North Carolina residents urged to contact legislators to make sure this does not reoccur
A coalition of animal welfare groups has formed to protest the court-order to kill all the 127 American pit bull terriers
-60 of them puppies-seized from the Wildside Kennels in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
Led by Best Friends Animals Society
, the coalition includes BAD RAP
(Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls), Animal Farm Foundation
, Villalobos Rescue Center
, and Downtown Dog Rescue
Monday's Wilkesboro Superior Court order announced by Judge Ed Wilson would put all of the dogs down after their owner, Ed Faron had been sentenced to jail for 8-10 months. The dogs were seized Dec. 10, 2008 during a raid on Faron's Wildside Kennels.
Ledy VanKavage, an attorney for Best Friends Animal Society said, "With Faron's conviction North Carolina's law enforcement and judicial system sent a strong message that dog fighting will not be condoned in their state. We applaud their courage. Now, we ask them to show the same courage when it comes to innocent victims of dog fighting, the dogs themselves. We have ample evidence that the dogs from these situations should not be stereotyped and deserve an opportunity to be evaluated for potential adoptability."
The coalition is urging North Carolina, and other states, to let go of old, discredited policies that assume all such dogs are inherently damaged or dangerous. The most publicized example are the rousing successes of the dogs seized from Michael Vick's dog fighting operation: many of those dogs are now honored members of family, therapy dogs or making great strides with their rescue groups.
Best Friends is urging citizens to contact their state legislators to change North Carolina law and delete the clause in the law that makes it possible for dogs harbored for fighting to automatically be deemed "dangerous" dogs.
"Dogs should be judged as individuals," VanKavage said. "Their adoptability should be judged on their behavior and not their breed."
"Our experience has shown that every custody case reveals highly adoptable individuals that do not reflect the tragic circumstances into which they were born. Without evaluations, these dogs are lost," said Donna Reynolds Executive Director BAD RAP.
"Some of these dogs are mere puppies and there is absolutely no reason to destroy them," said VanKavage. "Why should an innocent puppy, born into this type of situation, face automatic death because of its breed?"
The groups point out that dogs raised for fighting shouldn't be summarily doomed. For example, 22 of the Michael Vick dogs at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, BADRAP, and other organizations have made great progress with dogs from the Vick fighting bust. Some of these dogs were condemned by other national humane organizations to be the most violent dogs in America. Now many have their Canine Good Citizenship
and some are therapy dogs
Rebecca Huss, the court-appointed Special Master in the Michael Vick dog fighting case involving Bad Newz Kennels said some of the dogs have undergone transformation and are serving others, some are in foster homes
, and a few have been adopted.
"It is consistent with public safety concerns to evaluate each dog as an individual to determine whether they can be placed in the community," Huss said. "It is my opinion that every dog should be evaluated on an individual basis. The Bad Newz Kennels case shows there is no reason for euthanizing dogs merely by their breed or location where it was seized."
HOW YOU CAN HELP
► Please do not let something like this happen again. Residents of North Carolina are urged to contact your state Senator, Representatives, and Senator Stan Bingham to request a redraft of North Carolina Statute NC 67-1 - 4.1 (a)(1)
Ask that the law be made stronger; however, insist on striking "b" from the definition of "Dangerous Dog" (remove "Any dog owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purpose of dog fighting, or any dog trained for dog fighting").
Remember, all dogs are individuals and should be evaluated as such, not lumped together by group or breed.
Senator Stan Bingham
16 W. Jones Street, Room 2117
Raleigh, NC 27601-2808
Find out who your state legislators are here
, by inputting your zip code + 4 (scroll down page, right hand column).
For more information
• Time Is Running Out For Dogs Seized In Dog Fighting Case
Posted by Jennifer Hayes, Best Friends staff
Photo credit: taken by Clay Myers, Best Friends photographer