As unacceptable as his behavior was, Michael Vick’s recent conviction for dog fighting did much to bring the plight of the Pit Bull to the forefront.

Pit Bulls earned their bad reputation partially because of bad press and partially because of why and how the dogs were bred. The combination of the breed’s aggressive nature and the owners’ inability to properly raise/train these dogs result in Pit Bulls being abandoned and in need of rescuing.

Anyone considering adopting a Pit Bull should spend time doing some much needed homework.

Separate the Facts from Fiction

It is strongly advised that potential adoptive owners do quite a bit of research to get a better understanding of the breed and how to train them. As far back as the Middle Ages, Pit Bulls were used in the sport of Bull baiting (a rather blood thirsty sport whereby the Pit Bull was trained to clamp down on the nose of the bull and not let go until the bull surrendered or died of injuries).

The Pit Bull’s muscular body and tenacious nature were qualities that made the breed a perfect fit for the sport. Today, however, those very same qualities are held against them. Much of the Pit Bull’s unwanted social behavior stems more from how it’s raised, trained and socialized than its feisty nature.

Keep Abreast of Local BSL (Breed Specific Laws)

Pit Bull owners should be aware of the local breed specific laws. Many cities and states have enacted legislation in an attempt to minimize injuries caused by Pit Bulls and the lawsuits that arise from them. For instance, in Yonkers, New York, breed owners must carry $100,000 in liability insurance, while in Sho Low, Arizona, there is a community wide ban on Pit Bulls. The website Understand-a-Bull offers an extensive listing of BSLs in cities/states in the US, Canada, UK and more.

Pit Bulls and Homeowners Insurance

Before bringing the rescued Pit Bull home, make a call to the insurance agent insuring the home where the dog will reside. Whether it’s a tenant/renter’s or homeowners policy, some insurance companies do not like insuring dog breeds considered ‘dangerous’ or ‘vicious’. As a result, insurance carriers may either charge a premium surcharge or attempt to exclude liability arising from the ownership of the dog.

Find a Reputable Pit Bull Rescue Facility

Bringing home a stray Pit Bull from the street is not encouraged. It’s best to find a reputable animal rescue facility that provides at least basic testing to ensure the dogs are healthy and socially adaptable. Some facilities offer free spay/neutering, heartworm testing, and temperament evaluation.

Spend as much time evaluating the rescue facility as selecting the dog. A responsible animal rescue facility not only ensures that the dog is a right fit for the family, but the family a right fit for the dog. Some facilities require the adopting family to complete a thorough application in addition to agreeing to a home inspection by the rescue facility.

Adding a new member to the family through pet adoption can be very exciting. However, it is best to take it slow and perform the necessary homework before rescuing a Pit Bull and bringing it into one’s home.