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Pit Bulls In Your Shelter
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Pit Bulls In Your Shelter

Pit Bulls, (and others in the Bully category) many people fear them, others like to create fear by owning them, and far too few love them.

Its hard to describe this breed in any absolutes, like any breed it depends on genetics, how they're treated, diet, and other factors. So saying its people that makes a dog bad isn't always true. But yeah, allot of the time it is. Some dogs are so back bred that they're messed up in the head, others become aggressive because of how they're treated. To demonstrate I'll give a few brief examples:


Sampson came into the shelter muzzled, and led by his owners carefully through the shelter and into his assigned kennel. Evidently he was super aggressive and was attacking people, they couldn't handle him anymore. After his owners said a tearful goodbye I realized he needed a pallet to lay on. Judging by the thick sores on his elbows he was used to sleeping on the cement, so I wanted him to be comfortable and got a blanket to go with it.

The top of his head came to my chest.

I crouched down and spoke to him, it was clear he was terrified of all the barking and stress of the kennels. Slowly I opened the kennel and slipped his pallet in and spread the blanket for him, and slipped back out as gently and smoothly as I could. I spoke again to him and didn't avoid eye contact (as that tends to make dogs suspicious).

Later I looked up his breed specifics, as he was purebred, and learned the behavior he displayed was natural. He was gaurding his property the way he was bred to. I was amazed the people who turned him in, the same people who had bought him when he was three, hadnt had the brains to learn what he was bred for.

After gaining sampsons trust I played with him every day before and after the shelter opened every day. I learned he had an amazing tolerance for pain when his toe swelled up to the size of a golf ball. I brought him to the vet techs and assured them he let me prod it without pulling away or nipping. (Which was good because his head was alot bigger than mine.) And they pulled out the fox-tail with no problems from sampson.

We did have problems however when the animal control officers came around. I had to wrap my arms around sampson and hold him back with my whle body to keep him from attacking. What struck me, is many other dogs, when riled up and trying to attack an enemy, will often turn on the one holding them back to get to their prey. I never had any fear when sampson was around. Frequently on my breaks, I would sit in his kennel and he would fall asleep on my lap.

I found out, that his owners were using him as a "shop-dog". Now, theres nothing wrong with bringing your dog to work with you, but leaving him to gaurd your property all alone day in and out, without a decent shelter, and then punish him when he defends that property is wrong. All dogs, ecspecially bully breeds, should be first and foremost family dogs.

Thats the problem with alot of pits that were brought into the shelter. The office would ask where the dog spent its time during the day and night, and would find out he stayed in the backyard with no socialization all day.

Many of the pits that would get brought in would also be seriously underweight. We learned that diet played a vital role in mental stability.


Daav came intot eh shelter labled "aggressive" by the officers that brought him in. Well, you might be aggressive if someone sedated you and threw you into the back of a truck!

By the end of the day I had permission from my boss to bathe him with the understanding I would not get myself bit, (too much paperwork.) He had the oiliest most disgusting skin I had seen. He had horrible demodex mange, which isnt contagious, and is caused by mulnutrition, which Daav definetly was, I could count all his bones.

I ran him in the play yard as often as I could and introduced him to as many people as I could between cleaning kennels. Eventually he was evaluated and passed, and was adopted by one of the volunteers.

Now, genetics can also play a huge part in a dogs personality.

A good friend of mine owned a pit bull, and like any responsible owner he socialised him well with humans and animals alike, one day though he just decided he didnt like anyone but my friend. He was finally euthanized when he went after my friends mother-in-law.

Any of these scenarios howwever can be applied to other breeds, its just that Pits get the most press. Ten or so years ago, it was dobermans that everyone was railing against. Pits are like any other dog, like any other dog you should buy from a responsible breeder, who breeds for gentleness, and true to the breeds purpose. My grandmother raises border collies, I asked her why she doenst breed Ben one day, I thought it was weird since he was the most handsome border collie I had ever seen. Evidently he produced very dominant aggressive pups. While the stud she does breed, Jake, produces very gentle quick-witted excellent herding dogs. She has puppy reunions every year to see how everyone is doing with their dogs.

Shelter dogs only get put up for adoption after a very extensive temperment test, so you can be sure a dog you adopt will be a good family companion, no matter the breed.

Street Talk


Great article! I am a HUGE lover of animals period!...2 of my 6 dogs are pit bulls, and they are the sweetest big cuddly dogs! I hate this breed has a bad rep, it's so important to get to know a dog just like you did! People can be way to quick to judge an animal without trying to properly understand the ROOT of the problem. I will always love the pit bull breed not matter what!

  about 8 years ago
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