Best Friends New Coalition

by Mary Haight on February 21, 2009

Michael Vick's dog gets new home. AWWWW!

Image by wwritter via Flickr

I had an interesting, useful comment made by a reader that was still bouncing around my head when I came across a blog by Anne over at ohmidog about euthanasia.  Anne was questioning when to stop using the word “euthanasia” when what is happening is something else entirely, referring to  an article on Best Friends site. 

Prompted by what was happening to the dogs after a sweep of a fighting dog breeder last December, Best Friends decided to draw public attention to the 20-year-old HSUS policy on the disposition of these dogs, given HSUS’s considerable influence both on law enforcement and animal control policies, and nationally as experts called to testify in court cases.

According to Best Friends, The Wilkes County court adjudicating this case determined that all 145 dogs, including approximately 75 puppies, claimed from the fighting dog breeding operation had to be destroyed.  This decision was fully supported by HSUS, one of the largest animal welfare organizations in the US.  The decision is based on the outdated theory that fighting dogs have been “bred for generations to be aggressive” and must therefore be destroyed, a conclusion that has been discredited across the country by those agencies who actually work with these dogs. 

Current practice recognizes dogs as individuals, requiring evaluation as such before determining fitness for rehabilitation.  A recent very public example of this practice can be cited in the success with the Michael Vick dogs.  After evaluation, most of them were determined to be adoptable, and are currently living out much happier lives with their new people.  Two of them are even therapy dogs in hospitals, giving comfort to those in need. (There are many such successes happening  across the country not so well publicized.)  HSUS  testified in court in the case of Vick dogs, advocating they all be destroyed.

Best Friends, and the coalition of experienced organizations working with them, offer assistance in such cases across the US.  It was not accepted in the Wilkes County case.  The Best Friends coalition recognizes all the good HSUS does, and is asking for an intelligent, thoughtful change in their policy given the facts. 

Policy is not, after all, meant to be forever static when it is proven to be out of sync with new discoveries and peer-reviewed studies.  What would happen if none of us ever changed our thinking on any matter? 

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