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Humane Society of the U.S. finally changes its policy on fighting dogs

 

Careful – you might get cuddled to death by this sweetie    Photo: BestFriends.org 

In a reversal of their decades-old stance, the Humane Society of the United States has reportedly decided on a new interim policy that all dogs seized from fighting operations should now be evaluated for their suitability for adoption on a case-by-case basis.  This is a reversal of longstanding HSUS policy that any dog impounded from a fighting situation was inherently too dangerous to be safely placed in a home and should therefore be killed by authorities as soon as legally permissible.

[Author’s note: Though it is common practice to refer to such government-sanctioned killings of animals as “euthanasia,” the Merriam-Webster definition of euthanasia is “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy,” hence the term cannot truthfully be used to describe the killing of healthy animals who have not yet been determined to be irreversibly aggressive.]


Former Vick fighting dog Leo takes his job as a therapy dog very seriously  Photo: msnbc.com

The announcement of this change in policy came from the Best Friends Animal Society website, and has yet to appear on the HSUS website as of this writing.  A call to the Washington office of the HSUS was not returned.

The reversal comes in the wake of the recent killing of 146 pit bulls who were seized at or born after a raid on a fighting dog operation in Wilkes County, North Carolina.  Seventy of the dogs killed were puppies; nineteen of whom were born after the seizure had taken place.  The killings were ordered by Superior Court Judge Ed Wilson Jr. after testimony from local animal control officials and two representatives of the HSUS.  According the Best Friends website, Judge Wilson ordered that the dogs be killed “without evaluation to determine suitability for placement.”

Scarred ex-fighter, now therapy dog Hector snuggles with new mom Leslie Nuccio  Photo: Eric Risberg/AP

Prior to this incident, the Humane Society of the United States’ policy on fighting dogs came under public fire during the Michael Vick case, when HSUS representatives advocated the killing of all dogs seized from Vick’s “Bad Newz Kennels.”  Subsequent case-by-case evaluations ordered by Judge Henry Hudson revealed that only one dog was too aggressive to be safely placed with a rescue.  That dog was euthanized, another was euthanized due to severe health problems, and the rest were sent to rescues around the country.  Subsequently at least two of these dogs, Leo and Hector, who were considered experienced fighters due to their scars, have gone on to become therapy dogs who visit and comfort patients in hospitals.

I would like to note that I am a supporter of the Humane Society of the United States.  They have done unsurpassed work over decades to increase public awareness of cruelty to animals, including exposing the issue of puppy mills; their groundbreaking work in helping to pass Prop. 2 in California, which is an important first step in decreasing cruel farming practices; and their unparalleled work in exposing shocking cruelty to downed dairy cows headed for slaughter at the now-defunct Hallmark/Westland meat packing company, which led to the nation’s largest-ever beef recall. 

Their stance on fighting dogs, however, has been uncharacteristically rigid and inhumane and I am extremely glad that although it took the senseless, indiscriminate deaths of 146 dogs, HSUS is starting to reexamine their policy in this matter and the injustice of judging and condemning any creature without knowing them personally.

By:  Kate Woodviolet

Source:  Examiner.com – LA Pet Rescue Examiner

Posted By:  Ask Marion – Just One More Pet

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Dogtown

March 21, 2009 Posted by | Animal Rescues, Just One More Pet, Pets, Political Change, Stop Euthenization, Success Stories | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments