Against the Odds

June 22, 2011  

The story of how one pit bull puppy got a second chance

By Micaela Myers

Shelters do their best to find homes for adoptable dogs, but with limited resources and space, as well as a constant influx of homeless animals, dogs with medical conditions – even treatable ones – are at high risk for euthanasia. Dogs labeled as pit bulls have even lower odds of finding a home due to the massive numbers of pit bulls in shelters and public perception. Such was the predicament little Violet found herself in. At 6 months old, the small pit bull puppy weighed only 19 pounds and suffered from Demodex mange.

“She was in the medical hold section of the Orange County Shelter, and she was one of the cases that the rescue coordinator said she’d like to see saved,” said Blythe Wheaton, who runs The Pet Rescue Center, a nonprofit in Mission Viejo, Calif., with her husband, veterinarian Matthew Wheaton.

Unlike most pit bulls with medical conditions, Violet’s story has a happy ending – the rescue was able to find space for her.

“Upon coming to The PRC, in her entrance exam we found out she also had two retained deciduous canines (stuck baby teeth) that we needed to pull,” Blythe said. “Ivermectin was given for her Demodex, and then she was given Comfortis and a good diet of Acana and omega 3s gave her a beautiful red coat. She was trained by the staff with Vladae techniques, our volunteer trainer, The Russian Dog Wizard.”

A couple of months later, Violet was living the dream – she was happy, healthy and had a new home.

“She went home to the Lopour family who can’t wait to show off how amazing pit bulls can really be,” Blythe said. “She weighed 32 pounds when she left.”

“She is a gorgeous dog who approaches everything with curiosity and eventually excited acceptance,” said her new “dad,” Ken Lopour. “Even though we have only had her a short while, it is obvious that she is developing a deep relationship with us which is evident in that her happiest moments are cuddled up with us wherever we are. She is also markedly intelligent, picking up on new commands or directives quickly and enthusiastically. I could not be happier with our pit bull, and am looking forward to watching her mature and grow.”

The Pet Rescue Center is an all-breed rescue, and even though they find pit bulls harder to find homes for, Blythe said they can’t help but take in some of the area’s homeless pit bulls. “When we go to the shelter and most of the dogs are pits and Chihuahuas, I think as a mixed breed rescue it’s our responsibility to make sure we have a few of each of those breeds,” she explained. “And when we took on Violet, we were especially persuaded because not only was she a pit, but a Demodex pit. That is not an easy to adopt scenario in a shelter situation. Look at her now though: happy and healthy.”

Dr. Wheaton and Blythe have a pit bull mix of their own and have had great luck with the pits that have crossed their path.

“We have had some really special pit cases, so we know how sweet and wonderful they can be,” she said. “They have very readable and sweet personalities.”

Violet’s story doesn’t have to be the exception. With shelters and rescue groups working together, spay and neuter campaigns, and organizations like StubbyDog working to change misconceptions about pit bull type dogs, hopefully one day all pits will get a happy ending – the chance for a loving family of their own.

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4 Responses to “Against the Odds”
  1. caseyjoliver says:

    For the record, Violet did not receive Comfortis and Ivermectin simultaneously. Comfortis was given after the Demodex was resolved. Comfortis and Ivermectin given at the same time can cause very serious side effects. The Pet Rescue Center does not recommend using them together.

  2. StubbyDog says:

    @caseyjoliver Thank you for the clarification. We will change the article to reflect the proper way to medicate.

  3. NatValCas says:

    Pits and Chihuahuas, both had the bad luck to be fashionable at one time. Now they are being bred by the thousands and disposed to be destroyed. Its those people we need to educate and “eliminate” first. And we need to make sure no one buys one of hose puppy’s on “display in wrack waggon’s” in Venice for dumping prices! (see the many YouTube video’s)

  4. StubbyDog says:

    @NatValCas Thanks for your comments, and for an article about how Chihuahuas are starting to have the same bad rap as pit bulls, read this: