Friday, July 10, 2009

Rehashing the bust

Everyone in the pit bull (and probably dog-loving) world has heard about the massive 6-state "fight bust" and the 450 pit bulls confiscated. The dogs will not be safe for possible placement until the disposition hearing, so for now, they will be - to put it nicely - stored at an undisclosed location (primary one being in Missouri, where 350+ dogs were confiscated).

We know things have changed since Vick's dogs were given a chance at adoption and none of them managed to eat anybody (yet, some might opine). Things had to change - no longer is it perfectly acceptable to kill dogs without, at the very least, giving them an evaluation. That isn't to say shelters and authorities across the country aren't killing healthy dogs from fight busts, they still are, but now the public seems to want accountability.

This is good, of course. But.

First, the "authorities" and I'm sure you've seen these quotes spattered about (I don't know if they were taken out of context or are true excerpts):

From the Humane Society of Missouri's press release comes this sound-byte:

It is a tragedy that because of mistreatment by humans for financial gain and so-called sport, many dogs used in animal fighting may not ever be able to be placed in a home situation. - Debbie Hill, vice president of Operations for the Humane Society of Missouri

I might buy this if the confiscation of puppy mill dogs also garnered these types of statements. Puppy millers breed for profit and arguably mistreat their animals. Yet these dogs, who often have debilitating or life-long health problems and are often aggressive or fraught with behavioral problems seem to get a free pass into a new home, no questions asked. It's almost implied dogs from puppy mills will be adopted. But another group of dogs who have been mistreated and used for profit are somehow exempt because? (And I'm sure plenty of people can come up with plenty of reasons why puppy mill dogs are somehow more worthy of a nice home than fight bust dogs).

And then there is the HSUS who supposedly was modifying their stance of kill, kill, kill when it comes to fight bust dogs.
I think it's pretty certain that a lot of those dogs will not pass a behavioral test. - Wayne Pacelle, CEO HSUS
Pretty certain? Like there is some magic scientific study somewhere that states unequivocally fight bust dogs cannot pass a behavioral test? Few fight bust dogs have been given the basic chance AT a behavioral test. I'm not one to argue fight bust dogs are at a disadvantage. It is not because I think fighting is, in of itself, a reason to kill a healthy dog. I think the social isolation, prolonged chaining and strange (by my dog-loving standards) relationship with humans creates a dog who has a harder time relating to the world outside the yard.

Photo: Associated Press
Okay, so the ones pulling the strings, "saving" these dogs from further fighting, we can see that their big picture is stopping dog fighting not so much as saving dogs (and I won't argue that that is inherently bad). They seem to have a very jaded view of these dogs even though every picture I've seen shows tail-wagging dogs being easily handled by their rescuers (hardly a menacing threat).
<-- Evidence of very dangerous dogs! (okay, look above)

Then there is the part of me who sits down to write this post and thinks, who the hell is going to adopt these dogs? Are there 450 homes who want a potentially unsocialized, potentially fearful dog (assuming the evaluations permit for appropriate fear)? Are there 450 homes available nearby that can even have a pit bull? Your normal, run of the mill, happy go lucky pit bull has a slim chance at adoption under normal circumstances. Even slimmer when you have shelters and rescues who either require special assessments for pit bull adopters or who just don't want to adopt out our mush-headed canine friends, for whatever reason.

So even if these dogs pass with flying colors, even if half of them succeed - who is going to incorporate them into their programs? 200+ dogs is a lot. I mean, a lot. Factor in the possibility that, at this stage, some or many will be too reactive around other dogs to be housed together and you require either the same setup they came from (tie down yard) or individual kennels or a bucketload of foster homes...of which there are few. The realities of this type of confiscation, as it pertains to the dogs, is a mixture of hope and, for me, a grim reality.

That is not to say those in charge should just pass the buck, claim it's too much work and therefore the dogs should just be killed (or God forbid, claim none of the dogs passed the evaluation). I suppose I shouldn't even think about any of that until the evaluations occur and the number who pass become public.

*sigh* Well, on a happier note, here's Mina with a horse, who she feels are as interesting as a tree stump and thus unworthy of her undivided attention. The horse was slighted.


Princess said...

The house would have loved Mina I'm sure! He certainly was slighted.

Thanks for your insite on the situation. I have those same thoughts running in my head, but haven't made since of them like you did in your post.

Can't help but let tears stream down my face as I read it and as I type this for putting thoughts about those dogs and their furture to print.

I'm glad there are what I think are 'normal humans' out there too, ones that love animals think they ALL deserve chances and so on. I've been sick to my stomach the past two days knowing that a RN, a little league coach, and other seemingly normal people were involved in this.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. ~Leah

PS I could kick HSUS in the shin for their STILL outdated thoughts and beliefs.

Princess said...

**house of course meaning horse...but I'm sure houses love Mina too.

Brent said...


Living not far from St. Louis where the dogs are being kept -- this was my first reaction too. Where in the heck are we going to go with all thest dogs?

And it's true, that if HSUS washes their hands of this situation and says "great, we saved them, now let the local rescues deal with them" then it's going to be a problem for the local groups to absorb all these dogs.

But HSUS has already started using this to aid in their fundraising (even though it's still pretty unclear to me if they even had anything at all to do with the bust). But HSUS, with their $200 million budget, and database of thousands of people could easily absorb all these dogs.

While rescues around the country need to be trying to find good foster homes for these dogs so we can absorb them on our own (500 dogs is only 10 dogs per state -- that shouldn't be too hard, right?) But at the same time, we must insist that HSUS not just take their fundraising money and run, and make this solely something the local people on the ground deal with.

EmilyS said...

as you say, this is more about "stopping" dogfighting than about the dogs. "Stopping" dogfighting is great for HSUS coffers. Until Vick, no one cared about the dogs (so, perversely, thank goodness for Vick). If it were about the dogs, HSUS/ASPCA would have established a semi-permanent holding facility for longterm care/rehabilitation of such a huge numbers of dogs (many of whom could probably have been left with their owners as in the Lincoln case Brent links at his place) and funded it, BEFORE the busts. As it is, this huge task is dumped on HS/Mo. and pit bull rescuers around the country, who will be accused of not stepping up to the plate when they can't absorb every dog. This bust was designed to ensure that as few as possible of the dogs get out alive. Mark my words.

Compare/contrast to any bust of puppymillers...