It was a tragic ending to an already sad story. Ace the pit bull was euthanized by Detroit Animal Control late last week despite a temporary injunction aimed at delaying his execution. The emaciated dog received worldwide attention after he wandered into a Detroit hardware store and was turned into animal control. The problem in Detroit is that its policy for all unclaimed pit bulls is that they are to be destroyed instead of being turned over to other rescue organizations. Detroit officials are now considering re-examining the policy.
Unfortunately, Detroit isn’t alone. Pit bulls often receive death sentences in communities just for being pit bulls or pit bull mixes. They are the dog most frequently destroyed at Chicago Animal Care and Control. Unlike Detroit, there has been a concerted effort at CACC in the past few years to try to transfer out as many pit bulls and pit bull mixes as possible. There are numerous pit bull rescues in the area and many other shelters and rescues assist in rescuing and adopting out the dogs.
The over-breeding of Pit Bulls
“Pit bulls are one of the most over bred dogs in America,” says Kelly Facchini, president of Bombshell Bullies in Vernon Hills, a pit bull breed rescue organization. “There are just not enough homes for every pit bull that is born. Many people want pit bulls for the wrong reasons – whether it’s for breeding or fighting – these dogs are not getting spayed or neutered. It is estimated that only one in 600 pit bulls gets a home. That means 599 have to die in order for that one to get a home.”
Facchini adds that one unsprayed female has the potential to be responsible for the birth of 67,000 dogs in just six years. Meanwhile, 75% of the shelters nationwide have the same policy as Detroit and they euthanize pit bulls without adopting them out or attempting to transfer them to another shelter or rescue.
“In the Los Angeles area alone, 200 pit bulls are put down every day,” adds Facchini. “Imagine what the number is for the rest of the country. Many times, pit bulls are given up when they’re a year or two old and haven’t been trained because the novelty of having a puppy has worn off.”
Breed bans around the world
Throughout the United States, there are breed bans that prohibit pit bulls or mixes and the dogs face a death sentence, if caught, in prohibited communities. The U.S. isn’t alone in the discriminatory practice. Denmark, England, France, Holland, Ireland and Norway all have bans on pit bull terriers. A recent case in Ireland has also drawn international attention after Lennox an American Bulldog/Labrador mix was sentenced to death just for looking like a pit bull.
Facchini explains that pit bull is actually a generic term that covers American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and mixes of these breeds. As recently as the ‘40’s and ‘50’s the pit bull was the most popular dog in America and known as the nanny dog for their patient and gentle demanor with children. The dogs were originally used for bull baiting and then dog fighting. Although dog fighting was outlawed in the late 1860’s, it’s still very much alive in many areas of America today.
Myths About Pit Bulls
- They are human-aggressive
- They have locking jaws
- They were originally bred for dog fighting
- They don’t feel pain
- That they have more bite pressure per square inch than any other dog
- They can all of a sudden “turn” on their owners
Although Facchini loves the breed and works to rescue, foster and adopt pit bulls, she does admit that the breed isn’t for everyone.
Learning a dog’s history
“Adopters should know the dog’s history and understand their need for socialization, training and exercise,” adds Facchini. “Before adopting, they should be aware of any restrictions their city, landlord, town home or condo association and homeowner’s insurance may have on this breed. Pit bulls can get along with other dogs, and that dogs of the opposite gender tend to be more compatible.”
Learn more about Bombshell Bullies by following them on Faceboook and see dogs for adoption on Petfinder.
This is part one of a two part series about pit bulls. Next week, we’ll look at why this breed does make a good pet and what people should do and consider for the best chance at a successful adoption.
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