Meeting of the Minds

By on April 10, 2009 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

At The HSUS's Animal Care Expo this week, I spoke to the 1,600 attendees on how the humane movement should be united in working to reduce the number of healthy and treatable dogs and cats euthanized in shelters. It’s a subject I’ve written on before, and I was pleased to address the important animal care issue at Expo. With a diverse array of shelter leaders, animal control officers, and rescuers present, I did not hear anyone quarrel with my view or with the objective as stated.

Also at Expo, The HSUS and Best Friends organized a meeting of a diverse group of animal protection leaders to discuss the difficulty of handling pit bulls seized during raids of properties owned by dogfighters.

Black and white pit bull dog

This is especially relevant now because The HSUS—thanks to our Animal Fighting campaign, rewards program, tip line and investigations—is working with law enforcement to bust more dogfighters than ever.

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.

Today, The HSUS and Best Friends issued a joint statement as a follow-up to the meeting:

Animal Welfare Groups Announce New Collaboration to Save Pit Bulls

Best Friends Animal Society and The Humane Society of the United States announced that a summit meeting held this week in Las Vegas to discuss the disposition of dogs seized from dogfighting operations has led to a coalition of groups working together to help the canine victims of organized violence.

Among the outcomes of the meeting:

  • 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 dogfighters. 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.


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