Unfortunately, today Pits have been so vilified that rarely a week goes by
without someone telling me that they “just don’t trust” Pit Bulls.
Last week I received a reminder of Pit Bulls’ true nature.
Gail is a 2-year-old
American Staffordshire Terrier
who was found wondering the streets of the Bronx,
covered in cuts, ribs and vertebrae sticking out, fur missing in patches and
bloody blisters on her paws.
I first met Gail last week when I went to pick her up from New York City Animal Care & Control‘s
shelter. Rescue group Zani’s Furry Friends
had worked with the shelter to move Gail into a foster home because she’d come
down with kennel cough (which, in a crowded shelter, often means euthanasia). I’d volunteered to
At the shelter, everyone I talked to agreed there was
something special about Gail. She was sweet, loving and wanted nothing more
than to sit with her head in your lap. She was also not aggressive toward cats
(she ran away from them) — a vital trait for any foster dog in my home.
That night, Gail won my household over. She followed us from
room to room, ignored the cats and showed zero signs of aggression. Underweight
at 41 lbs., she was still bigger than any of our previous fosters (we live in a
small apartment), but she was calm and simply happy to be around us.
In fact, Gail seemed unhappy unless we were there. When we turned
in for the night, she scaled a baby gate to get out of the living room and into
the bedroom. The cats were not pleased. So we crated Gail, but she broke out —
Gail, it turned out, had severe separation anxiety. When she
couldn’t be near us, she would have anxiety attacks, destroying our belongings,
soiling the house (she is otherwise housetrained) and injuring herself. (Learn
more about separation anxiety in dogs here.)
I called Zani’s Furry Friends and explained the problem. We
thought Gail might do better in a foster home with another dog, and it turned
out one had just become available. Gail is there now, and having a foster
brother (who himself overcame severe separation anxiety) seems to be helping
her a lot.
Gail, to me, represents all Pit Bulls: Yes, she’s a big, strong
dog. But more powerful than her physique is her desire to be close to a loving
human companion — even though humans have caused her so much suffering in the
Just as people have not done right by Gail, our society has
let down the Pit Bull breed.
Pits were once known as “the nanny dog” for their
patience with children — Petey from the Little Rascals was a Pit Bull (Pit
Bull Rescue Central has a good history of the breed). But irresponsible owners, exploitation by dogfighters and
sensationalized media coverage have given the breed such a bad reputation that
a gentle dog like Gail will have a hard time finding a forever home, even with the help of rescues like Zani’s Furry Friends. (Meet Zani’s other adoptable dogs here.)
But you can help: Tell your friends about Pits, add an
adoptable Pit-Bull search widget
to your blog or Web site, volunteer with Pits at your local shelter
or, even better, adopt a Pit Bull yourself.
(Find out more ways you can help Pit Bulls).
Together, we can change the outlook for dogs like Gail.
You might also like:
Article: The Truth About Pit Bull Adoption
Article: Dog Adoption Checklist
More Pit Bull resources: