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Chicago circus stars rescued pit bulls

Founders put spotlight on misunderstood breed

Pit bulls are the stars at a Chicago circus, putting a spotlight on the lovable breed and raising funds for local parks.

"We try to deliver a lot under the guise of bringing a circus to the park," Midnight Circus in the Parks co-founder Jeff Jenkins told "Today."

Midnight Circus was founded in the mid-1990s by the clown/pit bull advocate and his wife, performer Julie Jenkins, "Today" reported.

The show evolved about a decade ago -- into a fundraiser for city parks, raising nearly $1 million so far, "Today" reported. Recently, a special benefit performance raised thousands supporting relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

The couple's adopted pit bull Lola was the original circus dog, "Today" reported. She died in 2013, and now 11-year-old Junebug and 2-year-old Rosie Rae continue her legacy.

Both are rescue dogs who were not well-treated before being adopted by the couple, according to multiple reports. But now, they run over obstacles, act and leap into audiences's hearts.

According to the Chicago Tribune,"The routine usually goes something like this: Jenkins brings out Junebug, who refuses to listen. She steals his hat and the hoops she’s supposed to be jumping through, while Jenkins chases her around. Once he and Junebug finish with the comedy, Jenkins brings out Rosie Rae, who does what her partner wouldn’t, ripping through the obstacles at 'lightning speeds,' Jenkins said."

Jenkins said he hopes the performances help dispel the many harmful misconceptions about pit bulls.

"Every dog is an individual," Jenkins told "Today."

The mission of the circus? To do good for the community, for the world and for the dogs.

"And, of course," said Jenkins, "to entertain."

Check out the pups in action:

Here's Lola, the original circus dog: 


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