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Learning to See Your Pit Bull as an Individual

I have created a new career for myself in retirement as an animal advocate. I write articles to create awareness of shelter pets.

Pit bulls account for the largest percentage of dogs that find themselves in shelters around the country because of owner surrenders, strays, and overbreeding.

Pit bulls account for the largest percentage of dogs that find themselves in shelters around the country because of owner surrenders, strays, and overbreeding.

The Plight of Pit Bulls in Our Society

Pet parents who own and love their pit bulls encounter many obstacles with ownership of these dogs. There are hundreds of articles in the media that describe horrific attacks by these dogs, and breed-specific laws are still on the books in towns and cities that prohibit the ownership of these dogs.

One can find stories that describe the plight of families that are forced to move because they own a pit. Homeowners who are allowed to live with their pitties face unreasonable demands from their homeowners' associations. What's more, insurance companies sometimes charge more for insurance if they do agree to provide insurance (though many insurance companies still straight-up refuse to provide insurance for a homeowner if they own a pitbull).

Shelters Are Full of Pit Bulls Waiting for Adoption

Owner surrenders account for a large number of pit bulls in shelters around the country. Pit bulls account for the largest percentage of dogs that find themselves in shelters around the country because of owner surrenders, strays, and overbreeding.

Statistics show that 40% of dogs that are euthanized in shelters are pit bulls. People still view these dogs as unadoptable. Shelter staff sometimes label dogs as pit bulls, and the wrong use of this label can be prohibitive to adoption when potential pet parents visit their local shelter to adopt a new family member.

All of these factors contribute to a dismal future for these dogs. Education is needed to raise awareness of the fact that these dogs can live amazing lives if the right families adopt and provide a loving home.

Lily—a sweet pit bull—is a favorite at the shelter.

Lily—a sweet pit bull—is a favorite at the shelter.

Can You Really Identify a Pit Bull?

How many people can really identify a dog that receives the label of "pit bull"? Pit bulls are not a recognized breed. The typical physical characteristics of dogs that receive this label are that of a large, "blocky" head and a thick, muscular body.

Dogs such as the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, and other mixes fit into the group labeled as "pit bulls". Some mixed breeds are actually small in size and weight.

The good news is that shelters around the country are using DNA tests to determine the actual breed of a particular dog. The cost of a DNA test is sometimes prohibitive to shelter budgets, but it's worth the cost to a responsible pet parent who wants to adopt. Changing the breed name for an adoptable dog can eliminate the fight that homeowners encounter in purchasing insurance and avoid discrimination by homeowners' associations.

These dogs are winners when they receive a correct breed label and can be adopted into a loving and responsible home. Pet parents can purchase a DNA kit from several companies that are now providing the kits. Veterinarians are also able to perform a DNA test on a dog to determine the genetic makeup of the dog. The use of a DNA test is good news for dogs that have been labeled as "pit bull".

Can You Find the Pit Bull?

How many people can find the pit bull?

How many people can find the pit bull?

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The good news for these dogs is that they are being recognized as dogs that are capable of performing tasks that were previously given to other breeds. Police departments around the country are taking these dogs from shelters and training them to be K9 officers.

Costs for the typical dogs that have been used in the past by law enforcement agencies have risen. It can be cost-prohibitive for some police departments to purchase the German Shepard that has always been used. Law enforcement agencies around the country are now going into shelters and acquiring dogs that have been labeled as pit bulls in order to train these dogs for search missions.

Dogs that have received this label are also being adopted by responsible pet parents who are active in participating in canine sports events around the country. More pit types are participating in the sport of flying discs that are a part of canine sports events. Jim Gorant wrote the story of Wallace, a pit bull that was rescued and became a champion in the sport. Wallace was instrumental in proving that these dogs can enter and win in canine sports.

It is up to people who are owners and supporters of pit bulls to continue the fight to provide amazing lives for these dogs.

Passion for Pitties

I am a volunteer for the Manatee County Animal Services shelter in Palmetto, Florida. I mainly provide publicity for the shelter with press releases to highlight events and adoption promotions.

My involvement with this shelter came about in an unusual way. This shelter is a very small shelter that because of its location has mostly been hidden away for many years. Oddly enough, a German Shepherd that was labeled as aggressive brought me into involvement with the shelter.

The short version is that this dog was saved at the 11th hour because of my determination along with another volunteer to find this dog a responsible home. We succeeded and my involvement with this shelter has continued.

The population of this shelter does consist of pit bulls that are owner surrenders, victims of dogfighting rings, and abandonment to the streets as strays. Overbreeding is a major factor in this community.

The new dream team for this shelter works tirelessly every day to overcome the reputation of these dogs that find themselves in the shelter. I have seen what training can do for socializing these dogs. These dogs participate in playgroups supervised by volunteers. These dogs are adaptable to the right homes.

This puppy is mixed. Would you label them as a pitbull?

This puppy is mixed. Would you label them as a pitbull?

© 2016 Cindy Hewitt


Cindy Hewitt (author) from Sarasota on November 29, 2017:

Did anybody see the national dog show in New York this past weekend? The Staffordshire Terrier won best in his breed. All shelters are now trying to get people to stop using the term "pit bull" and label these dogs what most of them are-the Staffordshire terrier. I was thrilled to see this dog win best in his division.

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