Postal Worker Adopts ‘Gentle Giant’ Pit Bull She Formed Connection With On Her Route After Its Owner Dies

Mar 03, 2023 by apost team

Dogs are fiercely loyal, which is why we love them so much and consider them close members of the family. Pitbulls in particular are extremely loyal, despite the fact that they often get a bad reputation in society as being too aggressive. Not only are pit bulls banned in some countries, but the breed has also earned a bad reputation for being violent or aggressive. We hear negative stories about certain breeds including pit bulls often, but that doesn't stop open-minded people from adopting the misunderstood breed. 

Back in 2017, a UPS driver named Katie Newhouser from Rancho Cucamonga, California adopted Leo — a pit bull who she would meet on her usual delivery route — after his original owner passed away.

Pitbulls are often stigmatized as a breed. Browney Dickey, an American journalist, wrote a book about pit bull stigma, "Pit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon." According to Dickey, misinformation plays a big role in how pit bulls are perceived. For example, dog fatalities are very rare, and the deaths that are ascribed to pit bulls are often misattributed.

“People who have studied these cases, like Jeffrey Sacks at the CDC, have shown that when it comes to fatalities caused by pit bulls, the breed identifications are often not accurate,” Dickey explained in an interview with National Geographic. “The title ‘pit bull’ has expanded so dramatically over the years that people are lumping any dog with a large head and short coat into that category rather than separating out each of the pit bull breeds.”

Dickey also pointed out that the history of pit bulls in the US tells a different story.

Katie Newhouser (copyright)

In fact, pit bulls were quite popular during WWI and the Depression, according to Dickey’s research. At that time, the breed wasn’t seen as a menace; rather, they were all-American, representative of blue-collar workers and average citizens. However, the post-WWII boom began to change that. Dickey notes that the economic momentum led to a greater interest in kennel club breeds, and thus pit bulls fell out of favor with American pet owners. But one of the biggest shifts in public perception came in the 1970s when the humane movement began working to crack down on illegal dog fights. And since then, pit bulls haven’t really been able to shake their reputation.

Despite this reputation, UPS driver Newhouser stepped in and adopted a pitbull with a familiar face. Since postal drivers typically go on the same routes every day, they often form bonds with the pups they meet. The drivers will often bring treats or toys for their favorite dogs, and the pups reward them with kisses!

UPS driver Newhouser absolutely loved hanging out with the dogs on her route, but she grew particularly close with a big, lovable pit bull named Leo. According to People, Leo the pit bull would hop in her truck when she drove into his owner Tina's condo complex. She said: 

“He would hear my truck come into the condo complex and start barking and scratching at the door to come down to the truck. He would love to come into the truck and go into the back to look around."

Katie Newhouser (copyright)

"I remember one day I was driving up one of my busier streets and they were coming down the street and all of a sudden there was Leo popping his head out the passenger side barking at me! He barked all the way down the street!" she added

Newhouser learned of Tina’s untimely death through a Facebook post. She contacted her friend’s son Cannon, a Marine who could not keep the dog and offered to foster Leo. Although Newhouser already had three pups of her own, her personal bond with Leo proved too strong to let go of the gentle giant.

Newhouser shared that it was very rough for Leo in the beginning because he had been so close to Tina. Eventually, however, Leo bonded with one of Newhouser's other dogs and it helped with the transition a great deal.

“It was probably confusing for him at first, (but) he has adapted well,” says Newhouser. “He and his brother Moose are inseparable. Bailey, his sister, has taken a while to come around, (but) they actually play now … once Leo was introduced into the house, the whole vibe changed.”

"Leo has been with us for three years now," Newhouser told apost in a follow-up interview in 2020. "He is still the happy go lucky pup that he was then. During that time he’s lost a fur baby brother and gained a fur baby sister." She added that Leo "loves to play in his pool" while "he and his lab brother love to play in the house."

"He is a HUGE snuggle bug. He’s always got to be near or touching his humans. For a big pittie he is a gentle giant," she enthused.  

Katie Newhouser (copyright) Katie Newhouser (copyright)

What do you think of Katie Newhouser and Leo's story? Does your dog have a special bond with postal service workers? Let us know your thoughts, and be sure to pass this along to your loved ones.

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