NOTE: The following article was taken from http://www.AmberLDrake.org. To view the original content, please visit Amber L. Drake’s website.
Breed Profile: Pit Bull
Terrier Dogs group
30 to 90 pounds
Average life span of 12 years
The Pit is known to be an extremely affectionate and loyal breed. The Pit is not a naturally aggressive breed; however, they do have a high prey drive. This essentially means they must remain entertained in some manner to prevent behavioral problems. The type of early socialization they have is also critical within this breed.
As far as being a guard dog, if you are looking for a guard dog this is not the breed for you. The socialized Pit is known to welcome strangers and seek attention. They are extremely affectionate toward everyone.
As Cesar Millan states,
“go beyond the stereotype and you’ll discover a smart, calm, and loving companion, just as I did 20 years ago.”
In large cities, shelter populations range from 35%-65% Pit.
Of this number, about 75% of these Pit Bulls are euthanized upon entry without being provided the opportunity for a chance at adoption.
Many of the Pit Bulls which are offered for adoption are often euthanized as well if a home is not found in a certain range of time.
According to research, approximately 2,800 Pits per day are ‘put to sleep.’
Only one in 600 Pits ever find a home!
The #1 Dog Being Bred in America
There is a negative stigma attached to the Pit. Due to this negative perception, there are an increasing number of Pit Bull dogs in rescue and shelter organizations. Those who rent experience difficulty finding a home or apartment which will allow a Pit; and those who own homes (due to raised homeowner’s insurance policy cost) are reluctant to adopt a Pit as well. With the negative stigma and population of the Pit increasing, this breed is in serious trouble!
Even the Most Severe Cases Are Loving
For those of you considering Pit adoption, if you are worried about the Pit having an unknown or abusive history, allow me to put your mind at ease and inform you even the most severe cases can be worked with and many dogs are happy to be in a loving, comfortable home. Each dog, regardless of the breed, should have a behavioral assessment conducted to determine what type of behavior issues they experience. A large number of Pit Bulls have been abused, neglected and/or used as fighters or bait.
Even those who have a heartbreaking history can be adopted and be happy and healthy (NOTE: Behavioral assessment is CRITICAL on every dog to ensure a proper fit for your family, regardless of breed. If the dog is not yet adoptable, send him to a professional for rehabilitation).
Any breed, if not cared for properly, can develop behavior problems:
The Pit has a poor reputation due the owners’ associated with the Pit. As you know, the Pit is commonly utilized in fighting rings due to their extreme determination to please their owner, their strength and their appearance. A dog of this size with this determination has the capability of doing significant damage if placed in the wrong hands. The Pit Bull, as stated previously, is not naturally aggressive. The American Temperament Test Society tests dog breeds around the country and found the Pit to be one of the five most stable breeds in the country!
Cesar Milan, and I quote, stated:
“It is the Terrier determination that causes problems if they fight, because they’ll be oblivious to pain and just refuse to quit. As responsible owners, we should make sure to redirect those traits in healthy ways. Give a pit a job to do and he will use that same determination. These are strong dogs who need exercise.”
I would like to share a story which introduced Susie’s Law to our legal system. The story begins when a woman named Donna witnessed animal abuse in her own neighborhood. Over the course of a five-year period, a Pit was chained to a tree, left unfed and without water, in the weather. Donna wanted to care for the dog and began providing him with food and water every morning while the owners were not home. The abused dog, due to his treatment, displayed fear-related aggression and territorial aggression. One day as she was caring for him, he attacked her resulting in life-threatening injuries. She left the hospital with 45 stitches, required multiple medical treatments and lost her ability to carry children. At this point in her life, the negative stigma of the Pit was in her mind.
Then, one day as she was walking the park, she found a puppy near death. The puppy turned out to be an eight-week old pit bull mix. The puppy was struggling for her life as she had been beaten, set on fire and left to die. She had third- degree burns and her ears were nearly gone. Her body was also filled with maggots leaving Donna to believe the puppy had died. Donna rushed the puppy to the veterinarian who gave her the option to put the puppy down. She decided not to put her down and the puppy, now named Susie, went through intensive, daily medical treatments (cost: $17,000+ in treatments). After two months of treatments, she began to act like a normal, playful puppy. At three months old, once reluctant Donna, adopted Susie. Susie is now trained as a therapy dog to work with burn victims.
Donna is now an advocate for the Pit breed and continues to educate all people regarding the love and extreme bond she has with Susie. Keep in mind, she had been attacked by a Pit with aggression and also had a negative perception of the Pit to begin with… but has seen the amazing love a Pit can provide when cared for properly and provided with a loving environment. Even with the horrible events Susie had experienced, Susie has never exhibited any type of negative behavior toward Donna or those treating her.
Many dog lovers will remember seeing ‘Susie’s Law’ in the news which developed stricter punishments for those who have abused animals. Susie’s Law was enacted due to this once little pit puppy. Three months after Susie was found, the abuser was arrested. Donna did not feel justice was served to this abuser as he only received a five-month probation sentence for the abuse (Class I felony). Susie’s Law has changed animal abuse in North Carolina to a Class H felony. A Class H felony means an animal abuser may now receive a prison sentence.
Prior to adopting any dog, regardless of their breed, request details regarding their behavior. Questions you may ask include:
Has this dog displayed any type of aggression? Aggression does not automatically mean the dog is ‘bad’ but you should be aware of any type of aggression whether the aggression be fear-elicited, territorial, dog-to-dog, etc.
What is this dog’s history?
Why was this dog rescued?
This is particularly critical in homes with small children. You should consult with a professional behaviorist for a behavior analysis if an analysis has not yet been conducted.
Gallery and Contact Information:
Please browse the gallery on AmberLDrake.org to see photographs of Pit Bulls with their families.
“We are happy to help you decide if adopting a Pit is right for your family. If you are considering adopting a Pit and would like further discussion, please use the contact page to ask any questions you may have.” -Amber L. Drake