As a breed, pit bulls have a bad rap. Like every dog they are vulnerable to homelessness and mistreatment. However, they are more vulnerable to being forced into fighting than other breeds. Michael Vick, whose unearthed gambling operation was found to not only force dogs to fight, but also kill under-performing dogs in twisted ways, is only one story in a mass of untold stories. Aside from the breed’s abuses, one finds that adopting out this breed is highly difficult. Many shelters do not intake pit bulls at all, and many of the shelters that do find themselves limited in their intake by state regulations or their own policies that dictate pit bull capacity. Given these dogs’ poor disposition, what should you do if you find a pit pull?
Evaluate the Pit Bull before Doing Anything
Yes, this breed is poorly represented in the media. However, any breed of dog that has been abused, neglected, or homeless may be aggressive to humans or other dogs. Before allowing a dog into an environment with the potential of an accident, it is important to evaluate him or her. Pit Bull Rescue Central (PBRC) is a great resource for pit bull owners and those that find a homeless or lost pit bull. They suggest the following for evaluating a pit bull:
Before interacting with the dog in any way, simply observe it. Compare it with other dogs’ temperaments that you have observed in the past. If the dog seems agitated, on edge in a stiff-like stance, or very hyper, it may be best to avoid the dog. It may feel threatened, and animals that feel threatened instinctually protect themselves. See the PBRC’s website for detailed instructions and instructional charts on how to evaluate a dog.
If you find that dog of any breed is aggressive to humans, it is best to notify the relevant authorities. If you find that the dog seems friendly enough to be around, please keep in mind that the dog is still a stranger and that you should act cautiously. Abused and neglected dogs may react aggressively to something that you consider non-aggressive. That same action may have been an aggressive act by their former abuser. For example, the petting a dog’s tail; an abuser may have done something violent to the dog’s tail, and the dog may try to protect itself when you touch it there.
Begin Searching For an Owner
Once you have determined that the dog is safe to be around, begin your search for its owner. This is the ideal end for the dog, and not just because it will get to go home; due to the breed’s bad image in the media, adopting out a pit bull can be very difficult. The PBRC’s website suggests the following to aid you in your search:
• Check for “Lost” ads in your local paper.
• Post a “Found” ad in your local paper. The ad should not be especially detailed as you want to avoid people looking for a fighting dog, or the wrong owners. When people inquire, ask for detailed descriptions of unique characteristics of their lost pet.
• Have the dog scanned for a microchip. You can have this done at a vet’s office or at a shelter. It is an identifying chip that many dogs have implanted into their shoulders to identify their owners in the event of being lost.
Contact Local Pit Bull Friendly Shelters
This can prove to be a difficult task. As was previously stated, some pit bull friendly shelters are limited on how many they may intake by either the state or their own policies. The PBRC website provides a list of shelters local to your area that intake and adopt out pit bulls; it also determines whether each shelter is a kill or non-kill shelter. The PBRC makes it clear that many of these shelters, as well as foster homes, will more than likely be full. The dog’s best opportunity to find a home will be if you foster him or her until a permanent home can be located.
Another option is to call your local Human Society or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, also known as the SPCA. Although they may not be able to intake your found pit bull, they can direct you to proper shelters or other resources to help you in your quest to find the dog a home.
Find Your Found Pit Bull a Home
Finding a home for any dog can be a difficult and long process because the animal population is so overpopulated; unfortunately, there are more animals than people willing to take care of them. In order to find a permanent home for your found pit bull as quickly as possible, PBRC suggests that you do the following:
• Get your pit bull spayed or neutered and all of its shots. This makes him or her more attractive to potential owners and less likely to be adopted by a dog fighter or breeder; dog fighters and breeders find unfixed animals without shots to be more attractive than the opposite. Resources can be found on the PBRC website, and you may also call 1 (800)-248-SPAY or 1 (800)-321-PET. There are programs that exist that make costly vaccines and spaying/neutering affordable.
• Get your pit bull evaluated by a professional to assess if he or she is good around children and adults, as well as other dogs and animals. This will allow you to ensure that the dog’s new home is the right home.
• Advertise your pit bull. Fill out a listing form for the PBRC and websites like Pet Finder and 1-800-save-a-pet. Put up flyers around your local area, like local shelters, veterinary offices, and local papers. Utilize social media to get the word out about your pit bull in need of a home.
Amy Shoemaker is a guest post and article writer bringing to us her thoughts on what to do if you find a pit bull. Additionally, Amy writes about nursing home abuse for www.nursinghomeabuse.net.