Darlene Williams, by her own admission, is misunderstood. It’s one of the reasons she’s so attracted to the pit bull breed of dog, one of the most misunderstood dogs in the public’s view, she says.

Williams became a widow at the age of 21 when her husband, Army Spc. Ronnie Williams, was killed when the tank he was in flipped upside down into a water-filled ravine in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005.

“I’ve had my ups and downs in life,” the Morning View woman says simply. “And I’m just a misunderstood person. So me loving the misunderstood breed is like the best thing to do.”

Williams, a volunteer with the Cold Spring-based Stray Animal Adoption Program, fosters mostly pit bull and pit bull-mixed breed dogs from the animal shelters in her home, caring for and protecting them until they are adopted into their “forever” home.

Q Why do you find it so important to foster dogs?

A Because if nobody steps up then they obviously don’t make it out of the shelters. I just feel that they deserve a second chance.

Q How many dogs you have fostered?

A Since January I’ve had 48 dogs in my home and they’ve all found wonderful homes.

Q Isn’t it hard to let the dogs go when they get adopted?

A Yes, it is very hard. But the moment you see that family’s eyes light up and the dog smiles you know that you’re doing a good thing. Especially when you see the dog prancing out the door or when they’re walking away from you and he looks back or she looks back and gives you that “Thank you” look. I’ve cried many happy tears over them.

Q Why do you have an affinity for fostering pit bull and pit bull-mixed breeds?

A I had a dog from when I was born until I was 13, which was a pit-chow-boxer mix and he was the best dog you could ever ask for. He was my protector at all times.

Q Does the bad press happen because people train pit bulls to fight?

A Right. It’s all how you raise your dogs. I have one now named Spike who was chained and left outside. He had urine stains all over him, he was infested with fleas, he was skinny as could be. And that dog could care less how he was treated. It’s about how he’s treated now. He prances out with a smile and he’s the bubbliest boy there ever was [and he found his forever home in July]. And it’s just because they want love, and they want care, and somebody to love them and give them the love that they need.

Q What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

A That I’m scared of small dogs. My aunt had a Chihuahua and that dog would always pin me up in the corner and just bark at me. So I’m getting better, but yes, I have a small-dog fear. Everybody’s like, “How can you be scared of small dogs when you work with pit bulls?” and I’m like, “Those small dogs, I just don’t trust them.”