About four years ago, I was lucky enough to inherit this great guy. The one staring at me over my computer. With those take-me-for-a-walk eyes. It was less of an "inheritance" and more of a desperate move involving way too much money to stop his previous owner, who lived down the street, from dumping him at Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC).
Scoobi, his given name, was only five months old then, didn't know his name from a bird song, and spent most of his days tied in the neighbor's back yard with his tail as his favorite toy and best friend. I knew a dog like Scoobi didn't stand a chance. For more than 15 years, MACC didn't allow pit bulls to be adopted out to the public. That meant that in 2011 alone, for example, more than half were euthanized because they couldn't find foster homes.
MACC's long-standing policy changed in June of this year, when the organization lifted its adoption ban on pit bulls, thanks to a City Council resolution that infused more money into the shelter to evaluate and home pit bulls and Rottweilers. “The breeds got such a bashing, but now you move forward,” Jeanette Wiedemeier Bower, Animal Care and Control’s program development coordinator, told the Strib in June. “We’ve got to trust the public.”
It was a significant meausure for Minneapolis, helping to advocate for responsible dog ownership and leading the way for other cities to reexamine their own animal ordinances.
Now MACC is taking another big step in its commitment to re-home dogs of all breeds. In a new partnership between MACC and the Animal Humane Society, anyone who is qualified to adopt a "power breed" dog (pit bull or Rottweiler) from MACC will also be able to get two months of free training.
It's an important move forward not only for pit bulls and Rottweilers, but for dog owners. Training not only increases a dog's trust, confidence, and happiness, it increases their bonds with people, too. A recent study shows that dogs don't just respond to commands for the "treats," either. They're naturally inclined to problem-solve and people-please. In fact, due to tens of thousands of years of domestication, dogs are naturally more in tune with humans than they are with other dogs in their family or pack.
Scoobi may have been seriously doggy delayed when he came home with me that day, but when his typical pit bull "smile" stops people in their tracks at the park, I always like to show off how smart and connected he is to me, thanks to countless hours of training. There's nothing like shaking "hands" with an 85-pound smiling pit bull to make people believe in the power of the dog-human bond.