Why Lehigh County Humane Society has so many pit bulls
Why so many pit bulls? This is something I am often asked as I stand in the halls of my shelter, where I have worked for five years. Sometimes the tone is genuine curiosity, other times the question is steeped in disappointment or disgust.
“Well,” I say, “we do not choose the dogs that need our help. We take all the stray, abandoned, neglected or abused animals that come through our doors — and many times, those happen to be pit bulltype dogs.”
Folks that come to us looking to adopt — and not purchase — a new family dog will unquestionably find a disproportionate number of dogs falling in this cat- egory. That is because they are the most misunderstood, exploited, mistreated and disposed of dogs in the country.
They are also the hardest to find homes for. We will admit pit bulls to our shelter, without restriction, knowing that it will be weeks, months, or more than a year until they leave with their new families. They will fill kennels indefinitely, creating a slower turnover and less room for us to house other more “desirable” breeds of dogs.
And this is why so many other shelters and animal welfare facilities will turn them away, leaving us to pick up the slack.
These dogs truly have so much stacked against them from the day they grow out of their beautiful, blue-eyed
puppy stage. They are often bred by the truckload from mothers deprived of nutrients from birthing litter after litter. They are sold to anyone with the cash to buy them, as a source of income to the dog’s owner. Many are chained up in backyards, kept in dark basements, and sometimes trained to fight.
If they ever escape this life and end up in an animal shelter, their struggle is not over. Some shelters choose to or are required to euthanize them based on their appearance as a pit bull-type dog. If they are not euthanized, they may spend day after day waiting for their new family. But even if they are seen by a loving family, that family may not be able to take them home.
Anyone with a pit bull-type dog renting a house or apartment knows how hard it is to find a reputable place to live that will accept the dogs that are often called “vicious breeds” by property managers. Those who own a home will find that their homeowner’s insurance would skyrocket if they reported owning a pit bull. Military bases and entire cities in this country have outlawed the breeding or owning of a pit bull.
Just the general perception of owning a pit bull, particularly one from a shelter, often seems to be that the dog must be not only vicious, it must also be abnormal, or maladjusted in some way from a potentially unfortunate past and its time spent in a shelter.
At the Lehigh County Humane Society, we will accept them all, however old, sickly, or intimidating in appearance, and we will do our utmost to educate the public on their plight and repair their reputation. We will house and care for them until the day they are finally adopted.
Just ask Princess, an 11-year-old pit bull waiting for her new family since June 4, 2018. Or Ladd, a 10-year-old pit bull surrendered to the shelter on Sept 8, 2018. They, and so many others, have stayed behind to see all of their more “desirable” kennel mates leave to their forever homes. But we will gladly take in as many pit bulls as we can care for.
We believe they are inherently good, just as any other breed of dog is, and that they can make loving companions and excellent family dogs. So no matter its intended connotation … it is a badge of honor for us to be “that” shelter, the one with all the pit bulls.
Note: After patiently waiting, Princess and Ladd were both adopted in July.
Ladd, a 10-year-old pit bull surrendered to the Lehigh County Humane Society shelter in 2018, was adopted last month.