Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What? Excuse you... I am not a pit bull!

Sadly, despite their sweetness, Pit mixes have trouble getting adopted everywhere. The result has been resorting to different names for pit mixes looking for homes.

The no-kill-Shelter where I will begin volunteering on Saturday has a lot of trouble adopting out dogs the moment they label them with "Pit-mix" on their website. Our pit-rotteiler-bulldog-chow-terrier mix, Winnie, came from Animal Haven and was labeled a Lab/Shepherd Mix.

We completely understand the need to do this- and I have watched the Animal Haven website so much that I have seen dogs go from "Pit Mix" to "Shepherd Mix" in an attempt to get them homes.

For example:
Notice that not one of these dogs is labeled a pit-mix. I know that Cha Cha, whose puppies have all found homes, has been at the Shelter for months (more than 3?), which is extremely rare for Animal Haven, which usually places dogs within a matter of a 2-3 weeks. The team has tried everything with these three dogs, such as changing their pirctures and giving them cute sweaters, to get them some attention. Luckily, they won't be put down just because of their size and pit-bull characteristics; if a home is not found in a certain length of time, they will go to another rescue group with more expertise. Cha Cha gets lots of attention from volunteers and is given as much stimuation as possible while she waits.

I have found that Animal Haven is more willing to label a dog a "pit-mix" when it is a small puppy because people are much less afraid of a baby. Although I have a feeling that once they grow up, if they are still at the shelter, their breeds might change to something like a "lab mix" or a "boxer mix" perhaps. See below:

Is this ethical? Well it has been done at a lot of shelters and even the DNA testing we have used don't even have a category for Pit-bulls. I guess they figure that they don't want to sell someone a $80 DNA test just to have them find out something they didn't want to know. Insted they tell you that your dog is a "American Staffordshire Terrier," which a lot of groups have tried to encourage lately.

The frustrating thing to me is that while some groups actively avoid the word "pit," Animal Care and Control seems to embrace it. Even when a dog doesn't even look much like a pit bull, it is a "pit mix." 90% of the dogs are pit mixes, and I'm sure they could come up with some creative names that might help save their lives. This is especially important because AC&C allows you to put in a "pure-bred request" so that if a Golden Retriever for example happens to come in, they will let you know. Adding that a dog might be a "Boxer Mix" would bring in all of the boxer-people just to look, which is all these sweet dogs really need to get adopted.

Too bad every dog can't get a DNA test to help show their genetic diversity. Too bad people are so focused on breed and so un-focused on heart.


  1. Well APBT and Am Staffs were originally the same breed. The AKC refused to register a breed with a reference to pit fighting in it's name, so it was dubbed the Am Staff.

    Those DNA tests, are in my opinion, hoaxes. I've seen some really shady results, including something like a Pomeranian or Maltese for a 90 pound Mastiff-type dog.

    And shelters will do what they can to push dogs out. You're right that it may not be totally ethical, but they also don't often know much about the dogs and make best-guesses. That said, I think it's often better to go by types, shepherd, herding type, terrier type, molasser type, LGB type, etc. etc. Though the term "Pit Bull" tends to encompass a certain look, and may be considered a type.

  2. No offense to any shelter that is trying to do what it has to to find homes for these pits, pit-mixes, etc...but I think it is sad that the truth of what these dogs are is forever ruined by the fear that comes with pits because of ruthless owners. Any dog can be violent, when in the hands of a violent owner. I think it is scary of the reputation of one breed is singled out because of cruel owners.

    I read your last post about your Thanksgiving and was very surprised at the response from your family. I hadn't really thought about how it must feel to live day to day with a dog that has such a bad reputation. What a horrible feeling that must be and how difficult it must be. I hope this world turns around someday for you and all pit bull owners. I think it's a long ways away, but maybe it will be sooner than we think.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Ettel, I completely agree about the "breed type" idea. Bid-a-wee on long island says dogs are "Mutt-a-grees" if they are breed-unknown, but I think it is helpful for people to have some info like-- "shepherd-type" "retriever-type" "terrier-type", and I agree, pit bulls have a type, but perhaps including them in the terrier group (as they are terriers) would be helpful. Since I hope to one day open a shelter, this is all valuable stuff for me to think about. Thanks!

  4. 24 Paws of Love- Thanks so much for reading and I read yours as well, I cannot believe what little Blaze has been through, he's so lucky he had a good family to go back to and didn't end up in a shelter after his horrific ordeal.

  5. Yup. I think it's also very useful when dealing with potentially troublesome behaviors. I would be much less worried about a hound-mix sniffing non stop than a herding breed (in terms of it being a displacement behavior and the dog being potentially stressed out), much more worried if a pit bull was showing aggression towards people than a guarding breed, etc. etc. And all that also goes towards behaviors that potential adopters can expect from their dog - not just aesthetics. And then there's also potential for breed affecting health.


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