Monday, February 27, 2017

Pit Stop...PHS-a bi-monthly blog on a seriously misunderstood mixed breed

Soon after I was offered the position at PHS, I took some time to educate myself on Pit Bulls and the Bully type breeds. During my self guided tours of
the facility, Pit Bulls were certainly the predominant
dogs. I dove into books, documentaries and even YouTube videos to fully understand the popularity of “Pitties.”
I must admit, I had a biased opinion. My only interaction stemmed from a dog outing with our first rescue Weimaraner at a Care-A-Lot building back in
2006. My young daughter and I were shopping with “Nic” in the warehouse section of Care-A-Lot. Around the corner came a small (45 pound) Pit Bull
puppy and his owner. I asked if he was friendly, and
the owner said ‘yes,’ so I proceeded to allow Nic to
sniff. In a few seconds, the pup snarled and then
snapped at Nic. I quickly pulled him back. Nic had a
         permanent piercing on his ear from that interaction. I was jaded for many                        years. As an owner of rescue dogs, I’ve always said,
“There is no such thing as a bad dog, unfortunately
the same cannot be said of people.” Be
it lack of interaction and socialization,
dogs of ALL breeds can be deemed
“bad dogs,” due to poor training.

Every Pittie with whom I’ve interacted
at PHS has been affectionate, smart,
playful and incredibly intelligent. A
few we’ve had here are so smart that
they begin to struggle in this captive-type
environment. Zach Flota, one of our Animal Care
Managers, noted to me during my first month, “This
is a wonderful place and this is a terrible place.” So
very true. We save animals from the dangers of the
great wide world by providing a safe harbor; but
imagine being confined every day in a cement cell or
a stainless steel box. Breaking up the monotony of daily routine                    helps all our animals. We are in the process of developing an
even greater Animal Enrichment Program. By June, we will have a full
time Animal Enrichment Specialist on our Team. Our goal is to provide our
animals with the extra help and stimulation to mentally make it through
their time with us until they are adopted.

So, back to the Pit Bull breed. The breed itself is not recognized by AKC,
though it is an accepted breed by the UKC—“American Pit Bull Terrier.”
AKC recognizes the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull
Terrier which are often called “Pit Bulls.” They do have similar characteristics. The Pit Bulls we often see in our shelter are mixed with a variety of breeds, including Boxer, Mastiff, AmericanBulldog, American Staffordshire  Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Bull Terriers to name a few.

The popularity of the breed isn’t a new thing;
however, the notoriety of the breed is a different
story (I won’t go into the notoriety in this
blog...Mr. Vick, shame on you). Pit Bulls can
be described as dogs who have a square
shaped head, cropped or short ears and range
in size from 45-85 pounds.
Though Pit Bulls have been in the negative
spotlight in recent years, there was a time in
America’s past when the breed was revered.
“Little Nipper” was the famous dog who listened to
the Victor Record Player with his head cocked
(much like Daisy above.) “Petey” was the beloved
Pit Bull who hung out with Spanky, Alfalfa and the
gang from “the Little Rascals,” shown below.

If you haven’t visited PHS in awhile, I invite you to
come and see us. Support from our community is
needed on a variety of levels: volunteering, donating
supplies from our Wish List, becoming a Foster Parent, or simply walking through and visiting our homeless animals. With your ongoing support, we can continue to provide a wonderful place for the stray, abandoned, and sometimes neglected animals who come through our doors.
Babs Zuhowski