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A Pit Bull Headline of a Different Kind

The pit bull story contained in this news article is a rare one, because it is positive.

Most pit bulls make the news when they do something horrible, or when they are associated with something violent.  “Pit Bull Mauls Child.”  “Police Shoot Pit Bull.” Even those of us who only casually follow the news or pay attention to animal stories have seen or read these headlines over and over.

Of course, there are few news items that buck this trend.

Just two weeks ago, I read about a pit bull who saved his owner from drowning.  And, in the years since Michael Vick was arrested and details of his horrific dog fighting operation reached the public, we’ve learned of incredibly inspiring stories of some of the rescued pits who became therapy dogs, overcoming the treatment they received.

"Bandit," a 6-year-old pit bull mix at the Peninsula Humane Society, won’t make any news reports. He never attacked anyone - unless you count a vigorous licking! - he hasn’t stopped a burglar, and hasn’t been shot at by police. He has no fighting scars. He wasn’t abused. 

Yet, Bandit did do something extraordinary. He made Peninsula Humane Society history by becoming the first shelter dog to enroll in and pass our AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) class. 

To potential adopters, this says Bandit is one special dog - something we believed all along, that was confirmed by an impartial AKC evaluator.  

In passing the CGC evaluation at the end of the course, Bandit proved he has good, consistent manners, he can greet strangers in a friendly manner, can walk on a loose leash, walk through a crowd, and stay.  

Bandit is currently available for adoption at our new Center for Compassion in Burlingame.  Once he’s adopted, his new owner can send his CGC paperwork to the AKC to make his status official.  Sorry, that’s way too many initials - we’ll explain when you come to meet him!

You may be wondering how a dog with no owner enrolls in class.  Our volunteers took him - and worked with him outside of class! - which makes the achievement that much more remarkable.  Our staff behaviorists worked with his as well.

This work and the certification he earned becomes part of Bandit’s resumé; part of his story.

A Canine Good Citizen certification (CGC) is distinct from therapy dog status; in San Mateo County, owners can seek therapy dog status and enjoy the benefits - like taking their dog everywhere they go - if their dog helps them perform a task they otherwise couldn’t perform.

The CGC status is helpful in other ways.  For example, if an owner’s employer considers allowing pets in the workplace, they could use the CGC class to show their dog can be well-behaved in this setting.  Or, CGC can be used by people looking to secure pet-friendly rental housing. 

Securing housing is part of Bandit’s backstory: He was surrendered to our shelter in January 2010 because his owners couldn’t find rental housing that would allow them to keep their dog.  They worked something out and picked him up after a few days, only to be forced to surrender him once again in September 2011 for the same reason.  

These owners have called 19 times (as of June 15) to check on him. We were thrilled to share his great news. It will be even sweeter when we can tell them that Bandit has found a new, "forever" home.

About that ideal home - we’d love to see Bandit steal the heart of an adopter who has a yard and some prior experience with his breed.  If not, we are happy to explain what’s unique about the breed. 

Bandit can live with other dogs who share his calm, friendly temperament. Cats?  Probably not.  And, given he’s a strong dog, any children in the home should be teens. 

As we often do with dogs we know will benefit from obedience training, we are making this training mandatory with his adoption.  Most adopters later tell us that training was a wonderful bonding experience and a great way to get started on the right paw with their new dog.

I’m used to pitching dogs and saying “this one won’t last - visit today." Bandit should be one of these dogs, but we know many visitors will see "pit bull mix" on his profile card, they might think “aw, it’s great they’re giving this dog a chance,” and they’ll keep walking. 

Stop by and say hi. Meet Bandit and play with him. His story will end with a happy home.

After all, we find homes for 100 percent of the healthy dogs and cats in our care - we just want it to be today, not nine months from now.

Charles June 20, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Great article! Thanks for writing something positive on Pit-bulls. They are great dogs and am sure there are millions of positive stories out there. Lets keep them coming :-) !
Bonnie Courtney-Rodriguez June 24, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I too have a pitbull and our last dog was a pitbull as well. Talk about a misunderstood breed. A lot of their behavior depends on who is on the other end of the leash. Great story and great job!!!!
Claire Karoly Ard June 24, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Our friends have two pits and lost one a few months ago - all wonderful dogs.
Marvin Jackson June 24, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Look folks it's really convenient when everyone is trying to blame owners for bad pitbulls. The odds are that not all owners are bad, but rather their dog is PRONE to be dangerous. It's like insurance companies ignoring that a corvette is less dangerous than a prius - because it is. And, it's even MORE dangerous with a bad owner, like a 18 year old boy behind the wheel. Start removing some emotion about your judgment of pitbulls and start reading some facts and being honest with yourself.
Kathi Morgan June 28, 2012 at 10:20 PM
As Marvin says, you need to be aware of the inherent tendencies of the breed, regardless of who owns it. 15 year sago, I was active it greyhound and pitbull rescue. I ended up with a pitbull, un-neutered male that I simply couldn't part with. He was a wonderfully loyal and loving member of our family, including our 3 sons. But, due to things that happened to him in his previous life, or his own instincts-he was NOT SAFE around other animals. We teach all of our dogs to stay in our yard, this was impossible with him. If he caught the sent of another animal he was gone, and they were mauled if he could catch them. He even went after a huge bull in a pasture. We kept him until his death, we felt we owed him that and loved him very much, but now that I have a small dog and 4 granddaughters, I would never own another, or adopt one. You just never know.

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