Pit Bull Rehabilitation

Euthanasia Vs. Rehabilitation

Many times rescues and shelters encounter a delimma. What to do with the pit bulls that were brought in due to a a dog fighting raid. Many and most times, the dogs are automatically just put down. Euthanasia tends to be the first and only option for the dogs. Now, is that fair? Is it right?

My opinion is that no, it's not fair. No, it's not right. No, it's not the only option.

I will fully admit that in some cases, the dogs cannot be rehabilitated, and euthanasia may be the only option.

In many cases, the fighting pit bulls that are found, have been bred generation after generation for their aggression. Prized, champion fighters are bred to create larger, more aggressive dogs. In some cases, these dogs, may not be able to become family pets. In other cases, with work and training, fighting dogs CAN become family pets.

I've seen pit bulls used as bait dogs with over 50 puncture wounds their face alone, become dog friendly, and a great cuddle dog. Gracie, a black pit bull, was one of these dogs. She came to the shelter completely torn to shreds. She is currently in a home with a young man, who runs her daily, plays cuddles, and just loves her. Before this home, she was housed with other pitbulls, labs, and terriers, all over which got along fine.

Another pitbull, Lola, a tan little girl, who had been severely overbred to the point of becoming small dog aggressive. She is now in a home with several small dog breeds. Lola, came to the shelter with a bullet wound in her back leg and scars covering her face. With work and some tender love and care, she became a very loving adult dog.

I overheard someone sayJackson, an Amstaff, should be put down just bc of a bad rep. 'He'll turn bc he got attacked.' He's housed with other dogs, and has never turned.
I overheard someone sayJackson, an Amstaff, should be put down just bc of a bad rep. 'He'll turn bc he got attacked.' He's housed with other dogs, and has never turned.

Jackson was bred by and ADBA registered breeder. He was purchased by a pet parent with other bully breed dogs. Now, his situation was different. He was never bred to fight or show agression. But, I'm mentioning his story because of the bad rep that many people hold. After a year in his home, he was attacked by the owner's other dogs. This owner returned him to the breeder. The breeder wanted him to have a good home versus reselling him. The first time he was up for adoption, I overheard a customer say that he should just be put down because he would never make a good dog. Because he had been attacked, he will be prone to attacking later on. Well, two year later, Jackson has never once shown any signs of aggression.

I strongly believe that any dog that has been involved in any way of a dog fighting ring, should be put through several temperament tests. Not just one day but on several days. Why more than one day of the same testings? Becuase even dogs have bad days...

After going through extensive temperament testings, I think the dogs that successfully pass all the tests, should then undergo extensive training. The training would be to ensure that the dogs never show signs of aggression again.

The dogs would then be ready to be family pets to experience pet parents only.

I think that rehabilitation versus euthanasia is a much better option. But, in some cases, dogs may not be able to be rehabiliated. These dogs, if forced to live in family or pet situations, would live unhappy lives. This is not fair either. There is not sense in forcing a dog to live an unhappy life just to not have to put him down.

I believe that rehabilitation should ALWAYS be considered in replace of euthanasia. Even when it comes to fighting pitbulls.

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Comments 69 comments

Knowsbetter 4 years ago

Hi my Amstaff is 14 years old and just bit my friend while I was not there. I am taking her to a qualified veterinarian who likes to deal with behavioral issues and am having her put back on Clomincalm.she has separation anxiety issues, but has NEVER accidentally it anyone, ever.nluckily, my friend is very dog savvy and understAnding. Otherwise I would be putting my dog to death. Thank God my friend is understanding, otherwise I would be crushed and very sad indeed! Wish us luck. Love u.

Stephanie 4 years ago

Euthanasia should only be considered if the dog is deathly ill with no hope of surviving. While I understand that each dog has a different personality, people should be trained to hand to handle their dogs better if the dog is misbehaving. Dogs are like small children, and I would never consider euthanizing a small child just because of bad behavior. He just needs a proper home.

TPHd21 5 years ago

Hi! I love this article!!! I have 3 pits now, all that I have rescued. I have one pit, Piggy, who I rescued from a back yard breeder, they were going to put her down because she is deformed. I have Thunder who I rescued, he was a bait dog for fighting, poor thing they filed his teeth almost gone, then there is my darling Haze I rescued her from a shelter. I also have a lab Sydney. I have been training dogs for 5 yrs and have a degree in animal behavior. I have a 4 year old daughter who just loves these dogs and they love her. I have trained these dogs and are now wonderful with all people and other animals. Every Saturday is family day at dog beach where all 4 of my dogs are wonderful! They have their flaws just like anything else but we take one day at a time and everyday is a blessing with them! My hope for the future of this breed is this: my goal and I would hope all owners of the breed will take the initiative to educate people about these amazing animals. As a pit owner community it is our 'duty' to encourage our fellow 'pit family' to help change the image they have, but keeping in mind the reality that they are a powerful breed and not meant for everyone! My goal and purpose in life is to teach people how to train their dogs and transform them into fantastic family members, to educate them on the pros and cons of the breed, any breed! I am hoping with one dog at a time I will be able to help the breed become an example of a highly intelligent, loving capable family member! I take my dogs everywhere to show that even a 4 year old, under supervision,can take charge of these wonderful dogs! I guess I can't express how much I love these precious dogs and will dedicate a big part of my life to helping these dogs be shown in a positive light!

KittyRawr4 5 years ago

I have worked with pit pulls that were used for fighting and bait for 4 years now. Of the many that I have worked with for rehabilitation, everyone recovered and are great with other dogs. Someone has to fight for them because they can't fight for themselves in this! :) It's what I love and will die doing.

Carmen 5 years ago

I need help. I volunteer at the Southern Pines Animal Shelter in Hattiesburg, MS, and they brought in a pit bull a couple of days ago that was used as a fighting dog or a bait dog, I don't really know. they had to put her in a cage in a room without any other dogs, because she's really aggressive towards them. When i first saw her, i knew i was going to love this dog. she's super sweet. but shes aggressive to most people. and I spend as much time with her as I can. I need to know what I need to do to help rehabilitate her so she won't be so aggressive. I cannot bring her to my house because they do not allow pets where I live. the people say she has about a week before they put her down. but I have gotten so attached to that dog, I can't bare the thought of them putting her down.when she got there, she had scars all over and you can see every bone in her body. She's not too fond of most males, but she's really sweet toward females. and I try to spend every day with her. She just wants to be loved, and I can see it. but they say that she's a "danger", but I don't see what the danger is really. I need to know what I need to know what I need to do to help rehabilitate this dog. She deserves a second chance, and if they would allow it, my sister will take her until i move out.

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JGoodman11 5 years ago

@pitbullgirl#1pitlover you have a big heart and i respect that a lot. its really sad how people treat dogs and especially pitbulls get chosen by the crappiest people. im glad to see so many people on here who love pit bulls! I just wrote an article titled PIT BULL: Who's the real bully the owner or the dog? Because i have the greatest pit mix in the world and when i adopted him they lied n said he was just english bulldog but now hes 65 pounds! keep the breed alive n raise awareness about proper training and leadership techniques

Nasha66 5 years ago

I am only 12 now and Autistic, but when I grow up I am running a large dog breed rescue, Please post your comments, and any tips and/or advice/ critism (a) :)

Colleen 5 years ago

I wish i could save my pit i adopted him from a kill shelter 3yrs ago...he has shown aggressive behavior towards people who are not his family. He doesn't bite to destroy or hurt but to warn. I had been sued because he jumped on someone and caused bruises. We have other incidents with him. I have to muzzle him to take him to the vet. But what has recently made my decision which is very hard for me. We had some one who is a friend of my husband pull into our driveway to drop something off, my husband was not aware the guy was in our driveway when he opened our door. Our pit went after him for "No reason" he bite him again not an open wound but wouldn't let go until he hit him w/a shovel.

I had a consultation w/our vet and because he has shown aggresion and it's getting worse. Its too put him down.

I love him he loves to cuddle w/me his great w/my kids my grandson but anyone who comes to our home we have to put him up.

I know he will attack and afraid it will get worse...I keep telling myself to try and keep him away from others but its not right... I know its something i need to do and i keep putting it off...

pitbullgirl#1pitlover 5 years ago

There once was a male red nose pitbull across the road from us.The people had abused him,left him on a chain about 2 feet long,and then the people moved but left the pore thing on the chain told everyone not to pet it feed it water it nor give it any attention,to let it starve! I love all animals but pits are my favorite animals so I decided to go down there w/ a cup of dog food.When I got close to the dog he went to bite me but he was on a chain so he didn't get to. He did that for several days but i wasn't going 2 give up on this dog,there was something very special about him.(I cant call animal controle or anything because of where we live they wont come)Then about the 3rd week feeding him i held the cup this time and started petting his head he growled a lil bit but kept on eating.then i guess i got way2 close to where he could jump on me.so he scared me at first but all of a sudden he jumped on me knocked me over and started licking the crap out of my face! from that day i could sit on the ground right next 2 him and we would just play and play.We were best friends No im not a dog trainer or anything close 2 that so yes you can think im sooo stupid for doing that,but the last days of his life he was loved. The original owners moved him and I know where they took him but i couldn't go on there yard. so then one day there he was my best friend the dog that saved me that made me who i am today laying there dead because of starvation i couldn't go on there bc they called the cops.I miss him and he will always be in my heart and im a very young girl that made a "beast" in some peoples eyes into a family member and even more than just a family member my best friend.

Mike Diduch 6 years ago

Whitney you are a great person for saying what needs to be said, we wouldn't put a person down or deem them unsafe because they sustained some type of trauma rite... we would give them the proper care and rehabilitation to become a successful functioning individual. The same should go for APBT's or any breed for that matter, the dog is merely a reflection of its handler. Most importantly, MY THREE APBT'S HAVE AN EXTRODANARY BOND WITH ME SO MUCH SO WITH THE USE OF THE SIMPLE COMMAND "EYES" THEY WILL LOOK TO ME BEFORE CONTINUING WHATEVER IT IS THEY WANT TO DO. THIS COMES FROM BUILDING TRUST WITH YOUR ANIMAL, JUST LIKE A CHILD LOOKS TO THEIR PARENTS FOR HELP. If you build a proper structure with your APBT they will look to you before every action, a solid bond can and will overcome instinctual and sometimes even genetic behaviors.

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

It all depends on what caused the accident. There is always a reason.

mom6dogs 6 years ago

I had 6 dogs. 1 pitbull, 1 lab/pit mix and 4 chihuahuas. 2 of my chihuahuas got into a fight and my pitbull (I'm guessing) killed one of my chihuahuas. My pitbull is neutered, has his shots and has NEVER shown any aggression towards any of my pets or people. He's very nice and loving. We got him when he was 13 weeks from a friend and we did everything so he wouldn't be aggressive. The pitbull is my daughters dog, what do I do now. I can't imgaine putting him down. Please help!

mom2pitties 6 years ago

To the second commenter, Rhomylly: Although you and your husband worked with a no-kill rescue, and I commend you for that, it's clear you didn't do your homework. And for that, I am saddened you ended up killing your bully girls.

First, having two female bully-breed dogs, especially when they are dog aggressive, is a BIG no-no. They needed to be split up and each be the only dog in a home. Period.

Secondly, if you weren't a strong pack leader, as is often the case with inexperienced pit bull owners, your girls were trying to resolve their ranking in the pack. These are super-smart dogs and if you don't provide enough exercise, discipline and consistency, that typically when problems start.

Finally, there are too many adoptable, docile pit bulls being killed off every day. So going to a breeder, reputable or not, is only making things worse. Not to mention, it takes away chances for shelter or rescue dogs to be adopted. Plus, if there's no demand, the supply goes down. Voila!

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Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Find a trainer and behavoirist. You didn't really adopt if you bought on the side of the road.

With unknown genetics or info on your dog, you don't know what you've really gotten. Your dog could be sending signs to the other that may instigate the fight. You may not be experienced to see them, but if you watch they may be there

I would highly suggest either 1) finding a home for one or both of the dogs. Or 2) finding a reputable and trained behaviorist to help you through this.

Without training yourself, you probably won't be able to deal with this along.

Stefani Styles 6 years ago

I adopted a male pit from a mman selling them for twenty bucks on the side of the road in my hometown. He was about 2 months at the time. Recently I have gotten married and moved to a new home. My husband also had a 4 year old, male boxer. Within the last week the two dogs have been fighting continuously to no avail. While most of the time our boxer is the agressor, my pit is very strong and plays with the boxer like a rag doll. Vet bills are getting really expensive and I can't keep putting my dogs through this pain. To make matters worse, though Paisley (my pitt) has never bitten a person, he does show significant aggression towards other people now. Not my husband and I but any company may get growled or snapped at when they get too close.I love this dog with all my heart and will do ANYTHING to ensure it's survival and happiness even if I have to remove him from my life. Is their any suggestions?

Sera Marsh 6 years ago

I recently just adopted a red nosed pit bull who was previously starved, beaten, and locked in an auto shop his whole life. He is a beautiful dog and the best one i have ever had! With lots of love and attention he was just fine after a couple months! He would not hurt a fly. i have a three year old nephew who adores him as well. Dogs can fully be rehabilitated and it's a shame more are not. I get so angry thinking about the horrible things people do to these dogs then wonder why they turn on people. Michael vic should rot in hell.

Emily 6 years ago

I was hoping to get some advice on a home for a food-aggressive Chocolate Lab/Sheppard mixed male dog that is almost 4 years old. He is a loving, well-trained dog, but has a food aggression problem that we cannot seem to break. We have hired private help, taken him to classes, and worked with him extensively; but when he becomes food-aggressive, he is not controllable. It has come to the point where the landlord is saying he needs to leave his farm home; and we cannot bear to put such an otherwise sweet boy down. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'n in Virginia, but would be willing to travel with him.


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Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I wouldn't use any dog right now to help with his rehab. The dog needs serious obedience training. He needs to learn who is in control, but the right way without force. You don't want to use force with this dog.

I'm quite surprised the shelter adopted the dog to your boyfriend. Typically, they don't adopt out dogs with pasts unless the person has a good bit of experience with the breed and with training and rehabing.

Remember a pet store trainer isn't necessarily the trainer you need to speak with. I'd highly recommend finding a true training facility.

chrissy 6 years ago

Thanks for your answer. Yes, his dog has problems—he even wants to kill horses! He has lots of scars on his face, and it looks as if his ears were sliced off with a razor blade--they're jagged and uneven. He did not have a good life previous to my BF. It’s terrible what people are capable of. I guess we should try training but we consulted with a trainer who wanted to use my dog to help get him use to other animals, which I don't want to do. My dog is my baby and I don’t want to put him through such stress. His dog is incredibly friendly with people, even children, so it’s such a shame he can’t get along with other animals. Right now we’re planning the next 10 years of our lives in separate households, but possibly married with children. Ridiculous, I know. I’m so frustrated:(

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Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

The dog needs serious rehabilitation. If the dog was a bait dog, it is surprising it lived. Does he have loads of scars and wounds? Did he when your boyfriend got him? He could just be the product of a dog with a mistreated and abused past.

You really need to have your boyfriend consult a serious dog trainer to see if he/she can find a rehaber that can help the dog.

There is a facility in Atlanta, I believe, who rehabed all of Vick's dogs who were healthy enough. They also got another load of fighting dogs at one time that they were working with. If you hear the stories of those dogs now, you'd be surprised- living with children, living with other animals, and some are pet therapy dogs now.

chrissy 6 years ago

Would you try rehabilitation with this dog? My boyfriend has an extremely animal aggressive male 3 year old pit. He was a rescue and probably once used as a bait dog. Basically he wants to attack anything on 4 legs (loves people though) so my dog can’t be around him. He doesn’t want to fight—he seems to just want to kill. He got out the front door one day and attacked a dog—he went for the throat and latched on and it was difficult to get him to let go (and the other dog had $500 in vet bills.) Our relationship is in jeopardy because of the fact that his dog can’t be around mine and we can’t move the relationship forward. I’m not sure I would ever trust his dog around mine, even with training, so is trying to rehabilitate him worth the time and cost?

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Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

If you are not comfortable around the dog, the dog will sense that and potentially worsen in behavior. Either find a dog trainer or another home with someone with more experience with the breed or mix of the particular breed.

All dogs show signs before they attack. That is something the owner MUST watch for to prevent.

Moo 6 years ago

I have had my pitbull/whippet mix for 4 years now. She is a great dog. Se has many encounters with other dogs in the past. She has attacked several dogs over the pat couple years. She recently injured a dog seriously about 3 months ago. Unfortunately, she killed a friends dauchsan this past weekend. Over the 4 years she has been through behavioral training and multiple activities to help with this repeated problem. I am in a position that I do not understand what I need to do. She is a great dog and interacts fine with certain dogs and people. She was fine with the dauchsan and out of nowhere attacked and killed her. I do not understand if it is my fault or if it is something that I will never be to get out of her. As I get ready to have a family and move forward with life I get nervous about Scramble's place in my family. I do not know if I can trust her as I know she is terrified of children. What if that turns into fear aggression. I do not know what to do, will rehab help her? Could I be the wrong owner for her? How do I keep a dog that I may not trust again? How do I give her a second chance? Please any advice would be helpful.

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Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

What was your son doing when the dog was growling?

General's Nana 6 years ago

My sons beautiful red nosed pit bull tried to bite him 3 times today and growled at him all the way back to the house. My son had to put him down by the neck to keep from being bitten when he was kenneling him. Thi is a dog that is not mistreated, fearful, or aggressive except for today.

We are heartbroken and we need some advice. This is a loving dog that should not be put down and my son is a responsible pet owner who wants to protect everyone. Please advise us. We live in louisiana.

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Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Just because the dog has big teeth, doesn't mean he's going to use them. Are you sure it's a pit? Most people can't accurately ID a Pit Bull, especially with other breeds with similar features. Not saying you're IDing the dog wrong, just throwing that out there. Have him checked by a vet before you let the pup interact with your dog. Introduce slowly. If you act like they're going to have problems, the dogs will sense that and they will. If you walk around the pit on eggshells, he will take charge. If you assume he's going to attack, then the likelihood is higher.

If you're not comfortable with the puppy. Find a better home. If you're not comfortable with a puppy, then you're not going to be comfortable with an adult.

Puppies of any breed can change their ways. If Bleu is the puppy and he's acting fine now, that doesn't mean that he won't change in the future. That's the basic concept with any and all breeds. It all depends on how you treat them, the dog's history, the dog's genetic history, and the dog's training and socialization. He may stay the same, but with your current fears, I wouldn't doubt he changed a little because he's going to sense it from you.

Sandra 6 years ago

My husband saw someone throw a pitbull out of their car on the highway. The dog chased the car, then threw himself on the ground from exhaustion. When he brought him home, you could see every bone in his body and he had open bite wounds everywhere. My fifteen year old was moved to tears when she saw him. I was surprised when he jumped on my nine year and began to lick her face. This dog was so docile, it didn't even mind getting a bath. However, when we introduced him to our lab-shepheard mix, he immediately went irratic. Though he's just a pup, he's got the biggest teeth I've ever seen on a dog and he was not intimidated by my larger dog at all. We've had him for two weeks now, and are afraid to have come in contact. We have to let them out in the yard separately and through different doors, then leash them outside, so they won't have any contact. My other dog is used to roaming around our yard all day, until we bring him in at night. I don't think it's right to have them chained up like that. They're both beautiful dogs and loving babies. Is there any chance that Bleu might change his ways. We want to do what's right, but not at anyone's risk.

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Carrie DeSha 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Thanks for sharing a positive outlook for these poor dogs. Pitbulls are so eager to please they will fight to the death to please their people. It is so sad to see the abuse these dogs endure. Their resilience is an inspiration!

ashlyn 6 years ago

I LOVE!!! pit bulls are the most loving dog there can be it all depends on how there owner brings them up

MikeP 6 years ago

I love your article and strongly believe in what you are doing. My girlfriend and I currently own a rescued blue pit who was used a breeder. She's is the sweetest dog ever. We recently decided to foster a pit that was used as a bait dog. He's very sweet, but very aggressive toward smaller dogs. Unfortunately we cannot keep him and do not have the proper training to rehab him. The person we got him from doesn't have the ability to take keep him and wants to put him down. We're in desparate need of helpa dn need it quickly! He's come a long way in just the short time we've had him. He needs a home where he is the only animal and can be rehabbed properly. Do you know anyone who would like to have him? We live in Nashville, TN.

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Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I personally, wouldn't worry about it. If the dog has never shown any signs of aggression towards you or people, then it's not going to make a huge difference. You need to keep him from all other dogs though, especially if he's shown aggression to other dogs before this incident.

Pit Bulls are still like other dogs.

Cvertrees 7 years ago

Is it bad for a pit bull to taste human blood my dog bit me and I had to have 84 stiches and he is a wonderful dog he was fighting with my other dog and I tried to break it up so im afraid he going to attack me now what do I do

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Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

No, I'm sorry I don't. Try asking around to different rescues, as they should be able to point you in the direction of a trainer.

gini 7 years ago

would you know of anyone good in Florida?

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Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

sounds like the dog is already pretty dominant and needs to be trained by a professional. both dogs should be kept separate until you're able to figure out training. both need training.

Gini 7 years ago

i need help, i rescued my dog when he was a puppy and he's been fine until recently, he's 6 yrs old and has been my baby...well we breed him and i kept a puppy, puppy is now 1 yr and 6 mths, he's attacked her couple of times, usually when there's food around or if he has a toy and she tries to go get it. Fights are becoming worse, now the little one is snapping back, and i also have a 1 yr old baby that i don't want in the middle of it, for now i separate them b/c last fight was terrible and i can not risk little one becoming aggressive..i'm trying to find a rehab, but it seems so hard to find one...cna you pls help!

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Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

No one here said dogs who are dog aggressive should be automatically euthanized. At least that wasn't what I was trying to get across. Otherwise, yes I agree with you.

Audrey 7 years ago

Just because a dog is aggressive towards other dogs doesn't mean it needs to be put down. Many dogs have this problem and so they belong in single dog homes. I separated my two because the female was too aggressive and the male rescue had fear based aggression with people. Although they rarely had any actual fighting, they were unhappy together competing for affection. The female is docile with my four month old, although she still dislikes other dogs, so we have only her. The male does beautifully as an only dog with my sister, and behaves like an angel without human or dog aggression. It is amazing how an animal can blossom when in the right environment. I have been around many rescued pits who were sweet as pie with people. I see no problem in having only one dog. Not everybody is looking for multiple dogs. Putting a pit to sleep ONLY because it is dog aggressive seems VERY unfair.

Kenneth 7 years ago

I have had a female APBT for two and a half years now and have been very consistent following the exercise-mental challenge-affection techniques I have learned from various dog experts. About a month ago I rescued an abused 5 month old Pitbull puppy and began his rehabilitation. To my complete surprise, Abel, the well balanced female attacked the puppy several times. I quickly learned that even the most seemingly obedient dog may attack if the Human handler doesn't maintain the alpha position 100% of the time. Oddly enough, Abel attacked Asher to protect the cat once, to protect me once, and because the puppy was insecure twice more. I am happy to report that this just gave me an opportunity to rehabilitate both dogs at the same time and when opportunity knocks, I answer. I think most people would separate these two immediately or euthanize the aggressor or get rid of the new dog, not realizing that the source of all unwanted behavior is usually the human in charge. I have chosen to keep both dogs. Within a week of the last attack they were best friends and are both rehabilitating each other. By walking them together every day they have developed a strong pack bond and using fun submission techniqes I have been able to almost completely remove Asher's fearful behavior while teaching Abel that she does not run the hosehold and therefore, it is not her job to protect anything, especially by biting. I want to encourage all dog lover's out there to be calm in the face of adversity, learn all you can about dog behavior and psychology and always be the alpha member of your pack. I have proof that a vicious dog and an abused dog can coexist snoring loudly next to each other right now. I love happy endings.

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Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

If the dog was used as a bait dog, I think there would be more signs than fear. If it was dog aggressive at one time, I don't think that it would all of a sudden turn very fearful.

I would suggest that you consult a professional behaviorist or dog trainer, because if the dog truly was dog aggressive and people aggressive at one time, and is now terrified, you can potentially run into problems in the future.

If you knew these problem behaviors, and you aren't qualified to treat them, so to speak, the dog adoption agency really shouldn't have adopted the dog to you.

kari 7 years ago

I need help. I adopted an american bulldog mix he is 2yrs. I believe he was a BAIT dog for fighting. I was told he was dog aggressive, human aggressive at one time. I loved him so I took him home his eyes told me different. He is not the dog they describe at all. He is happy with my family however he is scared to death of my cat, and scared of my PUG when he see's them he wants on my lap. He still gets the look in his eyes sometimes like he is lost or blank. I am working with his confidence but was wondering if anyone has ideas as to what else I could be doing for him to help him out.

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Eternal Evolution 7 years ago from kentucky

i agree with you, i feel that these dogs deserve a second chance. just because they were once a fighting dog doesn't mean that with a little traning and rehabilitaion they can't be turned a round. i feel that people are just looking for the easy way out, thus they often choose euthanasia.

Jesse  7 years ago

Whitney, first of all thank you for your hub pages. It is great there are other people out there that put forth reliable info. I have raised and rescued abused Pits for 12 years. 99% of these dogs can be found a forever home. It was unfortunate the Vick incident was the turning point where there was at least some positive press (for once), in relation to pretty much every dog finding a permanent home. Now, while many of these rescued dogs that were brought up incorrectly cannot be placed in a home with another dog or small children, there are many owners out there that would be a perfect fit. My current Katrina Pit was severely abused, so she cannot have contact with other dogs but as with most Pits she is great with people. You will find that most abused Pits that have dog to dog aggression for the most part dont want to even have anything to do with another dog, unless they are approached or provoked. If these abused dogs are never put into a position where they can revert to past tendencies, most often there are never any problems. I hope one day that there will be an eye opening event that will enlighten people that these dogs are pretty much the quintessential perfect dog when taken out of the hands of the people who have bad intentions. Even the most severely abused dog deserves a second chance and hopefully have a chance at finding a loving home it should have had in the first place.

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wolfmother 7 years ago

I agree with you wholeheartedly. Our pitty was a "throw away dog" who spent 7 long months at a shelter. We found each other just in time. He is amazing and my son's best friend. We need more people to think like you do so that these dogs become appreciated again, rather than feared.You totally rock woman! Andyour dogs are so beautiful.


Q.bailey 7 years ago

i believe the same...u nailed bout everything, i think every dog should be givin a second chance cause its usually never there fault for the way they are...i like this hub alot cause thats what i wanna do is rehabilitate the bully breed mainly but i dnt play favorits...i love just bout all dogs :) especially the brindled ones....ok maybe i like the bullys more but if its got four legs and paws then all is good

Mud Dog profile image

Mud Dog 8 years ago from West Chicago IL

Good to hear someone out there is well educated. There is no dog that cannot be rehabilitated to live a life outside of kennel walls. Part of what I'm trying to save money to do. Open up a shelter to bring awareness of this to people, and take in animals that have been given up on as a no-chance canine.

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

Mikel, I'm not sure if River Fox will come back. I haven't heard from him in a while. You may just want to do a search for the rescue he's talking about, if you're interested in it. I think it'd be a great idea for you to help them out and take on the bullies they have to put down. It would give them a chance. Plus, more than likely many of their dogs were probably pets at some time  that got loose. Who knows?

He provides his email if you want to contact him, though.

Mikel 8 years ago

River fox I am in Fayetteville, NC about an hour and a half away and go through florence quite often... contact me if you would like perhaps we could buddy up on your issue.. Icekeepr@aol.com put Attn: Mikel

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

Mikel, I think it would depend on the dog. Rehab in terms of this hub was meant towards rehabiliting dogs that were once subjected to fighting or bait. I think that APBTs are WONDERFUL dogs and are GREAT service dogs. Unfortunately, you are right in that not many people use them as service dogs. I think because people stereotypically choose labs and retrievers, most people don't consider other breeds to seriously.

I have heard of many APBTs being used for search/rescue, hearing dogs, drug dogs, etc. But most people just don't go this route.

I think it is possible to rehabilitate some dogs from fighting backgrounds, but depending on the amount of experience, training, and overall visibility in the scene, some dogs just wouldn't cut it for service dogs. Not to say that they couldn't be rehabilitated to be pets, just not service dogs. Some, I do believe that had minimal experience and visibility to fighting would probably be able to be great service dogs once retrained and rehabilitated properly.

By the way, I commend you for working with this great breed and other misunderstood bully breeds. I love the breed and plan on spending the rest of my life trying to spread the word about them.

Mikel 8 years ago

i am a second generation trainer (obedience training) of "Bully breeds" mostly APBT's however I am interested in trying to get some of my rehabs. in service training Im curious why APBT's are not used more often as service animals since they usually show strong work breed behavior (depending on breeding) and "in my opinion" are more than smart enough and plenty of strength.. I think a good percentage of rehabs would be very valuable in the walker or wheelchair fields. anyway i rambled on enough was just wondering if anyone had any info or suggestion on why this would or would not be a good idea and how to go about doing it?

Rob 8 years ago

Hello first time posting hope you all don't mind...

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

It's hard to tell if a dog has been used as bait, but usually multiple puncture wounds and broken bones are a key.

A lady I know rescued a bait dog. Gracie had over 100 puncture wounds on her face, a broken jaw, and scratches and abrasions all over her body.

Bait dogs are timid and shy, but can get aggressive without the proper care. Gracie had to find a home with the lady's nephew because after a few years, she got aggressive with the lady's husband's APBT.

In any case because you don't know the dog's background, you need to assume it was used as a bait dog, and you need to invest in proper training as soon as she's healed. I would take the dog to a vet ASAP to see if there are other injuries.

Angel 8 years ago

How can you tell if a dog has been used as a bait animal?We rescued a black female approximately 1 yr old from a ditch in Columbia Co.,AR She has severe injuries to her face, neck,legs,etc.She was almost dead 5 days ago but she is begining to feel better ,however she is afraid of everything&needs constant reassurance.I have ababy at home &am alittle nervous any advice would be appreciated.I owned a pit bull for 14yrs but raised her froma puppy.

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

As much as I would love to, currently, I do not take in APBTs.

effie 8 years ago

do you take in pit bulls effie@enigmaartgallery.com

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 9 years ago from Georgia Author

Thundersmom- Thank you for your insight. I find that at timesthe Petsmart/Petco trainers can help. And they do teach more then click and treat. But, they truly leave the training up to the pet parent. It's not their job to train the dogs, but to give clues and hints as to how to train your own dog. I would suggest the training courses in situations of simple obedience concerns, but in cases with even the slightest hint of something more serious, I would not suggest it.

Thundersmom 9 years ago

Whitney 05,

You have made excellent points about the breed and my hats are off to Jim Crosby. I would like to thank you for pointing out that Petsmart and Petco don't really teach the dog anything other than wait for a click and I get a treat.

As a mom of a 100lb lap dog who is in a level 4 family protector a dog that has been well trained is very easy to handle. I also appreciate the comments that you left for Shannon. I would like to add a few things when you go to see a "certified dog trainer" ask to see the certificates and whom they have trained under. When you get there ask to walk the premises and request demonstrations.

I would like to assure Shannon that it takes a very confident "pack" leader to set the pecking order in the pack and you must always be able to read your dog in every situation. I will say that one Saturday morning I had a very unrully, untrained and unsociallized pit bull in Pet Smart attempt to attack mine while loading food. My dog immediately took a seat behind his mom and I took control of the entire situation with tone of voice, and body position. There were two trainers the dogs owner and idiots running every where wondering what was going to happen next. I had a "Fool" under control with about three words a dropped leash and posturing towards him. If you are dedicated to the rehabilitation of the dog you will have no problem correcting the problems that you are having. If you have two males or two females that could be your problem as well.

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 9 years ago from Georgia Author

Unfortunately, I do not have his contact info. But I will say that if you have not rehabilitated an American pit bull terrier before, you should not all of a sudden start. People who rehabilitate dogs have years of experience with dog behavior and training.

At 7 months old, I kind of doubt that the pup is trying to kill your other dog, unless you acquired the pup from a pit fighting situation in which the pup as been trained as a fighter.

More than likely the dog is trainable, but without the proper resources, you will definitely NEED help! And, that doesn't mean a Petsmart or Petco trainer, but a true professional who has gone to a dog training school and has spent years training dogs.

I wish you luck.

Remember that APBTs are dominant dogs and you must make sure that the dog, no matter what age, knows that all humans in the family are the pack leaders. Without this establishment, the dog will attempt to take the role, and you wil have more problems on your hand.

shannon 9 years ago

I would love to have Jim Crosby's contact information. I live in Jacksonville and have recently acquired a pit bull mix who is about 7 mos old. I really need some guidance as she is very aggressive and most recently tried to kill my other dog. I am looking for some resources for training. HELP....I know she must be trainable but my husband is insisting we have to give her up if we cannot rehabilitate her...

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 9 years ago from Georgia Author

Jim, I haven't heard any updates about the dogs from the Vick incident, but that's great that only one of them must be euthanized. That gives hope for the others. In a way it is fortunate that he had money that can help fund the rehabilitation. Now for the skilled hands of the fosters.

Jim Crosby 9 years ago

Great comments Whitney. I am the independent expert that was going to evaluate the Vick dogs, but since the ASPCA has only asked for the euthanasia of one animal I won't be going in. I may still be involved in the rehab to some degree, but that is up in the air.

In any case, the big difference here is that there are resources (in the form of Vick's money) to work with these dogs. Most of the time there is sadly none. Rehab of these animals is almost always possible, but it takes time, skill, and experienced theraputic fosters. Most aggression can be decreased over time with desensitization and progressive reinforcement of replacement, positive behaviors.

And it is also interesting that very few actual fighting dogs have been historically involved in fatal dog attacks on humans.

Jim Crosby

Jacksonville, FL

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 9 years ago from Georgia Author

I wouldn't say sell them necessarily, but to find very experienced pit bull owners who could handle the dogs instead of euthanizing them.

JazLive profile image

JazLive 9 years ago from Decatur

Bull Fighters use "aggressive Pit Bulls" -- Animal Advocy Groups raise money to save animals then "slaughter" them -- Y can't they find a "market" to sell these animals in lieu of "slaughtering" them?

River Fox 9 years ago

i work at the florence area humane society in sc and we are stuck with the only option of having to put them down mostly because we r afraid of who we may sell the dog to. and because my boss says so i refuse to put any dog to sleep and i finally got her to understand that. i was told that these rehab centers exist but have learned that there arent any in this state. i dont have a lot of money but i want to use what i do have to make an inpact on society by starting a rehab of my own but i do not know how to go about doing so. i need some suggestions on how to do this. e-mail me at www.river_fox@realvamp.zzn.com. this is something i would really love to be part of. sincerely River Fox.

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 9 years ago from Georgia Author

Very true... Very true... What's not understood in today's society is that pit bulls, yes are historically dog fighters, but they are, also, historicall family pets. Way back when, these dogs were family pets with jobs- to fight other dogs. If they showed any sign of human agression, the dogs were euthanized because they were raised as family pets...

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Rhomylly 9 years ago

I agree that more are put down than need to be. Totally agree. It's the idiot owners and dog fighters who have ruined this sweet breed for the rest of us.

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 9 years ago from Georgia Author

I wish I was right 100% of the time... ha... I applaud you for trying everything in your power to correct the bad behaviors, but sometimes there's nothing you can do. I just wish some people would consider more options before picking euthanasia. I don't think that at leadt half the pitbulls that are euthanised in a one year period need to be.

Rhomylly profile image

Rhomylly 9 years ago

I wish you were right 100% of the time. My husband and I worked with a no-kill rescue for a while, and ended up adopting 2 pit-heeler mixes we personally rescued at the owner's wife's request.

Sadly, Paige and Phoebe had been bred for fighting, and would turn on each (or one of the other dogs) with intent to kill any time someone came to the door. The irony was, the conflict rose out of their desire to be the first to greet the visitor!

We tried everything: training, working with a trained dog behaviorist, aromatherapy, medication. Nothing we did disarmed that kill trigger, and when we found out I was (surprisingly) pregnant, we put them down. Our hearts are still broken.

I would get another pit in a minute -- from a reputable breeder of show or pet pittys. I miss the pitty kissies I used to get.

Post It Anyway profile image

Post It Anyway 9 years ago

Hi Whitney05. Good info. I just answered a request to post a hub for the same thing. I pretty much agree with what you said. I owned Pits for years. I love them for all the right reasons.You, obviously, are a good dog owner.

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