By Michele C. Hollow, Pet News and Views
I’m owned by a cat. And yes, I love dogs. Lately, I have been writing a bit about Pit Bulls. Personally, I think they are adorable. My neighbor has one, and he is the sweetest boy. Even my 10-year-old son, who can be intimidated by bigger breeds, loves this dog. A friend of mine wanted to adopt one, but didn’t because she couldn’t afford the home owner’s insurance that she would be charged if she gets a Pit Bull.
I’m focusing on Pit Bulls because they need ambassadors since they are often discriminated against. A Pit Bull owner named Melissa has experienced different forms of discrimination against her dog, Sam. Whenever she’s out with Sam, people shrink back and ask her if he’s a Pit Bull.
Melissa wasn’t sure exactly of his makeup, as Sam is a rescue dog. So she decided to get a DNA test for Sam; she found out that he is 45 percent American Staffordshire Terrier, 45 percent Basset Hound, and 10 percent Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
Having people walk away or cross the street when they see you coming is one thing. Recently though the negativity got worse. She was in the park with her dog, Sam. Someone came up to her and said, “I don’t want my dog playing with a Pit Bull. Get that dog out of here.” Other people joined in, saying they didn’t ever want to see Sam in the park again.
Melissa took Sam home and then burst into tears. I’m appalled and disgusted by this and by dog discrimination laws that are still being passed in cities around the country.
The same day I heard about this story, I also learned about another Pit Bull. This one works as a therapy dog.
Rescued Pit Bull Helps Community
It’s hard not to believe in fate when you hear Cody’s story—a deformed puppy that was abandoned at a shelter and is now a certified therapy dog. Due to prejudice, even healthy Pit Bulls can have a hard time finding a home. But Cody landed in a shelter with a deformed foot, and his chances weren’t looking good until San Diego-basedEven ChancePit Bull Advocacy stopped by the shelter to see another dog and noticed the limping puppy.
Soon Cody was on his way to the rescue’s vet, where he was diagnosed with a congenital deformity called ectrodactyly or “lobster claw.” Through donations, Even Chance paid to have an orthopedic surgeon correct the problem. Cody underwent a successful procedure to fuse his two toes together and to connect the surrounding skin, transforming his “lobster claw” into a “mitten.”
Fate stepped in again when one of the surgical interns introduced Cody to her parents, who were looking to adopt. In his new home, Cody continued to rehabilitate with water therapy. He also began training and showed a natural inclination toward therapy work. His adopter, Barbara Sulier, describes him as a “sweet little loving boy with a charisma that pulls people over to talk to him. He loves all people and wants to make them happy.”
At age one, Cody became the first Pit Bull to be certified as a therapy dog through New Leash On Life’s Lend a Paw program in Los Angeles.
“During the wheelchair client test, he gently put his paws on the lap and kissed the client who was thrilled,” describes Sulier. And while Cody still has a slight limp due to missing bones and muscles in his right foreleg, he doesn’t let it slow him down. Sulier believes it will also help physically challenged children relate to him. Cody illustrates just what is possible when prejudice is set aside. Once discarded as damaged goods, he is now changing lives as a therapy dog.
For youpurists out there, I’m using the term Pit Bull loosely.The recognized pure breed is the AmericanPit BullTerrier.According to the site,The Real Pit Bull, “The media,legislators,and othersuse this same term incorrectly to describe a certain group of dogs thatactually includes several breeds and types. Included in this group are:American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, andStaffordshire Bull Terriers, sometimes Bull Terriers and AmericanBulldogs, mixes with percentage of blood of any one of these breedsand dogs that simply look like these breeds. Understandably, manypeople are confused about what a “Pit Bull” actually is, since the popular public definition is so wide and the breeds above actually share similar history and physical characteristics.”
Whether a dog is 100 percent Pit Bull or mixed, it doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is the way it is treated.
Michele C. Hollow writes the animal welfare blog Pet News and Views.