Shelter intake of pit bulls may be leveling off
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2008:
The numbers of pit bull terriers and Rottweilers in U.S.
animal shelters may have leveled off since 2004, after a decade of
explosive increase, but are not falling, according to single day
shelter dog inventories collected by ANIMAL PEOPLE during the second
and third weeks of January 2008.
ANIMAL PEOPLE compared the data to single-day dog inventories
collected in June 2004 from 23 U.S. animal control and open admission
shelters, then housing 3,023 dogs.
Of the dogs in 2004, 23% were pit bulls or close mixes of
pit bull; 3% were Rottweilers or their close mixes; and 17% were
other purebreds. Counting pit bulls and Rottweilers but not their
mixes, plus purebreds, about 33% of the shelter dog population
appeared to have been purpose-bred, as opposed to products of
accidental breeding. The pit bull and pit mix percentage had
increased fivefold since ANIMAL PEOPLE did a breed-specific survey of
shelter dogs in 1993.
Fifty-nine agencies operating 62 shelters provided dog
inventories in January 2008, including 39 that do animal control or
house dogs for animal control, 10 open-admission humane societies
that do not do animal control, and 10 no-kill shelters, which
mostly receive animals from other agencies rather than directly from
Together, they held 5,236 dogs, including 2,982 at the
animal control facilities, 1,291 at the non-animal control open
admission shelters, and 963 at the no-kill shelters.
23% of the dogs held by animal control agencies were either
pit bulls or pit mixes, the same as in 2004, compared to 17% for
the open admission humane societies, and 16% for the no-kill
shelters, who were not surveyed in 2004.
Overall, pit bulls and their close mixes made up 20% of the
January 2008 shelter population–about four times their proportion of
the U.S. pet dog population, as indicated by ANIMAL PEOPLE surveys
of classified advertisements of dogs listed for sale or adoption.
Animal control shelters appeared to house more pit bulls
primarily because animal control agencies are the first responders to
“dangerous dog” and bite calls, and do not have the option of
refusing to accept a dog.
Rottweilers and Rottweiler mixes formed 3% of the January
2008 sample, including 4% of the animal control dogs, 2% of the
non-animal control open-admission shelter dogs, and 3% of the
no-kill shelter dogs.
Purebreds made up 15% of the animal control shelter dogs in
January 2008, 19% of the open-admission shelter dogs, and 13% of the
no-kill shelter dogs.
Overall, 28% of the dogs in the January 2008 sample appeared
to have been purpose-bred.
The January 2008 response from animal control agencies was
well enough geographically distributed to illustrate several
distinctive regional trends.
Listed below are the eight major geographic regions of the
U.S. plus Canada, their rates of shelter dog killing per 1,000 human
residents, the percentage of pit bulls and close mixes among their
dog inventories, the percentage of purebreds, and the percentage of
The regions killing the fewest dogs per 1,000 humans house up
to three times as many pit bulls and pit mixes proportionate to their
dog intake, but they are not actually receiving more pit bulls and
pit mixes–just receiving fewer total dogs.
Animal control shelters in the Gulf Coast region, including
Alabama, Missisippi, Louisiana, and Texas, appear to be receiving
an abnormally low proportion of purpose-bred dogs, but more
mixed-breed puppies than anywhere else.
Animal control shelters in the Western region, including
Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New
Mexico, appear to be receiving relatively few mixed-breed puppies,
but larger numbers of purebreds.
ANIMAL PEOPLE collected enough Canadian data to include
Canada as a “region” sampled in the January 2008 shelter dog count,
but has never received enough data to estimate the Canadian national
rate of shelter killing. City-to-city comparisons, however,
indicate that Canadian shelter killing rates are usually close to
those of the nearest U.S. cities.
Region Rate Pits/mixes Purebred Purpose-bred
Northeast 2.0 45% 21% 38%
Mid-Atlantic 2.5 31% 18% 32%
Midwest 4.0 21% 7% 26%
West Coast 4.4 27% 21% 37%
Gulf Coast 9.8 10% 8% 14%
West 8.7 14% 38% 51%
So. Atlantic 10.3 15% 18% 27%
Appalachia 13.9 17% 11% 25%
Canada 15% 24% 34%