According to a 2003 survey performed by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, only 25 percent of dogs that end up in shelters are considered purebred. That means the majority of homeless pets are mixed breeds, or mutts. That said, there is one variety of dog that seems particularly at risk.
The Pit Bull Problem
Due, in part, to unorganized, questionable and sometimes illegal breeding practices, a dramatically growing number of pit bull and pit bull mixes are finding their ways into shelters. Furthermore, an increase in negative media attention regarding pit bulls has caused many apartment complexes, neighborhoods associations and even entire counties to impose bans on the breed, which is often seen as inherently dangerous. In turn, many individuals are forced to relinquish the pit bulls they already own or are deterred from adopting those in need of homes.
Nowhere to Go
Once inside a shelter, pit bulls become difficult to place with responsible owners, since many of the individuals looking to adopt pit bulls desire not their companionship but their supposed viciousness, which is seen as a useful trait in guard and fighting dogs. Shelters often make it policy not to approve adoption applications from apparently irresponsible individuals, which means the people who are most likely to seek pit bulls are also most likely to be turned away.
Don't Believe the Hype
While pit bulls have a reputation for being aggressive, the reality is that aggression is not an innate or "natural" personality trait in these dogs. In fact, many pit bulls behave exceptionally well with children, making them fine family companions. Others are licensed therapy dogs. In fact, what is innate in the pit bull character seems to be loyalty, valor and stability.
However, those same traits can be twisted to make the dogs into what seem like monsters. Ironically, the aggressive tendencies that cause so many pit bulls to become homeless are a result of conditioning by owners and trainers who want their loyal, brave and unwavering dogs to become vicious and frightening.
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