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Relinquishing Your Pit Bull


     On a daily basis, we receive requests to help re-home dogs who can no longer stay with their families. Unfortunately, we do not have the answers that most people are seeking; we do not have a magic wand that will find the perfect home with a family who has free time and a big yard for "Fido." The reality is this: Pets are a LIFETIME COMMITMENT and this lies solely on the responsibility of the owner to realize that.

     While we do not condone re-homing your dog because you “don’t have time”, or “prefer to have a yard”, or because the dog “isn’t trained like I want,” there are situations that arise when keeping your dog is just not an option. We hope this article will shed some light on the harsh realities of rescue in San Diego...


1. Rescue groups rely heavily (if not completely) on FOSTER HOMES to take in homeless dogs. That means, in order for a rescue to even consider taking your dog, they must first secure a foster home that has the space to take on another dog (We say another dog because the majority of foster homes are animal lovers with their own personal pets). Rescue organizations typically do not have facilities or buildings, and if a rescue is fortunate enough to have the funding to maintain such a space, they are almost always full.

2. Rescue groups save emergency cases and death row dogs before taking in owner surrenders; that is, if they take in owner relinquishments at all! Talk to any of your rescue friends and they can rehash a sad story that will bring you to tears about a local dog with only hours to live, because these are the timeline posts we see on our newsfeed every hour of every single day. There are senior dogs, dogs with special needs, canine cancer survivors, bait dogs in recovery, puppies with Parvo, and the list goes on. These are the dogs most rescues will tend to first, and even then if there isn’t a foster home or funding to back them up, even the saddest cases slip through the cracks.

3. Money is a key factor (more than you know). Have you ever just ignored or deleted those fundraising requests because you just can’t be bothered to spend more money on a dog you’ll never meet from a local rescue? Consider researching local rescues in our area and you’ll quickly find that they are all 100% volunteer-driven and fundraiser-based. Without the generous contributions of people like you and me, these rescues wouldn’t be here today to take in dogs at all. Want to know why some rescues charge such a large adoption fee for their dogs? Because it takes on average $600, give or take, for a puppy to become adoption-ready; and that’s only if there aren’t any major medical concerns to address (like kennel cough, Parvo, Distemper, and an array of common illnesses that can reek havoc on a puppy’s immune system).

  • Initial vet wellness exam $50-100

  • Spay or neuter $150-300

  • Distemper vaccination $20-30 (x2)

  • Rabies vaccination $15-25

  • Heartworm test $15-35

  • Flea/tick treatment $50-200

  • Microchipping $50

  • Deworming $20-50

  • Collar and ID tag $5-10

4. Training could save your dog’s life! Seriously, how many dogs do you know that are “really good dogs” but still aren’t potty-trained? Crate-trained? Trained not to bark? Not to jump? Not to play too rough? Did you know, the majority of dogs that are abandoned at the shelter are animals just beyond the puppy stage and just aren’t cute enough anymore? The average age of an animal entering the shelter system is 18 months! So do yourself a favor and sign up for basic obedient classes, talk to fellow dog owners in your neighborhood, join a MeetUp, find a private trainer, and ask around! There are endless resources for training, so if you can’t find the MONEY or TIME to train a dog, please don’t get one in the first place. Dogs do not come with owner’s manuals. It takes time and effort to establish the relationship you want with your dog, and that includes training them on the basics. If you’re dog doesn’t know how to walk on a leash properly, or isn’t house-trained, how do you expect a new family to take on that responsibility for you when there are several dogs available that already have those basics nailed down?

5. The shelter system gets a bad rep, but they are here to help your animals. I don’t know if it’s movies, or TV shows, or children’s stories, but for some reason the local shelters in San Diego are seriously under-rated! The shelter system is a far cry from the “pound” we once feared growing up. Imagine how many animal lovers and advocates take on these tireless, thankless jobs only to be called dog killers at the end of the day; and if you hadn’t dropped off your dog at the shelter in the first place, this might be a different story! I personally know many shelter employees who get paid next-to-nothing to spend 8 hours a day scooping poop, cleaning kennels, administering meds, walking dogs, and providing the love and care to hundreds of animals that they know deserve more. Although San Diego has initiated a No Kill Initiative which ensures no animal is "PTS" due to lack of space, there are circumstances when dogs and cats can no longer be cared for. Severe medical situations, or extreme behavioral issues, that cannot reasonably be rehabilitated are two of the reasons you may hear about a dog being "PTS," but if you don’t want your dog in the shelter, then consider why you’re giving them up in the first place.

6. DO NOT (we repeat) DO NOT give away your dog for free! Online sites, like Craig’slist, have opened the door to would-be poachers, dogfighting circuits, and in some cases, psychos, who pose as wonderful owners who are waiting to get their hands on a free pet to abuse for the thrill of it. These are not isolated incidents, and they happen every day in your own backyard. Don’t believe me? How about the dog-fighting bust that happened just last month in North County, where over a dozen dogs were seized with fresh, visible wounds as well as pregnant pit bulls about to give birth to another generation of fighters? Dog-fighting rings like this have been busted and the inner workings revealed to the public; including the fact that families are often paid to pose as well-meaning animal lovers so they can get their hands on your beloved pet... and then it’s turned over to the wrong hands. If they’re lucky, these dogs will only suffer a quick death rather than tossed out, used and abused, to die slowly and alone. It’s not a pretty picture, and we don’t want to sugar coat it for you. This is REAL. This is happening right now. So please don’t EVER give away your dog for free. Anyone willing to take on a new family member should have no problem paying a low re-homing fee (even $25) to show good faith; and if they can’t afford it? RUN! How do you expect them to pay for the basic necessities of the dog in the first place?

     To put it bluntly, your dog is not special. And if that sounds harsh, think of it this way: Along with several other rescues in our area, we get hundreds of pleas from dog owners just like you who can’t keep their dog. In many cases, it’s more of a “won’t vs. can’t” debate (but that’s a topic for another note). If your dog’s owner (that’s you) can’t seem to find the resources necessary to keep their dog, train it, provide it medical care, and give it love and attention, why would you expect someone else to? Unfortunately, that "Fairyland Dream" of a house with a yard and a family who’s home all day just doesn’t exist... (and if it does please take us with you!).

     But your dog is a "rare" Blue Nose right? BOL! (That’s not even a real thing btw...) Approximately 20-30% of dogs in shelters are purebred! And although we want to “Save Them All,” the reality is, we just don’t have the resources to do it. Add backyard breeders, and unwanted litters, and the number of homeless animals exponentially increases. So heed our warnings when we urge our members to SPAY & NEUTER your pets. Invest in pet insurance. Socialize your dog early and often. And if a time comes when you feel like you can’t keep your pet any longer, read these words again before contacting us.

Sincerely (for the animals),

SDPP Staff



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