Many people ask us, “Why do you have so many pit bulls in your rescue?”
The sad truth is that if you walk into any shelter in Los Angeles, most of the large dogs you will see are “pit bulls” and “pit bull” mixes. This is because of a simple reason: they are being bred at alarming rates in our city.
1. What is a “pit bull”:
In truth, there is no breed called “pit bull” (which is why we put the phrase in quotes). In fact, dogs that get referred to as “pit bulls” or “pits” usually are from one or more of the following dog-breed families:
– American Staffordshire Terrier
– Staffordshire Bull Terrier
– American Pit Bull Terrier
– American Bull Dog
– Bull Terrier
Breeding dogs to have the “bully” look has become a widespread hobby among enthusiasts, much to the dismay of the rescuers and animal professionals who must then deal with the consequences of this trend. These dogs are used in “bully” shows and can be sold for lots of money. “Pit bull”-like dogs are also used in violent, illegal dog fights. Illegal dog-fighting rings still flourish in our community; we see the consequences of these fights in the scars of many of the dogs we take into our rescue.
In Los Angeles, approximately 200 pit bull-like dogs must be killed in shelters every day because of these trends (pbrc.net). Nearly half of the dogs in our shelters are pit bull-type dogs, and they are the number 1 most commonly-killed dog.
This is why we have so many pit bull-type dogs in our rescue, and this is why we put so much energy into spay/neuter education in our community.
2. Are “pit bulls” dangerous?
Each dog is an individual with completely different characteristics. Just like people, dogs vary completely from to the next. One “pit bull” might be what we call “bullet-proof” – aka completely trustworthy in any situation. Another might might be shy, “reactive,” and dog-aggressive. We get to know each dog that comes under our care so that we can pair him or her with a human that is well-equipped to handle that particular dog’s needs. If we have a particularly difficult dog, we send him or her to a rehabilitation facility and get an honest assessment as to whether or not that dog can safely be placed in a home.
“Pit bulls” get an unfair share of bad publicity in the media and there are numerous counties and cities that unjustly are trying to enact legislation to prevent people from owning them. (Click here for more information. -link to http://www.animalfarmfoundation.org/pages/home). Some rescues do not pull “pit bulls” from shelters in the first place because of the perceived liability that “power” breeds can bring to the organization.
We at Karma Rescue feel strongly that these dogs deserve a chance because we have all owned them: they are wonderful family dogs and can be among the most loyal and loving pets in the world. Many of us here at Karma would never get any other kind of dog.
3. Should I own a pit bull?
Pit bulls tend to be extremely strong, agile, and intelligent dogs. Like any dogs that have these characteristics, they need regular stimulation, exercise, and large amounts of training. If you do not have the time and energy to commit to a dog like this, then we would recommend that you do NOT get a “pit bull” type dog.
Owning a strong and intelligent dog can be a source of great joy in your life if you are willing to put in the necessary time and effort. As the owner of a stigmatized dog breed, you will probably be judged by your dog’s behavior more than other dog owners. We at Karma take pride in our adopters because they train their dogs to be “ambassadors” – model citizens that can defy peoples’ expectations about what a “pit bull” is.
It is the rare “pit bull” in Los Angeles that gets the chance to have a good life, given the volume at which they are produced and odds they are up against in the shelters and on the streets. If you are willing to give one of these dogs a chance, then we have the perfect friend waiting for you.