Free Pit Bulls This Summer

An upcoming Adopt-a-thon at the Washington Animal Rescue League offers would-be pet parents the opportunity to pay what they can for adoption fees the weekend of Aug. 6 and 7.

But if you're willing to open your home to a certain breed, you're in luck -- the League has waived adoption fees for pit bulls and pit bull mixes through the end of summer.

"Pit bulls are often over-represented at shelters," said Jim Monsma, director of communications at the League. There are a few reasons for that, he said. Pit bull owners, moreso than owners of other breeds, tend to spay or neuter their dogs at lower rates. Also, some owners "are not willing to put in the effort with these dogs," Monsma said, leading the high-energy animals to get sent to shelters.

And notably, the dogs' often-poor reputation causes them to get adopted at lower rates than other breeds. "They have gotten bad press," Monsma said. But pit bulls are often very intelligent, loyal and noted for their ability to learn.

Pit bulls can be a good breed for active people, he said. "They're not a pet for everyone," Monsma said. "They're not the kind of dog that's going to curl up under your chair as soon as you come home."

The breed has a long history in America, he said, citing famous owners including Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller and author/cartoonist James Thurber.

We asked our Facebook followers what they thought, and the reaction was more positive than negative. Jessica Zajac wrote, "I think it is fantastic. Pits have/get a bad rep and they shouldn't. I'm an 'aunt' to one and he is an absolute sweetheart. These dogs deserve a loving home, just as any other pup."

Others were concerned. "It is unfortunate that not all pit owners are responsible in owning a pit, but I know these dogs need love too," wrote Laurie Leder. "However I know I would not feel safe with one in my home with my kids... and would not like it if a neighbor had one. I could not know for sure if they raised it right and that my kids would be safe. Taking the fees away may attract some [people] that are not responsible enough to properly care for and train a pit."

Several commenters expressed concern for the welfare of the dogs, hoping that dog fighters can't pose as adopters.

However, the Rescue League maintains that it carefully screens all adopters: "Both the dogs and the adopters at the Washington Animal Rescue League are carefully screened to make sure the match works out for both dog and persons. We have a great track record with these dogs."

This is the second summer the League has conducted this program, and they've a good response to the waived fees, Monsma said. During the first week the fees were lifted this year, four of the group's six pit bulls were adopted.

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