It’s so unfair! The number of pit bulls and pit mixes entering shelters in California (and Sonoma County) far outnumber those being redeemed and adopted. You would think that if they were unpopular they would be scarce, but that is definitely not the case. It doesn’t help when large breed dogs like these have litters that usually whelp 8-12 pups. You can see it doesn’t take many dogs giving birth to quickly overwhelm the number of available homes.
There is a lot of prejudice against this breed that makes them difficult to adopt out. The media makes sure everyone hears when a pit bull (or mix) bites someone. When was the last time you read about a poodle attack? And yet there are definitely poodles that will and have bitten! The hype certainly doesn’t help make this breed seem adoptable! Which is interesting given that in the 1950s they were considered the ultimate “nanny” dog!
We recently had one of our nicest pit bulls adopted by a very responsible young man who was familiar with the breed and their needs. We were so happy since Poncho had been at the shelter for quite a while waiting for the right home to come along. The young man had come in several times visiting with him to be sure and we wanted him to take his time and not feel rushed or pressured into a quick decision. So imagine our surprise when less than a week later he walked back through our door with Poncho and his paperwork to return him!
Certainly we don’t know everything about each of our animals (we haven’t actually lived with them!) and sometimes behaviors come out in the home that we would have no way to know about. Because we know it doesn’t always work out, we offer a two-week money-back period for each adoption. This encourages people to be willing to take a chance and at least give the animal a try. We truly try not to be judgmental if the animal has to be returned and consider it just more information learned that we can convey to the next interested party. But this was one of the saddest excuses we’ve heard in a long time. The dog was being returned because the neighbors freaked out!
If I got the story straight, their dog and Poncho never met, let alone had an incident. We talk extensively to potential adopters about keeping their dog (and dogs and cats in their neighborhood) safe and how to manage their predatory behaviors. So to have a neighbor complain just because a dog of “that type” is living next door seems extreme. Many people manage these dogs without ever having an issue! And they are typically very friendly and loving towards people. That is breed profiling if ever I heard of it!
So if no one will adopt this breed because of stereotypes and prejudices, what are we to do with these nice dogs? Feral cats can be returned to the area found or released as a barn cat but there’s no program like that for unwanted dogs! I’m not talking about aggressive animals that are a risk to the community, I’m referring to the nice, friendly pits that actually make it through our screening process and are sitting here waiting for adoption. Poor Poncho had his hopes raised that he found a home and then they were dashed – and not because of anything he did! As I said, it’s not fair.
No More Lost Pets – free microchips and pet ID tags for residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati City. Stop by the shelter during our open hours with your pet to get one! The shelter is open Wed 1-6:30 p.m., Thur.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30 p.m. and Sun. 1-4:30 p.m.
Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.