A No-Kill Sanctuary and rescue for Pit Bulls By Donna M. Lehmann

Amanda Gribben and Darren Linder, founders of Pawsitively Pit Bull (PPB), have cared for and rehomed unwanted, abused, and abandoned Pit Bull Terriers for nearly 6 years. After working closely with local animal shelters, they realized that nearly half of the canine residents are Pit Bulls. “Why is this breed so over-represented and misunderstood?” Gribben wondered. “This lovable breed is so frequently euthanized because of misconceptions.”

PPB, a non-profit no-kill rescue and sanctuary in Portland, partially blames the national media for the breed’s fearful reputation of locking jaws, unstable temperament, and uncontrollable aggression towards humans. “Pit Bulls are not vicious, menacing, and murdering beasts,” Linder said. “Most Pit Bull owners are loving humans, not criminals who use them for illegal dog-fighting activities.”

However, throughout the United States, some city ordinances ban Pit Bulls and label them vicious and dangerous—without having met the dogs. Gribben and Linder regard these laws as specious and unreasonable. Their strong conviction and intense dedication to Pit Bulls compel them to revolutionize the way people view and accept the breed as canine companions.

“You can raise any canine to be animal or human aggressive if you intentionally mistrain or abuse him,” Gribben said. “The Pit Bull is trainable and lovable, and people take advantage of that. Pit Bull owners will say ‘Blame the deed, not the breed.’”

Education and Outreach

Gribben and Linder have found homes for and taught 14 abused, neglected, and abandoned Pit Bulls to love, play, and trust again. They evaluate each dog for health, temperament, and behavioral issues before placing the dog in foster care. PPB will not release a Pit Bull for adoption until the dog has proven she is ready to transition to a new home.

PPB adheres to a stringent interview process, which included completion of an online application, home visits, reference checks, and a contract. “Our process is extremely thorough, so we have a high rate of successful adoptions,” Gribben said. Adoption fees are $150-$250. Adopters receive a free start-up package of six “Pit Bull 101” classes and advice for one year.

PPB is a safe haven for 12 (and counting) Pit Bulls with special needs, behavioral and biting issues, or circumstances that may prevent them from finding a new home. “No dog is euthanized unless for medical reasons, or if legally unavoidable,” Gribben said. “If we are unable to match a dog with adopters, the dog will always have a home with us.

Gribben and Linder are strong supporters of Pit Bull education, outreach, and overpopulation control through spaying and neutering. “We are saving lives, not creating more,” Gribben said. Moreover, they oppose Pit Bull breeding and recommend adopting a Pit Bull from a shelter rather than a breeder.

PPB advocates prosecuting criminals involved in illegal dog fighting. “Sadly, even dogs that are rescued from a dog fighting ring are usually put down automatically,” Gribben said.

Because some trainers and boarding services may refuse a Pit Bull, PPB offers boarding at “Camp Pit Bull” for $22 per day, per dog. Dogs can run and play safely within three large separated fenced yards. The area includes an indoor kennel, spring-pole for fun and exercises, agility course, and access to nearby parks for daily walks. PPB hopes to relocate in the near future to a more spacious location.

Overcoming Disabilities

Fleece, a deaf white Pit Bull, is the reason Gribben and Linder created PPB. In 2000, Fleece charmed her way into their hearts with her clownish facial expression and willingness to love and please. She learned 28 visual commands and overcame her need to chew everything in sight. She loves to race through the house, and to snuggle with her human parents. “She taps you on the shoulder when you are in bed to get you to lift the covers,” Linder laughed.

Drunken Noodle, a deaf, thin, white Pit Bull-Dalmatian mix with neurological issues, is PPB’s silliest canine. “Her attitude teaches us a lot about life,” Gribben said. “She overcame many obstacles to become the happiest dog we have.”

Family Companion and Protector

The versatile Pit Bull makes a loyal family companion and protector for the right family. Human guardians fawn over the dog’s clownish facial expressions, affection for snuggling, gregarious behaviors, and eagerness to learn, please, and play. “They pick up cute tricks easily,” Gribben said.

Pit Bull owners must provide constant firm discipline. This is a strong-minded dog who thrives with human and animal socialization. Most adore small children; however, adult supervision is important, as with any dog. They like to join family activities and have a tendency to play rough. Watch out for their hard tails as they can knock objects and people to the ground. “You should be prepared for an intelligent, quick learner with a lot of muscle and energy,” Gribben said.

Gribben and Linder are making mammoth strides informing people that Pit Bulls make loving, trustworthy companions. “Having happy Pit Bull homes will help (Members of) the breed regain their good name and eliminate the negative stereotypes associated with them,” Gribben added. “Our goal is to help these dogs become Pit Bull ambassadors and slowly change their bad reputation.”

Donna Lehmann is a writer and graphic designer who shares her life with two dog-children and one cat-child who rules the house. She has an endless passion for telling people about the joys of living with rescue pets.

Matthew Solly

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