For the Love of Pitbulls

Why I'm no longer an advocate.

I grew up in an awesome home with a wonderful mother, who above all else taught me compassion for others. Over time this gradually turned into an obsession with fighting for the "underdog" in any situation. I grew up with nine dogs that belonged to our family and anywhere up to 6 rescued dogs we were finding homes for , at any given time. I learned the importance of structure and socialization when raising and rehabilitating dogs at a very young age. Also I learned to control my emotions when dealing with dogs, because they are easily affected by us, and it rarely manifests as anything but issues. These skills served me well as an adult. I grew to own a very successful pet spa that catered mostly to nervous dogs, but more so, their nervous people. 

As an adult I continued my passion for rescue, I never "bought" a dog. I fostered for numerous organizations and specialized in caring for bottle babies, whom were abandoned or left without their mothers for a variety of different reasons. I had a knack for keeping even the weakest of these guys alive and was completely devoted to their plight. This of course made me the adoptive mother of five foster failures over the years. 

By this time last year I was a mother of 4 children and five hairy dog children. My two eldest dogs are my first canine bottle babies (I actually started with kittens), two female goobers whose mother was a very young pitbull boxer mix. They look nothing alike, and if I were going by looks I can only assume that they have different fathers, one being a shepherd type dog and possibly the other a retriever of some sort. My third dog was a female pittie, who I had as a bottle baby, she was then transferred to a puppy foster mom and eventually adopted, but ended up being returned twice for behavioral issues before she came back to me. She had some weirdness with my girls at first, but I found an easy solution for her by providing structured fairness and affection for her, as I believe it was disorder, lack of boundaries and differential/unfair treatment with smaller dogs in both homes that caused her to act out. With these three girls I had absolute peace in my home. They were all in my mind "good dogs", and we lived without issue. In 2015 I adopted a male husky/heeler mix whom I had fostered , and shortly after I took in two gorgeous pitbull puppies as fosters. There was an age difference of about 2 months between my husky mix , who I named Hatí, and the two precious pittie babies. These two pitties were beyond adorable, I got them at around 6 weeks of age from a teen who had brought them home without permission and surrendered them to the rescue when her father wouldn't allow them. They were both from a weird area in my state, infamous for dog fighting. They were both I imagine the most beautiful of their litter, the female being almost solid white with gorgeous blue eyes , and the male was blue and blocky with beautiful greenish eyes. They were purchased from the teen from the back of a truck for a pretty hefty fee. Regardless of where they came from, I never had any sort of aversion to any dog of any breed , that came from any where. My baby Hatí, actually came out of a trash bag. You can find his story on the dodo news sight if you search "litter of puppies found in trash bag New Mexico ".

My home was peaceful and organized with all these dogs and I had a really hard time letting my two new foster babies go to adoption events. I was attached, they were both gorgeous and easy puppies, but in a state where pitbulls and Chihuahua's greatly outnumbered any other type of dog in shelters and rescues, I worried about their chances in getting a home. After multiple events it was clear to me that the only real interest was in the female , so I adopted the male as soon as his sister got a home. I felt so bad for him, to me he was perfection, and unfairly overlooked.  So then I had my five dogs. All pittie, or mixed with, but Hatí. 

I named my new beautiful dream pitbull Chappie (on my list of dogs I must have if I ever were to come across one in rescue, I must adopt). He was literally the chillest little dude dog you'd ever come across. So much so that two dog trainer friends of mine suggested Canine Good Citizen certification and therapy work for. So of course , I did so! He wasn't the best with training, he was a bit lazy and preferred to be napping or cuddling with a human or his BFF Hatí. He had about half of the requirements down when our lives changed. He had also been recently diagnosed with IBD (irritable bowel disease), and was finally back at a good weight for a dog of his stature. It took a lot of experimentation with different medications and diets , but this time last year he was at the healthiest he had ever been. He was about 19 months old, and fixed.

This time last year, my life changed in such a horrible and devastating way. This time last year my whole world, everything I loved about it (mainly DOGS), and my mind and morals regarding my understanding of it was rocked in such a way that I will never be the same. I used to be one of those really obnoxious people on Facebook and Quora that would argue with pit "haters" until I was blue in the face. To me dogs were inherently good, if there was a problem, or an attack, there must've been some sort of human failure that had caused it. The dog in question must've been abused, neglected , taught bad and aggressive behaviors intentionally even... to me I would never ever ever blame a dog. Why would I after all? I had 30 years of experience, with mostly pitbull type dogs , and had NEVER come across an issue I couldn't handle. I had 4 of them seemingly living harmoniously in my home with children ranging from infant to teen. How could I ever believe that it was okay to single out a specific type of dog. They were the ultimate underdogs to me, and as stated above , from early childhood , had my heart under their little dew claws. There was nothing anyone could do or say to convince me that there was a "problem" with these dogs. 

 Before I tell this story I want to warn that it maybe a trigger to some who've gone through similar events or have experienced dog violence. I also want to preface this with the fact that I never, even considering myself a pretty understanding and empathetic person, could understand how ones life could be so affected by a DOG to cause hatred and discriminatory behaviors, so I just want to let anyone reading who felt any sort of way about those previous statements know that I fully understand both sides now. And I'm sorry. But I'll get to that later... 

On a late October evening I was outside with my dogs. It was just starting to get cold here, which I LOVE, especially in contrast to our desert heat summers. It's smelled like fall for the first time of the year, and the moon was full and bright above us. My girls, being pittie mixes, were not however enjoying this new cold, so they had kind've reclused themselves to the far side of the yard where our very loud and inefficient heater was blasting. They were literally a pile of lump against the warmth of the wall. I had always been annoyed with this situation , because in the fall and winter I would literally have to walk right up to them and yell for them to come inside lol. My boy Chappie ... beautiful boy he was, was frogged out about 5 feet to my left just ... well being a lazy frog I guess lol and my Hatí was just casually walking and stopping near the wall directly in front of me, stopping to sniff the air every once in a while. Now had this been a normal night, my three oldest children would've been out there as well, talking about their days, or literally doing whatever they could to keep from going to bed. But alas, it was the first true cold night of the year, so they retired early. I was looking at my beautiful Chappie, he was such a gorgeous boy, such a clown, a lazy doofus , if you will. I loved just watching my dogs. Suddenly though, my Chappie began watching my Hatí. 

     I thought nothing of it. His energy did not change he was just... watching. So I did as well. I was about to speak something to him, yes I talk to my dogs. But I don't remember what I was going to say, I just remember Chappie darting across the yard towards Hatí. I didn't immediately think anything of this either. It wasn't until they violently connected that I realized what was happening. My nearly 80lb Chappie had so violently latched onto and began thrashing my 45lb Hatí by the side of his neck. I don't remember running over but I do remember panicking after I tried to stop him, I was not successful, so I was looking for something , anything to stop this . The only thing in my yard at the time was a metal pooper scooper. I grabbed the heavier part and tried beating Chappie with it... made things worse, my Hatí had stopped gasping , which was before what I could imagine was his desperate attempt at a scream, and was just being intermittently thrashed and thrown down, lifeless. I finally had the sense to use the bar of the scooper to literally pry Chappies mouth open. That worked , and he was distracted from thrashing it long enough for me to half-ass grab Hatí and throw him... THROW him through the door. I had about a second to realize that his body just sloped and doubled over on itself before I heard the "ta-ting" of the pooper scooper on the concrete next to me. For a second Chappie and I made eye contact, but I did not see my Chappie , I saw a crazed beast who immediately latched on to left leg and began thrashing. I don't remember much about this part. Aside from trying to reach over and grab him from behind his occiput, and falling to the ground. Or more like being yanked very hard to my bum. I must've been screaming. Because after falling all I remember is my girls... my three wonderful girl dogs who finally heard a commotion over our stupid wall heater. They were ripping at his face, almost taking turns doing so, to avoid getting bitten themselves and to allow me to finally grab him tightly behind his neck and throw all of my weight into him. I finally got him to the ground , with both hands tightly holding the skin behind his head to control it. He was a monster at that point. I held him... regrettably, while my girls continued to grab at his face. Until I finally could breath enough to make a sound . I just had to yell "STOP IT!" In a very raspy voice. And my girls stopped. I sat on top of Chappie trying to breath while snot and tears streamed down my face. I couldn't breath. I felt like I was drowning or being choked. In and out of stars. It felt like an eternity. He finally stopped fighting me and just started panting and groaning. And licking his lips where he was bleeding from being bit. And then he calmed. My girls had already become bored with this situation and pushed the door open and had gone inside. I was shaking so violently and had such a grip on Chappie that my hand was numb and cracking when I went to release him. Kinda like when you try to carry too many grocery bags in at once. It was just me and him. I stumbled to get up while I watched him do so, shake off , and paw and lick at his face and the blood from it on his paws. Like he was annoyed that he was bleeding. I put all the dogs in their kennels. Chappie even walked right past Hatí, who I was sure was dead , but was afraid to attract attention to. There my precious baby Hatí laid, doubled over, blood everywhere. Exactly where I had thrown him. I fell to my knees and lost it.. he was dead... my dog was just murdered and I couldn't stop it... but he wasn't .. he started stiffening.. and kicking his legs like he was running a marathon.., I've never felt so relieved and scared at the same time. He was ALIVE. 

I don't remember much else about that or the days that followed. Hatí had only punctures and some nerve damage, but I was told after about a half a years salary worth the ER vet bills that he was very lucky his neck wasn't completely broken. Had Chappie grabbed him any closer to his neck, or throat, he would've been dead. Myself... I was wearing my leather boots.. Chappie left a pretty gnarly set of bruises on my shin and calf that took nearly a year to completely heal and left a knot, but miraculously did not break skin. All good right? 

     No. Simply put... from that day on it was as if Chappie had just decided in that moment, that Hatí needed to die. And he wasn't going to stop trying. Before I ended up putting my beautiful boy down I had tried for two weeks to find anyone to help me with him. Training, rescue, medication, behavioral therapy, NO ONE would touch this dog . After a week of literally, almost 24/7 trying to reach out to people in the dog and rescue community, I was disgusted .. no one would help. Worse so word got around what happened to ME and MY dogs.. and I was getting hateful responses from people whom had been forewarned of my situation, and thought... as pitbull advocates do, that I must've done something. I must've abused him, I must've neglected him, I must've been a fraud in rescue all along and wanted fighting dogs ( ridiculous assertion if you ask me) . His vets said put him down. The trainers who were so supportive of him being a therapy dog, well .. I haven't heard from them since. I felt so alone in trying to save my dogs. I went to extremes asking for help. But it never came. Chappie busted out of a kennel to go after Hatí a second time, which resulted in me tearing my groin slipping on the spilt water I was filling and dropped in time to grab him from getting anything but Hati's legs this time... all the while my poor traumatized boy was on his back, not even fighting back, screaming and shooting a steady stream of piss and anal gland into the air... that was the final straw. 

The day I killed my Chappie was almost worse than him attacking though. I did  not want him to die. But where in this world is there a place for an unpredictable and aggressive pitbull, who displaces their aggression on humans? There isn't one. We had to wait for the vets office to clear the lobby to take him in. So I went down the street and got him Mc'Doubles and ice cream... which to him, who was on a very bland, boring and strict diet, was heaven. He was sooooooooo happy the day he died. I almost left. I changed my mind at least a million times. But when the tech motioned for us to go ahead and come in... Chappie attempted to attack his own reflection in their door... and had made a game of it... so I felt a bit vindicated. This dog cannot have a normal life. He is too dangerous. I had every intention of staying with him while I said goodbye. But the more I stood there waiting for them to come with the vet, the more I realized my freaking out was making him weird . He was so happy to be with all these new people's , but whenever I'd start crying he would come close me , concerned . It broke my heart. I regret this immensely, but I ended up leaving him. I told him "goodbye Chappie, you will always be my good boy" and that was all I could choke out before I handed him over to the techs. Which he went with more than willingly. 

I know a lot of you may be a little confused. Where do I stand? I love all dogs still. But there IS a problem with pitbulls. You cannot love OUT bad genetics anymore than the millions of breeders of other dogs could love IN traits they desire for their dogs. If that were the case we would have no need for dog shows or purebreds at all, pedigree and lineage wouldn't matter at all. I don't believe pitbull type dogs are bad, but I also no longer believe that they appropriate dogs for most pet owners or homes. I may very well be at fault in some way for how our story turned out. I may have contributed to his change in behavior in some way, and I will never deny that. But I am a person who followed all the rules, and had decades of experience and knowledge beyond what MOST people who end up with these dogs ever will. But it didn't matter did it. I didn't tell my story, that has ruined me as a human, irreparably broken my heart, and ruined my career with dogs due to the resulting PTSD, for people to hate them. But I strongly believe that it is the responsibility of those who love these dogs to be aware and stop ignoring that there is a huge potential for devastating things to happen with SOME of them. I don't know the answers , and I don't even try to figure them out anymore. But my hope in sharing my story is that people from both sides of this seemingly never ending and delicate issue will be responsible and open minded in all they do. I do not agree with BSL, because looks are very deceiving. My two oldest girls are a perfect example . They're at least half pitbull type dog, and you would never know. So I don't ever want to contribute to innocent dogs being put down... but we can't continue to ignore genetics. We can't continue , as pitbull lovers to ignore and be hateful towards the victims of pitbull caused tragedies and maulings. We can't. It's our responsibility to open our eyes and learn from both sides , to better the lives of pitbull type dogs and the people who love them. For the love of pitbulls , I hope you can understand my true intentions in telling this story, and I hope it can help YOU to help these wonderful dogs in some way. 

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For the Love of Pitbulls