Here’s Why So Many Columbus Pounds and Shelter Dogs Look Like Pit Bulls, Says Paws Humane Executive Director

Muskogee County, Georgia (WRBL) — If you watch dogs for adoption at Animal Care & Control or the Paws Humane Society in Columbus, you may notice a pattern. In both places, there are many, if not most, dogs that look like pit bulls or pit bull mixes. That is how the matter?

Courtney Pierce, executive director of the Paws Humane Society, said the phenomenon was nothing new and cautioned against making assumptions about the dogs’ breeds. She said the Paws Humane Society would not label dog breeds because it would not test their DNA.

“So we don’t know what our dogs are mixing with,” she said. “We used to label breeds and guess, ‘Oh, this is a collie mix.’ Nine times out of ten, we were absolutely wrong. So we don’t do that anymore.”

Pierce said the facility may appear to be full of pit bulls because many of the dogs share physical traits with them.

“There are many breeds that can be bred together and have the same appearance,” she says.

Pictured above is Stryker, a male dog who will be adopted by the Paws Humane Society.

Pierce also said pit bulls and dogs that look like them are so popular that they have been over-bred for decades, leading many of them to end up in shelters for one reason or another. In addition, dogs weighing 40 pounds and over are generally at higher risk of entering a shelter than smaller dogs, she said.

Unfortunately for dogs that look like pit bulls, they are difficult to adopt because rental homeowners, apartment complexes and homeowners’ insurance companies discriminate against pit bulls, Pierce said. Some, but not many, Paws Humane visitors said they were reluctant to adopt pit bulls because they thought they were dangerous, she said.

“We do our best to educate them,” she said. “Genetics are a complicated thing, and just because a dog is a pit bull doesn’t mean it’s more or less dangerous than any other dog.”

The Paws Humane Society does not conduct standardized temperament testing, which Pierce said can be unfair to stressed dogs.

“However, we do a lot of enriching things with dogs,” she said. “We do playgroups. So we do our best to learn about the animal.”

Paws Humane Society can refuse to admit dogs that exhibit aggressive behavior, Pierce said.

“I don’t think they’re any different than other breeds,” she said. “I have one, I’m at home by myself, and she lives with the cat. She lives with a seven-pound dog.”

Just because a dog is in a shelter doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, Pierce said. In some cases, people who handed dogs over to shelters lost their jobs or had to move.

According to Britannica, pit bulls, also known as American bulldogs or bulldogs, are not considered a distinct breed by the American Kennel Club. The term “pit bull” has historically been used for different types of dogs such as Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. The United Kennel Club first recognized pit bulls as a breed in 1898, calling them the American Bulldog. The American Kennel Association also recognizes the American Bulldog, emphasizing its loyalty and athleticism.

Bulldogs were originally bred and trained to be aggressive towards other dogs, but the Encyclopedia Britannica says that aggression towards humans is discouraged. However, the resurgence of dog fighting has led some pit bull owners to encourage their dogs to be ferocious in every way, it said.

Some jurisdictions have banned dogs identified as pit bulls due to their attacks on people. They remain a source of controversy.

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