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A Southern California man committed to teaching dog owners how to properly raise pit bulls makes it his mission to show the sweet side of the often-misunderstood breed. "The pit bull is not the problem, it's the people," he says. Kathy Vara reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013.
A Southern California man has made it his mission to educate the public about the sweet side of often-misunderstood pit bulls by teaching dog owners how to properly train their pups.
He’s so committed, he doesn’t even charge a dime for his expertise.
"It’s not the pit bull that’s the problem, it’s the people," said Cornelius Austin, also known as "The Dog Man."
"This is my hobby," he said. "I love doing this. It’s not about money all the time."
Austin can be spotted every weekend at his office -- better recognized as the pavement outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He trains any breed of dogs but mostly pit bulls, and their owners, sometimes 50 at a time.
Often misunderstood and stereotyped as violent, pit bulls -- when raised properly -- can be some of the sweetest and most loyal canines around.
"Pit bulls are bred to fight," Austin said. "But that doesn’t mean you have to fight them."
People flock to see "The Dog Man," hoping his tough love will solve their pooch-related problems.
"You’ll hear him, he’s like an army sergeant," said dog owner Suzanna Peters, of Hollywood. "He’ll go, ‘Sit! Stay! Heel! Behave!'"
A sergeant would be an accurate description, as Austin can be seen running the parent-pup-pairs and shouting commands as if he's drilling soldiers. But that firm approach is what draws owners-in-need to him each week.
Austin puts both the dogs and the owners to work, teaching pup parents to deepen their voice when giving orders, improving the dogs’ responses to short commands.
"(People) love their dogs and they kiss them, and that’s great, but that really doesn’t help the dog to understand what’s next," dog owner Michael Ward said. "Running two or three miles with the animals wasn’t enough."
Austin reminds people they should think before getting a pit bull, or any dog for that matter, making sure they are willing to devote proper time and energy into raising the dog into a well-behaved pet.
"It takes time," Austin said. "If you don’t have time, you shouldn’t mess with the breed."
But as long as people keep coming, The Dog Man will keep helping at his free clinics, every Sunday at 9 a.m. outside the LA Coliseum.
"We let the world know we train good dogs, we don’t train bad dogs," Austin said. "I’m here every Sunday. Don’t give up."