HSUS Takes A Stand, Fate of Pit Bulls Shifts

by Mary Haight on July 16, 2009

Since the eight State real-time reporting on the roll out of the biggest organized dogfighting ring raid in history concluded, there followed an almost immediate concern about the disposition of the 400+ dogs.  It seemed to some that the dogs might not be afforded the opportunity of individual6a00d83452e09d69e20115720eba10970b-800widedogfromhsus8state evaluation, given the negative stream of comments coming from all the organizations involved in the evaluation process.  This would be the first test of the loosely outlined  agreement  between HSUS, Best Friends, Bad Rap and others. (HSUS stated that their policy would change from the automatic recommendation of putting all fighting dogs to death, to one of  individual evaluation.)

Yesterday there was an announcement from HSUS that took a good deal of the concern and put it rest:

The Humane Society of the United States is assisting with the daily care of the 407 dogs being held at an emergency shelter in Missouri. These dogs are being held as the primary evidence in the largest one-day series of federal dogfighting raids in U.S. history.

 As federal law enforcement authorities are able to release the dogs, the Humane Society of Missouri as well as other key animal welfare organizations will provide expert evaluation of each dog to determine whether the dogs are suitable candidates for placement with rescue groups or permanent adoption…

…The HSUS has a policy of recommending that all dogs seized from such operations be professionally evaluated to determine whether they are suitable candidates for adoption.” (complete statement here)

This has been one of the most important changes in policy HSUS could have made, and it changes the future for these much maligned dogs. This turnabout will per force change the way media frames the story of these victims of violence as the root cause of the problem.  I say this with hope that the ignorance of breed bans will be revealed. Change is messy. The years of damage done to the reputed nature of the dog will take time to change, but with all the major animal agencies on essentially the same page, well, there just can’t be a more powerful message than that.

Photo credit: HSUS, dog from the raids

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