Fourteen months after a new Ohio law removed the vicious label from pit bulls, the dogs remain a hard sell for shelters trying to find strays a home.
At the Franklin County Dog Shelter, pit bulls and pit-bull mixes take three times as long as other dogs to adopt out, director Joe Rock said.
That includes Derby, a black-and-white pit bull/terrier mix who whines quietly when potential owners walk by her at the shelter. The 40-pound pooch had been up for adoption for 50 days as of Thursday.
On average, pits are on the adoption floor for 28 days, while other dogs are there for nine, Rock said.
The Delaware and Fairfield county dog shelters don’t even put pits on the adoption floor. After the dogs come in as strays, they evaluate them to make sure they’re adoptable and then transfer them to local humane societies and rescue groups that have space and can find homes for them.
Fairfield County dog warden Mike Miller said his shelter does that to make sure the dogs are spayed or neutered. Few of the pit bulls brought in as strays have been sterilized, he said, and the shelter doesn’t offer that service.
“We don’t want to add to the problem of too many pit bulls,” he said.
Dog warden John King said that Delaware County transfers pits, as well as most rottweilers and German shepherds, to groups that have more time to evaluate their behavior before deciding if they’re adoptable.
“We don’t know their history, and we want to be extremely cautious,” he said.
About 10 percent of the dogs coming into the Delaware and Fairfield county shelters are pit bulls or pit mixes, but they make up 22 percent of those impounded yearly in Franklin County. Rock said that has meant limiting the number of pit bulls on the Franklin County adoption floor.
“Given the rate at which these dogs are adopted, we would quickly be at capacity if we did not place a limit on the number that we make available,” he said. Some that are adoptable but can’t be put on the floor are sent to rescue groups; others are euthanized.
In Cincinnati, the majority of the dogs up for adoption at the SPCA’s two shelters are pits; the shelters take in strays and dogs surrendered by owners in Hamilton County. They don’t limit the number of pit bulls put up for adoption.
Rock said pit bulls can be great pets for the right owners, but shelter workers won’t push them on someone who isn’t looking for one.
“People would end up with dogs that they didn’t want and may not be able to deal with the characteristics of that breed or type of dog,” he said.