“Pit Bull” Dogs: A Petfinder Photo Sampler

boy saving paws of WA

Boy at Saving Paws of WA: listed as Pit Bull Terrier

Bruno at Rocket Dog Rescue, CA: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Bruno at Rocket Dog Rescue, CA: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

brady saving paws of WA

Brady at Saving Paws of WA: listed as Pit Bull Terrier

Buddy at Grateful Dogs Rescue, CA: Listed as American Staffordshire Terrier and Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Buddy at Grateful Dogs Rescue, CA: Listed as American Staffordshire Terrier and Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Wilma at Villalobos Rescue, LA: Listed s Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Wilma at Villalobos Rescue, LA: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Bunny of Manchester Animal Care and Control CT: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier and English Bulldog mix

Bunny at Manchester Animal Care and Control CT: listed as Pit Bull Terrier and English Bulldog mix

King

King at Poughkeepsie Animal Care and Control, NY: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Chase of Response-a-Bull Rescue DE: listed as Pit bull Terrier

Chase at Response-a-Bull Rescue, DE: listed as Pit Bull Terrier

helen pspca

Helen at Philadelphia SPCA, PA: listed as Pit Bull Terrier and Plott Hound Mix

Rue at Boise Bully Breed Rescue, ID: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Rue at Boise Bully Breed Rescue, ID: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Roger at Oregon HumaneSociety: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Roger at Oregon Humane Society: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

mocha austin animal center

Mocha at Austin Animal Center, TX: listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

elvis manchester ct


Elvis at Manchester Animal Care and Control, CT: listed as Pit Bull Terrier and Boxer Mix

Bradley at Homestretch Hounds, OH: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Bradley at Homestretch Hounds, OH: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

dusty va

Dusty at Fairfax County Animal Shelter, VA: listed as Pit Bull Terrier

Sampson of Mutt Love Rescue, VA: listed Pit Bull Terrier

Sampson at Mutt Love Rescue, VA: listed as Pit Bull Terrier

sheba austin animal center

Sheba at Austin Animal Center, TX: listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Autumn at Canine Cupids, WI: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

Autumn at Canine Cupids, WI: Listed as Pit Bull Terrier Mix

siri oas

Siri at Oakland Animal Services, CA: listed as Pit Bull Terrier

 

We’ve picked this random group of dogs from Petfinder to illustrate three things:

1. There is no agreed upon or standard definition of a “Pit Bull.” Through our work we have come to understand that the phrase “pit bull” means something different to everyone. Animal welfare workers don’t agree on how to define “pit bull”. Law enforcement officers don’t agree. Legislators don’t agree. Even dog owners don’t agree on exactly what a “pit bull” is! So, the use of that label, “pit bull” is subjective, as you can see in the photos above. That’s why we put it in quotes.

2. The goal is not to get better at breed labeling. We can’t get better at it, so there’s no use wasting time trying. Peer-reviewed studies have proven that the visual identification of breeds is unreliable. Did you know that only 50 of a dog’s 20,000 genes determines what they look like on the outside? That means we’re making a breed guess based on seeing less than 1% of a dog’s DNA. No wonder we’re wrong so often (particularly in shelters where the population of dogs has been estimated to be up to 75% mixed breed)! Don’t bother trying to get better at it – we can’t, because we don’t have super powers.

3. A dog’s label, right or wrong, doesn’t tell us who they are or how they will behave. This is true whether we are accurate or not in our labeling. This is true whether the dog is a pure breed or a mixed breed dog. The labels we assign to dogs don’t tell us what they need as an individual or whether or not they are safe to live in our communities. We cannot accurately predict a dog’s future behavior based on breed or breed label alone. Dogs are complex individuals whose behaviors are influenced by a number of external and internal factors. Above all else, dogs are individuals.

 

Finally, some advice for anyone using Petfinder.com or another shelter software program:

Since they require you to list the breed of dog, you don’t have much choice but to guess! However, you can choose to tell your adopters that the breed label is just a guess. And you can add this to your posts, like we do: “Visual breed identification in dogs is unreliable so for most of the dogs we are only guessing at predominant breed or breed mix. We get to know each dog as an individual and will do our best to describe each of our dogs based on personality, not by breed label.” You can find posters and kennel cards with this info, available here.

 

For more FAQs from shelters about breed labeling, please see this blog post. 

To learn more about labels and language, please visit our website. 

To better understand the science behind seeing dogs as individuals, please see our infographic.

 

Please note: the photos included here are not meant as an endorsement or a criticism of the agencies that are caring for these dogs. The photos were randomly chosen to illustrate the diversity of dogs being labeled “pit bull” across the country. Each photo is linked to the dog’s Petfinder bio. We sincerely hope each dog is adopted soon and thank each organization for their efforts on behalf of “pit bull” dogs. 

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About Animal Farm Foundation

Animal Farm Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, dedicated to securing equal treatment and opportunity for "pit bull" dogs. For more information, visit: www.animalfarmfoundation.org
This entry was posted in Adoption and Marketing, Breed Specific Legislation, Fair and Equal Treatment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “Pit Bull” Dogs: A Petfinder Photo Sampler

  1. Pingback: Passively Positive Pit Bull Advocating | Temporary Home, Permanent Love

  2. This is so true…..no one really knows what kinds of dogs these are, and WAY too many great animals get passed by at shelters because they are labeled pits or pit mixes. People just don’t even want to take the time to get to know the dog, and that’s a shame. I volunteer at a no-kill shelter – I’ve been there just over two years now. Prior to this my only experience w/ a pit bull (and this one WAS an APBT – it had papers) was when my son was attacked and bitten……but it was NOT the fault of the dog and it was NOT because of its breed – even back then I knew this….. When I started at the shelter I had no idea what to expect from the pit mixes…..one in particular just LOOKED scary. Well, two years later that same little pit is still at the shelter (she is the ONLY dog who has been there more than 6 months, I believe…..) and I’ve gotten to know her and she is a darling! One of the sweetest dogs at the shelter. She does have some issues, but she can be worked with – but no one shows an interest in her because of her breed, her color (black), her age (she’s a “senior”) and because of how long she’s been there……it’s sad.

    All of the dogs pictured here are gorgeous, by the way :)

  3. Michelle Scott says:

    Animal Farm Foundation, But when PF post the pictures they are cut down and sometimes you can’t see the whole dog. Adoptapet.com is easier and gets way more hits, sometimes 3x the amount than PF. Since we started using adoptapet (in addition to PF), our dogs get adopted much faster. FYI

    Thanks, Michelle Scott – SWAR

  4. furever says:

    VERY important point made here! Thank you for this post!

  5. Mary Degon says:

    Pit bull is like saying someone is Human!
    What I see when I look at these photos are Beautiful, Unique Dogs that each has a sad story to tell, simply because for whatever reason they have lost their home, and now are in search of a new loving Responsible forever home!
    I see the unconditional love & promise of the best friend you Ever had staring right at you -waiting, praying & hoping You will come soon before its too late!!!
    Thank You For this article that illustrates the once again the Real Reason BSL doesn’t work!!!!

  6. Morgan says:

    What a GREAT post! You really hit the nail on the head, and in such a simple way that everyone should be able to understand! Now if only we could sit everyone in America down and make them read this….

  7. maggie0019 says:

    It’s true! Some places state that a Pit Bull is “any dog with a large, square-shaped head” wth???

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