Statistically, bully breeds are the most often euthanized dog in America. As backyard breeders pump out litter after litter of puppies to anyone with cash, landfills are being loaded with the bodies of pit bulls whose only crime was being born.
There are many reasons why pit bulls are dying at such high numbers.
One, there are simply too many in this world. Look on your local Craigslist or Kijiji and count how many pit bulls and litters are being sold or given away. Look in the classified ads in your newspaper, or the ads at your Petsmart or Petco. Pit bull after pit bull is being brought into this world by people who "just want one litter", "want to experience the miracle of birth", or just want the money. More of these dogs being born means more of these dogs are being killed. And for every puppy who is placed in a home by a backyard-breeder - usually not fixed or microchipped, with no way of knowing where the puppy truly ends up - there is a pit bull in animal control who is euthanized.
Many shelters are living in the past and believe the myth that pit bulls cannot be adopted out, as they are a liability. They assume that pit bulls with unknown backgrounds are not safe to be adopted out. This is obviously very much based upon untruths. A pit bull with an unknown history being adopted out is no more of a liability than adopting out a Chihuahua, or a Lab, or a Husky with unknown history. For more on adopting an adult pit bull, click here.
The Vick case made precedent the idea that pit bulls used in dogfighting COULD be placed up for adoption. However, to this day, there are shelters who continue to euthanize these dogs, claiming that their fighting background makes them unpredictable in a new home. This idea stems from two myths - one, that "fighting" pit bulls are any different than "regular" pit bulls, and two, that dog aggression is the same thing as, or can lead to, human aggression. Both these myths are false (dog aggression and human aggression are two separate genetic traits). For more on dogfighting, click here.
Sometimes, shelters get in dogs who are in such a poor condition, the kindest thing to do is end the suffering of that animal. Unfortunately, pit bulls suffer from violence at the hands of humans every day - we firmly believe that pit bulls are the most often abused breed of dog. Shelters frequently get in pit bulls who were set on fire, stabbed, shot, attacked by other dogs, suffering from severe mange, infested with heartworms, and other debilitating, life-threatening conditions. Because of the high-volume of animals taken in and the limited resources that most shelters have, the only thing they can do for these pit bulls is to euthanize them. A humane death in the arms of a shelter worker is often the kindest act that these dogs have ever experienced.
Many shelters euthanize Pit Bulls who are dog aggressive (DA). Some shelters perceive DA to be a behavioral issue, which is not always correct. Other shelters euthanize for DA because they realize that finding owners who can deal with DA is extremely difficult, if not impossible. They don't want to risk adopting out a DA dog to someone who is ill-prepared to handle it. The key is education, but unfortunately animal controls are often so overwhelmed they are unable to educate adopters on ANY issue, let alone one as expansive as DA. For more on Dog aggression, click here.
Quality of Life/Housing Issues
Pit bulls typically do not handle shelter life well. Most pit bulls in shelters are young and high energy. Many shelters aren't able to get dogs out for regular walks or play times. With no outlet for their energy, the pit bulls will deteriorate - spinning, jumping, non-stop barking, and flank-sucking are just a few signs of kennel stress. Also, because pit bulls frequently are DA, shelters can't risk pairing them up in a kennel with another dog - and when shelters are overflowing with dogs, with 30+ arriving each day - they simply don't have the room to house them separately.
Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)
In counties and towns that have BSL restricting or banning pit bulls, shelters have virtually no choice but to euthanize all bullies who enter their facility.
Protecting the Pit Bull
Pit bull ownership is not for everyone. Pit bull owners need to be responsible, diligent, and dedicated to their dogs. These dogs need owners who realize that dog aggression can be normal in this breed, and to be expected, which greatly reduces the number of suitable homes. Shelters also have very limited resources and often are unable to screen potential homes. Pit bulls can be adopted out, not neutered, to anyone with a drivers license and $60. And with BSL looming over the heads of every Pit Bull owner in the country, some shelters would rather humanely euthanize these dogs than adopt them out to any Tom, Dick or Harry who doesn't understand the Pit Bull breed.
The majority of shelters cannot be blamed. Until people start waking up and realizing that dogs are LIVING, BREATHING creatures - not just disposable, money making commodities - and until the laws are more strict and better enforced towards the people neglecting and abusing them, the problem will continue. These dogs are being born in staggering amounts with no end in sight. The shelter workers rarely have a choice but to clean up the "messes" that society has left behind
However, we can't ignore the fact that some shelters need reform. To label pit bulls as "unadoptable" based on myths alone only gives fuel to the BSL fire.
The exact numbers of how many pit bulls are euthanized is unknown. Shelters often mislabel breeds - purposefully or unintentionally - and some shelters don't break down statistics by breed. However, statistics or no statistics, it's obvious that dogs who fall into the "bully breed" category are the most often euthanized. The following albums are posted on Facebook by crossposters. We have no association with these organizations. We are posting these links in an effort to show the general public the magnitude of the overpopulation crisis. Take a look at these albums - count how many dogs are bully breeds. And keep in mind that these are just a tiny, tiny representation of the bully breeds who never make it into loving homes.