Whole Dog Journal's Blog March 21, 2013

Unsocialized, Intact Male, Pit-Mix, No Collar

Posted at 03:57PM - Comments: (16)

Not how I like to start my day: With a dog of the above description in my front yard. 

There are two gates in my front yard – one leading up the front path to my door, and a double set in the driveway.  There are also gates on either side of my house leading to the backyard.  Just this morning, I came through one of the side gates into the driveway with Tito (the Chihuahua). As I walked up to my car, one of my cats brushed up against my legs. I opened the car door so Tito could hop in – and then saw my cat suddenly make a panicked face and run for the backyard. She leaped over the five-foot chain link gate in a hurry.  I turned to see what set her off, and saw the mouse-colored dog. The moment he saw me see him, he blanched and ran across my front yard. I walked to the driveway gate and closed them, so the dog couldn’t escape.

I looked up and down the street to see if anyone was looking for him: no one. I turned to look at him, and he ran and hid under a bush as far away from me as he could get. I went inside the house and got some lunch meat, then went outside and tried to make friends with the big, well-muscled dog. He was shaking and terrified, and wanted nothing to do with me or the meat. I called Animal Control, and asked if anyone had called looking for a dog of his description; no one had, at least yet.

My choices were:

1. To simply let him go on his way and hope for the best – to hope that he wouldn’t be hit by a car as he tried to find his way home. He was fearful and panicked; he didn’t seem like the type that would attack someone’s leashed dog (or toddler, or elderly person) on the sidewalk. The risk of letting him go would be mainly his (although I’ve heard of plenty of car accidents that happened when someone tried to avoid hitting a stray dog who was running across a street).

2. To hold him at my house and put up “found dog” signs. To try to socialize him while letting Animal Control know where they could direct any owner who came in or called looking for him. However, this option is simply not fair to my Chihuahua, cats, chickens, husband (who is not crazy about unfriendly dogs) – or even Otto, my big, neutered male dog. They’d all be at risk if the dog turned our to be predatory or aggressive.

3. To ask Animal Control to send an officer to come pick up the dog.  They would do so, and if an owner was looking for him, this would be the best place for the pair to be reunited. However, if the owner couldn’t or wouldn’t go to the shelter to look, the dog’s prospects there are, frankly, dim. It would be different if he were socialized and friendly – or even if were extremely cute or tiny. Friendly, cute, or small dogs are reliably put up for adoption if their owners don’t claim them. But a large, strong dog who is afraid of people? Not a great candidate in my shelter. We don’t have too many people looking to foster or adopt dogs of this description.

What would you choose? A potential calamity in your family, on the street, or in the shelter?

I chose to call Animal Control. The officer came and spent 10 minutes under the bush with the dog, until he was able to gently ease a leash over his head and coax him out from under the bush. “He’s so soft!” he called to me as I waited by the gate. (I love this officer; he’s great with all animals, very patient and kind.) We decided the dog is an indoor dog, he was so sleek and clean. This made me feel a bit better – like someone would definitely miss him and would go to the shelter to look for him.

The thing that makes me so angry and sad: Large, well-muscled male dogs are the worst dogs to fail to dress with identification, to fail to socialize, to fail to contain – and even to fail to neuter. His chances are so much worse than almost any other dog that could be sent to stray on a street.


Comments (16)

It seems that so many of the WDJ articles/blog posts about dogs typically do not describe the "breed" of dog. However, you appear to have no problem assigning dogs that have muscles to be a "pit-mix". You have mentioned "pit-mix" in other postings. It appears to me that you have an issue with bully breeds, and like many individuals, base the "breed" off of what you see. I do not see a real point to this posting, other than pointing out a possible "pit-mix" was in your yard. To top it off, you have cats that are outdoor cats. Why? Why have them if you do not want them to be a part of the family? Why put the poor cats at risk by making them live outside, risk getting hit by vehicles, diseases, fights, etc. Time to drop my subscription to WDJ. WDJ touts good things for dogs, but turns around and has breed-biased articles and people who write about their outdoor cats.

Posted by: Therapy Dog Mom | October 1, 2013 11:01 AM    Report this comment

A tough decision for sure. I would probably do the same thing. Our area is overwhelmed with pits and out-mixes making up a majority if shelter dogs. I found an apparently abandoned intact male Sheltie mix and also ended up taking him to the shelter because he was do aggressive to my 3 tiny dogs. But he was adopted right away. The bully breeds are not usually so lucky.

Posted by: Sheryl M-G | March 26, 2013 7:29 PM    Report this comment

Thanks for saving the dog
Even if the dog is no longer in your custody, you can still advertise him. Post messages to craigslist and other lost and found sites giving a description and tell folks where to go look for their dog.
You can also put up flyers in the area telling folks where the dog went. If there is a concern that someone might get mad at you for sending a dog to animal control, you don't have to give anyone your contact info.

Some folks do not know about going to the city shelter to look for their pets. Some people think a phone call is sufficient and it usually isn't.

Posted by: La Trenda - Puddins Training Tips | March 26, 2013 4:54 PM    Report this comment

Hi folks, WDJ Editor Nancy Kerns here. The dog whose photo appeared in the email (that many of you received with a link to this blog) is NOT the dog I wrote about here. THAT dog was for sure a hound of some kind. The dog I wrote about was for sure a bully breed-mix, but I didn't take a picture of him on the day I found him. And as of today (five days after I wrote the piece) he's still in my local shelter.

Posted by: WDJ Editor Nancy Kerns | March 26, 2013 4:25 PM    Report this comment

Hi folks, WDJ Editor Nancy Kerns here. The dog whose photo appeared in the email (that many of you received with a link to this blog) is NOT the dog I wrote about here. THAT dog was for sure a hound of some kind. The dog I wrote about was for sure a bully breed-mix, but I didn't take a picture of him on the day I found him. And as of today (five days after I wrote the piece) he's still in my local shelter.

Posted by: WDJ Editor Nancy Kerns | March 26, 2013 4:13 PM    Report this comment

I'm glad you were able to catch him, but it's a shame that you assumed he was unsocialized and a Pit-mix. In your brief encounter there's no way to tell if he is socialized. I've seen many loving, socialzed dogs that will not come to strangers, and he may have been too scared to consider any stranger safe. I agree that large, well-muscled male dogs are the hardest to get adopted, but labeling him a Pit-mix without any confirmation makes it even harder. I see lots of hound in that guy.

Posted by: Paula S | March 26, 2013 4:00 PM    Report this comment

Not how that dog would have started it's day had it known the outcome. A much better option for the dog would have been calling a rescue group in your area. I volunteer with several rescues and take in dogs almost daily. We scan for a microchip first. If none, we post on animal control's lost and found section and several local lost and found sites as well as radio spots. After 2 wks we start the process of vaccinations, spay/neuter and testing for other important issues it may have. If it is taken to animal control it has very little chance to live. 5 day hold and then up to 90% are killed. Good, adoptable, healthy animals killed because nobody goes to claim. Next time call some rescues, please. And if you have a pet, spay/neuter and microchip as well as keep a collar with ID on it.

Posted by: rescue4all | March 26, 2013 3:26 PM    Report this comment

I agree with ThrpyDogteam above. This dog looks like a hound of some sort. I don't see anything about him that looks pit bullish.
I would hope that he wasn't a dumped dog but would not be surprised. I live near a park and there are always strays there. I rescued one of them last fall. She is a pit mix, and had already been crate trained, was housebroken, and walks on leash beautifully. It made me wonder why someone would put so much time into training her and then toss her out. I think the financial situation of some folks forces them into bad decisions that they never wanted to make. When times are hard, pet ownership is one of the things that they can't do anymore. It's sad.

Posted by: lora j | March 26, 2013 3:08 PM    Report this comment

OOPs, just went back to look at the dog's pic and saw the "intact" part. No rescue would let an intact dog go out of their system. so the last part is not likely.

Posted by: westielover | March 26, 2013 2:28 PM    Report this comment

I don't know where you live, but in Dallas there are multiple animal rescue groups that I would have tried to contact before calling Animal Control. If I had a crate to fit the dog I would have also taken him to the closest vet to be scanned for a microchip. If you think he is a pit mix his days are indeed numbered unless the shelter is pit-friendly (like Dallas' shelter is). Another possibility is that he is a recent rescue who escaped his new home (some of those guys are escape artists) and that would explain his fear. I sure hope things turn out ok for him.

Posted by: westielover | March 26, 2013 2:26 PM    Report this comment

You made the best choice you could. Your pets & family MUST come first. The shelters often do have people who try to work with the dogs that come in (as we know from propr columns you've written). You might be able to go & work there with him, if you feel it would be in the best interests of the dog & your conscience. The owners have the ability to recover the dog in the place he would be expected to be found. He will be scanned for a microchip and if he needs vet care, he will get that.

IMO, too many FINDERS of dogs assume it is "Finders-Keepers". They never contact the area shelters, don't put up found flyers, or an ad in the newspaper. They just make the dog...theirs.

Posted by: Betsy | March 26, 2013 1:57 PM    Report this comment

To me the picture makes the dog look like a hound mix. Since the genes determining the Pit Bull type head are all dominate if it was a Pit mix it would seem like it should have a more Pit
type head. Please
choose a breed description more likely
to result in an adoption if
the owner does not
claim their dog.

Posted by: ThrpyDogTeam | March 26, 2013 1:25 PM    Report this comment

Most lost dogs are frightened by strangers. It sounds like you had a brief enoucnter therefore it is unfair to assess that he is unsocialized. It is also not right to assume the breed of an animal based on appearance. Hopefully he as been reunited with his family.

Posted by: Suzanne K | March 26, 2013 11:58 AM    Report this comment

Poor guy.

It's not an easy call, but I agree that you made the right and responsible choice. It's got the best potential upside (owners might come to find him, or he COULD get lucky and wind up in a good adoptive home -- you never know! -- and in the meantime he'll be safe and warm and fed) and the least bad downside (the worst that could happen is still less bad than starving for weeks, then getting hit by a car and crawling off to die slowly in the bushes somewhere).

Posted by: Jennifer A | March 26, 2013 11:46 AM    Report this comment

Although a sad choice, I think you made the right one. Please let us know any updates.

Posted by: jcanale | March 26, 2013 10:58 AM    Report this comment

I hope this boy's family finds him. It is so sad when people don't socialize their puppies. Had this fellow been meeting tons of people and other dogs and going lots of new places he might not have been so terrified. He may have been scared because he was lost, but at least not so terrified of strange people. Hopefully his family didn't just drop him off because they didn't want him anymore. Please keep us posted on how he is doing.

Posted by: Jals | March 26, 2013 10:43 AM    Report this comment

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