BEST FRIENDS: John Ortega will walk from Tyalgum to Woollongong with his best friend, Zen, to take a stand against animal cruelty.
BEST FRIENDS: John Ortega will walk from Tyalgum to Woollongong with his best friend, Zen, to take a stand against animal cruelty. SCOTT POWICK

Long walk for pooch equality

DOGS truly are man’s best friend but one Banora Point resident will soon take that companionship to new heights.

John Ortega will take his Staffordshire bull terrier, Zen, on an epic hike from Tyalgum village to Wollongong in August.

He said the trek, which would be a stand against animal cruelty, would also aim to raise awareness of the often misunderstood “bully breeds”.

Mr Ortega said he’d lived with pit bulls and staffies since he was a child and was devastated by the stigma attached to the breeds, which are a favourite among dog-fighting rings.

“They’re very loyal to their owners and want to please,” Mr Ortega said.

“People put a really bad connotation around them. It’s a vicious cycle for the dog, and I’ve never had a problem with them.”

He said the perceived dangers around these breeds were only created through human greed.

“It comes from not looking after them, dogs not being socialised, people not understanding the responsibility of owning a dog,” he said.

Mr Ortega has been training with Zen on long walks but said that was nothing out of the ordinary.

“He’s very active anyway and walks on the treadmill,” he said.

The duo will spend three months on the journey, walking a set distance each day.

To follow Mr Ortega’s journey visit facebook.com/ mansbestfriendaustralia.



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