Monday, January 22, 2007

Project Puppy

Whoever said "ignorance is bliss" must have been in animal rescue.

Last week, we received an e-mail from a low-income family that had found an abandoned 5-week old pit bull puppy, begging us for help:

"the pup is now living here in my apartment with me and my family but here we cant have dogs because the manager won't let us. also we live under low-income so we can't afford his shots, we are just helping the pup with whatever we can but sooner or later.. we will run out. i have asked people if they want him, but they all say that they have a bad reputation so i cant give him off to adoption. please i REALLY need your help, i don't know what to do with the puppy, he is only 5 weeks old."

Some of the Steering Committee members were fortunate enough that the photo attachment didn't come through on the e-mail. These lucky few were the blissfully ignorant in the group. Oh, how I envy them...

The rest of us however did open the e-mail, and as much as we hate the developmental risks involved with underage pups away from Mom, this puppy was alive and out there and in the hands of a kind-hearted family in desperate need of help, and turning away wasn't going to make the situation disappear.

It drives us absolutely crazy to see breeders peddling off 5-and-6-week-olds without a care in the world, and here we were confronted with one of these underage victims of the backyard breeding craze. What to do?

The risk factors:
  • You never know what dog is going to grow out of that cute pup
  • We don't know who Mom and Dad are or what their temperaments are like
  • The pup was separated too early from his Mom and littermates and missed out on some really important socialization
  • Though he looks like a pit bull puppy in the pic we received, we hadn't seen him in person
The risk that bothered us the most, of course, is that puppies that are separated from Mom and littermates too soon can develop temperament issues. That would mean that we'd have to take the pup, put him with an experienced Momma dog ASAP, socialize the holy heck out of him, and watch him like a hawk for several months to make sure he develops correctly.

We tossed around a variety of ideas for this young tyke, assuming that he was in fact 5 weeks old. We did discuss immediate euthanasia as an option, because after all, who's willing to take the risk of spending several months raising a puppy only to find that early separation or crappy genetics (or both) have created an unstable dog, and have to perform a heartbreaking euthanasia in that circumstance?


Again, this pup was alive and not a theoretical "Is this a good idea?" And he was in the hands of a teenage Good Samaritan that was apparently skipping meals to keep the puppy fed.

And, as it turns out, we do actually have a few foster spots that have experienced Momma dogs, and are available specifically for puppy projects. (We call them "Crazy People.")

And so, that is how Project Puppy has begun this time around.

The teenager who rescued him did ask me one favor, and that was to name the puppy "Tank."

That favor has been granted. And we did answer a few questions after meeting him:
  • He does appear to be 6 weeks old
  • He does appear to be a purebred pit bull (this has been seconded by a breeder)
  • He does have the requisite skunky puppy breath, needle-sharp teeth sure to make you squeal, and walleyed pit bull puppy gaze
Stay tuned for frequent updates on Tank's progress. For now, rest assured that he spent a delightful weekend with me. (Well, maybe not delightful the whole time, from his point of view...)


Pitbulllover said...

your so adorable with your puppy :) have a nice day !

signed: a pitbull lover

Pitbulllover said...

simply adorable

Anonymous said...


God bless you, Leslie.


I'll be scanning for more posts on Tank.

Anonymous said...

I work at a shelter and we founda 5-6 week old pit bull puppy that Iam personally taking for the very same reasons you have listed above. I have a momma chihuahua that just had a litter of puppies who are 5 or 6 weeks OLDER then this pup. So they all around the same size and I was wondering if maybe socializing them all together might be a good idea. That way he can learn from a mom and other "littermates" even if they are not pits. Please feel free to email me if you have any ideas or ANYTHING!! Thanks!

Eiry said...

Hi, pup soooo cute ! Hope i could help u, but cant :~( Have u checked out some of your close rescue dog shelters for help x x

Anonymous said...

Are you sure this is a purebred pitbull? He looks just like my little pup, who is a boxer mix. Yours looks like he might for sure have some boxer in him. Let me know what you think!