One of our efforts here at NTX Pit Bull Alliance is to increase adoptions of Pit Bull type dogs through education of the public and support of the shelters and rescues that care for homeless dogs.
Boy were we surprised today to find out a city shelter in the Metroxplex has a blanket policy against adopting out Pit Bull type dogs. When we spoke to the rescue coordinator today, the reasoning behind this policy was pretty typical. They believe that their policy is protecting the dogs from potential harm by only allowing the dogs to go to 501c3 rescues who would have the resources to do background checks, home visits, etc. (On a side note – I don’t know a single rescue that does a background check. Really?)
The misguided shelter staff may believe that they are protecting the dogs, but instead, they are sending a couple dangerous messages. What their policy is really saying is that anyone who might consider adopting a Pit Bull type dog should immediately be viewed with suspicion because they might be a criminal. Oh, and that Pit Bull type dogs are somehow different, that they have to be managed differently by shelter staff. In addition, when potential adopters walk the kennels and don’t see a single Pit Bull type dog, it reinforces the inaccurate stereotypes about their suitability as pets.
The vast, vast, vast (did we say vast?) majority of Pit Bull type dog owners are NORMAL, REGULAR, EVERYDAY people. The VAST majority of people looking to adopt from a shelter are NORMAL, REGULAR, EVERYDAY people. The vast majority of dogs in the shelter system are NORMAL, REGULAR, EVERYDAY dogs. See a trend here?
These cities are actually condemning normal, regular, everyday dogs to die simply because of the way they look. (Let’s not even open the whole visual identification of breed can of worms, okay. That’s a whole ‘nother topic). There are already enough barriers to the adoption of dogs with certain physical characteristics without the shelters removing them from the candidate pool.
We love this quote from our friends at Animal Farm Foundation:
All dogs are individuals who deserve a chance to shine. As animal welfare professionals, it is important to view every dog as an individual and communicate this message to the public by removing policies influenced by stereotypes or fear. Rather than relying on ineffective blanket policies and restrictions, learn how to create successful adoptions that recognize that all dogs and adopters are individuals.
So, our next big effort appears to have revealed itself. We’re going to start educating these city shelters one by one. Let’s hope their management has open minds and open hearts.
If you would like to help us in this effort, please let us know.