Rescue Pit Bull Gets Second Chance as Therapy Dog

Rescue Pit Bull Gets Second Chance as Therapy Dog
Rescue Pit Bull Gets Second Chance as Therapy Dog

(Picture Credit: Clare Lawrence / EyeEm)

Unfortunately, we’re all aware of how hard it can be for rescue dogs to find a new home. The more factors stacked against a pup, the harder it is – reactivity, larger size, and manners are all determining factors for many homes. Pit Bulls spend, on average, three times as long waiting for their forever homes than other adoptable dogs.

But sometimes it’s worth the wait. One rescued Pit Bull mix is ready for a second chance – and to help others.

A New Leash on Life

Jake the one-year-old Pit Bull mix hadn’t received any training or much attention in his first home. He was labeled as ‘reactive’, as he would pull on his leash and didn’t have good manners. However, advocates for the rescue Pit Bull felt he was just misunderstood and not given time to learn. Jake was taken in by Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill animal rescue in Utah. They gave him another chance to prove himself. “Caregivers worked with Jake on basic cues such as ‘sit’ as well as leash skills,” said a spokesperson for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. “In a quieter environment with time and space to unwind, it was possible to observe and understand Jake’s behavior.”

As Jake was working on training, play therapist and president of the International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy, Risë VanFleet, was looking for a new addition to her family. A friend volunteering at BFAS told her about Jake, and recommended him as a possible candidate for play therapy. “She sent me pictures. She sent me videos. I asked for more videos,” said VanFleet. “The more I saw, the more I liked.”

After four months of in-home training, the rescue Pit Bull was ready for his first workshop. “I’m really pleased with how he’s doing so far,” praised VanFleet. “I think he’s going to be a great play therapy dog. If for some reason he doesn’t work so well with families—and so far, I haven’t seen any sign that he won’t—he’s going to be a great workshop dog.”

The Work of a Therapy Dog

For some of us who don’t require the aid of a therapy or service dog, it can be hard to understand their impact. Pet therapy can help with various mental health issues. Dogs like Jake help with Animal Assisted Play Therapy, which can help nervous patients feel comfortable and relax.  While therapy dogs aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution, they are an important aid to many people.

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