Saturday, October 9, 2010
October is national Adopt-A-Dog Month. For one month a year, the national animal welfare focus is on getting dogs adopted. Actually, we focus 365 days a year on getting dogs adopted. But for the month of October, the talks shows run special stories on adoption, newspapers write articles about adoption and shelters and rescue groups run special adoption promotions and events. All of us have the same goal - to get as many dogs into new forever homes as we can.
So, what dogs often don't benefit from Adopt-A-Dog Month? Unfortunately, so many pit bulls spend October in shelters and foster homes, passed over by adopters because of media hype, myths and unfair stereotypes. Here are a few things you may not know about pit bulls:
1) In national temperament test data, pit bulls passed the test 86% of the time. This is higher than Australian Shepherds, Beagles, Boston Terriers, German Shepherds, Jack Russell Terriers, Miniature and Toy Poodles, and America's family pet, the Golden Retriever. All of the tiny designer dogs -- Chihuahuas, Lhasa Apsos, Malteses, and Shih Tzus -- scored lower than American Pit Bull Terriers.
2) Banning pit bulls does not make communities safer or reduce dog bites. A new article just published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association has scientifically concluded that breed-specific legislation simply doesn't work. Banning pit bulls only punishes responsible pit bull owners, and irresponsible owners will continue to be irresponsible. Fortunately, the recent proposed pit bull ban in Douglasville was voted down by some reasonable city council members.
3) Pit bulls used to be America's dog. Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller (pictured here with her dog, Sir Thomas), Woodrow Wilson, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, John Steinbeck, Thomas Edison and General George Patton all owned pit bulls. Current pit bull owners include Rachel Ray, Jon Stewart, Serena Williams, and Brad Pitt. Petey from the Little Rascals was a pit bull (pictured above). Throughout much of American history, pit bulls were considered loyal and loving family pets. Unfortunately, their unwavering loyalty has made it easy for them to be exploited by people who see them only as money makers, status symbols and weapons.
I have been seriously bitten by 3 dogs in my life. And none of them were pit bulls. The first bite came from an unspayed, chained chow that was in heat. I was at a friend's wedding, and some of her family members insisted on bringing their dog, because she was a "member of the family," too. She was such a member of the family that she was completely unsocialized, nervous in new situations, and had never been spayed. Since she wasn't crate trained, this family member was chained up behind the house during the wedding reception, so she wouldn't bother the guests. I went outside to take her some water and, since she was so terrified and unable to run away because of her short chain, she saw me as a threat. I don't blame her.
The other bites came from a mauling I received from a labrador and a golden retriever. I was hiking with my small beagle mix dog in the North Carolina mountains. My dog was on a 6 foot leash as we walked the trails. As I was headed up a trail, two wildly excited dogs came running down the trail, not on a leash and no owner in site. Their excitement turned to aggression, and they started to attack my dog. When I picked her up to protect her, they turned their aggression on me. Over 10 years later, and I still have the scars on my legs as a reminder of what can happen when owners are irresponsible.
Pit bulls aren't naturally aggressive or mean. Very few dogs are naturally aggressive. What makes a dog mean is frustration, fear, neglect and abuse. These will harm any dog.
We have so many wonderful pit bulls and pit bull mixes currently available for adoption - Daisy, Pablo, Mei, Praline, Greta, Lillian, and Dolly.
Let's make October a fantastic month for adoptions, and a banner month for pit bulls. If you are considering adding a new dog to your family, please open your mind and heart to one of the most loving, loyal, silly and stable breed of dog, the American Pit Bull Terrier. Daisy, Pablo, Mei, Praline, Greta, Lillian, and Dolly are waiting for you to see just how amazing they are.
For more information about pit bulls, visit Animal Farm Foundation and Pit Bull Rescue Central.