Despite the negative media attention the American Pit Bull Terrier often receives, pit bulls are an intelligent breed of dog that have proven themselves in a variety of service capacities for humans.
American Pit Bull Terrier-Ideal Characteristics For A Working Dog
American Pit Bull Terriers (APBT) have a number of characteristic traits which are well suited to several different canine service jobs. APBT's are a generally healthy, agile breed of dog with an excellent nose and superior intelligence that thrive on positive attention and activity. This wide range of positive attributes makes the pit bull a versatile working dog.
The Working Life Of The American Pit Bull Terrier
Pit bulls have proven successful in many different working capacities.
Because of their excellent nose, American Pit Bull Terriers are often used in police and security work as bomb and narcotic drug-sniffing dogs. The U.S. Customs Service 'employs' several pit bulls. One Customs dog in particular, an APBT named Popsicle, is responsible for locating the biggest drug find in Texas Drug Enforcement history; Popsicle, who was a rescued American Pit Bull Terrier found in an old freezer (hence the name) during a previous drug raid, was trained to sniff out drugs and put into service. His record find of over 3,000 pounds of cocaine has proven his worth.
Also because of their excellent nose, intelligence, and love of people, American Pit Bull Terriers make very good Search and Rescue dogs. A number of SAR trainers and teams employ American Pit Bull Terriers in their work. One pit bull named Neville, also a rescue dog, was used to search for remains of the space shuttle Columbia astronauts after that devastating explosion.
Pit bulls are a high-maintenance dog, largely because they require so much love and affection to remain obedient. This often means that Pit Bulls are not good pets for those who cannot be with them for many hours of the day, but on the flip side, this penchant for human contact has made many a rescued pit bull into the ideal therapy dog.
American Pit Bull Terriers used as therapy dogs regularly visit people in need of companionship in private homes and more often in hospitals, senior centers/care and housing facilities, and rehabilitation centers. The 'job' of a therapy dog is to be a non-demanding companion who brings love and appreciation to the patient, often a lonely elder or person who has experienced a damaging emotional trauma. As both the APBT and the therapy participant have similar needs, a void is filled with these useful service dogs. American Pit Bull Terriers used as therapy dogs are said to have an uncanny knack of identifying a person who is hurting physically or emotionally, and staying with that person throughout the session or sessions. Participants in APBT dog therapy programs report great satisfaction, often saying they just cannot wait until their pal comes back to visit again.
In addition to these useful of services, American Pit Bull Terriers have been known to serve man in a number of other ways including as working farm, ranch, and herd dogs. With a solid work history behind them, well trained APBT's continue to prove themselves in service.