Pitbull Awareness Chichi

October is Pit Bull Awareness Month

Written by Diedra Kirk, Photo by Liz Kowaluk

The term “pit bull” is not a specific breed but more of a label based upon visual identification used to describe several recognized breeds and mixes thereof including American Pit bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The number of stray and surrendered pit bulls remains high in the Rochester area. The City of Rochester’s Animal Services Center takes in more pit bulls than any other type of dog. Half of the dogs that come into the Center are recorded as pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Pit bulls also tend to stay the longest waiting for a place to call home due to misconceptions.

Rochester Animal Services, with the help of Verona Street Animal Society, has worked toward increasing shelter adoption rates, particularly those of pit bulls.  Our philosophy is to treat all dogs as individuals and assess their behavior rather than make breed-specific assumptions.  In the past four years, pit bull adoptions at RAS have grown by 1,000% as the stereotypes for these dogs are debunked.

What myths have you heard?

  1. Pit bulls have locking jaws and a higher biting power than other breeds:  The jaws of a pit bull are the same mechanically as any other dog.  Comparing a German shepherd, a Rottweiler, and an American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier has the least amount of bite pressure.
  2. Pit bulls are vicious to people or more dangerous than other dogs:  Realistically most Pit bulls are not aggressive toward people; many are extremely sociable and adore children. These dogs pass a behavioral evaluation and pose no more of a threat to people than any other large dog. The American Temperament Test Society shows that pit bulls consistently score above the average for all breeds tested over the years. As of February 2013, American Pit Bull Terriers had a pass rate of 86.7% compared to a pass rate for all breeds tested of 83%.
  3. A pit bull that is aggressive toward other dogs will also be aggressive toward humans.    Dog-aggression and people-aggression are two different traits.  Unless a pit bull has been purposefully trained to attack humans, they generally love people. They are, in fact, one of the most loving, loyal, friendly and dedicated companions you can have.
  4. It’s better to adopt a pit bull from a breeder than from a shelter or rescue group where the history and parentage is unknown.” Each dog is an individual and should be evaluated based on his current personality and behavior. Pit bulls with unknown or poor treatment still love people more than anything, and still will be loving family pets. As a responsible shelter, we evaluate dog behavior prior to adoption, and then adopt out only those dogs that display the appropriate behaviors toward humans.
  5. Adopting a pit bull is the same as adding any other type of dog to your family. True, but pit bulls face misunderstanding and prejudice from many people who do not know much about them, so adopting one requires a willingness to consider your friends’ and neighbors’ concerns and to educate them about pit bulls, in general, and your dog, in particular.

The reality is that, as with all breeds and types of dogs, there are great pit bulls and pit bulls who–due to poor breeding, handling, or socialization–are not suitable as pets. Pit bulls are enthusiastic, determined, energetic and have a love for life and a sweet smile. They can make excellent pets when combined with the right family, environment and training.

Dog adoptions for all breeds are 50% off throughout October.  View available dogs online and stop in at 184 Verona Street to meet them!