Saturday, April 24, 2010

on being over it.

i want to talk about some of things that i am OVER.

i am OVER people coming into the shelter, adopting beautiful, amazing dogs, and then returning them days or weeks later because they "look too much like a pit bull." this is followed up, like it was yesterday, by innane, unsupported nonsense based on bigotry and prejudice disguised as "education" or "information."

yesterday, for instance, a woman who had brought her child down to meet an adorable 7 week old puppy returned him because, in her words, "she could not, in good conscience, have a pit bull around her 3 year old child." it's a scientific fact that pit bulls comprise 100% of all bites and attacks, so that's a completely valid argument. gotcha.

or the older, clearly affluent woman who recoiled when i told her the sweet brindle boy wagging, frolicking, and kissing her grandchildren was a pit bull. it was almost cartoonishly comical how fast she snatched them up and away from the dog who was loving them.

or the man who came into my office, saw all the pictures of my babies and ones i've helped place or rescue, and commented that "the problem with adopting an older pit bull is that you never know what you're gonna know, you hear all these stories about them biting people...."
i did my best to look at him evenly, and with a blank facial expression i hoped belied my disgust, before i explained to him that that was the case with any and every stray dog--regardless of the breed. he didn't seem to make the connection that any dog has a history, any dog could have been abused and every single dog on the planet earth can bite.

i am also over shelters.

the shelter environment is viciously unforgiving. dogs are bored, lonely, needy, confused, sad, upset, and so on and so forth. they are caged together, packed into runs like sardines, and then they have their most basic needs denied. they need human attention. they need affection. they need physical and mental stimulation. this lack is even more apparent and glaring for pit bulls. many kennel staff people refer to them as kennel trash. these dogs, in particular, actively pine for human affection, yet many people don't want to adopt them because of what they have seen or heard about the breed in the media.

kennel staff often resist getting close because they know the heartbreak that will come when they are murdered. conversely, kennel staff often resent the work that some dog-aggressive pits require (e.g., a run to themselves, coordinated dog breaks where dog contact is minimized or eliminated to avoid run-ins with other dogs, etc). this is something i want to address in future blogs--the social and economic conditions that facilitate this apathy and hatred, and which function to minimize the kinds of real care or concern that could conceivably be used to make real change in shelters. but that is a future topic.

for now, i simply wanted to complain about some of things which irritate me and discuss the real implications and consequences for the vast amount of skewed, inaccurate information people received about the breed. i want to do this because it feels good to get it out, and because it is much easier to acknowledge and sit with one's irritation or anger than it is to deal with one's infinite sadness. in a shelter, particularly a large urban one where dogs--many, if not most, of whom are pits and pit mixes--are seen as expendable, there is limitless heartbreak.

i can understand people's reservations about adopting older dogs. i can even understand the concern over older adopting older pitbulls. i adopted my boy when he was estimated to be 10-12 months old, and i had concerns when i got him. and while i believe had he been younger that i could have helped socialize him more effectively to make him more dog social, i i thank my lucky stars for him daily. i am fortunate enough to love and be loved by that beefy rednose goofball who wants to be so close to me, he practically tries to sleep in my anal cavity every night. he is very much like his mother--oftentimes misunderstood, perceived as completely tough, yet so tender and sensitive on the inside. he is my best friend, my mirror, and my love. and in this world and this life, i will take all those things any way i can get them.


  1. I guess I'm lucky because the shelter where I volunteer is truly no-kill, we take in pit bulls, and we let our dogs play together. We have a great network of volunteers who have dedicated their time to socializing and helping to enrich these dogs' lives until they're adopted, and they help spread the word about them to help us find homes for all of them, especially the harder to place dogs (dogs who might be older, dog aggressive, resource guarders, etc.). I know not all shelters are as fortunate as ours, and I'm glad to be able to be a part of this one.

    I also HATE people who can interact with a dog of any breed, even to the point of adopting it, then turn around and say they "changed their mind," or "I can't in good conscience have a pit bull around my child." They're ignorant to Nth degree and no matter what we say or try to do with these particular people, we'll never be able to change them. And that's sad.

  2. I feel you. But keep going. Without you, all hope is lost.

  3. Get this, gals: A family adopted one of our dogs, a four month old puppy, on Thursday. They brought him back yesterday (Sunday) because he was "lethargic and had diarrhea" and they weren't willing to take him to the emergency vet. They made it sound like he was at death's door and couldn't wait until today to see their regular vet, so we said to bring him back and we'll see to his care (but ya ain't gettin' him back from us, idiots).

    The dog trotted in, tail wagging, eyes bright - completely FINE. So, did they finally see the Pit Bull mix in him, which we said he was, and they insisted he wasn't????? They absolutely *loved* this gentle, spotted pup and came back several times to interact with him before finalizing the adoption.

    Fools. They missed out an a great lifetime companion. But that's okay; someone else will be all the happier with this kid.