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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pitbulls...This ACO's Perspective

Pit bulls get a lot of press. Some good but mostly bad. Are they really the evil dogs that they are perceived to be? This ACO thinks not.
One of the many questions that I get asked as an ACO is, "Aren't you afraid of pit bulls?" First of all, if any dog really scared me I wouldn't be doing this job. To me that is such a silly question. You want to know what dog actually makes me grit my teeth? Pomeranians! Yes, those cute fluffy little buggers are evil! At least 90% of the ones I have come across. A very close second is the Chihuahua. These little dogs are like land piranhas! You can't catch the ones that are loose and running, and the aggressive ones are out to get you with their sharp tiny little teeth and little dog complex. To me these little dogs are a nightmare. I would rather take on two aggressive pit bulls over trying to catch one of these little buggers.
But I'm getting a little off track here.
No, I'm not afraid of pit bulls, or any of the bully breeds. As a matter of fact, most of the pitties I pick up are some of the goofiest dogs. Including the "aggressive" ones. Almost all of the "aggressive dog" calls we get are reported as being pit bulls. About one quarter of these calls turn out to be breeds other than any bully breed, one quarter are actually aggressive pit bulls or some bully breed, and the remaining half are non-aggressive pit bulls or bully breeds. These pitties are friendly, silly, affectionate attention hogs. I've gone out on calls that the cops are hiding behind their car doors, have weapons ready, or won't even get out of the car. I call "puppy puppy puppy!" and pat my leg and they come wiggle wagging over and readily accept my little blue leash around their necks. A few have come charging towards me but their body language shows me it's not aggressive, and by the time they get to me they are wiggle wagging.
Of the aggressive pit bulls, I would have to say in their defense, most are terrified and this is their only way of defending themselves. Think of it this way, he's basically saying to himself, " I'm scared but I'm not gonna show them that! I will be pretend to be strong so they won't know I'm scared and they will leave me alone!" Then we have the few that are just bad dogs. It is debatable if they are "made" this way by people, or they are just not right in the head. And it's these dogs that get all the press. I know people will argue that all pit bulls are like this, but it's just not true. I see many many MANY pit bulls daily and honestly, the majority of them are good dogs.
But why do we see so many pit bulls? Why are there so many in the shelters? And why do we hear so many news stories about them? It's a matter of population. What many people don't understand is that most dogs have an average of 3-6 puppies in a litter. A few breeds have slightly more. But pit bulls and Labradors have average litters of 10-15 puppies per litter. So if Joe-Shmoe has a intact (unaltered/unfixed) male pit bull and lets say two female pit bulls. Female dogs typically go into heat every 5-6 months and often females who live together will be on the same heat cycle or relatively close. Joe's dogs could be producing up to 20-30 puppies ever 5-6 months. And Joe thinks that he is going to make tons of money producing all these puppies to sell to all the Mr.Toughguys and little Thugs. He's not. Joe's going to get stuck caring for more puppies than he can sell and that is a burden. It also proves to hit him in the wallet. So puppies go unvaccinated, and Joe dumps the remaining ones he can't sell at a shelter or gives them away to anyone who will take them.
Pit bull puppies, like all puppies are adorable! Mr. Toughguy get one or two for himself and his girlfriend. Girlfriend oooh and awww at her new "baby". Until it gets to be about 4 months old and is chewing her Ghettorific designer shoes and anything else it can get it's teeth on. And it keeps pottying in the house! So her "baby" get the boot outside. Oh they occasionally play with him, but that gets fewer and further between. They have lives to live and things to do and well puppy is just so hyper and jumps all over them, starved for attention and interaction. Play time gets less and less, until finally the only time puppy sees them is when they throw him his food.
By now puppy, who has never been to a vet and still has all his male parts is becoming a young testosterone building Male Dog. He's stuck in his backyard, but he smells things and hears things on the outside. In his boredom he has tore up just about everything he can in the backyard, now he's working on the fence boards.
By the way, pit bulls are intelligent dogs. And being stuck in a yard for months and months with nothing to do will make any dog nuts! Imagine being locked in a room for months with nothing to do.
Now Male Dog is about 8 months to 12 months old. He's bored, he's lonely and he hears and smells so much on the outside world. He finally breaks free of his prison and is FREE FREE FREE!!! He can run with wild abandonment! He sees cats for the first time other that on the top of the fence looking down on him. The chase is on. Or he sees people, big or little he doesn't care and in his excitement he is perceived as being aggressive. Someone calls the cops or animal control. Aggressive pit bull chasing cats and trying to attack people.
He ends up at the shelter.
This is the story a thousand times over all over the country.
Female Dog has it no better. Little Thugs think they are gonna make some money themselves by breeding their girl dog. As soon as she is 6 months, still a baby herself, they find the biggest baddest Male Dog to breed her. They are going to make Bad Puppies and Mad Money. Of coarse when Baby Girl produces her 10-12 puppies all their thuggy friends buy them up. So wow they made some money. Six months later they do it again, but now everyone they know already has dogs so they are harder to sell, and some of their thuggy friends are breeding their 6 month old baby girls.
Baby Girl by 2 years old has produced 4 litters of 10-15 puppies. She's thin, tired and used up. If she doesn't escape her life of mass production, she is dumped somewhere.
Trying to do the math on this will make your head explode.
I'm not making this up.  This is what I see every day. Shelter workers all over see this every day. And these are just three examples of many of how pit bulls end up at the shelter.
The typical age of a pit bull at the shelter is from 6 months to 2 years old. Most hit by car dogs are intact males. I don't need to look up statistics. I get a up close personal view every day.
The most truly aggressive pit bulls that I have come across have been taught to be that way by their owners. Encouraged to be aggressive to other animals. Their owners think it's funny to make people jump by "pretending" to sic their dog on them. The dog doesn't know any better he just wants to please his owner and thinks that this is acceptable behavior.  The other truly aggressive ones are not right in the head, bad breeding perhaps. A intact male or female puppy that reaches maturity and is still around intact mom or dad can do bad genetic things. And if there is two or more of these young bored pit bulls, yes you are going to have that deep recessed "pack" mentality surface. And that definitely will be on the news.
There is some good news. Many pitbulls and bully breeds are adopted out of shelters and from rescues. In our area there are no breed restrictions, and pitties are just like every other dog.  Almost all of them go on to lead wonderful adventure filled lives with loving families that they are actually a part of.
The bad news is, we still cannot keep up with the Joe-Shmoes, Mr. Toughguys, Girlfriends and little Thugs. Until we do, there will always be Bad News For Pitbulls.

Want to learn more about Pitbulls, Bully Breeds and ways to help them?

Please check out this wonderful Pitbull Rescue and Advocacy in our Area

And please, come visit some of the wonderful Pitties in our shelter,  or your local shelter.
Maybe YOU can be thier happy ending?


  1. As an owner of a Chi and advocate of bully breeds, I agree with your assessment! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you and I my hope is not to offend chihuahua owners with my assessment! I know there are many wonderful Chihuahua out there owned by responsible people. These are not the ones that I have contact with. I'm glad you enjoyed my article.

    1. I think its kind of funny that you say that. I have pit bull and a chihuahua. And are chihuahua is the instigator. Are pit bull does react unless the little brat start. Are pit bull even afraid of are cats and it kind of funny he won't walk across there path until we move the cats. We got are pit bull when he was 6-7 months old. The previous ower were going to get rid of him because he was chewing up there place. He a real sweat heart. But the only problem is he wants your attention 24/7. Is that normal for this breed or could it be because of it previous owners. But he Lucky I a housewife and are kids are home school so they can give him lots of attention. Every time were petting one of the other pets he push them and try to claim your lap like he a cat or small dog.

  3. Thanks for explaining what it is you see daily in your life! I too worked in the animal field as a Veterinary Technician for 25 years and I agree with you. There were certain dogs in my career that, I am ashamed to say, I profiled for my own safety and would cautiously approach; some small breeds, some large. But, Pitties weren't one of them. I would have rather worked on a pit bull than many other breeds. It is true that some are trained to be agressive by ignorant owners with low testosterone levels, but most that are taught aggression are taught dog aggression, not human aggression. The pitties would come in with various wounds from whatever there goofy terrierness got them into, wagging and kissing no matter what! I looked at some of those wounds saying to myself, 'I'd be pissed if that was on me", but not them , ever stoic while being treated. And afterwards, lots of wags and kisses for us as if to say thanks for fixin' me up! As in all instances of discrimination, I hope that one day the majority of society will see the Pit Bulls for what they are; loyal, loving, affectionate, and comically goofy American family dogs.

  4. Thank You Very much for posting this - I couldn't agree more!!

    1. I got a pit from the pound on Front St. She is the most loving dog I have ever met. She just likes to cuddle and get bully rubs. She sleeps with me to be near me.

  5. OMG! You just described exactly what happened to my foster dog. He was left behind by my nieghbors when they moved out. Left without any food or clean water and found 5 days later. I remember when the neighbors got him as a puppy. Being a pit bull owner, I was excited to see a family with a pit bull puppy. But my happiness soon turned to sadness as I watched the older kid take the dog for 2 walks in the year they had him and both times the dog was never on leash. I never saw the dog again until they moved out. By the time they moved out the dog was 16 months old, had been a back yard dog, had no training, was unneutered, unsocialized, and was a bounding bundle of energy, etc. I got him neutured UTD on shots and have been working on his obedience training. I have had him now for 4 months and although he is 1,000 times more well behaved than when I first found him he is still a work in progress. Only if they had spent a little time training him when he was a pup and easily trainable. He is just now about ready to find his forever home with an experienced dog owner. I am sure the scenario you described of getting a cute puppy, then being put in the back yard to eventually not having any interaction, training or socialization is exactly the life my foster dog lived before I found him. Now he understands what it is like to be a part of a family with consistent boundaries, training and affection. Thank you for sharing your stories!!

  6. Thanks for a great story,as a Chako supporter it means a lot to me.
    Michael McCauley

  7. Thank you so much for this blog post, I'm sharing it on g+ and twitter. It's refreshing to hear a perspective on Pit Bulls from people that truly know what they are talking about, and my hats off to all of Sacramento's hard working Animal Control officers.

  8. I have to echo the sentiments of the other posters here. I LOVE pits - they are delightful, goofy and fun. My own part-pit doggy is a never-ending source of joy and amusement, and I continually work with her on her manners and behavior to ensure she's as delightful to everyone else. I hate the thought of breed-specific legislation, and I fume every time I hear pit bulls being given a bad rap. Bravo for telling it like it is!

  9. Good afternoon, I run a local online discussion forum in Elk Grove, called Elk Grove Laguna Forums. The topic of pit bulls has come up many times and is always a hot button issue with our members. Some are big fans and others like myself think the dogs are very dangerous and a nuisance. Elk Grove has had quite a few incidents of pit bulls attacks. Just last week a pit bull attacked another dog in a residential neighborhood and one of our members was slightly injured. Another member posted a link to this blog. I wanted to invite you to offer your opinions on pit bulls and respond to some of the critics who say these are dangerous dogs.

    our website is

    1. Elk Grove Forum,
      I will certainly come by your site to offer my insite and respond to critics.

  10. Thank you so much for a very thoughtful and insightful post about pit-bulls. Every animal needs to be understood and loved. Pit-bulls have been given a bad wrap for many reason that we are all aware of. Thanks for this post. :-), Susan Cooper

  11. As the owner of the sweetest Pomeranian that ever lived I think you are a big Bit**

    1. Consider yourself lucky to have one of the 10% of nice Pomeranians. Your entitled to your opinion of me and it's not the first nor will it be the last time I have been called that. Usually it's by people who are angry that I am right and since they cannot come up with a more mature logical response they resort to name calling.

  12. It's all in the breeding and care.

  13. it's the deed not the BREED!! people can't get that at all!