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Adopt America’s Dog!
June 28, 2011
In honor of our nation’s birthday, the Washington Animal Rescue League is waiving all adoption fees for “America’s dog,” the American pit bull terrier. This promotion extends from Friday, July 1, through Sunday, July 3. (The shelter is closed on July 4 for the holiday.) In addition to waiving the adoption fees for all pit bulls and mixed pit bulls—normally $150—the League is giving weekend adopters of these dogs a 25 percent discount on the shelter’s 6-week dog training classes, which otherwise cost $150.
Americans have long been especially enamored of pit bulls, though recent negative media notoriety has cast a pall on these highly affectionate and loyal dogs. Pit bulls travelled across the country with the early settlers, who cherished them as family members because of the dogs’ strong loyalty to their children. The first dog to be decorated for military service was Sergeant Stubby, a pit bull who served abroad in World War I. And Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, Thomas Edison, and James Thurber were but a few of the many famous Americans who kept and admired pit bulls.
Though pit bulls’ active, athletic, and determined nature may not be what some adopters are looking for, the dogs are not known for aggression towards people. The eminent canine behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar notes, “Today, a properly bred pit bull is so exuberantly happy upon meeting her owner’s friends (or even friendly strangers) that new owners sometimes worry that their dog is too sweet and fun-loving to protect their home and family… A multi-talented companion, the well-trained pit bull is suited for a variety of exciting activities. He excels at obedience, agility and weight-pulling competitions, events which showcase intelligence, trainability and strength. In addition, the pit bull’s pleasant nature makes him an ideal candidate for therapy work with people.”
Pit bulls currently available at the League include Leilani, a 3-year-old female whose former owner surrendered her with great reluctance when he had to move. Energetic and bright, Leilani has mastered all the basic obedience commands while at the shelter. She adores people and loves playing with other dogs.
“Partly because they are so frequently misunderstood, lots of pit bulls end up in animal shelters,” according to the League’s COO Mary Jarvis. “They’re not dangerous dogs; in fact, they make excellent companions, especially for someone who is seeking to adopt an intelligent and active dog. We give all of our dogs rigorous temperament assessments prior to making them available for adoption, and the pit bulls often score better than dogs of other breeds for sociability and eagerness to please people.”