Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Shelter Director Debates Adopting Out Pit Bulls

IACC Director Says Every Dog Deserves Same Chance

INDIANAPOLIS -- The new director of Indianapolis Animal Care and Control said he wants to look into the possibility of adopting out pit bulls.

Current policy dictates that any pit bull, regardless of its history, is euthanized if it cannot be placed with a rescue organization within four days, 6News' Renee Jameson reported.

But new IACC Director Doug Rae said that every dog that ends up at the shelter should get the same chance to live, as long as it doesn't have a history of violent behavior.

"We're going to make sure we don't take aggressive animals from this facility and put them out there, put them in a situation where they will bite," he said. "That's why I'm going to hire a full-time animal behaviorist to address that issue alone."

Amy Lyon, who runs the pit bull rescue group Astro, said Monday she was pleased with the decision to try to find more homes for pit bulls and said the breed shouldn't be singled out.

Rae said that he believes pit bulls are often the product of bad environments, but are not necessarily aggressive on their own.

"What I say to those people is those dogs who bit were probably with irresponsible pet owners. They raised them the wrong way," he said.

But the mother of Amaya Hess, who was 2-year-old when she was severely mauled by a pit bull in the summer of 2006, said she was concerned about the policy switch.

"A pit bull is like a loaded gun," said Bobbie Tomlin. "And if you leave a loaded gun in the middle of the street, someone's going to call the police and the police are going to come pick that up because if it gets in the wrong hands, the wrong person, the wrong child, the wrong anything, that gun can hurt somebody. That gun can potentially kill somebody."

Amaya, who has had many reconstructive surgeries since the attack, is now in preschool.

Rae said no pit bull with a history of aggression and biting would be adopted out. Those dogs will either go to a rescue group or be put down.

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