Just a few months into his new life, King was happier and healthier than he had been in years. As a registered therapy dog, the big, slow-moving pit bull with impeccable manners seemed a natural with children and anyone looking for a calm-inducing companion.

But it wasn’t so long ago that King was facing a grim future at a shelter in Jacksonville, Florida.

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He sweet dog had arthritis in his legs and he wasn’t a puppy anymore.

The outlook for a big old dog of that description is typically not good…

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But Jen Deane knows a thing or two about big dogs with broken dreams. As founder of Pit Sisters, a rescue based in Jacksonville Beach, she’s rescued countless pit bulls from “last-hope” situations and helped them find real families.

Carol Altieri, the woman who began fostering King, thought King was a wonderful dog.

She had fostered more than 100 dogs for Pit Sisters. But King was the one she had to adopt. And soon, King would rule over many more hearts. In 2017, he passed a nationally recognized therapy registration exam. He soon found himself equally at home among hospice residents and children.

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Then Altieri heard a local hospital was looking for therapy dogs. King seemed to fit the bill.

“When it came down to it, [the hospital] did a conference call with Carol and basically said they’re denying her as a volunteer,” Dean recalls. “They wouldn’t give her a reason.”

Deane and Altieri are pretty sure the problem wasn’t King’s demeanor, but his DNA.

Hospital staff may not have wanted a pit bull around the children, however calm, composed and credentialed King may be.

“It doesn’t matter what the dog looks like or what the dog is labelled as,” Jim Crosby, a certified behavior consultant and expert in canine aggression, tells MNN. “It matters how the dog acts, and their temperament and their demeanor.

“That’s what we have to start focusing on — and not worrying about the label or the look. That doesn’t tell you how the dog is going to behave.”

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Would you adopt a pit bull?

Are they more aggressive than other dogs?