Pit bull terriers: A year in review

This year there’s more great news coming from the world of pit-bull-type dogs than ever before. The strides being made on their behalf are ramping up. These dogs have some of the best and the brightest in animal advocacy on their side. This holiday season, it is with great wiggle-butt enthusiasm that we bring you some of our most riveting stories of pit bull terriers.

The Christmas Puppies

What could be more fitting for a holiday pit bull terrier tribute than revisiting the dogs dubbed the Christmas Puppies? Rescued from an abusive owner, Jack, Maggie and Madeline overcame their trials and tribulations thanks in part to the Court Case Dog program. The program was spearheaded by Best Friends, Safe Humane Chicago in conjunction with D.A.W.G., and Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) to help canine victims of animal cruelty or neglect. From hopeless to ho-ho-ho home for the holidays, read about the puppies' amazing journey in A trio transformed.

Little Red, Vicktory dog
Little Red

Vicktory dog stars

A collection of favorite stories about pit bull terriers would not be complete without including an update on the Vicktory dogs. The Vicktory dogs are, of course, the victims of a dog-fighting ring housed on Michael Vick’s property. They were the first high-profile dogs to be evaluated and sent to rescues across the country from such a bust. Many of the dogs have found their way into loving homes, and some are even finding jobs as therapy dogs.

Each of the Vicktory dogs at the Sanctuary is required to pass the Canine Good Citizen test in order to be adopted, and this year two Vicktory dog stars passed with flying colors. 

Angels in uniforms

Too often, pit bull terriers have to beat incredible odds just to survive. In South Carolina, for example, a suspected dog-fighting ring was detected and the animals were seized. Sure, the easiest thing to do might have been to put the dogs down. But the right thing to do was get them evaluated, rehabilitated and re-homed. Read why Sheriff Leon Lott is a leader in law enforcement.

A good read

A real bow in the quiver against animal brutality comes in the form of a new manual to humanely manage dogs in communities nationwide. Best Friends own Cynthia Bathurst and Ledy VanKavage co-wrote "The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters," a partner project with the U.S. Department of Justice’s COPS program. The instructional manual provides information for law enforcement nationwide on how to humanely handle dogs without resorting to lethal force. This one manual will save countless lives and curtail avoidable trauma before it occurs, and that’s just a gift that keeps on giving.

Totally law-some

Few things in life guarantee as much sustainable change in the lives of pit-bull-type dogs than legislation. In 2011, Florida governor Rick Scott signed into law Senate Bill 772. The law repeals the instant death sentence for the victims of dog fighting and encourages lifesaving evaluations in its stead.

Another groundbreaking move is taking place in Ohio, where House Bill 14 is railing against the Buckeye state’s automatic dangerous dog designation for dogs unfortunate enough to be born looking like a pit-bull-type dog. People, organizations, and celebrities like Willie Nelson have rallied for the cause.

Woof, it’s Walter

A wonderful dog who embodies the spirit of why so many people get involved in animal welfare is Walter. When Lynn Ready met Walter, she knew he was a keeper. Then he took her expectations to the next level when he became a therapy dog who has been affectionately called Walter the Elderbull. His story caps this year’s list of favorite pit bull terrier stories with a big Walter "woof!"

Pit bull terrier initiatives

Best Friends Animal Society is working throughout the country to help pit bull terriers, who are battling everything from a media-driven bad reputation to ineffective and expensive legislation. Best Friends hopes to end discrimination against all dogs. Dogs are individuals and should be treated as individuals. Learn more.