CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Too many Pit Bulls, not enough homes.

That's the message from Chattanooga's animal shelter, hoping to curb the number of unwanted dogs through a free spay and neuter program.

But time is running out to take advantage of the service, McKamey officials say could slow the surge of unwanted animals.

"There is a dog here named Otis. He has a huge black spot on his eye," described Ginger Birnbaum, who is looking for a shelter dog to adopt. "He might be the sweetest dog that I've ever met."

Otis could soon have a home, but there are plenty of other Pit Bulls and pit mixes still waiting at McKamey Animal Center.

"There are too many," explained Executive Director Karen Walsh. "Forty-two percent of our population of dogs is Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes."

"We can place many Pit Bulls in homes, but we always have Pit Bulls that are here looking for wonderful homes," she added.

Walsh says Pit Bulls can be hard to place because of stereotypes about the breed.

Some have been mistreated and require rehabilitation.

While the number of pits without a home is growing, so is the number of unwanted puppies.

Walsh says the city must reduce the population, and that starts with pet owners.

"More than 800 surgeries have been performed in our community, but we have 200 left to go," said Walsh.

The center was awarded a $55,000 grant through Petsmart Charities to spay or neuter Chattanooga Pit Bulls free of charge.

It's called the "Bully Blockade". It's named after Pit Bulls, known as the bully breed for their blocky heads and bulldog ancestry.

McKamey already pays more than $300,000 a year to spay or neuter strays.

This grant is meant only for pets with homes.

"If we don't use the grant money it will go back to Petsmart Charities," explained Walsh, who hoped to have the grant money spent by the end of the year.

In house, McKamey veterinarians are performing about a dozen surgeries a week.

Local animal hospitals and participating vets across the scenic city are pitching in, performing additional surgeries.

There are still 200 surgeries are up for grabs.

An operation that is free to Pit Bull owners, and one Walsh says is priceless in the fight to find all dogs a home.

Any resident of Chattanooga, living within the city limits, who owns an unaltered Pit Bull or Pit Bull mix is eligible.

All dogs must be vaccinated for rabies before the surgery, at the owners expense.

Those vaccinations are available through McKamey for $10.