Guest Column: Consider a pit bull when contemplating adoption

July 28, 2010

Trinity Belle Hart plants a kiss on Izabella Lee, her aunt's rescued American Pit Bull Terrier. Photo by Megan J. Hart

By Annette McLean

When I first started volunteering at Winnebago County Animal Services, I was a little afraid of the pit bull terriers. They were big, muscular and carried such a bad reputation. So untrue. So unfair.

Our shelter, like many other shelters throughout this country, gets a disproportionate number of pit bulls and pit bull mixes, which are mostly strays. They have been over-bred and oftentimes bred for the wrong reasons.

Contrary to popular myth, their jaws do not lock, their brain does not keep growing; and yes, it is safe to get a pit bull from a rescue or shelter. A rescued pit bull will likely be a wonderful pet. Shelters will not place for adoption any animal that displays any level of aggression toward humans.

In the early 20th century, pit bulls were the most popular family dog. Helen Keller owned one. “Petey,” from the famous old show The Little Rascals, was also a pit bull.

According to the American Temperament Testing Society, 84.3 percent of pit bull terriers pass all temperament tests. This is a better passing percentage than many of our most beloved breeds of dogs. It is a pretty amazing testament to a breed that has been over-bred and often the victims of cruel and abusive owners that almost 85 percent of them still pass with flying colors. Any breed can be vicious. Oftentimes, an aggressive dog is the result of being unsocialized, mistreated or neglected.

How is distinguishing a particular breed as violent and bad any different than discriminating against humans who are a different race or ethnicity? Abusive owners are the only demographic that should be punished.

So, seriously, if you are ready for the commitment of a family pet, remember: spay, neuter, rescue and consider a pit bull. They deserve a second chance, and you can give it to them. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Annette McLean is a Rockford resident.

From the July 28-Aug 3, 2010 issue


  1. Melinda De Marb

    August 3, 2010 at 9:19 am

    I was very afraid of pit bulls prior to my eldest daughter befriending Izzy at the shelter and bringing her home. Izzy is now a very good friend of mine, and has shown me how extremely intelligent, protective, and loving pit bulls can be. We take walks all the time. If during our walk, we encounter someone that “she” does not trust, she will literally stop walking until this person turns to a different direction away from me, or passes me and is in front of me where she can keep an eye on them! She does not bark, or approach these people, she just puts herself between them and me as a protective measure. When my grandchildren spend the night at my daughter’s Izzy stays up all night to ensure their safety and then once they leave, she runs in and jumps on the bed to finally get some sleep. She offers such unconditional love. She is wonderful and I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to get to know her.

    Thank you, with this article’s information, more pit bulls will be adopted and appreciated for who they really are! Bless you…

  2. Erica A

    January 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you for posting this article. I adopted a pit bull mix from the pound and honestly was a little worried on the drive home I might upset her or she may be afraid and become violent. There could be nothing farther from the truth. She is the sweetest, most gentle animal I have ever known and it does break my heart that they are the number one dog euthanized (at least in Arizona) of any other breed out there. The stereotypes are beyond outdated so thank you for posting some truthful facts about this breed and that they get a bad rep because of disgusting, inhumane owners. Before wasting $1500 on a “rat”, consider saving a pit bull.

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