Every Dog is Worth Rescuing: Java's Story

by Jessica Pichette

Pit Bull Terriers and related breeds, often called “Bully Breeds,” are among the most controversial in the dog world. These breeds were at one point in their long history bred for baiting or fighting, lending to their reputation as vicious, unstable, and unpredictable dogs, though this reputation is not entirely deserved. The bully breeds were not bred to show aggression towards humans, and while they should be carefully supervised around other animals, they should act loving and loyal towards people when properly socialized. There are, of course, individuals who do not display this important personality trait, but they are not the majority.

Unfortunately, their reputation lands many bully breeds in the wrong hands, only perpetuating the negative stereotypes. Irresponsible owners and breeders, attracted to the breeds’ fighting background, have contributed to the bad reputation, as well as added to the number of dogs that end up in shelters and rescues. It is estimated that pit bull breeds make up 30-50% of the dogs found in a typical shelter, and many of these dogs never get a chance to be adopted. Many shelters will euthanize suspected pit bull breeds soon after they’ve arrived at the shelter after deeming them un-adoptable. When given a chance to find a new home, they are often overlooked, but these dogs can make wonderful pets when paired with a responsible owner.

Java is a 4 year old Pit Bull-Bull Terrier mix. We adopted him last summer from our local animal shelter, where he had spent nearly his whole life. As a puppy Java had been in and out of the shelter, often escaping from his home and found wandering the streets. His owner would come pick him up, but Java would find a way out again. Eventually his owner didn’t come back, and Java spent the next three years in the shelter. Java was often overlooked by potential adopters. In fact, only two other families had expressed any interest in him before us, so he was naturally very shy around people. The shelter workers did their best to socialize him with people and other dogs, in hopes that he would find the right home.

When we first met Java he was understandably nervous around us. It took him some time to be comfortable around us, so we visited the shelter several times so that he would get used to us. In the beginning he mostly ignored us, but eventually he would come up to us, letting us talk to him and pet him. The shelter asked us to bring our other dog to meet Java, to make sure the two dogs would get along, and they did fine with each other after a few visits. It didn’t take long for us to decide that we wanted to adopt Java, so we filled out the paperwork, and Java was soon home with us.

The shelter said that it would probably take Java a few months to completely adapt to his new home life, but he bonded with us surprisingly fast. Outside of his cage, Java was a whole new dog. He quickly became attached to us, and we became attached to him. We had to go slow with him at first, especially when it came to introducing him to new people and new situations. Java hadn’t know many people outside of the shelter, so we spent a lot of time training him and showing him that people were ok.

With training and a lot of love, Java has turned into a wonderful companion. He is extremely loyal, wanting nothing more than to be by your side; which is the nature of the “bully breeds” that the media does not promote. We’ve worked on slowly socializing him with other dogs, and he has become very well mannered. Some people were wary when we told them we were adopting a pit bull mix, and we heard a lot of comments like “are you sure about that?” and “is he mean?” We have done our best to help Java become a great representation of a “bully breed,” and to show people what loving pets these dogs can make.

Pit bulls and other bully breeds have gained a bad reputation, but every dog is an individual and many, like Java, make excellent companions. Training, socialization, and love can work wonders on dogs coming from a shelter situation. Every dog deserves a chance, regardless of their breed. We gave Java a chance, and we couldn’t be happier.