“Pit Bulls can be really sweet, loving dogs if they’re raised right.“
Ever heard someone say that? Have YOU ever said it yourself? I know that when people say this, they mean it with the best intentions, but it’s such a harmful phrase. Let me explain why.
Animal shelters all over the United States are filled with homeless Pit Bulls. I know you’ve heard me say that the Pit Bull is the most euthanized dog in the country. Both of these things are, in part, the result of people believing that how a Pit Bull is raised will completely determine what kind of dog it becomes.
Let’s say you go to your local shelter because you’ve finally decided the kids are old enough for a dog. Should you get a puppy, or should you consider an adult dog? You’re just not sure, so you walk through the facility looking at dozens of dogs every age, breed, and size.
You see several adult Pit Bulls, and just like all the others, they’re wagging their tails and trying to get your attention, hungry for love. There’s one you’re particularly drawn to, because he has a beautiful white coat and a coal-black nose and soul-piercing eyes, and you wonder what his story is.
But then you think to yourself, I don’t know anything about this dog. What if he was raised to be mean? How do I know I can I trust him around my children? My other animals? I just don’t know enough about him to take him home.
But the truth is, you have to ask yourself those very same questions about every single dog in that shelter, regardless of breed, and to some degree, regardless of age. You have to ask those questions about a dog you find in a Craigslist ad, or through a breeder, in a pet store, or through a rescue.
Every dog is an individual, just like every human being is an individual. They’re different, just like all people are different. They have varied personality characteristics. Some are good with kids, some aren’t. Some like other animals, some don’t.
But these things aren’t necessarily determined by breed. They’re part of what makes up each individual dog.
I know you remember the Michael Vick dogfighting tragedy. Fifty-one Pit Bulls were seized from his home, pulled from deplorable conditions. Most had been abused and tortured, and those that hadn’t been mistreated had witnessed the horrific abuse of the others. Some simply could not be saved, but surprisingly 47 of them went to sanctuaries and rescues to be rehabilitated.
Today some of those dogs still live in sanctuaries, foster homes, and rescues. But an impressive number of them have been adopted and are now living with families – families just like yours and mine! Many of them became certified therapy dogs and are true ambassadors of their breed.
Take a look here at Handsome Dan, a rehabilitated, reformed, and re-homed Vick dog. He lets his baby sister read to him every night before bed.
My point is, these dogs were raised in the worst conditions. They weren’t loved. They weren’t properly cared for. Many were trained to fight, and just as many were used as bait to start the fights. If it were true that a dog’s past determines whether or not it can become a loving part of a family, none of these dogs would ever have been deemed worthy of adoption.
And yet after being rescued, they still wanted love and companionship and family. And with love, patience, and training, their wishes came true.
Most shelters evaluates dogs’ behavior before making them available for adoption. There are many criteria that a dog is judged upon, and while there are no absolute guarantees, that is true of all dogs – not just Pit Bull-type dogs.
So I implore you. If you’re thinking you must get a puppy in order to raise and mold it in hopes of creating the kind of dog you want, won’t you take a closer look at an adult dog who may very well already be the kind of dog you want? Look at who and what a dog is right now, rather than wondering what his past was like. Truth is, his past isn’t nearly as important as his future, and you can be a part of that.