March 19, 2024

By: Sarah A. Neikam, CAWA

At a donor gathering recently, a fairly new donor asked about the abundance of pitbull or “bully-type” dogs at our shelter and how we balance that with our commitment to a no-kill policy. “What do you do with them all?”

The SPCA Albrecht Center serves as the primary refuge for stray animals in the City of Aiken, a responsibility that brings with it a distinctive challenge: a significant number of these animals are pitbull or “bully-type” dogs. This trend reflects a broader issue, with these dogs being the most overbred and, unfortunately, frequently abandoned or neglected type nationwide. Despite these obstacles, our dedicated team, both staff, and volunteers, embrace these dogs with the same love and enthusiasm as any other dog that comes through our doors. It’s not uncommon for these resilient and affectionate dogs to become shelter favorites.

The term “Pit Bull” is often mistakenly used to describe any dog that exhibits certain physical traits such as a muscular build, broad face, and short coat. However, “Pit Bull” actually encompasses three specific breeds: the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the American Pit Bull Terrier. Many dogs labeled as “Pit Bulls” are mixed breeds with diverse ancestries, judged more by their appearance than their genetic heritage.

Mr. Worldwide is available for adoption!

Addressing the heart of the donor’s concern, our new Shelter Manager, Allison LaBorde, outlined our approach to managing our capacity challenges. When the shelter reaches its limit, we resort to using crates as temporary housing for our dogs. While not ideal, this measure ensures each dog has a safe space. To mitigate the limitations of crate living, we have developed a comprehensive system involving regular walks, playtime, and enrichment activities to ensure the dogs spend their crate time primarily for sleeping.

Our foster program plays a critical role in providing a more comfortable and loving environment for these dogs until a permanent home can be found. This program, while invaluable, also has its limits, emphasizing the ongoing need for community support and involvement.

Thankfully, more and more people are noticing what great dogs these “bully-type” dogs truly can be, and the stories of transformation and joy they bring to their adopters are nothing short of remarkable. Through photos, videos, and firsthand experiences, potential adopters learn that these dogs can be incredibly affectionate, playful, and loyal companions, perfectly suited for family life. Our goal is to showcase the true nature of these misunderstood dogs, highlighting their capacity for love and their eagerness to be part of a loving home.

Azzurra is available for adoption!

For example, Mr. Worldwide is a handsome, bully-type dog available for adoption. When his photo was posted to our Facebook page recently, comments from volunteers and visitors included “The best walking buddy!”, “Sweet boy and is a good walking companion.”, and “He’s a sweetheart!!”

A similar post about Azzurra, another bully-type dog in our shelter, was followed with “She is such a fun and sweet girl!! She’s going to be a great addition to someone’s home!”

At the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare, we believe that every dog is an individual, deserving of love, care, and a chance at a happy life. By focusing on each dog’s unique personality, rather than preconceived stereotypes, we strive to create a community where every dog, regardless of breed, can find a forever home where they are cherished and safe. This belief underscores our commitment and our mission, ensuring that every dog receives the opportunity to live a full and joyful life with a loving family.



Sarah Neikam is the Marketing Director for the SPCA Albrecht Center in Aiken, SC. She has been with the organization since 2012, holding various roles including Volunteer Coordinator and Director of Operations & HR. A Certified Animal Welfare Administrator as of 2022, Sarah is a passionate advocate for animal welfare. She resides in Aiken with her husband, Tom, and their six cats.