Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More on the North Carolina mess

Apparently the HSUS sent out a press release saying that they were disappointed with the media hungry rescuers who had tried to suggest the North Carolina pit bulls be properly assessed before any decisions were made. I always love it when someone sends out a press release to alert the media that those other people are just trying to get attention.

Meanwhile, here's the note we sent out today from The Sula Foundation:

Dear Friends,

We had a great time at our Barkus booth on Sunday, and it was wonderful to meet so many of you as you stopped by to say hello, pick up a bumper sticker, and sign up to join us at future events.

We also had a successful week of adoptions, with Rosanne, Lucinda and Foxy Brown all finding their permanent homes. Particular thanks go out to Pit Stop Rescue and Pits Pounding the Pavement in Tampa for helping us with a home check in Lakeland, FL.

Unfortunately, most pit bulls aren’t that lucky. Yesterday in North Carolina, over 140 pit bulls were euthanized following testimony from representatives of the Humane Society of the United States. The dogs had been taken in a dogfighting/breeding raid in December. The HSUS argued that the dogs should be put down without any evaluation, including over 50 puppies, some born since the raid. They took this same stand in the Michael Vick case, in which all but two dogs were proven to be sound. In fact, many of the dogs are now in homes and working as therapy dogs. I spent a good part of Tuesday morning on the phone and email with our friends at Bad Rap, Best Friends, and Animal Farm Foundation, as well as with a few reporters and eventually HSUS itself.

I asked HSUS what, specifically, their policy is regarding pit bulls. They told me they were drafting a statement as we spoke. (Later in the day, at 5pm, someone else I know called, independent of me, and was told they were still working on it.) But in my conversation with their representative, I was told several contradictory things: they favored euthanasia because law enforcement would be reluctant to conduct raids if the dogs were required to be evaluated; the breeder bragged about his dog’s “gameness” and game dogs can never be trusted (this is, in fact, not true); street-bred dogs are more readily rehabilitated (again, not true); and, most incredibly, they claimed that the Vick dogs were easy to rehab because the breeders sold their worst (i.e., least game) dogs to Vick. I told them I would trust a temperament test before the word of a breeder.

It will be interesting to see what they actually say when they do release a statement.

Of course, we all know that the overpopulation of pit bulls makes euthanasia an unfortunate reality. But in a case like this, evaluating the animals as individuals is vital. If the animals are, in fact, so poorly bred and so abused, wouldn’t a written evaluation be helpful, even if they are beyond help? Yet, the HSUS continues to send the dangerous message that dogs can be judged by their breed, which unfortunately leads people to believe that the people involved are somehow less responsible than the dogs themselves. This doesn’t make anyone safer.

On a much brighter note, the LA-SPCA Dog Day Afternoon is coming up on March 29th. We’ve set up a fundraising page to show how much support the pit bull community can give. You can make a donation, join our fundraising team, or register to participate in the walk by going to http://www.active.com/donate/dogday09/sula

We will be updating our blog with news about the NC case, and hope to soon have a new website in the works.

Thanks,

The Sula Foundation

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Humane Society and pit bulls

Yesterday a judge in North Carolina ordered 127 pit bulls (nearly half were puppies) euthanized after hearing testimony from two representatives of the Humane Society of the United States. On hearing this, a logical person might assume that the Humane Society was urging them to evaluate the dogs before making any decision. Yet the opposite is true; the Humane Society was once again suggesting that these dogs should be put down without evaluation--that there was no way they could be redeemed. The Humane Society also campaigned for the euthanization for Micheal Vick's dogs without evaluation--while at the same time running a fundraiser on their website suggesting that money would be used for the dogs' care. All but two of Vick's dogs were saved, and most are now celebrities, featured on TV shows, in Sports Illustrated, etc.

Why would they take this stand, which seems at odds with their normally extreme support of animals in even the most unlikely cases? I'm guessing it has to do with their efforts to end animal fighting--legislation would be easier to pass if people believe that the damage done to the animals cannot be reversed. Or, perhaps even more cynically, they haven't figured out a way to make money off of pit bulls, so they aren't interested in promoting them. (They do have huge success raising money on the puppy mill issue, which actually only affects 8% of the dog population, while pit bulls make up perhaps 20%).

I put a call in to their media rep this morning, and asked for a statement on exactly what their position is regarding pit bulls. I haven't heard anything yet, but it'll certainly make an interesting story.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Louisiana SPCA's Dog Day Afternoon is coming...

On March 29th, the Louisiana SPCA's Dog Day Afternoon will take place in City Park. This is the first time that City Park has been the location for the event--in the past, it has always been held at Audubon Park.

You can make a contribution to my fundraising efforts my following this link. Or you can join me as part of The Sula Foundation's team. We're hoping to raise at least $1,500 for the SPCA.