Thursday, February 19, 2009

Coalition Urges HSUS to Revise Policy on Dogs Seized in Fighting Busts




Full article here


"The court-ordered destruction Monday of 145 dogs, including about 75 puppies, which were seized from a fighting dog breeding operation in December, was based on the faulty assumption that all dogs seized in dog-fighting related busts should arbitrarily be deemed dangerous and euthanized. We are disheartened and shocked that HSUS, a leader in the animal welfare community, would testify in court for the automatic destruction of puppies and dogs, who had not been given the opportunity to be evaluated as individuals, based on this policy. The Michael Vick dogs have proven how antiquated this approach is."

Wilkesboro, NC (Vocus) February 19, 2009 -- The court-ordered destruction Monday of 145 dogs, including about 75 puppies, which were seized from a fighting dog breeding operation in December, was based on the faulty assumption that all dogs seized in dog-fighting related busts should arbitrarily be deemed dangerous and euthanized.



The decision to kill the dogs was supported by the largest animal welfare organization in the country, the Humane Society of the United States. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, representatives of HSUS testified in Wilkes County Superior Court that the dogs had to be destroyed because they had been 'bred for generations to be aggressive.' HSUS reasserted its outdated policy, written more than 20 years ago: 'Any dog who has been specifically bred or conditioned for fighting, or for which there is evidence that the dog has been used for fighting should not be placed for adoption by an animal shelter but humanely euthanized as soon as legally possible.'

A Best Friends Animals Society-led coalition offered resources to the county for evaluation, spay/neuter, and support in finding homes for qualified dogs. These animal welfare organizations, which have extensive experience with rescued fighting dogs, urged Wilkes County to accept their offer of support for an alternative approach, such as was used in the Michael Vick case. The coalition includes BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls), Animal Farm Foundation, Villa Lobos Rescue Center, Downtown Dog Rescue, The Sula Foundation and Our Pack.

“We are disheartened and shocked that HSUS, a leader in the animal welfare community, would testify in court for the automatic destruction of puppies and dogs, who had not been given the opportunity to be evaluated as individuals, based on this policy. The Michael Vick dogs have proven how antiquated this approach is,” said Ledy VanKavage, an attorney with Best Friends Animal Society.

In 2006 HSUS advocated that all of the dogs from the Michael Vick dog fighting case be put down for the same reasons they used when recommending the killing of the Wilkes County pit bulls. In that case a federal court appointed a Special Master to oversee the evaluation of Vick’s dogs, all of which were adults. Many of the Vick dogs are now in adoptive homes, and at least two of the so-called “aggressive fighting dogs” are therapy dogs that visit hospitals to cheer up ailing patients.