Losing Faith in the HSUS
For me, as an advocate, it’s difficult to write about an organization the does do some good, often great good, that does have some excellent messages and that does, in it’s own way, fight, but there are some things that cannot be overlooked anymore or swept under the carpet of indifference.
The HSUS has a strong stance against dog fighting and this is to be applauded and commended but their outdated beliefs and views on pitbulls the have any association with dogfighting is just WRONG! They say they don’t “encourage or support” BSL, but they support killing any and all dogs, ie. pitbulls, that have any association with dogfighting. Last week this led to the senseless death of 146 dogs, as many as 60 of them puppies, some as young as 2-months-old, in Wilkes County, NC. Many of these puppies were not even born when the dogs were seized so their “association” is tenuous at best but the HSUS believed that just because these puppies may have come from dogs that may have been bred for training, they were beyond hope. And they paid the price for the belief with their lives. They didn’t even have a chance!
This has many animal advocates up in arms and losing whatever faith they may have had and for others it has reinforced they belief that the HSUS needs to seriously rethink their views. Most are not so tactful about this as I am trying to be.
No Kill Nation gives you an overview of what many people are thinking and feeling and let me tell you, no one is applauding the HSUS. People are angry, they are pissed!
Brent over at KC Dog Blog says he doesn’t blame the Judge for his decision because he really didn’t have much of a choice, legally, he does however place blame and condemnation at the feet of the HSUS;
However, my problem is with the Humane Society of the United States being the cheerleader in their killing. John Goodwin, the “dogfighting” kingpen at HSUS, has oft said that the dogs have been bred for fighting and it would be difficult and expensive to “retrain” the dogs.
And yet, the folks at Best Friends were willing to do just that. They had sent letters to the judge and prosecuting attorney hoping to be able to go in, and do evaluations on the dogs and see if any of them were non-aggressive and could be saved.
They were of course, denied. While HSUS stood on the sidelines applauding the decision.
You sure can’t fault that reasoning or his condemnation of the HSUS. I am seeing this, these feeling, this anger everywhere. People are talking about this all over the country and those that know and care, are pretty much universal in their condemnation.
A good friend and reader here sent me an email after this went down. She has always been a big support and defender of the HSUS, even she is losing faith…
Ya know..I have come to the HSUS’ defense more than once..You know that… But this whole thing about the ridiculous prejudice against those poor pitbulls has really shaken my faith in them… Just like everybody else I come in contact with, I will pat them on the back when they deserve it, and I will also give them hell if they deserve it!! Trying to say those dogs were “hopeless” was just..well… Stupid!!!!! Why would anyone think such a thing?!! Why?!
And what is the HSUS saying? Well, seems Erin over at B-More Bulldogs put the question to them and both from John Goodman and Nadya Vera she got the same “form letter” email response;
Thank you for contacting us regarding a county judge’s decision in North Carolina to euthanize fighting dogs seized from the property of notorious dogfighting kingpin Ed Faron. We understand your concern about the judge’s order to euthanize the dogs, and it is always a tragic outcome when healthy animals meet such a fate. But the blame lies with Mr. Faron, and not with county officials or The Humane Society of the United States. While we may not endorse every action of the county, we are grateful to them for working with The HSUS to bust a man who is responsible for an enormous amount of cruelty to dogs, and to bring him to justice.
No organization has done more to attack and harm the dogfighting industry than The HSUS. We’ve probably invested more in combating dogfighting than all other humane groups combined, and to great effect. We are principally responsible for the strong state and federal laws that make the practice a felony and ban possession and sale of fighting animals, and we have trained thousands of law enforcement personnel on investigating and raiding fighting operations. What’s more, it is our training, investigations, and rewards programs that are resulting in the arrest of countless dogfighters and the seizure of thousands of fighting dogs (which are, according to the dogfighters, an asset they lose upon seizure).
We are involved in dogfighting busts on almost a weekly basis, and the handling of Mr. Faron’s dogs raises the same questions that confound us constantly. With approximately 600,000 pit bulls killed in shelters each year, why should fighting dogs, which obviously require more resources to manage and which pose an obvious threat to other animals, get placed in favor of other equally deserving pit bulls and other breeds slated for euthanasia? In a local jurisdiction that has perhaps hundreds of other pit bulls waiting for loving homes, why not save them in favor of fighting dogs that will cost far more to handle on a per dog basis? How do we solve the larger pit bull problem in the nation, since we have an epidemic of dogfighters and others breeding them for aggression and for uses other than as companions?
We conducted a long-term investigation that led to the arrest of Mr. Faron and the seizure of his fighting dogs. He is considered one of the “Godfathers” of dogfighting, and it was our goal to put him out of business, just as it is our goal to target other industry leaders, in order to prevent thousands of dogs for use in fighting pits. Had it not been for our investigation, most of his dogs would have suffered immensely in a fighting pit in the weeks and months ahead. And who knows how many other dogs he would have bred to face this same fate.
It is now an HSUS policy to recommend an evaluation of all fighting dogs. In this case, The HSUS offered to pay for an additional professional evaluator to assess the dogs, even though we were skeptical that these dogs could be safely rehabilitated. The county did not take us up on that offer. Without an affirmative professional evaluation to indicate that the dogs could be safely placed in a new setting, we could not recommend adoption of these dogs who had been bred for generations for their instinct to kill.
While separate evaluations were not done, it is safe to say Faron’s dogs have been bred to produce animals with an unstoppable desire to fight, even in the face of extreme pain and fear. Professional dogfighters typically “cull” the dogs that don’t exhibit gameness or aggression, and only keep and breed the ones that exhibit the desired traits. For proof of that, we can refer to Faron himself, from his book about dogfighting: “His face had only just healed from that fight with the Wreckers’ dog and he got his nose chewed half off again, that night.”
“The gamest dog I ever saw in my life was King David. At ten minutes, his right leg was broken. At twenty-three minutes, his left leg was broken. At thirty-seven he scratched on stumps, and at forty-eight minutes when he scratched he scratched down one wall and down the other ….until he got to Beau again.””
” I mean, he broke muzzles, crushed skulls- we saw him bite dogs in the chest and their chest would literally collapse. That was Beau…”
Game-bred dogs pose a risk to other dogs not just because of training, but more importantly because of breeding for aggressive characteristics. Even no-kill shelters typically recommend euthanasia of obviously dangerous dogs.
These fighting dogs do not compare with the dogs from amateur “street fighters,” who typically take any, random pit bull and try and force them to fight. If pit bulls have not been bred for generations to have a “fight crazy” instinct, even if they have been exposed to dogfighting, they have a chance of being rehabilitated. This is why a substantial number of Michael Vick’s dogs were candidates for rehabilitation, after the court ordered Vick to pay $1 million as a set-aside to provide care and retraining for the dogs.
Once game-bred dogs are confiscated from a fighting situation, there are very few good options. There are no sanctuaries that exist for the thousands of game-bred dogs confiscated each year, and as a nation, there are hundreds of thousands of pit bulls awaiting adoptions in shelters every year. The resources that would be required to confine or rehabilitate fighting dogs could save many more dogs in shelters every year. So, in that sense, it is not a zero-sum game when it comes to euthanasia; it is a negative-sum game, and an inordinate focus on these few pit bulls would result in more euthanasia of other dogs. And if you impose upon rural counties – where most fighting busts occur – the burden of long-term holding of fighting pit bulls, then they may decline to intervene in criminal fighting cases, allowing the dogfighters to continue to operate.
There are tough choices to be made, and the only morally clear act is to attack the dogfighters where they live. We are the only national organization that has an entire unit devoted to this work on a national scale. That’s what we’ll continue to do.
Basically a “don’t blame us.”
She wrote back and let them know she was going to boycott them and encourage anyone and everyone she knew to do the same. This is also something I am seeing a lot of. People saying no more donations until the HSUS makes some changes and rethinks their stance.
How can an organization, one that is supposed to be one of the top animal advocacy organizations, promote the killing of dogs that have been abused and abused again. Should they not be above the hype rather than feeding it?
One statement really stands out in Nathan Winograd’s post, The Death of Hope at HSUS;
Every time HSUS defends killing, their antiquated, regressive viewpoints are not only harmful to animals, they make HSUS more and more irrelevant to animal sheltering and more and more despised by those who truly love animals. And they become more out of touch with public sentiment.
How can we, as animal lovers, as dog lovers, as defenders of pitbulls, as protesters against BSL and the abuse of dogs of all breeds, support an organization that routinely recommends killings and euthanization??
Sure the HSUS can run some great media campaigns, they’ve got millions and millions of dollars. But how many of those millions actually go toward the care of real animals in need?
Where were they when the Judge ordered Vick’s dogs spared? After all, they collected money for them… then they said, just like with the dogs at Wilkes County, kill them! Well Best Friends showed just what those dogs could become. They took the time and invested into training, loving and caring for those “dog fighting” dogs and rehabilitated them. BAD RAP also did. Some of these dogs have become certified therapy dogs, loving family dogs and more. These dogs that the HSUS branded as beyond hope now offer hope to many others and stand as ambassadors of their breed and amazing survivors.
Even Best Friends Society, as part of a coalition that also includes BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls), Animal Farm Foundation, Villa Lobos Rescue Center, Downtown Dog Rescue, The Sula Foundation and Our Pack, have come out with a scathing denunciation.
The court-ordered destruction of 145 dogs, including about 75 puppies, which were seized from a fighting dog breeding operation in December, was based on the faulty assumption that all dogs seized in dog-fighting related busts should arbitrarily be deemed dangerous and euthanized.
The decision to kill the dogs was supported by the largest animal welfare organization in the country, the Humane Society of the United States. Representatives of HSUS testified in Wilkes County Superior Court that the dogs had to be destroyed because they had been “bred for generations to be aggressive.”
HSUS reasserted its outdated policy, written more than 20 years ago: “Any dog who has been specifically bred or conditioned for fighting, or for which there is evidence that the dog has been used for fighting should not be placed for adoption by an animal shelter but humanely euthanized as soon as legally possible.”
“The coalition members and their supporters are urging HSUS to revaluate this policy and apply a more progressive approach that reflects the lessons learned by the animal welfare groups in the coalition, as well as other organizations that work directly with dogs”
The HSUS is a huge organization with unbelievable funding resources behind them. They can stand up and speak and make people listen but the more they talk this kind of talk, the more disillusioned that people who are listening are going to become. It’s time for them to stop advocating death! I am realistic enough to realize that at this point in time, not every dog or cat can be saved, but I like to hope there will be a major reform in that kind of thinking in the future and the HSUS should spearhead that effort and fund it, not fight it.
Yes, I am yet another of the many who are losing faith in the HSUS… they could, and should, do so much more. They can, so why don’t they. Time for them to step up, put their money on the line, put their reputation on the line and advocate for the true welfare of the animals….
And just a final word from Gina Spadafori over at Pet Connection:
If one of the progressive voices within the organization isn’t put in job of the HSUS’ John Goodwin very soon, then there really will be no reason for any pet-lover to send this organization a check, despite all their notable accomplishments in other areas.
If an organization founded to improve shelters can no longer recognize the way forward or continue forward itself, then it needs to step aside for those who can. And we as pet-lovers need to support the future, not the past.
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