“Why do you have so many pit bulls?”

It’s the question every adoption counselor gets:

“Why do you have so many pit bulls?”


Photo Credit: Jade (now “Martha Washington”) at Philadelphia Animal Control, 2009

When I worked in a Philly animal shelter (2008-2009), 9-out-of-10 people would ask me this. All I knew was the soundbite-of-the-time:

“They’re great dogs, they just get a bad rap.” That’s what I said then. But times have changed. The “rap” has changed, too.

Pit bulls today are among the country’s most popular pets in America.


So why *ARE* there so many pit bull dogs in animal shelters?

There are umpteen-million academic answers I could list, but here’s a cheat sheet for the [amazing!] shelter workers and volunteers who get this question 9,000 times a day:

Why do you have so many pit bulls

Pit bull popularity


Crappy economy


Lack of resources for dog owners


Shortage of dog-friendly housing


Family pit bull dogs enter shelters.

For real. This is what we know in 2013. This is what we should be telling the public, if we want to be honest.


Question: “Why do you have so many pit bulls?”

Answer: “They’re the most popular dogs in our country, but times are tough and we take care of our community’s pets. Like this guy. Have you met <<insert name>>? Come meet him, he’s so silly…” 

For more information on effective pet owner support campaigns, check out Pets for Life and Downtown Dog Rescue.