Pit Bulls Need Love Too
So where did all this pit bull misinformation come from anyway?
Tuesday, 30 August 2008 | Bailey Porter
When immigrants from England and Ireland brought pit bulls to America in the 1800s, the pit bull’s positive image began and they were popular family pets. They were considered the “all-American” dog, appearing in films in the 1900s like “The Little Rascals” and World War I pro-American propaganda. When gangs got hold of pit bulls in the 1980s, drawn to the dogs because of their strength and their history in dog fighting and bear baiting, the pit bull’s good name diminished. Since then, media misrepresentation of pit bulls and irresponsible pet owners continue to give pit bulls a bad name. Pit bulls are unwanted, bred in backyards for illegal or unethical purposes and then discarded for animal shelters to deal with. Families abandon their pit bulls afraid of a sensationalized news story on TV or pressured from their home insurance company. Over the last 6 years, pit bulls accounted for 22 percent of all dogs taken in by LA Animal Services. And they accounted for 40 percent of all dogs euthanized in the 2005-2006 fiscal year. In 2007, 2059 pit bulls were euthanized in LA animal shelters. Even though these numbers have decreased over the years, there are still too many pit bulls in local shelters and too few finding permanent, good homes.
To me, the people I work with and the families who adopt, the name pit bull is the most endearing term. It doesn’t take long to get to know them. Pit bulls dispel the myths and the prejudices that have been thrown at them with dignity, slobbery kisses and a forgiving nature that is a signature trait to the bully breeds.
Pit bull is a name referring to several breeds: American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
I began working with pit bulls eight years ago when my mom, friends and I began For the Love of Animals, a dog and cat rescue that sponsors animals from the San Gabriel Valley Humane Society. Talking with other rescue workers and volunteers, I have often heard this truth about pit bulls: once you begin working with pit bulls, they become your favorite dogs. It’s also true that once you show a pit bull a human bed, it’s all over. You’re going to have to learn to cuddle or find a spot on the couch.
There are so many simple truths about pit bulls. They have big, gummy smiles. They can be little rockets of energy. They can be stubborn. They are smart and do well in obedience training. They also seem to have limitless affection for us humans.
Pit bulls do not have locking jaws. They are like any other physically strong medium or large breed dog. They do not turn on their owners. Like all dogs, pit bulls develop their temperament and characteristics until they are almost two years old. A well-behaved, good dog given plenty of exercise, obedience training, love and attention from his human family will remain a good dog throughout his life.
Few dogs are as sensitive as pit bulls. Their mission is to please their human family. A firm “No” or stern look at my pit bull after he has torn apart the dog bed will send him groveling to his belly. “Oh, mom, the cat made me do it. I swear,” he seems to say.
Despite their sensitivity and because of their forgiving nature and steadfast loyalty to people, pit bulls withstand the unfair conditions at shelters much better than many other dog breeds. There are few dogs as patient as pit bulls when it comes to waiting out internment at an animal shelter. Many dog breeds do not do well in that environment. They get “cabin fever” and take more rehabilitation before being placed into a home. In my rescue work, I have watched pit bulls wait two, even three years for their adoption. Their tenacity for life is unbeatable.
Each adoption event is a new adventure. Their tails thump rapidly against their crates as we drive to an event. Once there, they suck up all the attention they can get from potential adopters and passersby. They scrunch up against their cages to get close for a good pet. They show off, climbing on the laps of their rescue friends in an attempt to show how adoptable and loving they are.
If you think you have what it takes to be an ambassador for pit bulls and bring one home with you, please contact us. Better yet, visit our beloved pit bulls at Petco, San Dimas. We hold adoptions from 12:30 to 4:30 every Saturday at Petco, San Dimas located just off the 57 freeway at 822 W. Arrow Hwy, San Dimas, Calif. 91773.