How To Choose A Healthy Pit Bull Puppy: Stick To Reputable Dog Breeders

Deciding to add a Pit Bull terrier to the family is a big step. You should have already done research on the breed to learn the characteristics that Pits possess, and you should have also decided on a male of female. Once you’ve tackled those hurdles, it is time for the next step… finding the perfect puppy for your family.

The best way that I would suggest for finding great puppies is to check with your local American Pit Bull Terrier club. Get in touch with the club’s president and find out when the club meets. Attend a meeting, get to know some of the members, and begin asking around for breeder recommendations.

Alternatively, you can buy dog magazines and go through the breeder listings contained in the resources section. Take some time to call the breeders who you are interested in possibly working with, and spend a brief while on the telephone with them. Ask them questions such as:

- How long have you been actively breeding Pit Bulls?
- How long have you been involved with the breed?
- How many litters per year do you have?
- Where are your puppies kept?
- Are your puppies socialized?
- Etc.

You can also contact your veterinarian and ask them for a referral. A vet will typically know the health of a breeder’s lines, so they can be a great source of inside info.

You most certainly want to stay away from pet shops and puppy mills. In most cases, these sources obtain their puppies from a variety of places and it is nearly impossible to know if they come from healthy bloodlines or not. Also, these shops often charge large amounts of money for their dogs and prey on the uneducated, spur-of-the-moment dog buyer..

Lastly, be sure not to buy a puppy from the first breeder you meet and don’t buy the first puppy that you see. All puppies are cute. Spend time with many puppies so you can see the differences in their personalities and you’ll make a more educated choice I assure you.

Change of heart

Change of Heart Pit Bull Rescue

Where: Norco-based, serving San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties

Adoption fee: $150 tax deductible

Information: cohpitbullrescue.com

When Gracie struts down the street decked out in her pink tutu, onlookers are not afraid.

“They come up to me and ask if they can pet her and tell me how beautiful she is; without the pink tutu it’s a whole different story,” said Sarah Kosinski-Cope, founder and president of Norco-based Change of Heart Pit Bull Rescue. “The tutu is magic. I don’t like to dress dogs up, but people who would normally be afraid will come up to a dog when it’s wearing a tutu.”

Gracie is a gray and white purebred pit bull, the latest rescue for the volunteer-based nonprofit that currently is maxed out at about 20 pit bulls and pit bull mixes but is working hard to get more foster homes and funding lined up.

“I got a call from one of the shelters wanting us to rescue Gracie, but she was so big and we really had no room,” she said. “But she seemed so sweet and she was so beautiful. I just had to take a chance. She’s become a great ambassador for the breed.”

According to its brochure, Change of Heart is dedicated to saving the lives of unwanted and abused American Pit Bull Terriers and their mixes. It focuses on aiding those who have been in shelters the longest, may not be easily adopted or are suffering from illness.

Kosinski-Cope, 24, understands the uphill battle she faces trying to change the public opinion of pit bulls, but believes through educating humans, dispelling myths and providing professional training for each rescued dog, she can make a difference.

“Community perception is not good,” she said. “We encourage research so people can find out what’s true and what’s a myth – like pit bulls having locking jaws – that’s a myth.”

Kosinski-Cope started Change of Heart in 2009 when she found an emaciated pit bull roaming the streets of Perris with cigarettes burns on her head and swollen teats almost dragging on the ground.

“I was nervous to bring her home, but she was so sweet,” she said. “My mom had always said, `No pit bulls.’ She said they were `no good’ and that `you can’t trust them.’ Every time I would bring one home, when I was younger, my mom would immediately take it to the shelter.”

Kosinski-Cope, who at the time lived with her mother, couldn’t leave the animal, eventually named Pandora, to starve to death on the streets. She brought her home, prepared to beg for the dog’s life.

“My mom took one look at her and said, `This is so sad. Who would do something like this to an animal?’ We fed her, gave her a bath. She stayed with my mom who ended up falling in love with her and keeping her. My mom had a change of heart about pit bulls and I figured if she could, anybody could, and that’s why I named my rescue Change of Heart.”

Change of Heart rescues pit bulls from Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties.

To date they have placed 50 dogs, with only one return.

“And that was not because of the dog. The potential adoptive family had an issue come up,” said Kosinski-Cope, who attends Riverside Community College in hopes of a career in education. “These dogs make great family pets, but they need to be trained. You get out of them what you put into them. They are horrible back yard dogs. They are not lawn ornaments. They like to be inside with their people. That’s the opposite of what most people think.”

Change of Heart dogs get training from Unlimitedob.com. All adopters have the option of training with their Change of Heart dog paid for by the rescue.

“We pay for you to take some classes because we want you to learn the same cues that the dog’s been taught,” she said. “They will teach you how to read your dog.”

Shelters are full of American Pit Bull Terriers and pit bull mixes, Kosinski-Cope believes, because the breed is over-bred and the public is under-educated.

“People don’t understand them, their needs, their medical issues, and end up giving them up,” she said. “Some people just like to say, `I have a pitbull,’ or want to use them for protection. People fall in love with the looks or expect to find the standards they read about, but each dog is different and with different genes, personalities and needs. Many people want puppies and don’t realize that puppies are a lot of work, besides not knowing what they’ll grow up to be.”

Because of the negative stereotyping surrounding pit bulls, Change of Heart adoptions go at a slower pace and have a more intensive screening process.

“Our placement is very personalized,” she said. “We take in several applications to see who’s a good match.”

Deanna Morrison, a San Bernardino resident who does marketing for Change of Heart, called the rescue “a match.com for dogs.”

Morrison joined Change of Heart in April 2011 after being shunned while at a local dog park with her own pit bull.

“People made mean comments and it was clear they wanted us to leave,” Morrison said. “We’re not welcomed at many pet stores and even when we do adoption events we have people yelling at us asking, `Why are protecting these baby killers?’ One guy bragged that he’s killed many pits and hopes all of ours die.”

The rescue has more luck adopting through such online sites as Petfinder.com.

“With all the negative that’s out there we work hard to change the perception,” Kosinski-Cope said.

Change of Heart runs on donations from private parties and public companies such as Home Depot and Knott’s Berry Farm.

Its goal is to have its own facility to care for, train and shelter more canines in need. While it waits for its dream to come to fruition it hopes to enlist more foster homes.

“We will supply everything needed to our foster families – food, treats, toys, bed, medical attention,” Kosinski-Cope said. “All you have to supply is the love.”

Reach Diana via email, or call her at 909-483-9381.

Skokie considers stricter law after 3 dog-on-dog attacks

Jessica Sectzer-Rubin acknowledges her prejudice against pit bulls.

“I feel like I fall into the same category a lot of people do in terms of when I hear ‘pit bull,’ ” she said as she walked her two dogs in Skokie last week. “I have some of my own fears in terms of their aggression. I feel horrible saying it, but I feel like a dog racist.”

Skokie is considering putting a lot more bite in its ordinance pertaining to “vicious animals” after three dog-on-dog attacks involving pit bulls in the last two months left three pets dead.

“We are strengthening our response and our ability to respond,” said Skokie’s health director, Catherine Counard. “We are looking at having stronger consequences for owners who don’t control their animals.”

Counard said the three attacks were an April 29 incident in which a Skokie dog got loose, crossed into neighboring Morton Grove and killed another dog; a March 13 incident in which another pit bull attacked and killed a small dog that was being walked near Madison Street and Kostner Avenue; and an incident earlier in March in which a third pit bull killed a dog.

“Clearly we have to make sure that owners are training their dogs appropriately,” Counard said. “The message is that if you’re injured or threatened by a dog, you have to report it and be willing to sign a citation.”

Village staff and the Village Board would have to sign off on the initiative before it became law, she said.

“We have about 33 reported bites on humans every year, and almost 90 percent are from dogs, and 70 percent of those are provoked,” Counard said. “There’s a reason why the dog bit the person.”

She said that if her proposal passes, fines for owners of a dog that has bitten someone or attacked another animal would jump from $200 to $500 per incident.

She also said the village may mandate training for vicious and dangerous animals; require that they are neutered, which makes them less aggressive; and require that the animals’ owners keep their pets in enclosures.

Counard said that the proposed ordinance is not designed to target pit bulls specifically and added that it is likely a coincidence that pit bulls were involved in the three deadly dog-on-dog attacks. But she also said larger dogs like pit bulls are more dangerous than smaller dogs.

“The toy poodle probably in their heart of hearts might want to really cause injury, but they’re not capable,” she said. “But if you have a larger dog, you really need to make sure that dog is under control.”

Gretchen Gantner, who was also walking her dog in Skokie last week, said she supports the proposed ordinance and would sign a complaint against an aggressive dog.

“I wouldn’t want that dog around me or my dog or hurting anyone else,” she said. “It’s not safe, especially with children around.”

Counard said the proposal also includes more information on what constitutes animal cruelty.

“We’re defining it to implement some fines,” she said. “It’s not very well-developed as to what constitutes an act of cruelty. We’re spelling that out more.”

Ohio Pit Bull Law Removes ‘Vicious’ Labeling

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Pit bulls will no longer be labeled as “vicious” dogs under a new Ohio law.

The measure that took effect Tuesday changes current law that defines a vicious dog as one that has seriously hurt or killed a person, killed another dog or is among those commonly known as pit bulls. The new measure removes the reference to pit bulls from the definition and requires evidence to prove pit bulls are actually vicious.

Gov. John Kasich (KAY’-sik) signed the measure in February.

Some dog wardens opposed it because of frequent pit bull attacks. Others have said pit bulls are not inherently vicious.

The measure takes effect less than a week after a 3-day-old baby was killed in northwest Ohio by what a dog warden described as a pit bull mix.

Also on HuffPost:

Pit Bull Attack Kills 8-Month-Old Boy

Updated at 11:30 p.m. June 14.

Deputies responding to a call of a child bitten by a dog found a woman holding the fatally injured 8-month-old boy in her arms Thursday afternoon in Lemon Grove, authorities say.

Investigators say a pit bull attacked the baby just before 5 p.m. Thursday at a home on the 3500 block of West Street.

Paramedics from the Lemon Grove Fire Department arrived at the same time as deputies and began treating the mortally wounded infant, according to sheriff’s homicide Lt. Larry Nesbitt.

The boy was transported to Rady Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:06 p.m., Nesbitt said. The baby’s name was not released, pending identification by the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office.

According to authorities, animal control officers seized three apparent pit bulls from the home.

The occupants of the home were being interviewed by detectives, authorities said. 10News is reporting there were no other children in the house.

Homicide detectives were called to assume the investigation because it involved the death of an infant, Nesbitt said.

Assisting in the investigation are personnel from the Lemon Grove Sheriff’s Station, the sheriff’s Crime Lab, and U.S. Border Patrol assigned to the homicide detail.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call investigators at 858-974-2321 (after hours) or 858-565-5200, or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 (TIPS).