chicago Police Sgt. Mark George, who heads up the Animal Crimes Unit. Englewood also had a 50 percent increase in impounded pit bulls from 2012 to 2013.
"Englewood is a hub for dogfighting," George said.
The Bickells, who reside in Roscoe Village, said statistics like these support the need for more dog clinics.
"Ideally, we would like to have multiple clinics throughout the year to reach pit bull owners in other parts of the city," she said.
The couple noted that the dogs aren't ferocious by nature.
"Pit bulls are not born as aggressive animals," Bryan Bickell said. "Aggressiveness is learned behavior dogs are taught."
The couple knows the dogs well. Nine years ago they adopted Bailey, a Staffordshire Terrier puppy, from their hometown of Ontario, Canada. They also have an 8-year-old mixed-breed dog named Tucker.
Bailey "was at a shelter when we first laid eyes on her and fell in love," Bryan Bickell said.
In April, the foundation assisted a Jefferson Park woman find a no-kill shelter for an 18-month-old pit bull and boxer mix the woman found tied to a light pole in Englewood.
The couple has no qualms about keeping the dogs even while they are expecting their first child next month.
"We are expecting a little girl in the next couple of weeks," Bryan said. "The season will take care of itself but I hope we end it better than we did last season."
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