Written by Tammara Rosenleaf of Montana
I’ve been rescuing pit bulls for about five years. When I was in Texas, it was an every week occurrence, and in two and a half years, I rescued 62 of them. Since moving home to Montana in 2009, I have only had to rescue three of them. The first two were easy. Young females, already spayed, I found homes in a few days. My latest rescue has not been so easy.p
I was at my desk at the social service agency I work for, when one of my employees came in and asked if I could help with a rescue that had to happen right now. I changed a few things on my schedule, because she looked so desperate, and we went off to get this dog. On the way, she told me his history. I was determined to save him.
His name is Legion, and he had to get out of his house in the next hour. His owner, a woman, had been ordered to get rid of him, by CPS, because he was “dangerous” and she had not complied. CPS was on the way, and if he was there, they would call the police. The owner had been involved in domestic violence with her long term partner, and both had been arrested at some point for assault on the other party.
The Way Legion Had Been Living Was Unspeakable
Legion had been kept chained to a bedroom wall for around 18 hours a day on most days. He was not supposed to be in the apartment, and so if he barked or made any noise, he was beaten. He had to potty right in the same place he laid, and the house reeked of urine and feces. He had never been vaccinated, and was not neutered. He was just over two. Recently, during a domestic dispute, the man had tried to smother the woman in her bed, with their newborn baby in the cradle beside the bed, and Legion ripped the chain from the wall and bit the man.
I have three pits at home, and one is an alpha male. I knew they would never get along, and so I called the Humane Society and arranged to take Legion there. When we arrived at the apartment, although the owner had agreed to surrender him to me, she locked herself in the apartment and refused to come out. The manager was present, and was willing to unlock the door for me, but the woman was screaming on the other side, and Legion was barking and snarling. The woman’s mother and stepfather were there, and the stepfather was threatening to kill the dog. The police were on their way, and this couldn’t be good for Legion.
I persuaded everyone to calm down, and assured the woman (bi-polar and off meds) to let me take the dog. Through the door I assured her that I have never let a pit bull be put down once I get them into rescue, and I wouldn’t do so with Legion either. She opened the door a crack, and agreed to let me take him. Before I could get in though, the stepfather rushed the door, and set Legion into barking and snarling again, and he was chained to the wall, just inches from the baby. The owner slammed and locked the door, and I had to start over. The police were pulling into the parking lot when I got the situation calmed again, and she opened the door. I asked the police for just a few more minutes, and they allowed me to slip in and get Legion.
As soon as I had him off the chain, muzzled and on a leash, the stepfather came in again, and took the baby from the carrier, and ran to his car with him. The woman followed screaming, and I fought Legion all the way to my van, as he tried to go to her assistance again. The loyalty of the pit bull is a constant amazement to me. He was defending the woman who chained him to a wall, allowed her partner to beat him, and who never took any sort of care of him.
Once in the car, he was a perfect gentleman. He went easily into the shelter while I registered him and made sure the shelter understood that I would sponser his adoption, pay for his shots and his neuter, and that he was under no circumstances to be put down. Rather, they should call me to come and get him if this should be a possibility.
At the Shelter
Legion stayed in the shelter for nearly two months. The trainer loved him, but the environment was not good for him. We have an old shelter, and it was loud, and too busy. Legion is barrier aggressive, so sprang at the kennel gate whenever anyone looked at him, and snarled viciously. He failed his temperament test, showing aggression to barriers and did not do well with the mechanical dog they tried with him. They loved him, but were afraid to put him up for adoption, because “if he hurts someone, the public will crucify us and none of our pits could be adopted after that.” I understood.
On May 6, Legion was scheduled to be euthanized, and the trainer called me. I went immediately to get him. I took him home, despite the problems with now having two alpha male pits in my house. The woman who originally brought him to my attention moved into the little cabin at the back of my house.
My husband and I spent $350 to buy fencing materials and we fenced the yard around the cabin for Legion alone. We developed a communication method so that we can let each other know which dog is in the yard, and we yard all the pits alone for now. We got a trainer to donate time and started working with him immediately.
Legion has made amazing strides since coming into my home. He has worked with a trainer every day. He sits, goes down and stays. He walks nicely on a leash. He sleeps every night with the woman who brought him to me, and is a wonderful cuddler. He still snarls if someone approaches his fence and if he is on a leash, but he is working on learning not to do that.
He loves to be brushed with the furminator, and rolls onto his back to allow a good belly rub. He plays with some toys now. The cabin is small, and the yard is as well, but it is his first real home or yard, and he loves it. He doesn’t know what to do when in the yard alone, because he has never been free in a yard. With his old owner, he got out once a day to potty and that was on a leash, jumping a small fence into a parking lot late at night. He was hussled right back into the apartment because he wasn’t supposed to be there.
Seeking the Right Home for Legion
Legion needs to work on socialization, and on understanding he is not a small lap dog. He needs to realize how big and strong he is, and that he needs to be gentle. He is getting closer every day. Legion needs a good home, a forever place, and someone who understands how good he can be, and is becoming.
His rescue is a miracle, just like he is. He is sponsered by Pit Bulls 4 Peace, and will go to his home with free training and support from us. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone has a good home for this very special boy. Legion is a great example of the resilient nature of the pit bull. He was abused and neglected every day for more than two years, but he still loves people and he still wants a good home. More photos of Legion here
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