She’s a lover, not a biter.
That’s what Stanislaus Animal Services staff and volunteers have to say about Chloe, a pit bull terrier and boxer mix who was the star at a couple of recent volunteer orientation sessions. Short slide shows with the tan and white 2-year-old were posted on the agency’s Facebook page.
Chloe is an “awesome, awesome dog,” volunteer Sara Nano said Friday afternoon as she played with and petted the animal, referring to her several times as “mama.”
Chloe is house-trained and very obedient, Nano added, and “she’s been amazing with other dogs.”
Animal Services featured the dog in the videos to help give her a leg up, as it were, on getting adopted.
Pit bulls are among the most overbred dogs in the county, Animal Services Agency Executive Director Annette Patton said, and make up a big portion of the animal shelter’s population.
While a lot of purebred dogs become adopted the same day, often the same hour, they are available, many sweet pit bulls and mixes get passed by day after day. Many are at the shelter between 60 and 90 days, she said. Chloe is among them, having been picked up as a stray and brought to the shelter Aug. 26. “It’s not good for the animals to be here that long,” Patton said.
“If she’s not snapped up soon, there’s a rescue bus leaving here Nov. 4, where we’re going to send around 100 dogs to Washington and Oregon, and we’ll strongly encourage (the rescue group) that she’s on the bus.”
Animal Services would rather see her adopted locally, though, freeing up a spot on that bus. To that end, Chloe has been sponsored, meaning a donor has paid half her $90 adoption fee.
About the reputation pit bulls have for being aggressive, Patton said, “If you treat them that way. I personally owned a pit bull mix breed and saw no more aggression than in my border collie mix. But if you train them to fight and be mean and ornery, sure.”
Pit bull advocates and opponents regularly butt heads on the breed.
DogsBite.org is a nonprofit “dedicated to putting the safety of humans before dogs.” It runs a “public education website about dangerous dog breeds, chiefly pit bulls.”
Citing news reports and other criteria, the site reports that “in the 12-year period of 2005 through 2016, canines killed 392 Americans. Pit bulls contributed to 65 percent (254) of these deaths. Combined, pit bulls and Rottweilers contributed to 76 percent of the total recorded deaths.”
And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a 20-year study ending in 2000, and found that two-thirds of all fatal dog bites came from either pit bulls or Rottweilers. Mostly pit bulls.
But Oakland-based Badrap.org says the dogs have been given, well, a bad rap. On the site is an article on the breed’s history that says the dogs were a fixture as the U.S. was a developing nation. “They were entrusted to protect homesteads from predators and worked as vital helpers on family farms. ... They were constant companions to the young children who were entrusted in their care.”
The pit bull was a favorite dog among politicians, scholars, celebrities and other noteworthy people, the site notes. Helen Keller and Theodore Roosevelt both had pit bulls.
“Pit bulls are terriers, and terriers tend to be scrappy with other animals if unsocialized, poorly managed or otherwise left to their own devices,” the Badrap article says. “Just as farmers have used Jack Russell terriers to do battle with badgers, foxes and other animals, unscrupulous people have exploited the terrier drive in pit bulls against other dogs for ‘entertainment’ purposes.”
Patton noted that throughout history, a number of breeds, including Rottweilers and Dobermans, have been labeled “bad dogs.” At one point, German shepherds were viewed as being primarily police and military dogs “trained to kill,” she said.
She wouldn’t say Chloe really is any sweeter than other adoptable pit bulls or other dogs at the shelter. “Most of the pit bulls we get are very sweet, kind, loving and good with other dogs.
“... We’re not going to put any mean dogs, regardless of breed, back out into the community. These animals all have been tested dog against dog, food aggression, people aggression before being made available for adoption, and there are a lot of pit bulls who have passed those behavior tests.”