Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Calif. group picks up some of Okla. Pit Bulls

A pit bull rescue and advocacy program based in the San Francisco area took as many of the pit bulls found starving in a rural area of Newkirk that the agency felt could be safely placed with families, Ruth Steinberger, state outreach coordinator for the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, said.

She would not say how many of the 94 animals were taken to California and how many had to be euthanized.

"There were a lot of feelings every direction. Some feel the dogs should be euthanized because there could be very serious aggressive issues with other animals," Steinberger said. "Some felt we should try to save all the dogs.

"Most people are not experts. We are not experts," she said."Bad Rap (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls) worked with some of the (professional football player Michael) Vick's dogs."

Vick is serving a 23 month sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth for federal dog fighting convictions.

Some involved with the care of the more than 100 pit bulls discovered in Oklahoma by hunters Dec. 2 feel the dogs were being used with good dogs to fight or practice.

One of the 96 dogs staked outside had to be euthanized right away. Ten puppies were found in a barn. Ten more were found in a house. Several of the puppies died as well. There were 94 dogs left when the Kay County court placed the animals in the care of the state alliance.

"This is the cruelest thing I ever saw," Kay County Sheriff Everette VanHoesen said. This goes way beyond abuse and neglect."

Steinberger said Ponca City veterinarian Seletha Sanders has several of the puppies she hopes she'll eventually be able to place out for adoption.

"People really need to remember these dogs and a lot of dogs in different facilities are victims," she said. "Forty percent of the dogs in animal shelters are pit bulls and a mix. Probably more than half that number die in animal shelters. There are just too many... and not enough homes."

Most people know pit bulls make good pets, Steinberger said. However, owners need to become more responsible owners and get their pets spayed and neutered. Producing a litter does not mean the puppies will be wonderful pets.

"They'll probably just clog the shelters," she said.

The dog's plight attracted attention across the country. Cash donations, dog food, cages and straw were donated. A number of people indicated interest in adopting one of the animals.

Steinberger praised the sheriff and county attorney offices for their efforts to care for the dogs. "They did not go for easy," she said. They went for quality.They were the best."

The two offices set an example of how crime can be stopped in Oklahoma, Steinberger said. Everybody involved pulled together.

"I would love to see some of the little old ladies who sent donations get a skillet and pound this guy," she said. "We're not going to tolerate abuse and neglect of kids or animals. No ordinary community should have to tolerate this."

A Wichita man, Jerry Southern, has been charged with 70 counts of animal cruelty. He is being held in the Kay County jail and is due back in court at 2 p.m. Jan. 16.

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