Brookhaven town officials have launched a progam that will pay animal shelters and rescue organizations $250 for each pit bull or mixed-breed pit bull they place in a safe and loving home.
One row of cages in one shelter is nicknamed "pit bull parkway," and with good reason.
Some 175 dogs -- or 95 percent of those at the Brookhaven animal shelter- are pit bulls or pit bull mixes.
"I never realized there were so many pit bulls," said Al Monroig, as he looked for one to adopt.
People seeking pit bulls are the exception at this shelter and at shelters across the tri-state area.
"They are the toughest breed to adopt," said shelter director Dori Scofield. "There is such an overabundance on the street that for every two I send out, I get four more back."
Scofield is so frustrated, her shelter is now offering cash for pit bull adoptions. The money would go, not to individuals, but to animal rescue groups- $250 for each dog that finds a new home.
"We need innovative programs to help them find safe havens," Scofield added.
The money will come from Brookhaven's Help the Animals Fund, according to town supervisor Mark Lesko. All the cash has been donated. None is taxpayer money.
"Please give pit bulls a chance. They are amazing dogs," said Lesko, himself a former pit bull owner.
The dogs have long gotten a bad rap, officials said, because of their links to dog fighting and drug dealing.
Now, there is an overabundance of pit bulls in shelters, Scofield said, because many have been abandoned by their former owners. Some at the Brookhaven shelter were left tied to trees, with no food and water.
Brookhaven's new program, called the "Bully Alliance," is geared to find homes for many of those dogs.
Town supervisor Mark Lesko said "Sadly, they are coming in to the shelter faster than they are being adopted."
"In my case, we rescued a pit bull but the dog may have rescued my family," said Brookhaven councilwoman Kathleen Walsh.
Her son, Jason adopted a pit bull named "Monster" after his year long Army stint in Afghanistan. "Monster," Walsh said, has helped her son make the difficult transition back to civilian life.
It's the kind of match Brookhaven officials hope to duplicate for each dog in the shelter.