Here’s The Real Reason Behind The Increased Number Of Pitbulls In Shelters 


“Only 1 in 600 Pitbulls will find a home.” – Animal People

This is a devastating statistic that I came across while doing some more in-depth research. To say that I was completely saddened by this fact would be an understatement. The data that I found later was even more outrageous, if that is even possible. 

I’ve always known that there are a lot of dogs in shelters, but to actually see these numbers was really depressing. Pitbulls and all kinds of Pitbull mixes are the most common dog breed that you can find in shelters all over the USA.

These numbers are so high that we must ask ourselves, why are there so many Pitbulls in shelters?”

In this article, we’ll try to find out the reasons behind this unfortunate situation, and discuss what could be done in order to make things at least a little bit better. 

WHY Are There So Many Pitbulls In Shelters? 

Gray Brown and White Adult Mixed Breed Pit Bull is standing in the shelter

It is estimated that there are around 4.5 million “Pitbulls” in the USA and, devastatingly, a really high number of them are actually in shelters all over this country. 

The reason why I put the word Pitbull in quotation marks in the previous sentence is because, unfortunately, Pitbulls are often the victim of bad labeling. What is actually considered under the name, Pitbull? 

When I say Labrador Retriever or German Shepherd, we all know exactly what breed that is; however, with Pitbulls, this is a little bit more complicated. The term “Pitbull” actually refers to various types of Pitbull dogs and their mixes. 

Many refer to it as an “umbrella term” for various Pitbull-type dogs, of which the most widespread are the American Pitbull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, the American Bully, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. 

Why is this important? Well, it has been reported that nearly 50% of dogs labeled as Pitbulls are not, in fact, Pitbulls. This might seem as a rather unimportant fact; however, for those “Pitbull look-alikes”, this wrong identification can be fatal. 

This not only increases the percentage of Pitbulls in shelters, but it also reduces their chances for being adopted. In my opinion, there are three crucial reasons why there are so many Pitbulls in shelters: 


The popularity of the breed plays an important role in all of this. In the late 90s, Pitbulls weren’t a popular breed at all, but this started to change recently. 

These dogs were and still are a very misunderstood breed, but in recent years, they started to gain popularity. Moreover, their numbers simply skyrocketed.

On one hand, this is great because it gives us a chance to try to change the way the world sees them, but on the other hand, it means that these dogs are being bred a lot more than they were in the past, which brings us to our first point. 

Whether it is backyard breeding or simple pain breeding, the fact is that when dogs are being bred in such high numbers, it is very likely to have a lot of these dogs in shelters as well.

Over-breeding leads to overpopulation, which, in the end, results in shelters being overcrowded and unable to take care of these poor dogs. In order to free the space and reduce overpopulation, shelters are forced to euthanize the dogs. 

How Many Pitbulls Are Euthanized Each Year?

According to the ASPCA, almost 1.2 million dogs are euthanized each year. Pitbulls make almost 40% of that number, and sadly, that percentage is now probably even higher. 

The American Pitbull Foundation (APBF) estimates that around 1,200 Pitbull-type dogs and their mixes are being euthanized each day, based on the reports of various shelters and rescue facilities across the United States. 

Related: When To Euthanize A Sick Pitbull

Pitbull Prejudice 

American Staffordshire Pitbull Terrier at the shelter

The next reason that greatly increases the number of Pitbulls in shelters is definitely the public’s misinformation and misconception of Pitbulls, and the enforcement of Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL). 

Their devastating history of being used as fighting dogs created an unfortunate stigma around these pups, which were then deemed as aggressive and extremely dangerous. This resulted in a very high number of these dogs being surrendered. 

Unfortunately, this bad reputation has persisted to this day, and a lot of people still fear these dogs, which only means that they also are not being adopted from shelters at all. 

It doesn’t help that Pitbulls, as well as many other “aggressive dog breeds”, are subjected to BSL. This means that Pitbulls are completely banned in many parts of the USA. 

If, perhaps, by some chance, they are not banned somewhere, people who do want to adopt these pooches often face a lot of additional issues with landlords and insurance companies that often deny the ownership of these dogs.  

Cruel And Selfish People 

Lastly, the reason why we find a lot of Pitbulls in shelters is because of the cruelty and selfishness of people. Pitbulls are not exactly the easiest dog breed to own. They require a lot of exercise, training, and socialization in order to be good family dogs. 

However, if you do take proper care of them, they will be the best dogs in the whole wide world. This is just how they are, and many people fail to understand this when deciding to get one as a pet. 

The inadequate research about the breed, and the owners who are quick to get rid of their dog whenever it becomes a bit of a hassle are the reasons why shelters are overcrowded in the first place. And, of course, no one wants to adopt them from the shelter because of their bad rep. 

Read also: How To Train A Pitbull Puppy Not To Bite — 11 Great Tips

What Can We Do To Help?!

black pit bull with tongue out

We’ve covered why there are so many Pitbulls in shelters, but the more important question is what can be done in order to help and improve the situation. There is no quick solution, but even baby steps are better than not doing anything. 

I came across advice that I really like. It includes six important actions that I think everyone should at least try to do – speak out, educate, adopt, foster, volunteer, and donate. 

We have to be the voice of these dogs. We need to speak up and educate the world about the breed and its true personality so that this prejudice could be long forgotten. 

Potential dog owners need to be educated about the importance of adopting, spaying/neutering, and researching the breed to make sure that it fits their lifestyle. This is also valid for other dog breeds… not just Pitbulls. 

Please adopt, don’t shop. This sentence can be heard everywhere, but very few people actually decide to do this. Adopting is a very noble act because you are saving a life from certain death. 

If you are not prepared for a full-time commitment, you can also try fostering or volunteering at your local shelter. These organizations often need volunteers and a little bit of help because they are usually swamped with a lot of work.

Donating to a non-profit organization that is dedicated to saving Pitbulls is also one of the ways to help these dogs. The Love-A-Bull is, for example, a rescue organization with the goal of improving the image and life of Pitbull-type dogs.

The New York Bully Crew is also a non-profit worth mentioning. They help rescue dogs from kill shelters and streets, and work towards finding them a loving home. You can also look up your local rescue organization and shelters that might need some help. 

Related: Free Puppies In Your Area For Adoption: 13 Ways To Find A Free Pet

Final Thoughts

sad pitbull at the shelter

I hope that this article has managed to answer all your questions about why there are so many Pitbulls in shelters. More importantly, I hope it has been able to broaden your horizons and teach you something new about this breed. 

Every dog deserves a second chance, and so do Pitbulls. You never know… maybe in the end, you will end up falling in love with one of them. They are truly incredible dogs if they are treated well. They only need a good-hearted and knowledgeable person who loves them deeply. 

If you want to adopt a Pitbull, or perhaps a Chihuahua or a German Shepherd, please visit your local rescue. There are many of these dogs waiting to be saved by someone. 

Read next: 6 Reasons Why There Are So Many German Shepherds In Shelters