Interview With A Pit Bull Rescuer

pitbull rescue

Catherine Hedges is the founder of “Don’t Bully My Breed”, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing Pit Bulls. She has dedicated her life to saving animals, first as a volunteer at a no-kill cat shelter and later as a supervisor at a no kill all breed shelter specializing in Pit Bull adoptions. She founded Don’t Bully My Breed Rescue after saving animals during Hurricane Katrina.

pit bull

How long have you been working in Pit Bull rescue?

Ten and a half years.

How did you decide that the Pit Bull was the breed for you?

I’ve always wanted to help the "underdog" and they are a super personable, highly friendly, affectionate and misunderstood breed.

Could you tell us a little bit about the life stages of Pit Bulls?

This breed is a mixture of other breeds to a degree with a complicated genealogy. This is why breed bans are largely ineffective because most bans can be appealed by requiring a DNA test on any dog and then a mixture of breeds will show up. In Illinois we have an anti-breed specific law, called the Ryan Armstrong law, which judges dogs individually on behavior, not by their breed. IL is one of the best states to live in if you have a pittie :)

Can you tell us a bit about the history of Pit Bulls?

Sadly enough, they were originally used for bull baiting and then, and still, for dog fighting. They have typical terrier traits of tenacity and quite often can be reactive with other dogs. While dog issues are sometimes part of their genetics, people issues are not. Human aggression has been bred out of the breed, as dogfighters want a dog they can pull out of a dogfight without getting bitten. This gives them a very high temperament test rating when tested (see atts.org) and makes them a very child-friendly breed, hence why they are known as “the nanny dog” in England. Any human aggression is unacceptable in the breed and these dogs should not be placed. They also are not typically a guard dog breed, as they are bred to be friendly towards strangers.

Describe an average day living with your breed

Hahahahaahaha! Exactly that; lots of laughing and silliness! They are very eager to please and excel at learning, loving, and snuggling. Some are couch potatoes, while others are super energetic and agile and love a "job" to do like agility or weight pulling.

Choose a few words that best describe Pit Bills:

Loyal, affectionate, form very strong bonds, and love to please

What are 3 common misconceptions about Pit Bulls?

1. They have locking jaws - these dogs are physiologically the same as every other breed and none have jaws that lock.

2.That they are more aggressive than other breeds: Two things can contribute to aggression: not neutering (un-neutered dogs are 2.5 times more likely to bite) and improper socialization (the dog being kept in yard or basement) which is why anti-tethering laws are the best ways to cut down on aggression in dogs, not breed bans.

3. They are aggressive towards people: People believe pits are a human-aggressive breed that make good guard dogs. Since they have been used for dog fighting in the past, human aggression has been bred out of them by dogfighters who want a dog that wont "turn on them" when they move to physically separate the dogs in the middle of a dogfight. Dogfighters who will, often, just shoot them have culled pits showing human aggression. They have also been culled by responsible pit bull rescues that will not place them and choose to humanely euthanize them. Human aggression is not tolerated in the breed. It is a testimony to these dogs, that with the millions of them out there, being neglected and abused, we so very rarely here of a pit bull biting someone. Unfortunately, when one does bite, there is an unrivaled media frenzy, which is often not seen with other breeds. Often the media also misidentifies the breed in an effort to gain headlines, and only later we learn it wasn't a pit bull or pit bull type dog at all.

What are 3 little known facts about Pit Bulls?

1. Petey of the Little Rascals was a pit bull as was Helen Keller's dog.

2. Pit bull owners are VERY loyal to their breed :)

3. They are a wonderful, child-friendly breed, contrary to how the media portrays them. They were the number 1 family dog in the first half of the 1900's

What should people who are interested in owning Pit Bulls know before they bring one of these dogs into their home?

One important thing to keep in mind is this breed generally does best as the only dog or with one other dog of the opposite sex.

What are the major reasons Pit Bulls end up in rescues?

* Over breeding.

* Dog fighting busts

* Same poor excuses as other breeds: moving, getting married, etc.

Do you have any tips on how people can go about locating a rescued Pit Bull?

Any of the following websites will help:

pbrc.net

Petfinder.com

dontbullymybreed.org

adoptapet.com

How should potential owners screen rescue dogs and what should they be on the look out for?

A sound bully will be great with people and children. Never adopt a dog that has shown aggression towards humans. If you’re looking for a dog to go to the dog park or to attend doggie daycare, this is not the breed for you, as they are terriers and do best in low stimuli non-multiple animal situations.

What should they be prepared for in the adoption process?

An adoption process is usually very strict if you’re going through a reputable rescue.

Check out the Code of Ethics for pit adoption at the bottom of our homepage, (link to www.dontbullymybreed.org) We do reference checks, vet checks, phone interviews, and home visits.

Do you participate in any activities with your dogs (agility, obedience, earthdog, etc)? (If you don’t personally, would you recommend Pit Bulls for any particular dog-sport or activity?)

They excel in all of these activities, as they are such an eager to please breed. This is why dogfighters choose pit bulls, as they will suffer for their owners in an effort to please them.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell the readers of the Dog Guide about your breed?

Pictures say it all. Check out the Happy Tails pages of our site for hundreds of pitties in loving homes!

Thanks to Catherine and Don't Bully My Breed for letting us use their wonderful photos of Pitbulls.

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