Thursday, January 22, 2009

Animal group offers to help with pit bulls

WILKESBORO - Best Friends Animal Society, one of the country's largest animal sanctuaries, is offering to pay an expert to assess more than 127 pit bulls owned by Wilkes County, to spay or neuter those dogs deemed adoptable, and to network with rescue groups to place the dogs in homes.

The dogs were seized from the owner of Wildside Kennels, Ed Faron, 61, during a raid Dec. 10 at his house off Mertie Road in Wilkes County. The county now owns the dogs after Faron failed to meet a court-ordered deadline last Thursday to pay the county $52,925 for the dogs' care. He has a March 4 court date on a felony charge of dogfighting.

County officials have said that if Faron is convicted of dogfighting, the dogs will be euthanized. Animal-advocacy groups differ about whether pit bulls bred or trained for fighting can be successfully adopted as pets.

About half of the dogs seized were puppies. Two or three litters have been born since the raid, according to county officials, who did not know an exact number.

Ledy VanKavage, an attorney for Best Friends in Utah, said that it is not fair to condemn all of the dogs, especially the puppies. "Genetics is not everything," she said. "Dogs are individuals just like people are, and their temperament should be evaluated as individuals."

Best Friends is home to about 2,000 animals, and is the setting for the National Geographic Channel television program Dogtown.

Dawn McCartney, who operates Second Chance Pit Bull Rescue in Rougemont, near Durham, said she could take in some of the dogs. She requires adoption contracts, checks references and does not adopt dogs to people who plan to keep them primarily in the yard rather than inside the home.

McCartney has had pit bulls for 25 years and disagrees with the idea that dogs bred for fighting are so inherently aggressive that their offspring are not adoptable.

A spokesman for Best Friends said that the agency has left a message about the offer with county officials but has not been able yet to speak with them. Attempts to reach county officials yesterday were unsuccessful.

■ Monte Mitchell can be reached in Wilkesboro at 336-667-5691 or at mmitchell@wsjournal.com.

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