Critter Talk Column

Not long ago, I read about a study from the Journal of Applied Animal Behavioral Science that listed the top three most aggressive breeds of dogs. I know you are expecting to see a list that says pit bull, German shepherd and Rottweiler, so you’re going to be surprised. According to this article, the most aggressive dogs are dachshunds, chihuahuas and jack russell terriers. The irony is that it is so difficult for us, at the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center (CTSAC), to find homes for our bully breeds and rescues almost never pull the big guys, but the little ones are very adoptable and are often accepted into rescue groups.

I hear people talk all the time about the bad reputation that pit bulls have, and that it’s a shame because they are so sweet. That statement is, in my opinion, true enough, but the bad reputation often starts with the owners, not the dogs. There is nothing cuter than a pit puppy, and nothing funnier than a grown pit doing the happy full-body-wag like only a pit can do.

I have some suggestions for the owners or prospective owners of pits, or any other large breed dog. First of all, don’t name it Hitler or Satan. I firmly believe that large, potentially dangerous looking dogs should all have names like Sweet Pea or Daisy Mae. Don’t put them out there as being menacing. When you choose the dog’s collar, don’t choose tow chains or leather collars with spikes. Think about it... how afraid could you be of a dog wearing a pink rhinestone collar, and a tag that says “Daisy Mae?”

Make it obvious that your big guy is cared for by making sure his rabies tag stays on his collar. In case he gets lost, make it easy for the finder to find you by keeping an engraved tag with your current phone number on his collar. If you don’t have tags for your dogs, CTSAC provides them for free. Just send an email with your pets’ names and your best phone number to All you will need to do then is pick them up at the shelter.

Make sure your big guy is well socialized. Never keep a dog on a chain, because it turns dogs dangerous. Keep him contained in your yard or home, and when you have him out and about, keep him on a leash. Most dogs want to live with their people, so if possible, have him in the house with you. If he tears things up while you’re gone, crate train him.

Although my personal dogs are small, some of my favorite dogs are often pits, with their waggy tails and their big goofy smiles. Show those qualities off, instead of trying to make your big guy look vicious.

Sometimes it seems to us that half of the community must breed pit bulls, or have unaltered pitties. As with most shelters in the south, we get litter after adorable litter of pit-mix puppies every month. The problem is that very few adopters are willing to adopt a pit or pit-mix. Very few rescue organizations will even consider taking pits or pit-mixes. Thus, our options for those puppies are few. They seldom have happy outcomes, and that breaks our hearts, because we all love them.

Please, help us change that. Get your pits (and all others) spayed and neutered. If you love the breed, as many people say they do, don’t breed them while they die in shelters every day. Be part of the solution.

The Corinne T. Smith Animal Center is open for adoptions and lost and found searches from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. CTSAC is open for animal intake from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. CTSAC is closed on Sundays. Come out and meet our adoptable dogs and cats at 3016 Milam Drive. For more information, call 325-646-0617.