HSUS and Best Friends Meet on Pit Bull Policy

by Mary Haight on April 13, 2009

An American Pit Bull Terrier, one of several b...
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As reported here previously on the long-standing rift between HSUS and many in the animal welfare community regarding pit bull policy and the disposition of suspected or confirmed fighting dogs involved in police “busts”, the following are the outcomes of the Las Vegas meeting as reported on Best Friends website:

The HSUS has a new policy of recommending that all dogs seized from fighting operations be professionally evaluated, according to agreed upon standards, to determine whether they are suitable candidates for adoption. Dogs deemed suitable for placement should be offered as appropriate to adopters or to approved rescue organizations. The HSUS will update its law enforcement training manual and other materials to reflect this change in policy.

• The groups agree that all dogs should be treated as individuals, and they are the true victims of this organized crime. They also agree to support law enforcement and animal control agencies when decisions must be made regarding the dogs deemed unsuitable for adoption and in cases when rescue organizations and adopters are unable, within a reasonable timeframe, to accept dogs from such raids that have been offered for adoption.

• The organizations will form a working group to develop future protocols for cooperation in addressing the needs of dogs seized in raids, such as how to assist with the housing of fighting dogs, how to conduct professional evaluations, and how to screen potential adopters.

The summit meeting was convened to address the matter of dogs seized as a result of cruelty investigations, particularly due to the increase in HSUS-led enforcement actions against dog fighters.

Participants at the meeting included Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society of the United States, BAD RAP, ASPCA, National Animal Control Association, Maddie’s Fund, Nevada Humane Society, and Spartanburg Humane Society.”

Wayne Pacelle, head of HSUS, blogged the same statement along with this:
“In the past, animals seized from these operations have been routinely euthanized.  This may still be the outcome for the animal victims of dogfighters, but we agreed as a number of groups that all of us should do our best to evaluate dogs seized from these operations and adopt those dogs who can be saved.”

This is the beginning, and there’s a lot of work ahead.  Agreed standards of evaluation need to be formulated  to determine which dogs can be saved, dogs awaiting their adjudication need defined standards of care, and handlers need to report their findings to shelters on each individual dog accepted for adoption.  Most in the animal welfare community are hopeful that significant change will result from this joint effort.  We’ll keep you up-to-date as news occurs.

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