As a dog owner, finding a place to live comes with a little extra challenge: finding a place that is “pet friendly.”
Toward the end of the summer semester, I faced such a challenge, along with the added stress of finding a place at the last minute. After numerous disappointing phone calls and driving to multiple apartment complexes that either had no vacancies or were out of my price range, I finally found a pet-friendly place that met my needs.
Prior to move-in, I had to bring in a copy of my dog’s shot records — a simple request that came with an unexpected hurdle.
When I got the shot records, I did not read them over to ensure accuracy and missed a crucial error on the part of the vet. Under the “breed” section, the vet listed my dog Roxy as a pit bull, which was incorrect.
According to her adoption records, Roxy’s breed is listed as a “shepherd/mix.” My dog is the textbook definition of a mutt, and you cannot pinpoint a single breed just by looking at her. The vet assumed she was a pit bull because of her square head, and because of this assumption, I almost had to send my best friend away.
“Your dog’s shot records say that she’s a pit bull. Unfortunately, the breed restrictions in our community do not allow pit bulls,” management told me over the phone.
On the bright side, I was able to get the issue resolved after locating my dog’s original adoption records, having the vet change her breed description under her most recent shot records and bringing the documents to management at my apartment.
Nevertheless, this incident both enraged and offended me because the vet’s assumption and wording of my lease agreement are simply inaccurate.
The keywords management said to me were “breed restrictions,” and the term “pit bull” does not refer to a specific breed, but is a general term used to classify dogs with certain physical characteristics, such as a square head and a stocky and muscular build.
According to the ASPCA’s website, “the term ‘pit bull’ is often misunderstood because it does not apply to one breed of dog.” The breeds that people often identify as pit bulls are American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Bulldogs and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
There is no specific breed of dog that is simply called “pit bull,” and technically, myriad dogs — mixed or purebred — can be classified as a “pit bull” if they have certain physical attributes. Therefore, I argue that the “breed” description assumed by the vet and the “breed” restriction that almost took my best friend away from me are, in a technical definition sense, wrong because pit bulls are not a specific breed of dog, but a type of dog, like retrievers, hounds and terriers.
Because “pit bull” refers to a type and not a breed, the language of the breed restrictions on my lease agreement is its own downfall.
On a final note, I’ll add that it’s not the dog, it’s the owner and the manner in which a dog is raised that determines its demeanor. Any person who has met my dog can tell you that, though hyper, she’s an absolute sweetheart.
Pit bulls get a bad rep because they are, and have been, bred and raised as fighting dogs. Ironically, pit bulls are also know for being loyal, playful and friendly dogs. Personally, some of the sweetest, most well-behaved dogs I’ve met have been pit bulls, and some of the meanest and misbehaved dogs I’ve met were not pit bulls. It’s all in how the dog is raised.
Eric Gutierrez is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter @atticus_adrift or email him at EricG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.