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Reputation means pit bulls spend longer at animal shelters

"Pit bulls might be the most misunderstood dogs, surrounded with negative stereotypes and false perceptions," said Wake County Commissioner Vickie Adamson.

Posted Updated

Ali Ingersoll
, WRAL investigative data reporter

The Wake County Animal Shelter is encouraging people to adopt one of the dozens of pit bulls in the shelter this month.

For the month of October, the shelter says pit bulls can be adopted at a reduced price of $25 instead of the usual $95.

"Pit bulls might be the most misunderstood dogs, surrounded with negative stereotypes and false perceptions,” said Wake County Commissioner Vickie Adamson. "They're sweet as a pie when they're loved and cared for."

The American Temperament Society tested 931 pit bulls for shyness, stability, aggressiveness and friendliness. They took the dogs for a casual, every day walk through the park, and 90% passed.
"Neutral, friendly and threatening situations are encountered," the American Temperament Society says.

Adamson pointed to this testing to encourage people that pit bulls are a safe breed to adopt if cared for properly.

Pit bulls have historically been bred for dog fighting and entertainment. This history dates back to the 1800s, according to the Wake County Animal Shelter.

However, the shelter says these dogs are not "inherently aggressive."

Dogsbite.org analyzed U.S. dog bites from 2005 to 2017 and found that overwhelmingly, pit bulls make up the majority of deadly dog attacks. Nearly 67% of all adults killed by dogs in that 13-year period were killed by a pit bull.

According to their analysis, deadly dog attacks are on the rise and pit bull attacks specifically are contributing to that rise.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates 45% of American households have dogs. That would work out to 200,000 homes in Wake County. Records show just 41 dogs deemed dangerous among that population since 2009, about half of them American Staffordshire Terriers, a breed commonly categorized as a pit bull since that isn’t an officially recognized breed.

However, Jennifer Federico, director of the Wake County Animal Center, hasn't had problems with her four pit bulls adopted from the county's animal shelter. She said they are joy in her life and she is lucky to have them.

"They have feelings, emotions of their own, and they make us better people in the end because they will love you no matter what," she said.

She also pointed to apartment and homeowners association restrictions on certain breeds for the fact that so many pit bulls wait to find a forever home.

In fact, Federico says only about 20 to 30 percent of the dogs they get into the shelter are considered pit bulls, but they tend to stay longer than other dogs. Currently, 76% of the dogs at the Wake County Animal Shelter are pit bulls.

There are three different kinds of pit bulls: the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the American Bully.

Dogs are available for adoption on Wake County Animal Shelter's website. The shelter is open for adoptions daily from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week at 820 Beacon Lake Drive.


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