Concerns Over Pit Bull Trained As Man’s Hearing Dog


Marley is a certified hearing dog, but he may not be your typical assistance dog because he is a pit bull.

22-year-old Jeff Hayman is completely deaf, but with the help of Marley as his hearing aide, Hayman is alerted of sounds. Marley and Hayman recently completed a 13-week course at Tidewater K-9 Academy to turn this pit bull into a certified hearing dog.

Even though Marley is a certified assistance dog, there are some people and organizations that have concerns over this 54-pound pit bull being a hearing dog.

California-based Canine Companions For Independence only trains golden and Labrador retrievers to be assistance dogs. The organization said they train these specific breeds because they are so friendly to strangers and are like ambassadors for the people they are assisting.

The chief executive officer of Canine Companions For Independence said: “Using a pit bull as a hearing dog is highly inadvisable in our opinion. I can’t say it vehemently enough - I’m just amazed.” He added that he is concerned about how the public will react to Hayman and Marley because of the perceived negative reputation of pit bulls.

The president of Dogs for the Deaf agreed and also was worried about the public perception of a pit bull being a hearing dog.

She said: “You get on a plane with one of those dogs, and everyone will be tempted to get off the plane.”

Hayman said an animal control officer recently asked him if he used Marley for fighting. He also added that around 30 people have asked him if Marley is one of Michael Vick’s pit bulls.

Despite the controversy over Marley being a hearing dog, Hayman said he wants to change how people perceive pit bulls. He wants the public to see that pit bulls can be wonderful and loving pets and can even be well-trained assistance dogs.

Source: The Virginian Pilot

(Thanks Sunshine49)

24 Responses to “Concerns Over Pit Bull Trained As Man’s Hearing Dog”

  1. nora and rufus says:

    Marley has proven his worthyness, intelligence and his gentle
    disposition. Everyone just needs to get over their phobia of pit bulls!!!! I prefer to call them American Strafordshire Terriers, because that is what they really are. People need to get educated about this breed and quit believing the stereotype that is just plain ignorant.

  2. Cathy with 3 pits says:

    My sister had a black lab that was most definitely NOT friendly to people (had bitten at least 6 people, unprovoked). I have three pits myself (all complete ‘mushes’) and am a dog trainer. Pits, by design, are people lovers! It’s a lot easier for the uniformed and ignorant to rely on hearsay, over-blown and inaccurate media reports, hysteria and hype than to educate themselves. The anti-pit attitude is a window into hidden racism in individuals and our communities. Check out to see search and rescue pits, and to see detection pits! Pits are used not only in these public capacities, but as therapy dogs and in various other fields as well. Get Educated!

  3. mikken says:

    Ridiculous. Why on earth should the breed matter if the dog has proven himself through the training program?

    A disabled friend of mine had trouble finding housing because her service dog is a Rottie. Never mind that this dog is a total love and helps this woman do all sorts of things from getting up off the floor when she falls to doing laundry…it’s a “dangerous breed”.

  4. furmom says:

    What kind of circular logic is that? Maybe they don’t want Marley or other PB’s to show how successful, dedicated and people friendly they can be, because then people would be forced to change their thinking wouldn’t they? German Shepherds used to be used as guide dogs and were outstanding service dogs, in spite of the fact that some badly raised GSDs were aggressive. If a particular dog of any breed can do the job and pass all the temperament tests, people’s misguided opinions of a breed should not come into it.

  5. Debra says:

    Agree. The attitude is stupid. Sounds like a great dog.

  6. Nancy G. says:

    I’ve read that one of the biting-est dogs are Cocker Spaniels. And out west there is a trained search and rescue dog that is a Pit Bull. And how about the stories you see about a Pit Bull who has rescued someone, or saved a child? It does happen. Really sad that legitimate dog groups are now buying into the “all Pit Bulls are terrible” propaganda. Remember PETA and the HSUS wanted all the Vick dogs destroyed? What I think of is the Vick dogs who were horribly killed because they would NOT fight. Not all Pit Bulls are killers.

  7. 2CatMom says:

    Its sad when these so called dog training experts are as clueless as the rest of the world.

  8. catmom5 says:

    This dog has obviously proven his value as a service dog. Enough, already! Give these precious dogs a chance!!!

  9. Lynn says:

    Hate to say it but I have to wonder if Canine Companions For Independence just doesn’t want any competition.

    I believe ALL dogs are friendly and companionable. It’s only when man gets hold of them and screws up their dispositions that they may have undesirable personalities.

    I’m deeply ashamed to admit that I was one of those who shied away from Pit Bulls because of the “reputation.” This website and the people posting messages have educated me [thanks, folks!] and I’m wiser now. I am pleased to say that every morning on my walk I pass two Pit Bulls being walked and I make it a point to stop for a second and say hello to each and give a scratch or two behind the ears. [Marshmallows, both of them.] I do this for three reasons: [1] The dogs enjoy it, [2] I enjoy it, and [3] I want other people to observe this friendly exchange and hopefully THEIR attitudes will change for the better.

  10. EmilyS says:

    good thing the ADA doesn’t allow discrimination by breed…maybe these groups need to read the law?

    If people want to get off planes because these groups promulgate breed hatred, then they are welcome to do so.. and endure the far worse hell of trying to change their tickets. I hope they enjoy talking to some overseas “customer service” rep who barely speaks English and explaining the emergency that forced them off the plane.

  11. Madeleine says:

    The mass hysteria as a result of the media’s response to Pit Bull maulings is infuriating. It’s like saying all dark, swarthy people are terrorists. I can’t recall the last story I read where there was a positive angle about Pit Bulls. I wonder if anyone knows that the legendary Helen Keller, who was deaf, unable to speak and blind, had a Pit Bull as a companion…given to her by her parents. For more stories go to: the BE AWARE! link on I challenge all those top-of-the-food-chain, smartest-of-all-species people, to start thinking for yourselves. START doing some research into this loyal, affectionate breed of dog. And STOP blaming a dog for what people are responsible for. And STOP believing everything you read. That’s the real danger.

  12. The Lioness says:

    This is really stupid. The dog is certified. People need to shut up and leave this man and his dog alone! Criminy!

    I also like that he stated himself he did it to show that pits can be great dogs.

    I knew someone who had to rehome one of her pits due to dog aggression. The dog was a lovebug. If I had been able, I would have taken her in a heartbeat!

  13. Robert Davis says:

    My best friend and I have come to heads on the issue since he wants all pit pulls banned…..I’ve explained that if he is concerned with public safety, why not enforce current laws? Why ban all in a breed or those you think are in a breed (since most just assume if it looks like a pit it must be - and that is not the case) because of the bad actions of the bad dog? Punish the deed not the breed!

    Robert Davis

  14. Lesliek says:

    I have a friend with 2 pb who were both found abandoned. The are the gentlest ,friendliest dogs I know. My cousin & her fiance have 2 rotties;again sweet & calm dogs. I have 3 dogs,1 is a beagle that I rescued from an abusive home. While she is loving & sweet with us,she attacks anyone else coming into our yard or house. I believe dogs of any breed react to the way people treat them. If you love & care for & socialize your dog,any breed is safe. If you abuse them & cause fear of people;any breed is not safe.

  15. pit bull mommy x4 says:

    I want to meet this gentlemen and is wonderful dog. Bob Marley is a true pit bull ambassador. I life in Virginia Beach and fully understand what Jeff and Bob are going through. I am training my 6 year old female for CGC and TDI certification. They take one look at her and inform us we are not welcome. My girl is a female version of Bob. I am so sick of the closed minded people who judge “a book by it’s cover” or by the press releases.

    If Jeff and Bob need a play mate and friend just let us know. Hang in their Jeff, we are making a difference one dog at a time.

  16. Jeanie says:

    What a great story! I’m glad Jeff is standing up for his dog! Who cares what breed Marley is??

  17. Dee says:

    I have had the pleasure of 2 pit bulls for best friends. My Bella is the best, sweetest, baby there is. My Bear was the best friend I had for 13 years. Anybody remember Petie, from the Little Rascals?

  18. Act Now says:

    I totally agree with what everyone has said. All of this crapola is nothing more than the piggy press having chosen another target - pitbulls. They continually feed the frenzy and they are assisted by ignorant organizations such as these and the HSUS.

    99% of the people in this country, including animal control agents, cops and judges wouldn’t know a pit bull if it bit them in the a**. Ever see the site~ ?
    Check it out. None of the “dog people” I know could for sure pick out the real pit.

    I am glad that Jeff and Harley are getting at least a little publicity. It’s things like this and the dogs that Cesar Milan uses that help to counteract the public stupidity. As always, it’s not the dogs - it’s the Michael Vicks of the world that are the problem.

  19. Pit Bull Lover says:

    Bunny the Pit Bull and I thank you all for your comments in support of Jeff and his unjustly maligned service dog, Marley - who just happens to be a “pit bull.” I know how gentle and indiscriminately welcoming *my* 65lb American Pit Bull Terrier is (toward all dogs - even those who are rude to her, and all people - whether they are strangers to her and “different” from me or not), but I’m grateful to read your kind and open-minded comments.

    I’m proud of Jeff Hayman and grateful to Tidewater K-9 Academy for training Marley (Good job, Marley!) to be a hearing aide canine and companion. I know Jeff’s and Marley’s story will help those of us who, every day, strive to restore the rightful and honorable reputations of the American Pit Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. “Pit bulls” all.

  20. Sylvia says:

    It is ridiculous to discriminate against a breed just because some idiotic people have abused the breed - the people who misuse pit bulls are the ones who should be getting a bad name NOT the dogs - and shame on the Canine Companions people, they should know better.

  21. Lynne says:

    How did we come to this? The Little Rascals had a pit bull companion. So did Buster Brown. The most decorated dog in American history was a pit bull. They used to symbolize the best of America but now have labeled a menace. When did this change happen?

    This is absurd.

  22. Aymee says:

    I myself am a mother to a 110 lb male Rottie who loves to make friends and is a big wuss. About a year ago I was walking him out to get the mail and a Golden Retriever from accross the street attacked him. My dog yelped and coward behind me. I was able to grab the dog by the scruff and pin her dogs but not before recieving several bites and a lot of claw marks. I have scars on my arms to this day. I have nothing against Golden retrievers and think they are wonderful dogs but this just shows that stereotypes and switch roles. I’ve raised my dog to be social, diciplined, and loving and some people neglect training and socialization all together simply for the sake of a lawn ornament or social status. This is where the problem is and not with the breed.

  23. emm says:

    according to their logic we shouldnt have youths out, becuase of their “reputation”

  24. Millie says:

    I am absolutely aghast by this article. Have we truly progressed so far in our hatred without knowledge that we discriminate against an entire breed of innocent dogs? And that the very people who are supposed to know better, to have experience working with dogs, are perpetuating this atrocious viewpoint! Shame on them.

    Congrats to Marley and Jeff Hayman. Your success should not be met with such disparagement.

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