Why are fewer pit bulls ending up in L.A. animal shelters?


LINCOLN HEIGHTS — During the past five years there has been a significant drop in the number of pit bulls being taken into city animal shelters.  For example,  790 pit bulls and pit bull mixes arrived at the North Central Animal Shelter in Lincoln Heights during the 2015-2016 fiscal year. That’s down more than 40% from the 1,351 pit bulls taken in five years ago, according to L.A. Animal Services statistics. What explains the drop?

Apparently changing attitudes about the breed might explain part of the decline.

“I don’t know that we have conclusive proof, but I believe that the rescue community has focused on pit bulls and pit mixes, Chihuahuas and cats and they are helping us make a difference,” said Brenda Barnette, General Manager of L.A. Animal Services.  “Pit bull advocates are working hard to show what great dogs Pits and pit mixes are,” she said.

That means fewer of the dogs end up in the shelters.

The decline at the North Central Animal Shelter has been mirrored by a decline across the city’s animal shelter system.  Five years ago, pit bulls made up 20.36% of all the dogs taken in by city animal shelters.  Now, that figure is 16.73% for the most recent fiscal year, according to figures Barnette presented at a recent meeting of Animal Services commissioners

“When the community works together, it makes a life-saving difference,” said Barnette.

Pit Bulls vs Other Dog Breeds

bit bull proportion chart

Few Pit Bulls in Shelters

pitbull chart

Jacqueline Fernandez is a Los Angeles-based reporter who’s written for various media outlets such as Los Angeles Wave, The Miami Herald and WLRN-Miami Herald News.


  1. Gentrification?

  2. Just have anyone who owns a pit bull get a weapons license, as the dog is just that for the F’ed up owner.

    • I have a pitbull mix and it’s the sweetest and happiest pup ever. Dogs are like people, they turn out how your raise and treat them. If you give them love, affection and proper training they’re wonderful dogs. If you abuse them and treat them like crap they won’t turn out so good.

    • thanks bored anonymous internet troll,

  3. We have a pit mix and she is truly the sweetest dog we have ever had. They don’t call pits “the nanny dog” for nothing. Pits have a bad reputation due to the abusive way some of their abusive and domineering humans raised them.

  4. We have a pit mix and she is truly the sweetest dog we have ever had. They don’t call pits “the nanny dog” for nothing. Pits have a bad reputation due to the abusive way some of their abusive and domineering humans raised them.

  5. Pit bulls are great dogs -until they are not. I’ve seen several instances where a seemingly friendly pit bull will turn with no clear reason to mall babies and other dogs. Most common answer given after the attack? “Wow he/she’s never done anything like that before!” All animals have an unpredictable side to them, pit bulls have a bit more of that unpredictability, unfortunately.

  6. When we adopted our Dachshund mix out of an East LA Animal shelter, I was amazed at the sheer number of pit bills and Chihuahuas…there maybe fewer Pit bulls in the shelters compared to years ago, but there is still a formidable number looking for a good home. I would have been been tempted to get one, there were some sweet Pit bulls there-but number one, my wife wanted a smaller dog, and number two, my apartment complex does not allow pit bulls. (Or Rottwiellers or German shepherds)

  7. Mary Ann Redfern

    Trash breed bred by the dogmen of old England to kill each other in dog fighting pits for bloodsport with gambling. Why would ANYONE choose to have a fighting/gripping breed dog in their home especially if they have children? Sick people love this breed of dog.

  8. I question the veracity of these statistics. If you check the LAAS website for impounded/adoptable dogs, you will see Pit Bulls, Staff Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers. For statistical purposes, they should all be lumped into ‘Pit Bull’ type dogs, as they are all listed as mixes. In fact Pits & Am Staffs are virtually technically identical……..the only difference is the kennel club that registers them. (Am Staffs are AKC; American Pit Bull Terriers are UKC) I would like to know if Ms Barnette’s numbers are solely for dogs booked in as “Pit Bulls” or do they also include the other two ‘breeds’? I’m guessing not. A quick perusal of the site also turned up an obvious Pit Bull mix that was listed as a Chocolate Lab mix! Go figure.

  9. Any dog deserves to live, no matter how they look or what are the prejudices about them.

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