Jake the Pitt Bull Gets Another Chance Thanks to Social Media


Jake the Pitt Bull Gets Another Chance Thanks to Social Media

(Cheryl Weiss, Oct. 10, 2018)

Jake is a very lucky dog.  The silver, gray and white pit bull’s story made the rounds this week on social media, and he was spared from euthanasia.

Oakland County Animal Control and Adoption Center works to place pit bulls with other organizations to be adopted out.  Jake was among them.  But behavioral issues prevented his placement.  Jake has lunged at people in the shelter twice.  He had at least five failed adoptions, he was not adopted during last weekend’s Bissell Empty the Shelter Day, and has documented issues with aggression toward people and animals.  The decision was made on Monday to euthanize him Tuesday morning.  But outline outrage prevented it, with a Facebook post by Oakland County Animal Advocated being share over 1,200 times by Tuesday morning. Phone calls and emails poured in to OCAC as well as County Executive L Brooks Patterson’s office, not only from Oakland County residents, but from around the country.

The volunteers who interacted with Jake shared stories of his good side.  Tricia Knauss Gogola of Do Only Good Animal Rescue (D.O.G), said, “He is very sweet and lovable once he gets to know you and trust you.  He needs a quiet environment and someone who will be extremely patient with him.”

Photographs of Jake on social media show him playing in a pool, lying on his back waiting for a belly rub, and happily playing with both toys and people.  A photo of Jake with his trainer, “J”, from the Teacher’s Pet program says, “I’m not gonna lie, Jake is a goofy dog!  He has helped me on bad days and no matter how you feel, you cannot feel anything but happy around Jake.”

Jake has not had an easy six years of life.  He has been at the Oakland County Animal Control and Adoption Center (OCAC) for the last eleven months, longer than most dogs generally stay.  He has been adopted, at least five times, and each time he was returned.

According to Bill Mullan, Oakland County media and communications officer, Jake arrived at OCAC in November 2017, surrendered by his owners due to aggression towards men. That was not the first time or the last; his pattern of aggression towards men and other animals contributed to him being returned to the shelter again and again. He waited in the shelter for a new family until May 2018, when D.O.G., a rescue group that works with OCAC to facilitate adoptions for bully breeds, took temporary custody for Jake to work on his socialization.

They took him to Dogtopia, where he had the opportunity to play and interact with other dogs.  After a little more than a week, they realized this was not a successful plan because he was unable to play with other dogs, so D.O.G. brought him back to the shelter.

In July, Jake was adopted by Paws For Life Animal Rescue, but he was returned to the shelter four days later.  Then in September, he was adopted again through Paws for Life Animal Rescue.  Two weeks later, he was returned again due to aggression towards men.

The failed adoptions and long months in the shelter took a toll on Jake, especially after his buddy, Daisy, was adopted. According to Gogola, “He is not doing well there.  Mentally, some dogs can’t handle it. He is extremely stressed; I saw his legs shaking.”

On Monday, Gogola was at the shelter and had Jake on a leash.  A Board Member’s husband stretched his hand out to Jake with an open palm.  Jake lunged up towards the man’s face, snapping at him.  He did not bite, but that was the second time in a week Jake has lunged at someone.  “He doesn’t want you in his space,” she said.

According to a press release on Tuesday, OCAC made the decision to put Jake down because of the need to protect staff and visitors.  “His aggressive behavior seems to have worsened in recent weeks which has caused deep concern among shelter staff.  The mission of the Oakland County Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center is to protect public safety,” the release stated.

On Tuesday afternoon, ACAC Director Bob Gatt said, “We’re going to transfer Jake to rescue.” Paws for Life, who had adopted Jake out twice before, will take him on Monday.

 “No one here takes euthanasia lightly.  We have over 4,000 animals each year, and every one is given fair and compassionate care, food, exercise…we want nothing more than to provide for the animals while they’re waiting for a home.  Jake is no exception,” Gatt said. “We were torn between having to do what we don’t want to do (put him to sleep) or saving him and giving him another opportunity.  Jake has had several opportunities and failed each one.  He’s a pretty damn good dog when he’s not aggressive.”

Courtney Protz-Sanders, Director of Paws for Life, said she is looking forward to having Jake in her rescue.  “Jake is a really wonderful dog.  He’s been there eleven months, and I’ve seen him grow frustrated.  That’s a natural reaction for having zero choices.”

In both of Jake’s previous adoptions through Paws for Life, he never went to foster care; he went from the shelter to his adoptive family’s home.  This time will be different.  Jake will be placed in a foster home, given time to decompress, and will be seen by a trainer for evaluation.  The trainer will determine what Jake needs, and how the foster family and the rescue can meet those needs.

The foster family has not yet been determined, as of Tuesday evening.  “We have lots of foster applications,” said Protz-Sanders.  They will select a family with no other pets and no kids.  They will place him with people who will hang out with him, provide mental enrichment through play, take walks, and help him shake off the past experiences.  They will take him for his evaluation and training, and commit to preparing Jake for a forever family.

Paws for Life is a certified rescue, one of few in Michigan that are 5-star certified.  That means they have proven that they follow best practices in animal rescue, they are transparent in their finances, they report to the State annually, and they follow a code of ethics.

“Jake just needs a chance,” Protz-Sanders said.  And now he has another one.

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