Making a Difference

September 19, 2011  

A victim of inbreeding, this little pit bull inspires her guardians to try and change things for the better

By Julie LeRoy

A simple walk into a gas station changed my life. A couple was standing there holding a little white and black pit bull puppy with a huge under bite, a tilted rib cage, a crooked spine, a fused neck, feet and ears that didn’t match each other, and a tail that looked like an accordion. They were trying to find a home for her, and we later learned she was purchased for $50 from a backyard breeder. With four dogs at home, I got into a texting match with my husband. He kept saying “no” until finally his last text back said, “Do what you’re gonna do because you’re gonna do it anyway.”

I never looked back.

After a clean bill of health from the veterinarian, the unusual dog that we later named Cuda became an integral part of our family. By chance I caught a news clip announcing a dog with a curved spine had won the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.

“I can top that,” I thought when I eyeballed Cuda.

We entered her into the contest.

To promote her we created a Facebook page and began a 10-month long campaign that quickly turned into a life-changing experience. By contest time we had grown to 4,700 fans.

Cuda carries the physical traits commonly associated with inbreeding, including weak rear “hocked” legs and her tiny size. X-rays show she has an enlarged heart and the vertebra in her neck and tail are fused. Still, despite her appearance, she shows no sign of pain.

Since adopting Cuda I have learned a lot about breeding. I learned that inbreeding and line breeding happens when breeders are trying for a certain color or other traits. When a litter is born, the “good stock” is removed, while the puppies that look like Cuda are culled (destroyed), usually inhumanely because humane euthanasia costs money. I have learned this is common practice for many breeders. This causes increased health problems. For example, some breeds can no longer flatten their ears to indicate apprehension; some coats don’t lift in fear or aggression. Heart problems, breathing problems and disease run rampant in dogs – sometimes even those considered champions.

There is one good thing about Cuda’s unhealthy appearance; she doesn’t invoke “pit bull fear” in people. Her appearance affords me the opportunity to educate people on the breed and expose people to the horrors of inbreeding. People who once thought shelter dogs were damaged have told me that Cuda changed their mind. As a result, these people are more apt to adopt shelter dogs.

The response she brings out in people is overwhelming. She makes people want to find out more about pit bulls. We decided to have her DNA tested, and Cuda came back a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. She is truly part of the world class.

In case you’re wondering, Cuda never won the contest, but we did. As a recent transplant from New York to North Carolina, we had a hard time making friends and were so lonely. Through the common love of pit bulls and all dogs, we have made a network of friends we love. People thank me for rescuing her, but it is she who rescued me.

Once I thought Cuda was invincible and had beaten the odds of her twisted little body, but reality hit hard just a couple of weeks ago. Cuda was diagnosed with diabetes. It is not common for a dog her age to have it, and I blame the inbreeding. Her veterinarian thinks that her pancreas is underdeveloped. We don’t know what her future holds, so we love her as much as we can and will do what we can to keep her as healthy as possible.

Along with friends we have made through Cuda’s page, we have created and are determined to change the way breeders do business. Our goal is to require breeders to become licensed through classroom education, inspections and cost to them. We know this will be a difficult task, but because of a little dog that wasn’t supposed to be, we know we will achieve it.

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2 Responses to “Making a Difference”
  1. AdrienneClegg says:

    Thank you for sharing Cuda, I had read about her some time ago and naturally fell in love. By the way love the Tshirt..