Pit bull at Humane Society ready for adoption
By Greg Seubert
It’s been six years since Ella arrived at the Humane Society of Waupaca County’s adoption center.
A few challenges and issues have kept the 10-year-old female pit bull/lab mix from being adopted, but Monica Gardner, the society’s executive director, is convinced the right owner is out there.
They just don’t know it yet.
“Pit bulls can be very hard to place, especially if you do it carefully like we do,” Gardner said. “We want to set them up for success and not put them in a situation where they’re not going to fit in. We don’t want them shuffled around to other people.”
Pit bulls can make excellent partners for responsible, active and caring owners. However, they can be difficult to handle for people who don’t have a lot of experience with dog ownership.
“She did have one trial adoption a few years ago where she went and stayed with somebody for a few weeks,” Gardner said. “They did a foster-to-adopt arrangement, which we do a lot. She actually did really well there. The problem was she has issues with certain men. We don’t know if there was abuse or whatever in her past before she got here, but she’s very suspicious and afraid of certain men. Because she’s afraid, it looks like aggression. This guy worked out of town, so he would be gone for a week at a time. Every time he came home, they’d have to start all over with her getting used to him. If he were to walk in the house in the middle of the night, Ella would be freaked out.”
Ella happy at shelter
Although Ella hasn’t been adopted, she feels comfortable at the shelter, according to Gardner.
“She’s happy here,” she said. “She doesn’t know anything else. She has people that come and walk her all the time. She gets more attention some days than my dogs do. There are three people that pretty much walk her every week. We have big fenced-in outdoor kennels and when the weather’s nice, she can spend a good bit of the day outside.”
A quiet place in the country with a fenced-in yard would be ideal for Ella.
“The ideal (owner) would be someone who is very dog-experienced and understands what they’re starting with, probably an older female or somebody who was retired that had a lot of time on their hands,” Gardner said. “She’s very, very picky about other dogs. It would probably be easier to just avoid that situation. Maybe if it was an older, boring male dog, but never a female dog and not ever cats, either. I think she’d be very protective of whoever she went to live with. It’s just a situation that needs to be constantly managed.
“I have no reason to believe that would be mean to children, but she’s never been around children,” she said. “She loves toys, so kids leaving toys around would be a bad thing for her. She’s already eaten a few things that she shouldn’t eat. I’d worry about her eating kids’ toys because that could end up in a surgical situation, which at her age isn’t ideal. Also, because she hasn’t been around children, I think she would try to take food away from kids all the time. She doesn’t have the opportunity to learn manners with kids here.”
Ella has a medical condition that is treatable with medicine.
“She has minor urinary incontinence, which is not all that uncommon in older female dogs,” Gardner said. “There’s a medication for it that’s not terribly expensive and we plan on sending her home with a good supply of it.”
Potential adopters have contacted the shelter about Ella, Gardner said.
“There have been people interested in her, but it’s usually been unrealistic expectations,” she said. “They see pictures that we post of her. Everybody thinks, ‘Well, she can’t possibly be that bad that I can’t take her home,’ but if they don’t have the right homeowners’ insurance, that’s a no. If they live in an apartment, that’s going to be a no. A lot of people that have applied just haven’t been able to meet the basic requirements.
“I would say half the people who have applied for her have not had the right residential circumstances,” she said. “She can’t really live in group housing because most of those places don’t allow pit bulls. That situation’s completely out. They’ll need to have the right homeowners’ insurance because a lot of policies are excluding pits. That’s another thing that we look at. The thing is they’re just so big and powerful and that can make them more dangerous, but you should be cautious about every dog you don’t know.”
Finding the right person
The ultimate goal is for Ella to spend her final years with a new family.
“We always want to see her be adopted, but we’re not going to send her into a less-than-ideal situation,” Gardner said. “I don’t want to put her some place that might be putting her at risk. If she were to be let run free and gets somebody’s cat or knocks somebody’s kid over and steals their ice cream cone, that kind of thing could be a death sentence for a pit bull and we don’t want to do that to her.
“As time went by and we got to know her issues, we have to be careful to make sure it’s going to work,” she added. “The goal is that they get to stay with the family. We try not to send them home with people we don’t think it’s going to work with. It’s not good for them to bounce back and forth a lot and it’s disappointing for people who have to bring them back. Even if the dog was difficult, it’s hard to bring them back. We try to make the adoption successful so we don’t have a lot of returns, but we always take them back if necessary.”
Ella isn’t the first dog to wait years before getting adopted. Lottie, another female pit bull, spent four or five years at the shelter.
“We found a great home for her with a veteran that had a big, fenced-in yard,” Gardner said. “We haven’t heard from them in a while, but every time he checked in, she was doing great.
“That’s the kind of thing (Ella) needs, where she can be somebody’s everything and they can be her everything,” she said. “It’s just a matter of waiting for the right person.”