How many pit bulls are too many?
Humane Society draws growls for its breed-based policy
Vikki Kratz on Thursday 07/03/2008
Pit bulls can make 'wonderful family pets.'
Pit bulls can make 'wonderful family pets
The Dane County Humane Society believes most people don't want to adopt pit bulls. So in its animal management guidelines, implemented last year, the shelter restricted to five the number of pit bulls allowed on its adoption floor. Preference is given to pit bulls two years old or younger. Having more, the guidelines say, would "deter the public from wanting to donate because they think we only have pit bulls to adopt."
The policy upsets some animal lovers, including one shelter worker who asked not to be named. "One of the most bothersome things I've noticed is the attitudes of some higher-ups toward pit bulls," the worker says. "Certain staff and shelter policies at the Humane Society not only fail to defend pits, but seem to take the demonization a step further."
The worker says a staff member recently told a woman trying to surrender a pit bull that the animal would likely be killed, because the shelter already had enough pit bulls. "This staff person also commented that pits should never go to dog parks because they are too dangerous," says the worker. "The community looks to the Humane Society for its example, and right now they are teaching the public that pits largely are dangerous animals."
Pam McCloud Smith, executive director of the Humane Society, defends the current policy. "It's hard to offer the public what they want if we only have one type of dog," she says. "They sit here for months and months because not everyone wants those dogs."
The shelter gets more pit bulls than any other kind of dog, says McCloud Smith. As of April, 79 of the 642 dogs it had taken in were pit bulls. Of these, 23 pit bulls were euthanized, many after failing temperament tests.
Emily Smith, founder of the PAWS Institute, a dog rescue group based in Madison, calls the breed's reputation as vicious fighters "unfair and wrong. They make wonderful family pets."
Her organization recently placed a pit bull puppy in a family with a young child. The dog, she says, is "extra gentle with the toddler. Pit bulls do not go after children."
Smith does caution that some pit bulls have been bred to be aggressive. "But that doesn't mean you kill them all."
McCloud Smith says the shelter is educating the public about the breed by offering a "Positively Pitties" training class, which is free for those who adopt pit bulls from the Humane Society. (The next class begins Aug. 25.)
And she says if more people start taking the animals, the shelter may change its policy. "If we're able to adopt out more, we'll wipe out the guidelines."
http://www.isthmus.com/isthmus/article. ... icle=23092
Bless the Bullys