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67 thoughts on “A Pit Bull Adoption Disaster: Animal Aggression, Anti-Anxiety Medication, Ceasing to Document Behavior and More

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  1. ” I assumed these people had the best interest of the dogs in mind.”
    Yeah, they did. Which entirely excluded the best interests of YOU, your pets, and other pets and people in the vicinity of their molossar time bomb.

  2. Trazodone is mostly used for its side effects of sleepiness so it is used to treat insomnia. Shelters are using this to make these dogs appear more sedate and chill. I can assure you they are not giving this for anxiety.

    • Trazodone is used as an anti-anxiety medication for dogs, which treats a number of issues, but certainly has a blunting effect on behavior. That’s the point. “It’s commonly prescribed to dogs for anxiety, fear, and other anxiety-based behavioral disorders.”

      • The vet gave us Trazadone for our GSD when we were having difficulties getting him into the car (he’d been *very* carsick as a puppy, which led to a fear of the car and a refusal to get in. After pilling him for a couple of car rides, he got over it and now rides along with no problems.

        We also give them to him before vet visits, just to help keep him calm (without them he didn’t growl or try to bite anybody, but he was too scared and excited to be treated–he’s a big strong boy, so when he doesn’t want to sit still he’s not going to sit still). The pills mean he’s relaxed enough to sit calmly and not be freaked out by the thermometer etc.

        It worked wonders for him–like I said, he will now get in the car and is just fine at vet visits. He doesn’t need it any other time, but I can see how a shelter might keep a dog on it constantly and what a nightmare those dogs would be when they don’t get their pills.

  3. Pit bull with “unknown” behavior?
    What… no muzzle?!?!
    Me, I would NEVER have a pit bull, but putting myself in the adopters shoes… I’d at least have a muzzle on that mauler for the 1st week. Cats would still be alive, and mauler returned to shelter.

  4. The Socially Conscious Sheltering tenets include this at #5:

    “Alleviate suffering and make appropriate euthanasia decisions.”

    I’ve recently seen an open-admission city shelter accept a stray pit bull with severe injuries (thought to have been hit by a car). The shelter, of course, has a volunteer organization which routinely tries to get local rescues to ‘pull’ animals likely to be euthanized, and pressures the shelter to give ‘time-stamped’ animals more time for a rescue to be found.

    This pit bull’s injuries included exposed tendons and bone. Video of the animal showed it crying in pain as it stood in a shelter kennel. The shelter lacks the budget to do major vet work such as this animal needed, so they did the prelim exam, gave it some painkillers and let their volunteers blow up social media in search of a rescue willing to take it. It took about 2 days. The rescue group is now very pleased with itself for ‘saving’ the pit bull and very angry at the shelter for ‘letting’ the animal suffer. There seems to be zero understanding that their own actions – their frantic demands for more time to find someone to take on behaviorially or physically unadoptable animals – led to this outcome, that the shelter is afraid to appropriately euthanize animals that are in tremendous pain due to injuries too severe for the shelter to handle, due to a limited budget.

  5. Has Steve retained an attorney? Specifically, for the wrongful death of two of his cats?

    I hope he sues the you-know-what out of this shelter. I really do.

    • In most states, cats are considered property as are dogs. So one can only sue for the financial value of the two cats at the time of their deaths. That probably isn’t much. If they had been injured but not killed, the owner could have sued for the Veterinary bills.

  6. While I am somewhat sympathetic, I cannot for the life of me understand why “Steve” would take this dog with so many red flags (“we don’t know” when asked if the dog was good with kids or cats and “keep him away from other dogs when we walk him.”). Sorry, but “Steve” really could and should have seen this coming.

    • Actually, I think Steve is one of many people who’ve been so hoodwinked by the animal rescue movement that they can no longer see reality. I’m sure he’s singing a different tune now.

    • Honestly, there is so much money being pushed into the pit propaganda angle, I feel sorry for Steve and people like him. There are popular movies, novels, TV shows and even kids’ cartoons pushing the “poor misunderstood pibble” narrative, and for many people, that’s the only info they get.

      As big a name as Pixar recently released a cartoon that showed an escaped fighting pit bull befriending a kitten and living happily ever after, so can you blame so many people for swallowing this deadly line of thinking? I once believed it myself.

    • Maybe you don’t remember what shelters USED to be like. In the 1990s and before, shelters were the best place to get a wonderful pet dog. The employees screened dogs and euthanized any that were clearly going to be dangerous or difficult pets. The remainder (and there were a lot of them) were offered for adoption to the average family home. There were no laundry lists of cautions about what life forms to avoid, no ‘shutdown’ periods to be observed, etc. You took the dog, which had been basically vetted and treated humanely for 1-6 months but not given extensive training or ‘enrichment’ or foster weekends, home and the dog just became your dog. No dead cats, no mauled children, nothing out of the ordinary.

      Steve and many other people were raised like that – you wanted a pet, you went to the pound and got one, it was safe, the worst that could happen was the dog peed on the rug or nipped you once without breaking skin. The shelter wouldn’t adopt out dangerous dogs! As Colleen says, the public trusts shelters. Or did.

      • I hear everyone’s points, which are good. Still, if the shelter is telling me that “don’t know” if the dog is good around cats or children, and not to let the dog near other dogs while walking him…well, I am putting 2 and 2 together and that is not the dog for me. I’m sorry, but it seems like Steve simply did not use much common sense.

        • Yes, Bob, but how many gullible “Steves” are out there falling for it. How many “Steves” have partners who fell in love with a shelter dog and convinced their “Steve” to give it a try. This was Steve against the shelter AND the partner. What man says “No” to their partner. (It wasn’t clear whether partner was male or female, but it’s a classic for a man to allow the woman to have what she wants.) What I’m saying is that the RED FLAGS were not sufficient to overcome the push to take the dog. The red flags were only visible to the person recalling the event and looking for red flags.

    • I agree with you. The San Diego Humane adopted out a pit bull to a family with a newborn baby. Dog was on the bed with the newborn, mother sneezed, the dog was scared and killed the baby. Who in hell would put a newly adopted pit bull on a bed with a newborn? Talk about red flags. People must assume the liability themselves!

      • I just received a flyer in the mail from the local ASPCA featuring an adoption event. All the pictures were of Pits. Shelters push these Pits unmercifully, and that pun is entirely intended.

        For anyone out there who gets these kinds of mailings, I’d suggest sending back a note saying “We will not support your shelter if you intend to continue to adopt out breeds that kill high numbers of pets. That is not humane.”

        BTW, the county where this organization is in, lost a multi-million dollar suit when they ignored the pleas of a disabled woman about the roaming pits in her neighborhood and as a result she was viciously mauled. It’s the same county where an older lady was killed by unsecured pits while she was walking down a major road not too many years ago.

        • Now, think for a moment: Who supports these humane societies? Last I checked, they weren’t being supported by dogs. Or any other sort of four-legged creatures.

          Nope. They’re being supported by HUMAN society.

          Which means it’s up to us, the human beings on this planet, to stop giving them our hard-earned money.

          • Exactly. We must start pressuring the Humane Societies else they will have no incentive to stop.

    • Bob, are you not married or in a relationship?

      “Steve” didn’t want the pit his partner did. The fact is even if he has said no, his partner could have come by without him and got the pit. Setting that aside, as Steve himself said “But she begged me, and I caved.” It isn’t any fun to be the heavy, to have to say to someone you love “No you can’t have this thing you really want. ” It often comes across as “I don’t trust your judgment and I think I am smarter than you.”

      Most people don’t know the full story about pits or worse they only know the pit friendly marketing tropes. They also don’t know how bad shelters have gotten (Aggressive dogs used to be put down. Many people assume this still happens.) Factoring that all in and wanting to keep the mother of his child happy I can understand how this happened.

  7. In a local no-kill shelter, one pit bull was listed as to not let it see any men. (No walking by any men. No seeing any men when walked.) I personally read the instructions on it.

    In another case, I stooped down by a pit bull with a volunteer outside, avoided eye contact, and offered my hand gently under his chin. The dog aggressively charged at me. The reason reported by the volunteer was a man walking across the parking lot behind me. To me, this man was invisible.

    One good trainer sent two adopted pit bulls from this shelter directly to veterinarians for euthanasia in order to avoid shelter recycling of dangerous dogs.

    This is a dangerous situation.

  8. One of our clients has a pit bull that came with a list of requirements that he had to initial before he could take it home from the shelter: the dog could not be taken to any dog parks, had to be muzzled anytime he was taken out in public, could not be taken around other dogs and could not be taken around children. Now let’s think about this for a minute:This idiot adopted and took home a dog that was so dangerous that he essentially has to keep it away from other living things unless it is muzzled.Knowing this and even after he signed this “ammendement ” on his adoption paperwork, he brought the dog in to our clinic for it’s post-adoption exam WITHOUT A MUZZLE. When the doctor went into the room, the damn dog tried to jump over the exam table to attack him and bit the owner’s arm when the owner restrained him. It is scary to think that these are the kind of stupid people that are adopting these ” misunderstood ” dogs. There is no misunderstanding a dangerous dog .

    • True, he’s an idiot.

      But that mauler should have been euthanized. Not adopted out.

      Maulers are idiot bait. And sociopath bait.

      There is enough of a human problem with the existence of idiots and sociopaths among us, that it should not be compounded by giving idiots and sociopaths access to maulers.

  9. In response to a comment that came in:
    ———————-
    “I seriously question the rationality of anyone who’d adopt such a large powerful dog with completely unknown history, no temperament testing, not cat tested, into a home with children and cats… especially after hearing “keep him away from other dogs.” Absolutely unbelievable that someone would be so careless…”
    ———————-
    What the commenter is missing is that this couple trusted the shelter. They did not believe the shelter would adopt out a dangerous animal. The couple was not seasoned in the tricks of the trade. He described a playgroup, but did not know what one was. He thought it was “maybe normal procedure” they told him to keep the dog away from other dogs. He did not know the gravity of what that meant — a reader of this blog would. He fully admits, “he caved.” He called himself an “idiot for thinking this had a chance to turn out good.” What more could he possibly say?

    Many similar comments are coming in by “first time” commenters of this blog, which throws them into comment moderation. These types (most are owners of pit bulls they adopted from a shelter) will likely never visit DogsBite.org again and are simply here to bash this adopter. The discussion of trust is important here. Look at how much trust and leeway he and his partner gave the county shelter? There certainly are many other adopters who would fall into a similar category.

    • Part 1 of long comment

      If commenters make it their policy to bash every person who learned the hard way the truth about pit bulls, where the cost of that lesson was not an innocent human life, that reaction IMO needlessly alienates allies.

      There is SO MUCH propaganda out there, and SO MANY people who either own a mauler breed or have relatives who do, it is *inevitable* that stories like Steve’s are going to be repeated over and over and over again.

      The maulers attack and kill thousands upon thousands of other non-mauler dogs every year. Too many cases where the owner of the victim dog has the added trauma of watching it happen & being unable to save their beloved dog.

      And yet even with these horrific slaughters happening multiple times every single day, there is a conspiracy of silence in the news media about the epidemic levels of mauler-on-other-animal violence. Yes individual stories make the news … a few times, on the local stations … but the news stories never put these attacks into context by informing their viewers of the overall numbers of animal killings by maulers. To get the numbers, a citizen has to come to a site like this or Animals 24-7 or the FB page for Our Pets Were Attacked By Pit Bulls.

      Where we stand right now, culturally and legally, the human victims of maulers count for very little. And the animal victims of maulers count for nothing at all. This has to change.

      • Part 2 of long comment

        Personally, I welcome “Steve,” Victor (on the Modesto fatality thread) and any other similar converts to share their stories.

        If the only people who are deemed eligible to speak are the “saints” who have never made a mistake, then that shrinks the platform considerably. It also results in potentially counterproductive communication because people who are in similar situations to those of Steve or Victor never hear those stories and never get the chance to recognize the dangers in their own situation *before* tragedy happens.

        I love cats. I have three of them. Cats deserve to be safe in their own home from dog predation. It is terrible that those two cats were killed by the pit bull that Steve and his partner brought into their home. Those beautiful little animals suffered needlessly, died horrific deaths, and nothing can bring them back.

        BUT

        At least it was not the three-year-old child.

        Steve’s mistake was a bad one. But it was not the worst one. And he has drawn the appropriate lesson, in my opinion.

        Here’s hoping that someone else will read his story and avoid making a similar mistake.

        No, shelters pushing hard for pibble adoptions DO NOT have the safety of other animals in mind. Otherwise they would not be circulating the maulers out into the community. This is a crucial lesson. You can’t be pro-mauler AND pro-animal. The nature of maulers eliminates that combination.

        The more ordinary people who become aware of the risky policies and practices of shelters and rescues, the better. That is how we gain allies.

        • It’s the pressure from over the top, animal welfare groups to not allow humane societies to euthanize these vicious dogs; they can be rehabilitated, all they need is a loving, patient person to help these poor unfortunates. Bull! The answer is to sue every humane society who adopts out these k9 crazies. Litigation seems to be the only thing that will make these humane groups stop this practice because, heaven forbid they lose their “no kill
          shelter” status.

    • Thank you for the reminder of what power the shelters, rescue groups, foster moms have over the public. The public accepts their perceived superior knowledge without question. Steve was not able to understand how dangerous this dog was, nor are thousands of others who adopt dangerous/chronically problematic dogs. I am a dog trainer of forty two years and routinely see this sad phenomenon….”the rescue group said….” Steve deserves no blame. He is an example of the tremendous power the pit bill and rescue propaganda machine has become.

      • I whole heatedly agree with supporting and being compassionate to anyone who has been a victim of an aggressive or unpredictable dog, and anyone who is a victim of the deception that is pushed upon them. The recent attack on two miniature horses in California, resulting in their death, and the owner of the dogs being arrested after fleeing with those dogs, is par for the course with those dogs and their delusional owners. I will never understand the pushing of dogs needing to be “managed” by so many shelters, it just kicks the can down the road… society deserves better, innocent animals deserve better. I do like the socially conscious shelter premise much more than I have ever subscribed to the no kill hype. If animal shelters are implementing programs to decrease unwanted animals, no kill is not sustainable without either falsifying records, and/or shoving animals out the door that are a danger. Those shelters also turn away the very animals that have no other options. Sorry for the disjointed, rambling post, but I get so frustrated trying to “justify” why we are not no kill.

  10. My granddaughter was mauled but survived a pit bull mix dog from a shelter. I was there, thank God, when he grabbed her and only through prayer (screaming to God to help us) that the dog let go. Over 100 one hundred stitches to her face, shoulders and arms. less than 24 hours in home. SHELTER DOG

  11. I’ve noticed the animal shelter near me shows pictures of dogs for adoption. The pit bulls are called terrier mix. They left the pit bull part out. I’m scared to death of them.

  12. Heartbreaking what happened to his pets. Inexcusable.

    I was not a firearms owner until our neighbor got a put bull. Now I have firearms training and a concealed carry permit.

    The put bull is behind a fence that it could easily jump.

    I carry my Glock with me to the mailbox every time.

    1st time it comes over that fence, we’re done.

  13. my sympathy for steve is seriously mitigated by the fact that he brought a man-eating animal into his home with a three-year-old child there.

  14. Thank you for this account about pit bull adoption reality. I am glad this father found out the truth before he, or his son had a pit bull latched on their neck.

  15. On commenter asked why we did not reveal the name of the county shelter. We did not do so to protect the adopter’s identity. It is a county shelter in the state of Ohio. If this shelter comes to our attention in the future, we will certainly name it. Meanwhile, over a hundred new comments by pit bull owners have been kicked into “moderation.” They are typical anecdotal comments.

    • Ohio, huh? My local shelter has a male pit bull type dog for adoption that is from Ohio. His “history with cats is unknown….and would do best as the only dog in the home.” Sounds familiar. They have dogs from all over the eastern half of the country. Apparently we don’t have enough unadoptable dogs available, so they bring them in from out of state.
      This shelter also has a dumpster fire of a dog they’re trying to get adopted. Her info reads like one giant red flag. From Puerto Rico, been at the shelter over a year, “specific needs”, absolutely no other dogs anywhere near her, would do best in a rural area with no visiting dogs, not housed in the main adoption area, etc. Who would say to themselves “hmm…what could possibly go wrong? I think I’ll adopt this creature and bring it around my family.”

    • They are typical anecdotal comments.

      Alas, pit bull roulette works in favor of the pit bull advocates.

      Commenter Bob above remarks that Steve “really could and should have seen this coming.”

      Statistically, however, the odds that Day 1 of Pibble 1 would result in 2 dead cats is about the same as winning the $800 million Powerball jackpot. So statistically speaking, what Steve “could have and should have seen … coming” was only the remotest chance of something absolutely horrific.

      And that, IMO, is what Bob is missing. Hindsight is 20/20. In hindsight, it’s easy to treat the death of the cats as a foregone conclusion and blame the person for not seeing the inevitable, when on the pre-disaster side of the timeline, there were so many alternate ways this could have played out.

      That’s what pit nutters take advantage of, propaganda-wise. Most of them are incredibly lucky & have not drawn the loaded chamber in pit roulette. But they put it down to their superior knowledge/skill/love for pits. What is chance, they ascribe to virtue (theirs, their dog’s).

      I don’t play pit roulette because I consider the cost of doing so too horrific and tragic should I be one of the unlucky ones. (That, and I think these dogs are stinking ugly.) Pit roulette is not an acceptable risk to me, my cats, my neighbors (small dog owners), or my community (kids, families, normal dogs at the local park). The horror and tragedy that can result from pit roulette is so needless. Hundreds of other dog breeds out there to choose from. There is no reason that compels a person to play pit roulette except something inside them that is either incredibly naive or incredibly warped.

  16. It would be interesting to find out what happens to this dog in the future. Will the shelter attempt to re-adopt him out to a home with no cats? They can’t claim to not know how he does with cats any longer, so he is now more of a liability to them (though as noted in a previous comment, pets are legally considered property, so any legal action taken against the shelter wouldn’t have much effect financially).

    Will Steve be checking the list of adoptable dogs at this shelter in the future to see what happens with the cat-killer? Or has he alternatively provided the information to Colleen so she can track the dog? The scary reality is the fact that this scenario has no doubt played out hundreds of times across the country, along with the lies and trail of blood it leaves.

    I wish there was more that could be done to spread the truth. It’s taken me some time and research to find, and I certainly understand the effects of the pro-pit propaganda. My own brother is currently staying with a veterinarian friend who owns 2-3 pits and has a 6-month-old baby around them. I warned my brother, who proceeded to tell me he’s not concerned because he’s seen how his friend raises and treats the dogs and how the baby is fine on the floor with them–and then he tried to repeat the nanny dog myth to me. I fear for his safety as well as that of his small, sweet Australian shepherd (and of course the pit owners and their child), but there’s nothing I can do.

    This new shelter philosophy sounds promising and like a step in a better direction, if it can be trusted. I’m in shock that this dog was adopted for $18, which is less than I paid for my parakeet. Yikes.

  17. In my search to pair an elderly couple in my neighborhood with a small dog, I’ve been inundated with replies from local shelters attempting to push pitbulls on them. FIRST OF ALL, my neighbors are ELDERLY (mid 70s). To even THINK that a hyperactive and incredibly strong breed is right for them, is absolutely ludicrous. This is an example of their desperation to push as many of these dogs on people as possible, regardless of the potential for disastrous consequences. Second, they’re my neighbors. If y’all know me, you know I don’t want anything resembling a pitbull within 100 miles of my house. Wishful thinking at its finest. And finally, once I express my displeasure for their opinions, I am “black-listed” from the shelter. This has happened multiple times. It’s hilarious, really. I inquire about a small dog, willing to drive my neighbors to the shelter to meet it, and suddenly it’s been adopted, but there’s a pitbull available!!!!! When I remind them that I’m looking for a SMALL dog, they bite back with ridiculous statements, accusing me of being prejudice against pitbulls (guilty!!!), and some have even informed me that I will be ineligible to adopt in the future, as I am “not a good fit”. Seriously? I’m a responsible and experienced pet owner, as I’ve had animals for my entire life, all of which have lived happily, and well beyond their life expectancy. Of course, I’ve never had a “rescue” as I prefer them to be responsibly bred, so I always ask my veterinarian for a referral to a good breeder. That’s just my preference, I’m not taking a dig at anyone with a shelter animal. I think it speaks volumes about the current climate in shelters across the country, and that this country is in need of a wake-up call about responsible breeding, spaying, and neutering.

    • A couple of alternatives to shelters:
      1 – Breed-specific rescues. They won’t be pushing pits at a Yorkie or Maltepoo rescue. Downside: Finding one near where you live isn’t easy.
      2 – There are rescues that deal exclusively in smaller and mid-size dogs — NO pits and NO pit mixes. I found one such rescue on Petfinder. Great thing is they have a LOT of dogs, and I have never once seen anything even faintly resembling a mauler in their listings (been following them for over a year). Downside: Again, geographic location. This place is 70 miles from my house. But if you are not finding viable alternatives, this type of place might be worth the trip.

      • I have considered this, but one problem is that the dogs seem to fly off the shelves at those places around here. I may consider helping them get on a waiting list.

        • I think that’s a good idea. Once your neighbors become “approved adopters” that will reduce waiting time & improve chances of getting a dog they like. Plus the rescue people will BOLO to match them with the right dog.

          Sticking with a small breed rescue or one dedicated exclusively to small/mid dogs will also eliminate pit nutter flack. There’s a REASON these rescues avoid bringing maulers into their midst.

        • Also…

          Check around local senior’s homes. Sometimes when the owners become incapacitated or pass on, their relatives or neighbours are looking for a home for a nice, small dog that’s mature.

          Happens all the time down the block from me.

    • I can believe it. The whole thing – the bait and switch ads for dogs that were adopted in 1997, the presentation of unadoptable animals for your consideration and the petulant lowering of the boom when you decline. Been there, done that with multiple shelters and rescue groups looking for a dog lately.

      Gotta disagree about responsible speuter. That’s what got us into this mess. The AKC convinced us that the only good dog was a purebred, then merrily inbred their way to genetic bottlenecks while ignoring that their strange fighting breed bedfellows in anti-BSL legislation were mass producing pit bulls nobody wanted. Sterilizing every pit bull in the US is the solution. One, it would solve the horrible crisis of pit bull overpopulation that is fueling these terrible, irresponsible shelter behaviors. Two, it would empty the shelters and allow people to accept that overpopulation is done and we need to move on to a new framework for the breeding of pet animals. Because glibly saying “Adopt don’t shop!” and “Only buy from reputable breeders!” is NOT working for most people.

  18. I wanted to follow up on the Trazodone thing.

    When I was looking to adopt a dog, I specifically set for myself the requirement that the dog had to be a size and strength that I could physically handle when the dog was in full excitement-lunge mode.

    Putting dogs on Tradzodone at the shelter makes this kind of honest assessment impossible, and increases the likelihood of harm to one or more parties in the adopter’s household or neighborhood.

    I did not really appreciate how strong a young, muscular dog can be — even a mid-size dog — until I handled some of them. I had to scale back my expectations — nope, no 65-lbers for me — once I actually took some of these dogs for a walk in the yard of the rescue or shelter.

    Steve’s comments about how he “gripped [the] collar” of the pit, a grip that was easily broken when the pit “yanked hard,” which Steve found “very strong for a 75-pound creature.” Actually, no, that sounds to me AVERAGE for a 75-pound dog. Your fingers gripping a collar will *never* be strong enough to overcome a lunging 75-pound dog of any breed.

    Handling practice of an excited dog is something that should have been tested AT THE SHELTER, pre-adoption, not in the home, post-adoption. Steve clearly underestimated the dog’s strength and overestimated his own (he admits thinking he could have taken the dog in a fight … right up until the pit when into attack mode). This kind of erroneous assessment is supposed to be what shelter visits and yard walks are meant to correct.

    Trazodone masks all this … not just the dog’s behavior, but the ability of the potential adopter to realistically measure whether they can handle that dog or not.

    How widespread is the practice of shelters and rescues drugging their maulers to blunt their aggressiveness, i wonder?

    • Very. When financially limited urban open-admission shelters are doing it, you know it’s widespread. And if you read through the notes for the ‘at risk’ dogs for the NYC and Philadelphia city shelters, you see trazadone and similar drugs being prescribed like they’re Milkbones.

  19. Shelters are riding on their long ago earned reputation for screening animals before offering them for adoption. That old reputation has allowed them to seamlessly slide into the No Kill era and become buried (physically and financially) under the avalanche of incoming UNwanted animals. The side effects of the No Kill movement (hoarding, adopting out dangerous dogs, abuses, etc.) are escalating and now getting more news coverage. It is just a matter of time before the shelter “system” altogether loses their hard-won reputation and the No Kill movement, the pit bull movement, and the “adopt, don’t shop” movement all unravel.

    In the meantime, due to anti-breeder sentiments, the genetic diversity of most of our dog breeds has shrunk to unworkable levels, causing inbreeding to be the norm and the worsening of the behaviors of many of our admired pet breeds. Without importing breeding stock to enlarge the genetic pool, it will be difficult to purchase any dog that isn’t full of genetically-inherited health and behavioral problems.

    • Amen. That’s the exact problem I ran into when I began looking for a dog in 2016 – the shelters are flipping 99% pit bulls and a handful of other breeds which frequently have massive problems, and the reputable breeders are pretending inbreeding is a crazy rumor dreamed up by animal rights activists. The only people who are behaving sanely are, ironically, the doodle breeders. Yes, many of them are fairly irresponsible – but at least they’re breeding for PET qualities. That’s something vastly different from the AKC – now admitting Filas! – and the sheltering world that refuses to temperament test.

  20. Dear Steve,

    I’m sorry you lost your cats. I’m relieved that nothing happened to the *people* who came in contact with this dog.

    Here’s the rub. Most people aren’t dog astute. They just aren’t. Even dog astute people can get conned if the pitch is good enough and at the time, they happen to be vulnerable.

    In this case, Steve’s willingness to please his partner over his personal concerns took precedence over a gut instinct that he didn’t have the experience to explain out in behaviouralist terms to the so-called “experts” who palmed this dangerous dog off on him.

    People who aren’t dog training/handling experienced, assume that the shelter staff who are offering them a dog–are experienced dog handlers and will try to offer the best “fit” for them and their family. Anybody who has been through those idiotic 10 page rescue contracts that claim to find the “right” dog…knows what I’m talking about, here.

    Even serene pitbulls are *too much dog* for anyone other than a very experienced dog trainer/handler. They are not a good choice as companion dogs. It’s really that simple.

    Steve, you sound like a lovely individual. Sorry it took this for you and your partner to realize what the shelter *should* have told you–that a pitbull is NOT a household companion dog. Please go find a sensible, easy going mutt, or companion-type dog that you can all learn to train dogs and handle them, without fearing for the lives of your other animals or people you care about.

    Best of luck in the future.

    • Thing is most shelters do not employ a behaviourist and do not have staff educated on dog communication / body language so they miss the early warning signs that a dog might be fearful, reactive or aggressive.

      Many also use outdated training methods (eg shock, choke, prong collars and force based handling) that suppress problem behaviour rather than treat it – this often exacerbates aggression in the long term, though in the short term the dog may appear “cured”. Rather than fixed it is temporarily shut down and not displaying any behaviours, this wears off over time away from the shelter and harsh training methods.

      Adopting any breed under these circumstances can be bad, but it can be disastrous with the large, power breeds especially.

      People need to take some responsibility and get educated on how to adopt safely, the shelters have an agenda and you can NOT trust them to make a good decision for you.

      Would be best if people hired a behaviourist for a consult and to come to the shelter with them to pick out a dog that would fit their family.

      • Interesting idea but I hardly think people need a behaviorist for a problem beagle or poodle. It’s primarily pit bulls that have ruined it for everyone.

      • If someone is adopting from a shelter, chances are, they don’t have the cash flow to hire a behaviouralist.

        And they shouldn’t need one.

        Nobody should need a psychology degree just to not get their face ripped off. Past behaviour predicts future behavior and if a dog is snarling, growling and lunging *for any reason* while in a shelter, unless an experienced dog trainer/handler, who is told the truth, is willing to take it home (and there’s very few of them around) it needs to be put down–ASAP.

        No badly behaved dog should palmed off on some poor soul who can be conned into taking it. I’ve heard all the songs and dances about why a dog behaves badly…most of them are nonsense and keep that money train rocketing along. Too many people excuse their inability to train a dog properly on “Ooooo he’s from a shelter, it can’t be fixed, he was abused in his past life, he’s improving (as he eats your kid) “–these people are a danger to everyone else.

        Shelters need to stop drinking the doggy rights koolaid and start taking some responsibility. Adopting Fluffykins is all heart-warming. Putting down Cujo doesn’t cause any warm and fuzzy feelings, but it is their duty.

  21. I volunteer at a shelter and was recently mauled by a pit bull. I suffered bites to my arms, torso and legs and this dog would have killed me if there weren’t some people that were able to run over, distract the dog and I was able to climb a fence to get away from it. The dog is still up for adoption and the shelter management has made it seem as though the dog was just playing rough. I don’t blame Steve at all as I myself didn’t know much about pit bulls until this incident. Even a few minutes of compatibility testing at the shelter with this dog is not an effective indicator of how this dog will act once you get it home. Thank goodness this wasn’t his child. I also know for a fact that some pit bull mixes are labeled differently so the average person including myself would not know this is a pit bull mix. The public needs to know about the dangers of the pit bull breed of dog as the average person will most likely have no idea how dangerous they can be.

    • That’s the other thing. When are volunteers going to start getting worker’s compensation when they’re attacked at their place of work? Because it IS work, even if it’s volunteer work.

      If that started happening, how long do you think these places would keep dangerous dogs and particularly, pitbulls?

      I hope you got something for your pain and suffering, Ingrid. That’s a traumatic situation.

      I hope you’re not volunteering there, any more. They clearly don’t have your safety in mind. If you are, please leave and tell them why, in your exit interview.

    • Dumb question – was your attack reported to the police?

      Shelters aren’t just run by counties anymore, so the local ACO might not know.

      I’m kind of nasty, so I’d be letting your local TV station know that the dog that attacked me is still up for adoption and not dead.

  22. A behaviorist or trainer who accompanies a potential adopter to a shelter commits business suicide. Calling attention to a dog with aggressive body posture and telling the future owners to skip this dog, who is a ‘favorite’ of the staff, only brings down the wrath of the rescue nuts. The only behaviorist/trainer who can do this is a hobby trainer who can afford to lose business. I depend on training as my sole source of income and stopped doing this service in the early 90s when rescue nuts became the loudest voice.

    • Amen.

      Nothing more I can add to that, Sue.

      A good friend of mine was driven out of the business by these fruitcakes and he was the most brilliant trainer I’d ever seen that wasn’t an international competitor.

    • That’s interesting. And also partially explains the unhelpfulness of the various trainers and behaviorists I know when I began dog-shopping. All of them talk a lot about their clients with troubled ‘rescue’ dogs and how it’s too bad the owners didn’t choose better. So I assumed, well, they are so regretful when it goes poorly, surely they’d be very enthusiastic about helping someone thoughtful do it well! Surely they’d be a great source of information. But they were extremely uncomfortable when asked for insight into local rescues, vague when I asked if they could maybe check out a possible dog prior to my adopting, and when I really, really needed help one day, the behaviorist I’ve known for several years and who has profited handsomely off treating my best friend’s screwed-up rescue dog – well, she didn’t return my call.

  23. Yes, I am now one of the ‘unhelpful’ trainers. I have been driven to that to save my financial and emotional skin. In years past, when recommending a dangerous dog be euthanized, owners thanked my for my honesty. Now? If a rescue or even the nosy neighbor hears about that my life as I know it is over. As for profiting handsomely….sometimes I go along with the owner’s nonsense in believing a dog can be saved. Why? The same as above. If it gets out that I refused to help…”She does not love dogs” can be the rumor. And that is a business killer. Good trainers are caught in a terrible trap not of our making.

  24. I can hardly even comment because my emotions run too high, to be rational…I’m in Australia, we simply do not have the deaths by dog mauling stats like you US folks, but we have had 4 deaths this year! 3 by AmStaffs and 1 AmStaff x … same breed, in my books – heavy jawed, muscular breeds…looks like a ‘pitbull’ ?? Is one! we have the same situation, pit/bully type mutts up for adoption BUT in my small city the cost to adopt a dog is AU$450… I kid you not, a cat is AU$240…to adopt a cat! These animals spend a long time in ‘foster’ homes, because of the expense to ‘buy’ one… Aussies tend to keep our dogs outside, if they are ‘good’ then maybe they can come inside, join the family for a few hours… If I see someone walking towards me (and my kids) with a pit type mutt, if it even looks at us, I shout at the owner, “hold on to your #@%& dog” it gets their attention and they grip the dogs leash… it works, Aussies are fairly laid back, but I will NOT put my life/my kids into the hands of some dumb person who ‘thinks’ their dog ‘doesn’t’ bite/attack… how would they know?

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