From a link from the Live Journal Pet Bulls community
CODE OF ETHICS FOR PIT BULL RESCUE
I. Introduction and Mission Statement
Introduction: This Code of Ethics was compiled by a committee of
seasoned rescuers and members of the Pit Bull Owners Alliance. It
serves to provide guidelines for Pit Bull Rescuers. The term “Pit Bull”
as used throughout this document refers to dogs believed to be
purebred American Pit Bull Terriers (or American Staffordshire
Terriers). Foster homes employed by signers of this Code of Ethics
shall also be bound by the guidelines set forth herein.
Mission Statement: The Ethical Pit Bull Rescuer holds restoration ofthe pit bull breed as paramount to their mission and activities. He/she
holds public perception of the pit bull in the forefront of each decision
and endeavor, and strives to place only the best representatives of the
breed into homes that are fully capable of providing adequate care and
training. Additionally, the responsible Pit Bull Rescuer understands that
such activities require extensive knowledge of pit bull history,
temperament, and behavior, and therefore educates themselves to the
fullest extent before presenting themselves as a qualified, ethical
II. Guidelines For The Pit Bull Rescuer
SECTION 1 Selection of Rescue Dogs For Potential Placement.
SECTION 2: Care & Handling of Rescue Dogs.
SECTION 3: Placement of Rescue Dogs.
SECTION 4: General Professional Conduct.
SECTION 1: Selection of Rescue Dogs For Potential Placement.
1. Only accepts and places breed ambassadors that meet the
Standard for Pit Bull Temperament. (See ITEM 1 - below)
2. Conducts preliminary temperament evaluations before
accepting new dogs. Continues to test dogs in a variety of
settings after they are brought into rescue. Holds dogs for at
least a month before placing them up for adoption.
3. Will choose among many available dogs for the one(s) that
best fit the skills of the Rescuer and within the scope of available
4. When a Pit Bull Rescuer is selecting dogs that are clearly pit
bull mixes, he/she will opt for those dogs that are predominantly
pit bull and display classically sound pit bull temperaments. (See
ITEM 2 - below).
5. Will carefully select and place puppies based on the guidelines
set forth in ITEM 3 of this document.
6. When presented with a dog that is not potentially a good
candidate for future adoption, Rescuer will either encourage
humane euthanasia of the dog, or, if reasonable, will take legal
possession of the dog in order to facilitate humane euthanasia.
7. When taking custody of dogs already in the legal possession
of an owner or organization, the Pit Bull Rescuer will require the
submission of a signed surrender form which clearly states
transfer of ownership to the Rescuer.
SECTION 2: Care & Handling of Rescue Dogs.
1. Will provide adequate vet care, nutrition, housing and daily
exercise, as well as basic training for each dog.
2. Willing to humanely euthanize any unsound or unadoptable pit
bull in his/her possession if the dog presents highly undesirable
behavior and/or is incurably ill beyond reasonable veterinary
3. Spays and neuters all dogs (including puppies), administers
rabies vaccine and microchip prior to placement.
4. Does not breed rescued dogs.
5. Socializes pit bulls with other dogs based on individual
temperament. Socializes pit bulls with many people in many
situations and environments. Teaches acceptable leash manners
around other dogs and trains them to behave as ambassadors
6. Uses proper containment to prevent dogs from running at
large, including: sufficient fencing, crate, dog run and/or kennel
at home, and proper use of leash and collar outside of the home.
Insists that adopters use the same methods.
7. Acknowledges, understands, and accepts pit bull dog
aggression as a breed trait and will follow standard protocol
which includes separating the unsupervised pit bull from other
dogs to prevent fights and ensure successful interaction between
dogs in their possession. Requires the same from adopters.
8. Acknowledges, understands and accepts that aggression
towards animals other than dogs is also a trait in the pit bull
breed and will carefully manage dogs in their possession to
prevent injury to other animals via standard protocol which
includes separating the unsupervised pit bull from other animals.
Requires the same from adopters.
9. Will not allow pregnant females to go full-term when late term
spay resources are available.
10. Will manage, care for, and place puppies based on the
guidelines set forth in Item 3 of this document.
SECTION 3: Placement of Rescue Dogs.
1. Screens potential adopters through an application process,
interview, home check and reference check. Provides extensive
pit bull breed education to the potential home and only places
with qualified, stable, competent homes that are able manage a
pit bull in a manner consistent with the guidelines set forth in
2. Understands that adult dogs make better adoption prospects
over puppies. Educates adopters to the fact that a dog's true
temperament and dog aggression potential is not known until
maturity (approximately 3 years of age). Does not place dogs
under 12 months of age for full adoption. Does not place dogs
that have been in the possession of Rescuer for less than one
3. Does not place dogs in pairs or groups.
4. Uses legally binding contracts that ensure safe and secure
homes for dogs that are adopted. This document shall also
provide legal grounds for repossession of dogs that are not being
cared for in a manner consistent with the guidelines set forth in
this document. The Pit Bull Rescuer will follow up on placement
and continue to keep in touch with adoptive homes for an
indefinite period of time in order to monitor the dog's progress.
Reclaims adopted dogs from situations or circumstances that
prove to be neglectful, or unsafe for the pit bull, other
dogs/animals or humans, or from homes that can no longer care
for them. Reclaims dogs that begin to present with abnormal
5. Remains a resource to the adoptive home for the life of the
dog. Will work with adoptive home to help remedy any problems
and/or issues that arise due to adoption of a pit bull in order to
ensure successful life long adoption, if this is reasonable and
realistic. Otherwise refer to Section Three: No. 4 above.
6. When using foster homes, the Pit Bull Rescuer will require the
submission of a signed foster contract which allows the Rescuer
to maintain full control and possession of the dogs.
SECTION 4: General Professional Conduct.
1. Works closely with local animal control and shelter staff to
establish good rescue relationships and will offer breed
knowledge and support to shelters and other rescue groups
2. Presents themselves professionally and responsibly.
3. Acts as a community resource for breed education and
information, and provides materials and public outreach where
4. Will not buy dogs to 'rescue' them, as this only serves the
5. Will label pit bulls and pit bull mixes (see Item 2) as
accurately as is possible and will not misrepresent a dog's
breed/mix in order to boost adoption interest.
6. Will not label dogs as 'bait' or 'fighting' animals without
substantial evidence and/or witnesses (the mere presence of
fight wounds does not indicate that a dog was used as 'bait' nor
as a 'fighting dog').
III. Additional Information
ITEM 1: THE STANDARD FOR PIT BULL TEMPERAMENT:
The ‘Temperament Correct’ pit bull: seeks out human interaction; is
responsive, biddable and eager to please; may be genetically
predisposed to aggression towards other dogs or animals; is
appropriately submissive; is well balanced and optimistic; enjoys
handling; presents good eye contact; is able to be calm in the
presence of other dogs on leash or - if initially leash reactive - can
learn how to tolerate their presence; is willing to connect with handler
during high arousal; can be handled safely even in times of high
arousal; accepts a reasonable amount of confinement; drops arousal
levels quickly when removed from a stressful situation; is social with
people of all types; is responsive and good natured; is never
aggressive towards humans.
ITEM 2: Pit Bull Mixes:
A. When dealing with Pit Bull mixes, the Pit Bull Rescuer should
adhere to the same standard and code of ethics they do when
dealing with purebred pit bulls. Pit Bull mixes should exhibit the
same temperament as purebreds or be considered unsuitable
rescue and adoption candidates.
B. The Pit Bull Rescuer should clearly label Pit Bull mixes as
mixes and attempt to identify exactly what breeds the dog is
mixed with when labeling.
C. Rescuing pit bulls mixed with guarding breeds is strongly
discouraged. Extra caution and care should be taken when
selecting and placing those dogs that are mixed with guard dog
breeds including but not limited to Neapolitan Mastiffs, Dogue de
Bourdeaux, Fila Brasileiro, Presa Canario, Cane Corso,
Rottweilers, German Shepherds and others. Since the
temperament of the pit bull is very different than the
temperament of breeds in the guardian category, such mixes can
create unique handling and placement challenges, and should be
considered candidates for experienced homes only.
ITEM 3: Puppies
A. Strong preference for puppies that have both littermates and a temperament correct dam (See ITEM 1)
B. Will not rescue the puppies of a dam of incorrect
C. Considers puppies under 6-8 weeks of age to be high-risk and
will not rescue unless moved directly into a setting that includes
at least one healthy, vaccinated and well-adjusted adult role
model dog able to provide appropriate dog-pup socialization.
Due to the possibility of cross-contamination of fatal puppy
disease it is recommended that puppies from various litters not
be mixed until the health of all puppies is confirmed and
adequate incubation periods met.
ITEM 3, Sub Section One: Care of Puppies.
A. The Pit Bull Rescuer will be well-versed and fully supported
and be able to provide comprehensive socialization and
B. If a litter arrives without a dam, efforts will be made to
socialize puppies remedially through the age of 16 weeks to as
many healthy and appropriate adult dogs as possible. This is of
particular importance with litters under 8 weeks of age.
C. In the case of single puppy, the Pit Bull Rescuer will attempt
to locate healthy, same-aged pups for pup-on-pup interaction
after the new puppy's 10-day health quarantine has expired.
D. The Pit Bull Rescuer will maintain puppies in-home throughout
the socialization period (16-20 weeks). This practice allows the
Rescuer to maximize socialization, and provides opportunities to
observe problem behavior as it may develop.
E. Socialization with humans should be considered a prime
concern for puppies.
F. Despite best efforts to nurture pups properly, Pit Bull Rescuers
must be aware of the influence of nature (genetics) and be
willing to humanely euthanize those pups that demonstrate
incorrect Pit Bull temperament.
ITEM 3, Sub Section Two: Placement of Puppies.
A. Adoptions shall not be finalized until the puppy is 12 months
old and temperament evaluation period is complete.
ITEM 4: Qualities to Look For in Adopter Candidates.
1. Has already done good breed research. Asks good questions.
Shows willingness to learn more.
2. Is realistic about breed challenges: Dog-on-dog aggression,
high energy level, strong willed personalities, pulls on leash,
strong and pushy, need to keep socialized to dogs, attracts
negative attentions from some public.
3. Shows a stable, mature, open-minded personality.
4. Happy to be interviewed and receive a home inspection.
5. Physically capable of handling a strong dog and demonstrates
a calm, confident way with the dog.
6. Wants an indoor pet as a companion animal/family member
7. Has had some dog experience, including basic obedience
8. Has a reasonably active lifestyle and is prepared to satisfy
dog's daily exercise needs.
9. Owns a home or has a secure rental that will allow a pit bull
(check those leases!)
10. Homes must provide safe containment: tall, secure fences if
yard is present and working latches on gates.
11. The entire household is involved in the decision and is able
to help manage the dog (roommates, children, seniors too)
12. Other pets in the home are a good match. No same sex pit
bull placements and home understands that pit bull must be
separated from other pets when not supervised.
This document is endorsed by:
Lotus Pit Bull Rescue (http://www.realpitbull.com), New Jersey
BAD RAP Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls
Caped Dog Services, CA
PitSmart, APBT Education/Rescue Resource
American Pit Bull Terrier Rescue and Referral (apbtrr.tripod.com), NC