Thursday, September 11, 2014

Shitty Pitty People

It's Thoughtless Thursday. Unfortunately I'm full of thoughts today. I've had a few tough cases lately, all involving pit bulls. One dog is dead, a couple have been declared dangerous, and still another may be confiscated and euthanized soon. It sucks, especially when I feel that under different circumstances, all of these dogs could have been good pets.
I don't hate pit bulls, but some days I really, really hate pit bull owners. Every single day on the job I'm defending pit bulls to people. "They're loyal, they're great for active people, they have a high pain tolerance so they're great with kids, how could you not love that pitty smile?" and "No, they're not naturally mean. No, their jaws don't lock. No, they don't have a taste for blood." But then some asshole comes along and ruins it for everybody. My credibility is shot. The stereotype is reinforced. And I'm writing police reports that I know will result in another dog's death.

There are a few things I'd like to say to current and potential pit bull owners.
  • Stop breeding your dogs! You're not going to sell the puppies for $250 each. More than likely you're going to sell one at a reduced price, give away half of them and then dump the rest off at the shelter three months later. The county shelter is full of pits and pit mixes, with 30-40 available for adoption at any time. These dogs (and puppies!) have already been fixed, microchipped and vaccinated. And they're available for $50 or less, City license included.
  • Yes, pit bull puppies are adorable! But in a few months they turn into destructive teenagers. They poop, they chew, they dig, they bark. And before you know it they're trying to make puppies of their own. If you're not prepared for this, don't get a dog.
  • All dogs -- not just pit bulls -- require food, shots, and routine medical care. If you can't afford it, don't get a dog. The pits around here tend to be more susceptible to skin issues like demodex and flea dermatitis. It costs money to treat this. I'm tired of people dropping dogs off at the shelter because they can't -- or won't -- pay for necessary vet care. Or food. Yes, people turn in their dogs because "food costs too much." The fact that we have a pet food bank is irrelevant because this is really just a lame excuse. 
  • Stop trying to make pit bulls look mean by mutilating their ears, using spiked collars and heavy chains and giving them vicious names like Diablo and Killer. You don't look "gangsta" you just look like a stupid wannabe thuglet. If you feel you need a scary dog to make people respect you, then maybe you need a new set of friends. And perhaps a therapist. And definitely a bitch slap or two.
  • Pit bulls are active dogs. They need lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation -- neither of which can be found at the end of a chain. Pit bulls are also social creatures and need interaction with their people. If all you want is an alarm system then call SafeTouch.
  • Pit bulls are strong and athletic. If you're going to own one you need to be able to contain it on your own property. A 4-foot chain link fence will not do the trick. Screen doors don't cut it either. Doors and gates must be able to latch and stay closed. Yes, any dog could get out, but none of them cause a panic like a pit bull.
  •  Pits need training and structure at least as much as (if not more than) every other dog. Teach them how to walk on a leash, to come when called, and a reliable "leave it" command. I've handled many, many pit bulls with strong prey drives and/or dog aggression. With proper training these behaviors can be redirected into sports like fly ball or agility, or minimized through socialization and desensitizing.  
  • On that note, if you adopt a dog with issues, you cannot just love the issues away. We've all seen the heartbreaking backstories and want to make a difference. But it takes work -- and time -- to properly rehabilitate a dog. Not everybody can do that. Be honest about your capabilities before bringing home a troubled dog. Otherwise, Animal Control has to get involved and it never ends well for the dog. This is especially true of large, powerful, scary-looking dogs, regardless of the breed.
  • Pit bulls are not welcomed everywhere. Some landlords, insurance policies and even entire cities prohibit pitties. Moving with a pit can be difficult, requiring extra time and research on your part. DO IT! Dumping your pet at the shelter because "it's too hard" is a shitty thing to do.
Let's face it, pit bulls already have enough problems. Between the mass hysteria fueled by the media (gotta get those ratings!) and the entertainment industry portraying them as vicious, it's no wonder that breed-specific laws are popping up everywhere. Pit bulls don't need any more bad owners making things worse.

It my area it seems like pit bulls are being disposed of faster than any other breed. Here are a couple sobering statistics:
  • 1 out of every 4 dogs that comes through my tiny shelter is a pit/pit mix. However, only 1 out of every 10 pit bulls in my facility is reclaimed by their owner.
  • I was at the county shelter the other day and saw about 40 dogs available for adoption. All but three of them were pits or pit mixes.
I have friends in other areas with similar stories. People suck!

Sorry for the rant. I'm frustrated. I don't know what to do. But I'd like to end on a positive note: If you're NOT a Shitty Pitty Person, here are a few really nice dogs at Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services looking for a home.

Duvall, 2 year old male, ID #A823992

Lynx, 18 month old female, ID #A816812

Rosie, 3 year old female, ID #A821698

These above photos were taken from JACPS's website. I'd like to give a GIANT thank you to the unknown person who took such beautiful pictures. The ones I took in the shelter look like this:

Aren't the top photos so much better? Do you think those photos are more likely to get the dogs a home than the ones I took?

Like I said, it's Thoughtless Thursday. Hop around and see what others are sharing today. -- K

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