Alfie, a rescued pit bull from South Jersey, had every reason to distrust humans.
Abandoned, Alfie was discovered two years ago locked in a blistering shed, dying from starvation and too weak to walk. Despite having passed his behavior tests with flying colors, Cumberland County SPCA’s overcrowded facility combined with Alfie’s physical condition and breed slated him for euthanasia. That’s when he caught the eye of volunteer animal rescue photographer, Sherry Stewart.
Pit bulls have long been the target of advocates who say they are an inherently violent breed. According to the ASPCA website, the term pit bull includes the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. The site continues to say these breeds are commonly used for dog fighting because they can be easily encouraged to fight with other dogs due to their genetic makeup. This, though, doesn’t mean they are naturally aggressive breeds. Preconceived notions that pits are dangerous support the reportedly high rates of pit bull euthanasia in shelters across the country.
Solid numbers on the euthanasia rates of pit bulls are hard to find. According to the American Humane Association, national euthanasia statistics hardly exist, citing that the most recent records are from 1999. An Examiner.com piece, however, says that pit bulls are euthanized at a rate of 75% in municipal shelters while the breed only makes up 33% of national shelter intakes on average. Earlier this year ‘Dog Whisperer’ Cesar Millan said he believed humans were committing genocide against pit bull breeds. “Our ignorance level,” he said to Huffington Post, “is growing way too out of proportion, to the point that we believe that getting rid of a breed is a solution.”