American Pit Bull Terrier Stories
Some Heroic, Some Heart-warming, a few sad
Stubby: America's first war dog
||Stubby, America’s first war dog, served 18 months on the front in World
War I. He saved his regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks, located
and comforted the wounded, and even caught a German spy by the seat of
his pants. Back home his exploits made the front page of every major newspaper.
He was invited to the White House by two different presidents and was personally
decorated by General Pershing, who called him a Hero of the highest caliber.
Stubby, in fact, was instrumental in inspiring the creation of the U.S.
"K9 Corps" just in time for World War II. 50,000 American dogs have served
this country over the last half century, cutting human casualties by more
than 65 percent wherever they were assigned to the frontline as sentries
or scouts. The dogs and handlers who "took point" in Vietnam are credited
with preventing at least 10,000 deaths.
What this article does NOT mention, is that Stubby was an American Pit Bull Terrier.
After the war, Stubby became Georgetown University's mascot! In 1921, Stubby's owner, J. Robert Conroy, was headed to Georgetown for law school and took the dog along. According to a 1983 account in Georgetown Magazine, Stubby "served several terms as mascot to the football team. Between the halves, Stubby would nudge a football around the field [with his nose], much to the delight of the crowd. This trick became a standard feature of the repertoire of Georgetown mascots throughout the twenties and thirties."
Weela, Ken-L Ration's Dog Hero of the Year (1993)
|This story is from the Ultimate American Pit Bull Terrier by Jacqueline
O'Neil. There's also an excellent story about Weela in Jillian Cline's
new book The American Pit Bull Terrier speaks...Good Dog!. Weela was also
featured in the October,1996 Outside magazine as an example of the
kind of dog one would like to have in a life-threatening situation.
Gary Watkins, eleven years old, was absorbed in chasing lizards when Weela, the family Pit Bull, plowed into him with a body slam that sent him sprawling. Gary's mother, Lori, saw the whole incident and remembers being surprised at first, because Weela always played kindly with children. But her surprise quickly turned to horror when she saw a rattlesnake sink its fangs into Weela's face. Somehow Weela had sensed the snake's presence from across the yard and rushed to push Gary out of strinking range.
In January 1993, heavy rains caused a dam to break miles upstream on
the Tijuana River, normally a narrow,
three-foot wide river. Weela's rescue efforts began at a ranch that belonged to a friend of her owners, Lori and Daniel
Watkins. Weela and the Watkinses worked for six hours battling heavy rains, strong currents and floating debris to
reach the ranch and rescue their friend's twelve dogs.
From that experience, the Watkinses recognized Weela's extraordinary
ability to sense quicksand, dangerous drop-offs
and mud bogs. "She was constantly willing to put herself in dangerous situations," says Lori Watkins. "She alsays took
the lead except to circle back if someone needed help."
Periodically, over a month's time, sixty-five pound Weela crossed the
flooded river to bring food to seventeen dogs and
puppies and one cat, all stranded on an island. Each trip she pulled thirty to fifty pounds of dog food that had been
loaded into a harnessed backpack. The animals were finally evacuated on Valentine's Day.
On another occasion, Weela led a rescue team to thirteen horses stranded
on a large manure pile completely
surrounded by floodwaters. The rescue team successfully brought the horses to safe ground.
Finally, during one of Weela's trips back from delivering food to stranded
animals, she came upon a group of thirty
people who were attempting to cross the floodwaters. Weela, by barking and running back and forth, refused to allow
them to cross at that point where the waters ran deep and fast. She then led the group to a shallower crossing
upstream, where they safely crossed to the other side.
Stong, gentle intelligent and brave, Weela,CGC,TT, is the ultimate American
Pit Bull terrier, epitomizing the best that
the breed has to offer. But her story also highlights an important yet often misunderstood fact about the breed. The Pit
Bull is a dog that loves to please its owner and tries to become whatever kind of dog its owner desires. Weela has had
The first owner dumped her in an alley to die when she was less than
four weeks old. Her present owner, Lori Watkins,
found five starving Pit Bull puppies whimpering in an alley, took them home and raised them. later, the Watkins family
placed four of the puppies in loving homes and kept the little female they named Weela. They believed Weela was
special, and she proved them right. Most Pit Bull puppies grow up to become a reflection of both their owners'
personality and the care and training they receive. One can only imagine what a different dog Weela would have
become if her original owner had raised her, and she had done her best to please him.
Pit Bull Saves Child
CHICAGO, November 16 - A southside dog owner will be heading to court after his dog mauled a 6-year-old child.
Antonio Lampley and his friend had just spent their Saturday morning raking leaves and were off to the candy store to spend some of their earned money. They decided to take a short cut through an alley in the 11400 block of South Lowe. Suddenly they were pounced upon by a 200-pound Rottweiller. The dog grabbed the 6-year-old in its jaws and began shaking him like a rag doll.
The screams of terror caught the ear of off-duty police
officer, Allan Rollins, who was working on his car in a nearby garage.
Officer Rollins grabbed his gun and ran to the scene, accompanied by his own dog, Sebastian. Once there he saw the 200-pound Rottweiller shaking the 60-pound kid violently. Rollins’ dog Sebastion became the first line of defense. The Sebastian jumped over the kid and somehow knocked the Rottweiller off the child. That’s when Officer Rollins was forced to fire a couple shots at the Rottweiller to end the attack.
Unfortunately the damaged had already been done. Young Antonio was now
covered with his own blood as a result of being bitten approximately 30
times. The 6-year-old was rushed to Roseland Hospital where he underwent
a 4-hour operation. Antonio’s mom says her son is expected to have more
surgeries down the road.
As a result of this and other dog attacks, State Senator Emil Jones is calling for legislation requiring owners of so called vicious dogs, to take out liability insurance to address attacks such as this one. Antonio is currently listed in fair condition at Roseland Hospital.
Once again, the story doesn't specify that the heroic dog was an APBT, but it does show a picture.
Pit Bulls Help Nab a Felon
Here is a story that should have made national news, but didn't. It illustrates the stabilty and bravery typical of a
well-bred, well-raised American Pit Bull Terrier.
The incident was covered in the November 22, 1995 Honolulu Advertiser
under the headline, "Prowlers vs.
Growlers: Pit Bulls Nab A Suspect." They don't have an electronic version to link to, but the story is reprinted in the
ADBA Gazette (Summer 1996).
Last November, our dogs were awarded with a letter of appreciation from
the HPD Chief of Police for their assistance in the
capture of a felon who was the object of a manhunt in our area. The suspect (with 31 prior arrests, out on parole for assault)
had eluded a four hour extensive search involving police on foot, patrol car, and police helicopter. He had been burglarizing
homes in our area for over 4 months and terrifying people by sneaking in their houses even while they were home.
That morning was a busy one. We were planning on breeding Coco with
Snapper and that day was to be the first breeding in
her cycle. After the breeding took place I wanted Coco to be still and rest for a while. I decided to put all four dogs on their
chains so that Coco would not be running around playing with them as they usually do all day long. It is a very rare thingfor our
dogs to ever be tied, but I wanted her to rest. So, I had Coco tiednext to my husband's Model A Ford, and the three others in
the back on the patio.
I did hear the police chopper in our area that morning for several hours
but it all became very quiet around noon. At about 1
p.m., I was upstairs working when I heard shouting in my neighbors yard. I went outside to investigate and saw an officer pop
up in the next yard. He said they were searching for a man who was running through the properties around here. I told him I
was home alone and that I was going to unleash my dogs so the guy wouldn't even think of coming in my yard. Little did I know he already was in my yard!
After releasing three dogs on the patio, I came around to the front
of the house and found Coco at the very end of her chain
scratching and growling at something under the Model A. I bent to down to unclip her and that's when I saw HIM, the crazy
lunatic they were looking for, under the car on his belly, frozen with fear with Coco's snarling face only inches away.
At that point, I grabbed Coco by the collar, pulled her back and began
yelling for the police. The guy started crawling out from
under the car; I guess he thought since I was restraining Coco he'd try his luck slipping past me.(It was at this point I noticed
Coco shook him up so badly, he'd peed in his pants!)
Meanwhile, the police heard my cries for help and ran to my back fence
in the neighbor's yard. Unfortunately, Jammer,
Shadow, and Snapper saw the commotion going on in the back yard and decided to do their doggy guarding duty at the back
fence and keep the POLICE OUT.
The police had their guns drawn, pointing through our chain link fence,
and shouted at the guy to stop. Obviously he didn't feel
like listening to them because he kept on trying to ease past Coco and I. He alternately looked like he was thinking about
grabbing me or trying his luck running past the cops behind the fence. Coco could sense my apprehension and fear. That made
her extremely upset and she really went off then. I held onto her collar as best I could and yelled at the man to please not come
near me or I'd have to let her go.
I knew there was a lot of tension in my voice and when the other three
dogs heard me screaming they tore themselves away
from the back fence that they were so diligently guarding and came ripping around the corner of the house to the front where
And there we were. Me and Coco on one side, the guy in the middle, and
Snapper, Jammer, and Shadow effectively blocking
any exit from the opposite side. The guy turns and looks at me, then looks at the dogs on the other side. I could see him
weighing his chances on a mad dash. So I begged him to PLEASE, please not to run; to just hold real still and not move.
Thankfully, he wisely put his hands up and said "OK, I quit, I quit".
I yelled for the police to hurry into the yard. They were very
brave and came pouring into my yard then, even with the very agitated state my dogs were in. They found their guy surrounded
by four pit bulls with his hands still up in the air.
It took them just a couple of minutes or so to wrestle the guy down
on the ground, subdue him, cuff him and carry him out my
front gate. All the while I'm trying to calm the dogs who were still quite unhappy with the whole strange situation. Here's this guy who scared their mom (me) on the ground in front of them and all these other dark-suited strangers scuffling, yelling and running around excitedly. Definitely a new experience for the normally peaceful and quiet lives we lead.
I am very, very proud of these dogs because even in the heat of a tense
moment, no one, not criminal nor any of the dozen or
so officers in the yard, was bitten or injured in any way. With all the negative media attention the American Pit Bull Terrier seems to get nowadays, I think it's doubly important to get the word out that these dogs are not the blood-thirsty vicious man biters tabloid newspapers and TV shows make them out to be.
They reacted with great judgment in this situation, protecting their
master and property without any undue force. Their behavior
that day has made them well known here as the "Hero Pit Bulls" and has brought a lot of positive mentions in the news etc. for this misunderstood breed. I hope others will become interested in finding out the truth and facts about the American Pit Bull Terrier, instead of only hearing the sensationalized one-sided misconceptions bandied about in the media.
Sergeant Damon Purdy of the Honolulu Police Department was the officer in charge of the manhunt. He has become a great fan of the APBT now and came to our house to visit and take pictures with the dogs that helped him and his boys capture a bad guy. That's his picture on the Bulldog's Page Photo Gallery with our four dogs (see file cc15.jpg).
This happened on last November and we're still getting lots of calls about it.
Pit Bull Saves Owner from Armed Attackers
|A Pit Bull named Blueberry is credited with saving her owner from two
armed attackers. Authorities in Indiana, say the dog pounced on the
intruders as they opened fire, Blueberrys legs and jaw were broken but
she kept up the attack. The intruders fled and at last word, were still
on the loose. Veterinarians at Purdue University were able to patch up
Blueberry. They also say her unborn puppies are going to be ok.
The Pit Bull who Fights Drugs
Summary of the December, 1997 Dog Fancy magazine: "$30 Million Sniffer Nabs Smugglers"
"Taylor, a 4-year old pit bull mix, shows a real knack for his job. In his first two years on the job, he has sniffed out more than $30 million worth of narcotics...Out of more than 100 dogs in the San Diego [CA, USA] district K-9 unit, Taylor ranks as a top performer."
The article went on to say that Taylor, a muscular, 86-pound light brown brindle, was rescued from a city shelter by a canine enforcement officer only two days before he was due to be euthanized. He was selected largely because of his intense focus on a tennis ball the officer, Robert Root, bounced in front of the dog to test, in his words, how strong his intent is.
With intensity being a integral characteristic of American Pit Bull
Terriers, it is surprising that they are not used more often in this work.
However, the article stated that "Although Taylor's eagerness was unmistakable,
he was not the kind of dog Customs usually looks for. Part of the
drug enforcement job entails going to airports where close contact with
civilians is inevitable. 'The Customs Service wants a dog that presents
a good image,' [said Root]. If you're working in an airport with a pit
would probably scare a lot of people.'"
Taylor also was described as working strictly on verbal commands with his handler, Barbara Trice, and being "intense in his affection for Trice."
Although Taylor may not be your typical customs dog, he certainly demonstrates
the heart of a typical American Pit Bull Terrier.
RCA -- Alaska's first certified hearing dog
See URL at end for original web page with pictures!
RCA is 15 years old and in quite good health, considering her advanced years. She came to Alaska from Alabama. Because
the housing market was tight and there was pitbull-hysteria in the air, her owners couldn't find a place to rent that would allow
pitbulls and she was eventually sent to the Alaska SPCA in Anchorage.
A friend of mine, John Ledum, was trying to start a hearing-dog program
in Alaska. He and a local veterinarian, Dr. Joyce
Murphy, temperment-tested 170 dogs and RCA scored the highest, so she was chosen to be the first hearing dog in Alaska. At the time she completed her training and was certified, there was talk of banning pitbulls in the city of Anchorage and the SPCA was concerned about placing her with someone who might have to give her up. So they decided to make RCA their demonstration dog because it would also promote the idea that pitbulls are smart, loving animals with good temperaments.
As a demonstation dog, she made numerous trips all over to Alaska and
the lower 48 states. Her demonstrations helped raise
funds to finance the training of more hearing dogs. But her favorite demonstrations were at elementary schools because after
working, she would get to go down a long line of children and kiss them all. Then John would take her through the drive-up at
the nearest McDonald's and reward her with a hamburger of her very own. She's got scrapbooks with letters from about 700
schoolchildren and once had a full-page feature story written about her in the Anchorage Times newspaper.
I first met RCA when she was first in training and living with her trainer,
John. I was captivated by her charm and obedience.
Later, when I got my first Sheltie and I would bring him over to John's to visit, she was incredibly tolerant to this rambuncious
puppy and would bring him toys to play with. Of course, her favorite toy was a tug toy and she always won.
If anyone had told me I'd ever own one of these dogs I would've told
them they were crazy, but about that time I let it be
known that if she ever retired, I'd love to take her. And that's just what happened. After about five years of working, she was
getting a little burned out and when her trainer left the SPCA, he decided to let her retire and come to live with us. He couldn't
keep her because he had been living in the training facility and he couldn't find a place that would rent to him with a
certified-hearing dog that happened to be a pitbull. That was before they enacted legislation giving hearing dogs the same
privileges as seeing-eye dogs. She started her life with us eight years ago when she was seven years old.
Over the years, she has tolerated many puppies and cockatiel chicks.
She'll lie down so the puppies can play with her more
easily and lets the chicks chew on her ears. She's the one dog I always trust to tolerate human babies and small children, not to
go ballistic when someone walks too close to the car and she loves everyone. We joke that if a burglar ever came in, she'd
show him around and let him take her for a ride in the getaway car.
RCA's greatest joys in life are to go for rides in the car and to rescue logs out of our favorite lake. Her main pastime is sleeping, of course--she's very good at that. She's selectively deaf now, particularly when we want her to move over on the bed to make room for us, and her sight is going (but currently stable), and she's a bit arthritic, but the vet says she's healthy enough to give us a few more years of her splendid company.
Search and Rescue APBTs
Cheyenne and Dakota are two S&R APBTs that have had to overcome people's prejudices to be allowed to help, but they have proven themselves over and over again and were finally, after a long fight, accepted to the Valley Humane Society
Animal Assisted Therapy Program.
Maddy - An APBT holds the national record for obedience!
Maddy's obedience score was the highest ever in the history of all National Association of Protection Dogs (NAPD) competitions. Her score was 97.666 Of course, a Pit Bull now holds the record.
Britain sighs in relief as dog wins reprieve
This from the Reuter's newswires of November 22, 1995:
LONDON (Reuter) - Pet-loving Britons sighed in relief Wednesday when
Dempsey, a pit bull terrier sentenced to death
for not wearing a muzzle, was reprieved by the High Court. The family pet was the subject of a three-year legal
tug-of-war that pitched animal lovers against a law aimed at protecting children from vicious dogs.
The law, passed in response to public panic over a series of ferocious
and highly publicised dog attacks, required all
dogs of certain "aggressive" breeds to wear muzzles. The penalty for owners who failed to comply was death for the
But the case of Dempsey aroused a howl of indignation. The six- year-old
bitch, described as a gentle and loving
companion who slept on her owner's bed, became a nationwide symbol.
"It seems to me that the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991 bears all the hallmarks
of an ill-thought-out piece of legislation,
no doubt drafted in response to another pressure group," High Court Justice Richard Rougier said as he ruled in
There were scenes of joy outside the court after the ruling was passed.
Among the supporters was Roger Gale,
chairman of the all party animal welfare group in Parliament. "The most telling point made is that justice is more
important than one harmless dog," he said.
Dempsey's ordeal started in 1992, when a friend of her owner took her
for a walk -- muzzled up as the law required.
The dog started to choke and the friend took off her muzzle. Police swooped in and Dempsey was ordered destroyed.
The dog's plight drew worldwide calls of mercy, including one from French animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot, who
offered Dempsey a home in France.
The case went through the legal system -- all the way up to the House
of Lords, Britain's ultimate court, and then back
down again to Rougier's courtroom. Although reprieved, Dempsey may still face a day in court, with her owner Dianne
Fanneran present to plead for her.