Pit Bull Nation, the pit bull community, or whatever we call the group of folks most concerned with the breed and most active in terms of rescue, advocacy and education, has many heroes doing incredible work. T
They also have bad – make that rotten – apples, just like any other group.
Problem is, their bad apples love to be very vocal, filling social media outlets with nastiness and attacks.
You see this nonsense whenever a big pit case hits the media, like the story of the pit, Charlie, who attacked a horse in San Francisco. You also see the bad apples at their worst when a pit is awaiting fate in a shelter; in almost every case, it’s a dog the shelter has deemed unadoptable for behavior reasons. The dog has a history of aggression or has clearly shown shelter staff that the aggression is there.
Word gets out that a shelter has decided to euthanize one of these dogs, often at the original owner’s request, and the fur flies. Shelters are labeled “killers” or worse. Volunteers and so-called advocates blast rescue groups and shelters or takes sides and blast each other. Of course, none have spent time with the dog.
These dogs mentioned above need a voice. I want to be clear about that. They are often victims of bad owners. But, what we see far too often with these cases is name-calling, shelters pitted (no pun intended) against rescue groups, haters, factual errors, and the proliferation of myths. And, sadly, this activity replaces effort, interest or passion for other dogs who desperately need it.
I thought about this a great deal this week. We placed a pit bull, Graham, into a new loving home - a husband, wife and their two high-school-age boys. They'd had Rottweilers before, so were experienced with large, powerful breeds. All they wanted was a loving dog who would be a companion and hang with them on the couch. Graham, no doubt, will be that dog. We all celebrated when he left our center with his new family.
Graham had been with us, available for adoption, for two years! There was absolutely no reason why this should have happened. He was not a dog with issues or special needs. He wasn’t geriatric, and had no prior history indicating he would be anything but a sweet companion. We made sure he remained physically and mentally fit in our care. In fact, two volunteers helped him earn Canine Good Citizen status by completing a rigorous class. We made him our featured pet of the week in media outlets, highlighted him on our website and brought him to mobile adoption events.
This is where pit lovers need to focus – on networking to find homes for the many wonderful pits awaiting adoption. Be a champion for the Grahams inside our shelters - the good, sweet, well-mannered dogs with no prior history of aggression, no baggage. They need the same passion, activism and urgency as the sad cases and they are getting very little because their stories aren’t as good. They aren’t viewed with any sense of urgency and that is sad.
With that said, meet Tina, a 3-year-old white pit with a bit of a marshmallow body. She’s not perfect with other dogs, but great with people. She’s one of six or seven pits available for adoption at our Center for Compassion.
She, like the others at our center, has no ticking clock. She’s not going to be euthanized if no adopter comes forward by “x” date as long as she remains healthy and well-adjusted - something our staff and volunteers are very good about doing.
This, unfortunately, makes her uninteresting and off-the-radar to many of the very people who should be a voice for her. And, it could mean that she sits and waits two years to get adopted like Graham did, despite our organization’s cheerleading.
Bang the drum for Tina. Give your contacts list an online poke about Mikey, our 8 ½ year-old pit. Start an online conversation about Diamond, our 9-year-old awaiting her new home. Tell a friend about the two young pits awaiting adoption – we don’t want them to spend the first year of their life in a shelter.
With some passion focused on these dogs, they can be rehomed and become examples of good dogs with good owners before the next “pit bull to be euthanized” story brings out haters in social media.