America’s Dog: League Launches Week-Long Celebration of the American Pit Bull

June 25, 2010

(Washington, DC) – American Pit Bull Terriers have long occupied a prominent place in our national cultural.  The Little Rascals’ dog, Petey, was one. So was Sergeant Stubby, the World War I dog who became the most decorated combat canine in military history.  Around the turn of the last century, this breed was a clear favorite among American family dogs, as evidenced by James Thurber’s classic stories about his childhood pet, Rex ,and Helen Keller’s pit bull, Sir Thomas.

Over the last few decades, however, the breed developed an undeserved bad reputation, partly through misuse and partly through misunderstanding.  Incidents such as Michael Vick’s dog fighting case and some much publicized attacks by poorly bred and chronically neglected dogs have contributed to a widespread negative perception of pit bulls.

The Washington Animal Rescue League would like to change this and help the American Pit Bull Terrier recapture its former respectable status.

“The pit bull really is America’s dog.  They’ve been around for more than a century and have long played a prominent—and largely positive—role in American culture.  Our promotion, which is deliberately timed to coincide with Independence Day, is an attempt to return this misunderstood but excellent breed to its rightful place in our national identity,” according to the League’s Chief Operating Officer Mary Jarvis.

Between June 29 and July 3, adoption fees for pit bulls at the League are being reduced from $195 to $100.  Their adopters receive a coupon for free tuition at one of the League’s six-week training and obedience classes.  Finally, the dogs come with a free anti-pull, top-of-the-line Freedom harness, courtesy of the Big Bad Woof pet supply store in Northwest DC/Takoma Park and the harness manufacturer, Wiggles, Wags, and Whiskers.

The League currently has about a dozen pit bulls and pit bull mixes available for adoption.  They include Bristol, a 3-year-old female from Baltimore.  Despite the fact that she came in covered with bite wounds—the Baltimore shelter thought she was a “bait dog,” that is, one used to encourage fighting dogs to attack—Bristol is outgoing and friendly with all other dogs and people.

All of the adoptable dogs’ temperaments have been thoroughly assessed by professionally certified dog trainers, and they have had complete medical evaluations at the League’s full-service Medical Center. Most have also had basic obedience training, and in the past, some of the League’s pit bulls have even earned their AKC Canine Good Citizen certificates while awaiting adoption.

More information on this program, as well as testimonials by enthusiastic adopters of pit bull alumnae, can be found on the League’s Web site,

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