Since moving to South Park more than 3 years ago, I’ve kept a map of the pit bulls I watch. There are currently 11 pit bulls within a 1/2 mile of my house. I drive by. I walk by. I route my once-in-a-while run by. I keep a pulse. Some of these dogs are chained up. Some of these dogs are loose in backyards 24-7. Some of these dogs have had litters of puppies. One of these dogs has reportedly bitten someone. And some of the dogs I watch come-and-go.
In 2008, I realized I wanted to focus more on the pit bulls in my neighborhood so I stepped down from BullsEye Dog Rescue and started volunteering at the Seattle Animal Shelter. Many of the dogs at the shelter are pit bulls, and my work at the shelter has connected me to the dogs in my neighborhood in unexpected ways.
Loca was a pit bull two blocks from my house that Animal Control fought hard to help. When she was finally euthanized in 2008, her owners kept Chato (the red male) and one of Chato and Loca’s offspring, Puppy (also a red male). The family that owned and bred these dogs were evicted from their home after a drive-by shooting and a Child Protective Services intervention in May that year. I worried about the whereabouts of the dogs and didn’t see them with the kids who still hung out in South Park.
Several months later, I arrived for a volunteer shift at the shelter, and another volunteer said to me, “There are two really scarey pit bulls that Animal Control brought in today–go check em out.” I knew which kennels they were in because of their barks, and I didn’t make eye contact with the two dogs as I approached. They were separated, in side-by-side kennels. Two red male pit bulls, out-of-their-minds, scared, and pissed off. I read the officer’s intake notes hanging on the kennel doors as they barked right through me.
It was Chato and Puppy. Some time after their owner was evicted, Chato and Puppy were left at a relative’s house tied to a tree. The relative couldn’t take care of the dogs so when their owner didn’t come back as she’d promised, they called Animal Control to come pick them up. Chato and Puppy were euthanized three days later.
What Chato and Puppy weren’t, so many pit bulls that come to the shelter are: Pit bulls that, despite not getting what they need, continue to trust people with an against-all-odds spirit, an endurance to be a good dog when so many people in the world want them to be bad dogs.
Penny is one of those pit bulls. She’s currently available for adoption at the Seattle Animal Shelter. Check her out.