It saddens and angers many people when they see an animal shelter overloaded with pit bulls. Such a dismal sight leads to an obvious question: Why is the breed so excessively represented among the abandoned and relinquished dogs of America?
The simplest answer comes from understanding the issue in context: There are a lot of pit bulls in shelters because the breed is currently being over bred by irresponsible breeders. Why pitbulls? — Because they are currently the most popular breed. If pit bulls went “extinct” tomorrow, you can guarantee another kind of dog–say, Rottweilers or Dobermans–would take their sad place.
In any discussion of shelter pit bulls, it’s critical to distinguish between two different types of dog breeders: responsible and irresponsible ones.
Responsible Pit Bull Breeders
Responsible breeders are the people who dedicate their lives to preserving and bettering the breed. These folks live and breathe their dogs, treating them as part of the family and happily devoting whatever money, time, and energy it takes to care for them and their bloodline. These breeders know the pedigree of every dog in their yard like the back of their hand; they microchip their puppies, run background checks on buyers, register each and every litter, keep up on vaccinations and health screenings, and breed only those registered dogs worthy of being bred. Without such individuals, there really wouldn’t be pit bulls as we know them at all. Responsible breeders promote the dogs in a positive light and fundamentally benefit the breed in general.
Backyard Breeders – The problem
Contrast these upstanding dog-lovers with irresponsible breeders, those who have no right to breed pit bulls in the first place. They’re typically “backyard breeders” with little or no experience with genetics, pedigrees, health, nutrition, or any other aspect of well-rounded dog care. The breeding stock maintained by such individuals usually consists of dogs purchased for a couple of hundred dollars through the newspaper. These animals are un-papered, unregistered, and have a slim chance (if any) of ever finding a decent or permanent home. In most cases, the breeders don’t even have the money to take a female dog to the vet in the case of an emergency C-section, which typically costs around $4,000–about four times what they’ll sell the entire litter for.
Pitbull adoption and rescues
While adopting pit bulls from shelters may save a handful of dogs, it doesn’t resolve the ultimate issues that place them there in the first place. It’s like using a bucket to scoop water out of a sinking ship, when what really must be done is patching the hole that’s the root cause of the problem.
What actions might actually address the chronic underlying situations that stuff shelters with pit bulls? For starters, counties, towns, and municipalities could enforce a law mandating a breeding permit, which would singlehandedly eliminate much of the backyard breeding going on in the country. Something as simple as a permit requiring a $500 fee and proof that the dogs in question are registered would be enough to deter most backyard breeders or make their operations illegal. In almost every case they’d be unable to prove that their pit bulls are registered with the United Kennel Club (UKC), American Bully Kennel Club (ABKC), or American Dog Breeders Association (ADBA).
That’s an example of a straightforward and easy-to-implement strategy that, while not safeguarding each and every pit bull, would certainly do much to enhance the well-being of many, many dogs–and the breed in general.