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Pit Bull adoptions raise awareness

CARLSBAD — The dogs didn’t care whether it was rain or shine during a stormy Saturday afternoon.  All that mattered was they were having fun inside the County’s Carlsbad shelter’s recreation room with their handlers and potential adopters for the Jan. 21 bully breed event.

Supervising animal care attendant at the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services’Carlsbad Shelter, Donny Stephens with two-year-old Sundance. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene

This year, The County of San Diego Department of Animal Services’ Carlsbad shelter’s is holding several events to educate the public to target the adoptability of this popular breed.

“People are meeting our bully breeds not in their kennel at this event but with a handler and seeing that they can sit, lie down, be calm, and can be around other dogs,” said Tiffany Shields, supervising animal care attendant at the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services’Carlsbad Shelter.  “These events get the dogs out of their kennel and have them interact with people more.”

Shields said the popularity of the breed is the reason why there are so many in the shelter.

Currently, there are 22 bully breeds up for adoption at their shelter. The bully breed may include primary and secondary mixes of the American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, English Bulldog, and American Bulldog.

While the breed has received its share of negative press over time, the shelter is there to remind folks that the bully breed is a stable and friendly family dog. And continued dog training, for any breed, is paramount.

Although bully breeds are the number one breed of reported bite incidences at the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, Labradors come in second, and are followed by Chihuahuas.

“One cannot discriminate against a dog simply because of the actions of a different dog of the same breed,” said Lauren Joniaux, deputy director at the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services.  “An analogy would be that we cannot discriminate against one person because of the actions of another person of the same race.”

Joniaux pointed out that the majority of their bully breeds are coming from the rural towns of Fallbrook, Valley Center and Ramona.

Last year, the County’s Carlsbad shelter impounded 556 bully breeds.  From that total, 114 were picked up by their owners, 177 dogs were adopted, and rest was euthanized for medical or behavioral issues.

When a pit bull type is impounded and cleared for adoption, volunteers step in and help out.

“Our volunteers walk the dogs, work with them on socialization and manners skills, take them on outings to give them exposure to a variety of experiences, feature them on Facebook, and highlight them at the shelter with special photos and write-ups about their personalities,” Joniaux said.

A former County’s Carlsbad shelter volunteer, Cris Dorsey, found Rosie, a 3-year-old pit bull she adopted last year. Dorsey is first to admit how she and her husband ruled out pit bulls as a dog for their family, especially with their children.

“Caution is everything with us and we were really anti-pit bulls to be quite honest,” Dorsey said. Before becoming a volunteer, one day, she and her young son visited the shelter and couldn’t help but notice an engaging male pit bull, wagging his tail.  Her instincts told her to take him out and get to know him.

“Sampson was this huge, big oaf of a dog and he was great,” she said, adding how they spent 30 minutes with him.

That day, a person from a pit bull rescue organization was there for Dorsey to chat with and learned that pit bulls were supposed to be friendly.

Not long after that, Dorsey began to volunteer at the shelter.

Last April, Dorsey brought Rosie home so the dog could have a weekend free from kennel stress.  Dorsey said her husband was reticent about it, gave in, and was shocked how affectionate the dog was when she arrived.  Rosie was adopted after her weekend stay.

“Rosie is an incredible family animal and a great addition to our lives,” Dorsey said.
For more information about bully breed adoptions, future events, and all animal adoptions call the County of San Diego Animal Shelter in Carlsbad located at (760) 438-2312 or visit 2481 Palomar Airport Road.

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