Monday, July 2, 2012


Copley hanging with a bully friend
Copley doesn't see breeds- he just sees the butt of another friend

I am pretty sure most of my readers out there are small dog owners- and I am too.  One of the things that strikes me about a lot of small dog owners is that they always have a story like "I never would had gotten a dog this small but..."  I have a story like that too.  The path that led me to chihuahuas was a long one that also led me to love the other most neglected and misjudged breed in this city.  I have written about that before.  In honor of those "pit bulls" who taught me all dogs are just dogs- no matter what they looked like I teamed up with my friend Jesica to talk a little about pit bull type dogs and how she is working to help them in our community.  

In 2011, after spending some time working as a volunteer in the Las Vegas animal welfare community, Jesica Clemens was compelled to start the nonprofit organization that came to be known as Incred-A-Bull. The inspiration for the group were her two recently adopted “pit bull” dogs and the dozens of medium sized, muscular, short-haired, big headed dog she had the pleasure of working with while volunteering and fostering. 

Jesica talks a little about why she started the organization and where it is headed today- “In my time working and living with these dogs, it seems as if there are two groups of people when it comes to 'pit bulls'. There are the lovers, people who have, had or know other bullies and are drawn to them like magnets, as they have seen first-hand what these dogs are really about. LOVE! And then there are those who lack first-hand experience or take the stories in the press at face value. And avoid us like the plague! That is something I felt was unjust and wanted to change. I thought education was a great place to start.” explained Clemens. The idea behind the organization was simple, and the mission soon became, “To restore the positive image of 'pit bull' dogs through education, advocacy and low cost services such as spay and neuter.”

During the relatively short time the organization has been in existence, Incred-A-Bull has already begun to make an impact in their community, by encouraging responsible ownership practices and asking the public to put aside their preconceived notions and see each dog, no matter its appearance as an individual. Some of their programs and activities include a low cost spay and neuter program, a 5 week obedience class for dogs of any kind called Fun with Obedience, pairing basic skills with an introduction to agility, a meetup group aimed at building a community of responsible dog owners working to end breed discrimination, educational outreach offerings and a petition initiative in support of a revision to NRS 202.500. The revision to the statute that addresses dogs considered to be dangerous or vicious would add language making it unlawful to enforce or enact any measure based solely on the appearance or perceived breed of a dog. In a nutshell, it would prohibit Breed Specific Legislation, also known as BSL in the state of Nevada. While many people believe BSL is a “pit bull” issue, that is far from the case. Across the country dogs affected by BSL include German Shepherds, Dalmatians, Saint Bernards and Chihuahuas. The point being, if we allow the discriminatory practices to become accepted public policy, no dog is safe.

The biggest challenge the organization faces in accomplishing their mission is dispelling the myths about these dogs that have made their way into the psyche of the general public. So, we thought we would take a look at some of the most common misconceptions.  In typical Dog In the Desert fashion we will do that with pictures too.
Myth #1: Pit bulls have poor temperaments, making them dangerous. 
The American Temperament Test Society has put tens of thousands of dogs, varying in breed, through multi part temperament tests since their inception in 1977. The ATTS has set the standard for uniform temperament evaluations across the United States. The average score among all tested breeds is 81.6%, the American Pit Bull Terrier tests at 86.8%. Here are just some of their findings, 100% being a perfect score: Border Collie 81.3%, Chihuahua 68.3%, Labrador Retriever 92.3% and the Lhasa Apso 70.4%.

Myth #2: Pit bulls have locking jaws.
In a University of Georgia study, Dr. I Lehr Brisbin reported,” We have found that the American Pit Bull Terrier did not have any unique mechanism that would allow these dogs to lock their jaws. The few studies which have been conducted on the structure of the skulls, mandibles and teeth of the pit bull show that, in proportion to their size, their jaw structure and thus its inferred functional morphology is no different than that of any breed of dog.”

Myth #3: Pit bulls are aggressive towards other animals, especially dogs.
Each dog is an individual and has its own level of tolerance for other dogs and animals. Dog aggression is not a black and white issue. Each dog, regardless of breed or type, exhibits different tolerance levels based on genetic predisposition and past experience. Pit bulls are in the terrier group, making them less tolerant of poor social behavior and some have a high prey drive. Conversely, there are many pit bulls who peacefully exist with animals of all shapes, sizes and species. 

Want to learn more on the issues surrounding these misunderstood dogs and the organization? Visit their website at  The group is run solely by dedicated volunteers, they pay no salaries, and all donations are used to keep their programs up and running. All donations are tax deductible, and they accept both money and merchandise that they can resell. Incred-A-Bull is always looking for talented people dedicated to restoring the image of such wonderful dogs. If you are interested in volunteering please contact them today! 

Most importantly I hope all my readers can take some time to get to know a pit bull-type dog, you wont regret it!  And thank you Jesica and Incred-a-bull for helping me put together this post.

1 comment:

  1. That was a great post! I love Pit Bulls, even though they aren't the dog for me.
    I totally get what you mean about never thinking I'd have a dog this small; I went from a 190lb Mastiff to Nola who's 8lbs!
    Nola's Mom