HSUS gets slammed for pushing dog killings

February 20, 2009

When the HSUS made some moves towards accepting the basic premise of no-kill — that killing pets for population control won’t be necessary if the shelter industry will change its business model — even no-kill flame-thrower Nathan Winograd had some good words for the nation’s largest, richest and most influential animal-advocacy group:

In 2008, HSUS stated that the public does care about companion animals and is not to blame for their killing in shelters, that killing animals in shelters is “needless,” that we can be a No Kill nation today, and that “pet overpopulation” is more myth than fact. […] This [came] after announcing that staunch and unapologetic pro-No Kill advocates Susanne Kogut and Bonney Brown will be speaking at Expo 2009, HSUS’ animal sheltering conference. ‘

{…]

This language is like nothing that has ever come out of HSUS on the companion animal issue, and it is my most fervent hope that it will signal a permanent shift away from HSUS’ historical role of legitimizing and providing political cover for shelters mired in killing. And while it is still much too early to uncork the champagne […], there is some reason for hope.

So much for hope. Winograd now joins Best Friends, BADRAP and other groups — and countless pet-lovers — in blistering the HSUS for its role in the killing of 145 dogs seized — or born after — a dog-fighting bust.  (Winograd notes that some puppies were actually taken from their foster homes to be killed.)

Yesterday, Best Friends led the charge, leading a coalition of outrage and issuing a withering statement:

The court-ordered destruction of 145 dogs, including about 75 puppies, who 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 be deemed dangerous – and consequently 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 (HSUS). According to the Winston-Salem Journal, 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HSUS reasserted its outdated policy, written more than 20 years ago: “Any dog who has been specifically bred or conditioned for fighting, or for which there is evidence that the dog has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.”

A coalition of animal welfare organizations, led by Best Friends Animal Society, offered resources to the county to evaluate, spay/neuter, and find homes for qualified dogs.

For his part, Winograd writes that the actions of the HSUS shows that group still doesn’t “get it” when it comes to changing the attitudes and practices at the nation’s shelters, both of which the HSUS was in large part responsible for creating over the last half-century:

Before the dogs were killed, rescue groups were offering to help and calling for HSUS and Wilkes County officials to give the dogs clemency unless and until they are individually assessed and a rehabilitation plan, where possible, was devised for each of the dogs. HSUS refused. In reply, HSUS’ John Goodwin wrote:

Wilkes County euthanizes 3,000 healthy, adoptable animals a year simply because there are not enough good homes opening their doors to these needy animals. I find it disturbing that the groups clamoring for media attention over these 127 dogs raise no fuss, and offer no assistance, for the other 3,000 dogs put down in that county each year.

Are Goodwin and his cohorts at HSUS out of their minds? Are we back to blaming pet overpopulation? What happened to HSUS’ claims of just a few short months ago that that the public does care and is not to blame for their killing, that killing animals in shelters is “needless,” that we can be a No Kill nation today, and that “pet overpopulation” is more myth than fact?

[…]

What happened is that when they made those statements, Maddie’s Fund was dangling a check in front of them and the check came with the statement attached for their signature.

Read more here. In the meantime, the HSUS spent the week patting itself on the back for a puppy-mill bust, for fighting factory farms and for its pay cuts. On its home page, press release page and top dog Wayne Pacelle’s blog, nothing at all about the group’s role in the decision to kill the dogs it had patted itself on the back for saving from a dog-fighter.

I’m guessing there are lots of people inside the HSUS who have real problem with killing these dogs without individual evaluations, especially the puppies, especially those puppies born in foster homes. The Vick case proved that being born a fighter didn’t mean you weren’t really a lover — why doesn’t the HSUS officially and institutionally get that and support individual evaluations for fight-bust dogs?

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.

(Image: Vick survivor Jonny Justice, image courtesy of BADRAP)

Filed under: no-kill,non-profits and charities,pets, connected — Gina Spadafori @ 8:56 am

85 Comments »

  1. I don’t know. There’s some part of me that keeps saying that issuing withering press releases is…too late.

    They won. The dogs are dead. HSUS does “get it,” they just think they’re right. They wanted the dogs dead, now they are.

    All the justified indignant fury in the world isn’t going to change that we lost all those dogs. And today I wonder if it will do any good for next time. Is it a matter of having to chain ourselves to the kennels? I don’t know. It just seems like the cycle of they kill and we catch up is endless.

    I’m just feeling sad and cynical today, I guess.

    Comment by Lori — February 20, 2009 @ 9:20 am

  2. I get the sad and cynical. I really do.

    But I also know that five years ago no one would have even questioned the killing of these dogs.

    That’s progress. Next step: Change.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 9:22 am

  3. Is it a matter of having to chain ourselves to the kennels? I don’t know.

    Oddly, I was thinking about this or some other form of civil disobedience just the other day, in contemplating this nightmare.

    What crossed my mind is, “What if the vets and/or euthanasia techs simply refused to kill these dogs?”

    Filing lawsuits and issuing press releases is essential, but they can’t be the whole story. And when it comes to talking about pit bulls, getting media attention is not exactly rocket science.

    I don’t really know what would be the best stragegy, but as with so many grass roots movements, I suspect that whatever a large number of people are feeling an impulse to do without prompting is probably the way to start.

    This HAS TO STOP.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 20, 2009 @ 9:50 am

  4. As Carrie Fisher’s character kept saying in When Harry Met Sally “You’re right, you’re RIGHT. I know you’re right.”

    ::hangs head::

    Just having a hard time getting there today. If there are people that could change things, it would be the people who “hang around” Pet Connection.

    Comment by Lori — February 20, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  5. Christie-I thought the same thing. I thought I would be the one with swat teams outside my house and every media outlet in the country with them. Sorry no way I could surrender a foster dog or puppy who lived in my home to be killed that I KNEW was not a dangerous dog. Then I got to thinking that these people must have been threatned with job loss and must not be able to afford to loose their jobs, and I tried to have a little sympathy for them. I am still trying.

    Comment by nancy freedman-smith — February 20, 2009 @ 10:04 am

  6. Comment by nancy freedman-smith — February 20, 2009 @ 10:04 am

    I’m sure they were threatened with JAIL since the HSUS helped get a COURT ORDER for the destruction of these dogs.

    Comment by YesBiscuit! — February 20, 2009 @ 10:07 am

  7. While this hidden tactic of ordering the deaths of the animals you’ve just saved might have worked in the 70’s or even the 80’s, it started to crumble in the 90’s when, through the internet, the news became bigger than the official press release.

    Now the news is instant, (inter)national and driven by blogs and on the spot reporting. We all can recognize the press release is only one piece of the puzzle. With this new power, EVERYONE knows about the killings of the dogs (a fact conveniently left out of all HSUS publicity) and not surprisingly the public finds it completely unacceptable.

    It doesn’t take a PR genius to recognize that in a world where “pets” have become “companions” the general population might be in an uproar over this slaughter.

    I’m sure someone at HSUS is thinking, PeTA does the same thing, they kill the animals they claim to save, and there’s not this kind of uproar… well that’s because PeTA has never marketed themselves as the champions of pets and few (if any) people even take them seriously.

    HSUS has.

    It’s time for them to step up and make the changes.

    Comment by Sue Cosby — February 20, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  8. It’s not about blaming whoever actually did the killing of these dogs, or the foster homes that gave them up — they’re cogs in a wheel much bigger than they are, and this isn’t about them.

    It’s about finding someone who can and will make a splashy stand and do civil disobedience by refusing to do these things because they’re WRONG, in order to make a point and get press.

    I would never want to see the “blame” shifted to the little guy in the euthanasia room when it belongs to big, well-funded organizations who know better and must be forced to DO better, too. But finding a “little guy” who is willing to chain herself to a kennel to protest this kind of slaughter might be a very useful thing.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 20, 2009 @ 10:34 am

  9. Oddly, I was thinking about this or some other form of civil disobedience just the other day, in contemplating this nightmare.

    Same here. I almost wonder if it’s time to take a page out of Peta’s civil disobedience/media frenzy playbook, and turn it back around on the HSUS.

    Let’s see how they like being on the receiving end of the AR tactics so many of their members helped pioneer. Plus, think of the press!

    Comment by FrogDogz — February 20, 2009 @ 10:35 am

  10. Hmmm …. like showing up at PETA events dressed as pink syringes?

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  11. How about a million dog-owner march on Washington? (one of my dreams is to fill the Mall with people who have had it up to here with overregulation, erosion of civil rights and the wolves in sheep’s clothing in the animal *cough* protection *cough* racket.

    The Hsus doesn’t care, they win either way. The dogs are dead, they’ve collected a bunch of money, they just walk away until next time. The ninnies who buy into their schtick don’t dig for the truth (duh), media are eating out of their hand and they’ve fooled a lot of legislators into thinking they represent a mainstream view.

    It’s a big chess game and due to denial by people all over the welfare map that they are an animal liberation group, not an animal welfare group, they’re winning.

    Comment by Selma — February 20, 2009 @ 10:50 am

  12. I spend a lot of time reading this site. I don’t comment often, but I read nearly every word, and I have to say that the more I read, the less optimism I have.

    What crossed my mind is, “What if the vets and/or euthanasia techs simply refused to kill these dogs?”
    The HSUS, police departments, animal controls, and even “shelters” would find someone else to do it, or do it themselves.
    Call me Debbie Downer, but I don’t think it will be that hard, especially in comparison to finding “someone who can and will make a splashy stand and do civil disobedience by refusing to do these things because they’re WRONG, in order to make a point and get press.“, not to mention press that would actually cover such a thing in a non-condescending, demeaning way.

    Perhaps I don’t give people, the sort of people that don’t hang out on pet websites, (even if they would, when asked, consider themselves pet-lovers,) enough credit, but I really think you all give them too much.

    Comment by Christine H — February 20, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  13. As I’ve often stated here: PETA will not and can not be changed. Their underlying philosophy is incompatible with the keeping of domesticated animals in any circumstances, including as pets. And all the PR-blather they spew and all the silly celebrities they sign up will not change that.

    The HSUS can be a powerful force for true change — if we can change them on their companion animal stands to be more pro-animal than pro-death. They have the organization, the staff and the money. It’s a question of getting them to hit reset on their agenda, which has proven over time to be changeable based on public opinion and the ability to raise money.

    That’s why I think they’re redeemable and redirectable, and why I think it’s worth it to try.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  14. I like the idea of a march!

    Comment by Lori — February 20, 2009 @ 11:46 am

  15. Still, I feel like HSUS’s stances are swayed by the public perception and not the other way around. It’s popular to hate on pitbulls, so that’s what they do. If it became unpopular, they’d stop and move on to their next cause, but I don’t think they’d ever really try to help make it unpopular.

    There will always be people for which it is, “just an animal”, not to mention, that guy who was “mauled” by a “pitbull” and the people that know of him (true story!), and I’m not convinced there’s enough other people to sway against their favor.

    Comment by Christine H — February 20, 2009 @ 11:50 am

  16. The HSUS, police departments, animal controls, and even “shelters” would find someone else to do it, or do it themselves.

    The point isn’t to stop that individual killing (although hopefully it would), but to raise consciousness.

    not to mention press that would actually cover such a thing in a non-condescending, demeaning way.

    That goes with the territory. You design your actions with that realization.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 20, 2009 @ 12:05 pm

  17. I think that there’s a good chance that, in the end, one factor was that the HSUS people wanted to win. It became an ego thing and not really anything to do with the dogs at all. They weren’t going to bow to outside pressure.

    Well, they sure showed us, didn’t they? Screw you, Nathan and Best Friends. We got all them dogs killed, so there. We win :p

    We’re smarter than they are and we need to get ready for next time, because we all know there WILL be a next time.

    Comment by Susan Fox — February 20, 2009 @ 12:45 pm

  18. I would love to organize a march on DC or any capital in the country for that matter. I have also long thought of organizing a huge march on Washington. Logistically, it could be done, but people would have to be careful to remember that they are there as AMBASSADORS for dogs and to be mindful of the message we convey by our presence; mannerly, healthy, clean dogs and to bring plenty of poop bags. It’s high time to take the fight to H$US

    Comment by Linda Kaim — February 20, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

  19. 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

    That I think hits the nail on the head. Do I think everyone at HSUS agrees with every policy? No, of course not. No one agrees with everything at their place of work.

    But I do know of employees there with pit bulls. There’s no way they agree with this. But as long as John Goodwin is out there running his mouth with no sensor, their policies just sound crazy. I am not even sure what Wayne believes, or if this stuff is even his choice. Who frickin’ knows.

    $100 million dollars. With great power comes great responsibility. Just wish they would be the leader…not just in a financial sense.

    Comment by Dog Daddo — February 20, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

  20. Wish Pedigree, their Foundation and their Adopt-A-Dog could get on board. They’ve got the advertising dollars to blow them all away and get the word out to make the changes we’re talking about. What a coup for them, too. (If they’d only just make decent dog food.)

    Comment by Nadine L. — February 20, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  21. LAST WEEK, also in NC, 283 puppymill dogs (breeds not stated) confiscated and sent to various rescues for rehab and rehoming.

    Where did I learn of this?

    HSUS website:

    http://www.hsus.org/press_and_publications/press_releases/dogs_from_nc_puppy_mill_surrendered_021009.html

    But too much overpopulation to release baby puppies to rescue groups that want to take them?

    Difference between the fighting dogs and the puppy mill dogs?

    Most likely, the pitbulls had been extensively handled.

    I’ve felt like puking since hearing of this.

    Comment by H. Houlahan — February 20, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  22. Gina, thanks for posting this and naming names.

    Comment by grahund — February 20, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

  23. I am not speaking on behalf of HSUS, but I do work there. And I feel the need to speak up, as an employee, an animal lover, and a pitbull owner.

    It was the court’s order to euthanize Mr. Faron’s dogs. The HSUS cannot be blamed for the tragedy of the dogs. The blame lies with Mr. Faron, not with the HSUS or even the county officials. The HSUS may not endorse every action of the county, but they’re grateful that the county worked with them to put this man to justice. He’s responsible for unthinkable amounts of cruelty to animals, and needed to be stopped.

    The HSUS is NOT against pit bulls, or pet ownership in general. If they were, why would the let me take mine to work every day? http://dwarfurl.com/e5855

    The problem is that people are looking for someone to blame in this case because it is very sad. As a pitbull owner myself, its devastating. But angry people don’t present all the facts.

    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 they were skeptical that these dogs could be safely rehabilitated.

    The county did not take them up on that offer.

    So don’t blame the HSUS. Or even the county. Blame the sick people that get a thrill out of fighting helpless animals, and then get out there and DO SOMETHING to help stop it.

    NO organization has done more to help stop dog fighting than the HSUS. That is the ultimate goal. And that’s why I’m proud to work there.

    Comment by Carie — February 20, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

  24. > I feel like HSUS’s stances are swayed by the public perception and not the other way around.

    Absolutely true. And as someone pointed out, five years the public – many of you? – would’ve yawned about a mass slaughter of a yard full of bust dogs.

    Not any more. Not while we have faces now (Jonny Justice, thank you Gina) to go along with the story. This wheel’s squeaking big and loud, and press releases and blogs like this are part of what pushes the change we need to see.

    I have faith that HSUS will get onboard with more progressive policy, but it will take nudging, pushing, reminding, organizing, needling, exampling, and – important – being ready to embrace the dogs that spill out of these situations. Foster a bust dog today! (lol)

    Comment by Donna — February 20, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  25. Carie – I’m sorry to tell you this, but Amanda and Chris both testified to have the dogs destroyed. And I can tell you for a fact that Chris knew we were waiting in the background for word on how we could help.

    But I still have faith that your org will get it right next time.

    Comment by Donna — February 20, 2009 @ 2:20 pm

  26. Carie–have you read the John Goodwin quotes about these dogs?

    Comment by Lori — February 20, 2009 @ 2:22 pm

  27. NO organization has done more to help stop dog fighting than the HSUS.

    Comment by Carie — February 20, 2009

    And NO organization of such influence has done less to save the dogs from these busts.

    I have no problem with the HSUS working to stop dog-fighting. They have kicked serious dirtbag ass in this regard. But what I have a problem with is the organization’s long-standing policy of pulling dogs out of such situations and then pushing for their deaths, ensuring that the dogs are victimized twice — the second time by the folks who “saved” them.

    After Michael Vick, we know this policy is not necessary, and many of these dogs (although of course not all) can be saved. So it’s time — past time, in fact — for the HUMANE Society of the United States to quit pushing the needle and step up for these dogs as individuals.

    Blaming dog-fighters is only a little better than blaming people who take their pets to shelters. It doesn’t matter how an animal got into a shelter. It matters what happens after. Are these shelters, or killing centers? Do they evaluate an animal as an individual and work on rehoming, or decide from a policy book that because animals are from “fighting stock” or are feral cats or are old, whatever, that they’re not worth the effort to shelter, rehab and rehome?

    THESE are the issues. Whether you get to take your pibble to work is irrelevant.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  28. Great post, Gina! While it’s obviously too late to help the dogs in this case, I believe this negative publicity really is helping our cause. I don’t know how many of you are on Facebook or Twitter but those are great outlets to let your friends and others know just how awful HSUS is. Hitting them in the pocketbook WILL have an effect. Also, I’ve been in contact with the local HSUS person in Columbus about this case, letting him know what’s going on out there, publicity-wise. He doesn’t have much effect on their national policies but every bit helps.

    Comment by Brian Cluxton — February 20, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  29. The HSUS is NOT against pit bulls, or pet ownership in general. If they were, why would the let me take mine to work every day?

    No one here said HSUS is “against pit bulls or pet ownership in general.”

    We said that they advocated for the killing of these dogs, and the cited quotes from John Goodwin are the evidence of that advocacy.

    The fact that they let an employee bring a pit bull to work is the “Some of my best friends are black” defense.

    It’s not about what someone does personally; lots of people have gay friends and even family members but voted for Prop 8 to strip us of our rights and equality under the law.

    If their liking of YOUR dog or allowing employees to bring pit bulls to work doesn’t translate into good public policy and advocacy, it is, as Gina said, irrelevant.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 20, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

  30. Its not irrelevant. If HSUS was against pit bulls or pet ownership in general, or were trying to get rid of both, they would not let companion animals in their office space. or let staff members take time to care for them during the day. i guarantee you that if HSUS said they were against pet ownership, there would be a serious outcry.

    My point is that you can’t blame HSUS by just getting mad and saying “they hate pitbulls”. Instead, talk about what you believe, include all the facts. and that’s what encourages a good discussion about the issue. not 100 comments about how the hsus sucks, they hate pitbulls… which is what I’m seeing, and is just not true.

    Comment by Carie — February 20, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

  31. Carie, you’re fighting a straw man.

    We’re talking about HSUS’ public statements that these dogs cannot be rehabbed. I just re-read this post and every comment, and I don’t find a single line where anyone says HSUS is against pets or pit bulls in general. In fact, Gina specifically contrasted them with PETA in saying that they were NOT against pets.

    However, I’ll repeat: even if they love your dog madly and let you bring him to work, it’s still the “some of my best friends are black” defense, and it really is irrelevent.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 20, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

  32. Carie, you’re having a really difficult time understanding the original post and the comments.

    We’re not “just getting mad.” We’re asking for change in HSUS policies and actions so their deeds match their words when it comes to advocating for all animals, not just the ones that everyone agrees are “worth” saving, like little mopsy-flopsy puppy-mill breeding dogs.

    The HSUS probably could have saved those North Carolina fight-bust dogs. They instead advised that they be killed. They could have saved the Vick dogs. They instead raised money on their backs and left the work of saving the dogs — a very successful effort, as it turns out — to other groups.

    The killing of fight-bust dogs may well have made sense to everyone 20 years ago — or even two years ago. But we now have living evidence that killing all fight-bust dogs is not necessary to protect the public.

    We’re just waiting for the HSUS to catch up. Or even better, to take the lead.

    And today, with 145 dead dogs in a North Carolina landfill — half of them puppies — we’re still waiting.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

  33. Carie – We’re pretty convinced that the HSUS hates pit bulls *from busts.* Or at least, their/your actions would support that belief.

    Me? I blame your org for not standing up for the dogs and pups that were waiting for us to come help them.

    Comment by Donna — February 20, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

  34. speaking in generalities – my fault.

    i hear your points. all of you. i believe the HSUS sent petconnection their full statement on the situation, which unfortunately I cannot speak to, since I’m not involved in making the policies.

    I can only speak to my personal feelings, which are that I strongly feel you cannot blame HSUS in this situation, if you’re looking to blame someone, it’s got to be the jerks who get a kick out of fighting dogs.

    I think what you do to help stop this is up to you as an individual, and your opinion on the situation.

    Comment by Carie — February 20, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  35. I can only speak to my personal feelings, which are that I strongly feel you cannot blame HSUS in this situation, if you’re looking to blame someone, it’s got to be the jerks who get a kick out of fighting dogs.

    You’re saying they’re not responsible for dog fighting, but no one said they are.

    I do most surely blame them for the things they have said about these specific dogs. Are you seriously saying they shouldn’t be asked to account for their own statements?

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 20, 2009 @ 3:00 pm

  36. i believe the HSUS sent petconnection their full statement on the situation

    Comment by Carie — February 20, 2009

    Um, no. No statement. And I guarantee your colleagues know my e-mail and phone number.

    But more importantly, as of this morning (as noted when the post was written) there was also nothing on the HSUS home page, media release page or Wayne Pacelle’s blog about the organization’s role in the decision to kill all these dogs.

    And there’s still not.


    I think what you do to help stop this is up to you as an individual, and your opinion on the situation.

    Comment by Carie — February 20, 2009

    Yes, and what we’re doing as individuals is calling your large, powerful and prominent organization out for its bad policies and actions in failing to protect these dogs after the bust.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

  37. You know what I said up there about employees not agreeing with HSUS policy?

    Yeah, I was wrong.

    Wow.

    Comment by Dog Daddo — February 20, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  38. 1. The HSUS *lied* in their “justification” for killing these dogs.
    2. The HSUS goes to court to advocate for getting these dogs killed including the puppies – with ZERO fair evaluations beforehand.
    3. The HSUS has a picture of a Pitbull on their website asking for money to help “protect them from abuse”.

    I blame the HSUS for their part in the killing of these dogs although of course they didn’t get their hands dirty – they never do.

    Comment by YesBiscuit! — February 20, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

  39. The HSUS just sent me their statement:

    It is always a tragic outcome when healthy animals meet the fate of Ed Faron’s dogs, but the court’s order was to euthanize these animals. 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.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  40. The goal of the HSUS is to end animal breeding and ownership. They say it themselves, you don’t have to dig deep.

    They are not a humane society. They are not an arm of law enforcement. They are not a government agency. They are not elected to represent anyone’s interests.

    Therefore, what they ‘believe’ or don’t believe is irrelevant.

    Let’s look instead at what they do.

    They lobby and push for legislation across the continent to curtail and end the breeding of dogs by reputable people. They libel and slander all breeders as ‘puppy millers’.

    They lobby for mandatory sterilization (breed-specific or across the board), the fast track to extinction because there’s too much pushback with breed bans now.

    They kill every yard of ‘pit bulls’ they can get their hands on, accuse the owners of being ‘dogfighters’ and when they are exonerated by the courts, walk away and move on to the next ‘case’.

    They were fundraising on their website for the care of the Vick dogs while simultaneously calling for their deaths. They claimed to be involved in the Vick investigation in the same fundraising appeal.

    Anybody who thinks the HSUS is going to change should give their head a shake. They aren’t the ASPCA, they aren’t an animal welfare organization.

    As for Peta, they are just the contrast for HSUS. Their crazy antics make the HSUS seem measured. That’s the whole point and why they are getting nuttier. They’re all the same people, all the groups are connected.

    “We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding …One generation and out. We have no problems with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.”

    “My goal is the abolition of all animal agriculture.”
    — HSUS grassroots coordinator John “J.P.” Goodwin

    “I’m not an admirer of HSUS. They’ve always been primarily a direct-mail operation, and what’s known in animal rights circles as a credit-grabber.”
    — HSUS co-founder Cleveland Amory

    “The Humane Society should be worried about protecting animals from cruelty. It’s not doing that. The place is all about power and money.”

    — HSUS consultant and former HSUS Chief Investigator Robert Baker, in U.S. News & World Report

    Comment by Selma — February 20, 2009 @ 3:24 pm

  41. Selma … please date and credit your citations. Cleveland Amory has been dead for a while now.

    Again, I absolutely disagree with you that PETA and the HSUS are doing some good cop-bad cop routine.

    Also, a citation for this:

    “The goal of the HSUS is to end animal breeding and ownership. They say it themselves, you don’t have to dig deep.”

    would be much appreciated. To my understanding and direct questioning of many top HSUS officials — including Wayne Pacelle — it’s not true.

    My opinion remains: PETA’s underlying philosophy runs counter to the continued existence of domesticated animals, pets included.

    The HSUS is a horse of a different color, albeit one that’s on the wrong track on many pet issues, in my opinion. But it is also my opinion that they can and will change, as public opinion continues to evolve.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 3:33 pm

  42. That HSUS is doing a great job against dog fighting isn’t the question; Gina already lauded HSUS for their work in investigating and busting dog fighting operations.

    The point is what they see as a humane, ethical approach to dealing with the dogs after the bust.

    To justify advocating or even just excusing killing them all without evaluating them, HSUS is saying that these dogs weren’t wimpy dogs like the Michael Vick dogs; these were hardened monsters who didn’t even deserve an individual evaluation, let alone a chance to live, even though there were organizations willing to lend their expertise and resources to doing that.

    Without evaluating the dogs, there is no way to substantiate that characterization, particularly of the puppies.

    Then we get the idea that evaluating the dogs is too expensive, and mandating or even just suggesting that might disincentivize jurisdictions from busting fight rings in the first place.

    But the mentality that “it’s too expensive” and “we can’t save them all so let’s do a triage that says fighters don’t get a chance” is the same as the “we can’t adopt our way out of pet over-population.”

    Fighting pit bulls have a lot of special champions who aren’t there for other kinds of dogs because saving ex-fighters is their mission and their crusade. Taking advantage of compassion and volunteerism in the community is the only way we WILL save all the healthy, treatable animals in the country.

    We often say, “Do you think someone who wants a toy dog to sit on their lap while they watch TV is going to adopt a year-old lab mix — or a pit bull?” Well, people who want to save and rehab ex-fighters and their puppies aren’t going to start rehoming Shih Tzus and Golden Retrievers because you think it’s a bad use of resources.

    Furthermore, by standing up for these “toughest case” dogs, and showing that even some of them can be saved, we’re inspiring a love of dogs in general, and helping redeem the image of this breed and thus saving all the “acceptable to HSUS” pit bulls who are dying every day in shelters because of the stigma attached to the breed by just this attitude.

    I disagree that there are a lot of “tough choices” to be made. And speaking out persuasively and assertively on behalf of a fair individual evaluation of dogs seized from fighters certainly isn’t one of them, as in no way does it interfere with the work HSUS or anyone else is doing in ending dog fighting.

    In fact, it’s HURTING that effort, because so many people who might donate to HSUS in support of that work won’t touch the organization due to stands such as this one.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 20, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

  43. Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 3:20 pm
    The HSUS just sent me their statement

    Gina – I’ve seen this statement elsewhere on the net today (not that I ever read anyone else’s blog but yours, hee hee) and it’s attributed specifically to John Goodwin of the HSUS. Since I’m still waiting for my copy (I’m almost thinking the HSUS doesn’t LIKE me *crickets*) can you confirm if the statement you received is from John Goodwin?

    Comment by YesBiscuit! — February 20, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

  44. > Game-bred dogs pose a risk to other dogs not just because of training, but more importantly because of breeding for aggressive characteristics

    This is a very traditional, antiquated way of blaming the dogs for their fate.

    By using language that’s shared by dog fighters themselves, America is frightened far away from the breed including the prospect of selecting the more animal tolerant dogs that we *know* exist in every yard. *cough* Hector * cough*

    This statement is also dangerous because it pre-supposes that every dog born of certain parentage will show cookie cutter behavior and characteristics. Yes, the HSUS has a lot to learn about dogs in general; pit bulls in particular.

    It also ignores the fact that first, second and third gen dogs from these same yards make up a good chunk of our shelter pops. They aren’t the exceptions to shelter pit bulls, they ARE our sheltered pit bulls, and they’re all over our sofas, snoring and farting.

    But – ever optimistic – I’m just thrilled that this discussion is finally on the table for all to see.

    Comment by Donna — February 20, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

  45. The statement came to me from the HSUS as an entity, not from any individual within the organization. It’s the official statement on the case.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 4:30 pm

  46. How come, if it’s official policy to assess (and they say they offered that in this case) did the two representatives on the stand not mention that? How come nowhere in the media were the reports that HSUS wanted to assess?

    You think the HSUS would keep such a noble offer secret?

    Twisting the facts.

    Be an adult about it HSUS. Admit that your policy is wrong and officially on the website, on the blog say that you have changed it. Work with all these other groups in the future. Then I will believe it. Not these e-mails to only people who care to write to you personally.

    Comment by Dog Daddo — February 20, 2009 @ 4:38 pm

  47. Dog Daddo – The HSUS “policy to assess” is brand spanking new, courtesy of 147 dead dogs and a nation of angry dog lovers. It is not written into HSUS materials yet, but needs to be. It hasn’t been memo-ed to employees on busts yet, either but needs to be.

    Give them credit for a certain degree of flexibility shown here, altho of course we all need/want to see it in print and in action rather than in email threads.

    Comment by Donna — February 20, 2009 @ 5:15 pm

  48. http://www.animalagalliance.org/current/home.cfm?Category=Press_Releases&Section=2006_0908_HSUS

    Approximately 500 people attended the second annual ”Taking Action for Animals” conference, September 2-5, 2006. Major sponsors of the event were the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Animal Protection Institute, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Farm Sanctuary, and the Doris Day Animal League. Attendance increased by about 200 over last year’s event.

    Pacelle pledged his ongoing commitment to legislation and lobbying as key paths for the animal rights movement to move its agenda forward. He urged the audience to continue pursuing animal guardianship laws to replace animal ownership laws. Pacelle suggested using the term ”Canine Americans” instead of dogs to emphasize the rights of these animals.

    Here’s the ref for the other one:

    “We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.” Wayne Pacelle, Senior VP of Humane Society of the US, formerly of Friends of Animals and Fund for Animals, Animal People, May, 1993.

    Comment by Selma — February 20, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

  49. http://www.animalagalliance.org/current/home.cfm?Category=Press_Releases&Section=2006_0908_HSUS

    Approximately 500 people attended the second annual ”Taking Action for Animals” conference, September 2-5, 2006. Major sponsors of the event were the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Animal Protection Institute, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Farm Sanctuary, and the Doris Day Animal League. Attendance increased by about 200 over last year’s event.

    Pacelle pledged his ongoing commitment to legislation and lobbying as key paths for the animal rights movement to move its agenda forward. He urged the audience to continue pursuing animal guardianship laws to replace animal ownership laws. Pacelle suggested using the term ”Canine Americans” instead of dogs to emphasize the rights of these animals.

    Here’s the ref for the other one:

    “We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.” Wayne Pacelle, Senior VP of Humane Society of the US, formerly of Friends of Animals and Fund for Animals, Animal People, May, 1993.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

    Comment by Selma — February 20, 2009 @ 6:20 pm

  50. Reading that statement I can’t help but notice that although the courts ordered the dogs to be killed, they did so after the “expert” testimony of HSUS representatives. (That last part is conveniently left out!!!)

    Then they seem to argue that there is no way they could save the aggressive dogs … but no one was asking them to save the aggressive dogs, organizations were just asking for the dogs to be evaluated!!!

    The message appears carefully crafted to fly past the radar of the average joe who might think: gee, when you put it that way, you’re right!

    It’s not flying.

    Comment by Sue Cosby — February 20, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

  51. Yes, the HSUS has a lot to learn about dogs in general; pit bulls in particular.

    You mean it’s possible for a “Pit Bull Czar” to be ignorant of facts about… Pit Bulls?

    Oh. My. God.

    What’s next, ‘journalists’ who tout locking jaw myths as fact, and then take their articles down when they get soundly and rationally trashed in the comments?

    Say it isn’t so.

    Comment by FrogDogz — February 20, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

  52. “like showing up at PETA events dressed as pink syringes?
    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 10:44 am”

    I LIKE IT. But not just PETA, HSUS as well.

    Comment by EmilyS — February 20, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

  53. http://activistcash.com/organization_connections.cfm/oid/136

    Numerous former PETA employees have worked at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), including Richard Swain, vice president of investigations; Jonathan Balcombe, Cristobel Block, and Virginia Bollinger, investigations section; Howard Edelstein, computer programmer; Leslie Gerstenfeld and Kimberly Roberts, international affairs section; and Leslie Ison and Rachel Lamb, “companion animals” section. PETA “Humane Education Lecturer” Gary Yourofsky, a convicted Animal Liberation Front felon, spoke at HSUS’s 2002 CompassionFest for children. HSUS and PETA joined eight other animal groups to demand that the U.S. Department of Agriculture restore to its website documents concerning the use of animals in research. HSUS and PETA are both active members of the International Council on Animal Protection, which seeks to limit research on animals. And in 2003, HSUS Vice President Martin Stephens was asked to recommend three people to serve on an EPA “pollution prevention and toxics” panel. Two out of his three choices were PETA employees. HSUS and PETA are co-sponsors of the 2005 “Taking Action For Animals” conference in Washington, DC.

    Comment by Selma — February 20, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

  54. My point, Selma, and believe me I’m not picking on you, is that people and organizations can both change, if they’re open to change.

    I can point you to an article I wrote in 2005 that could be interpreted as being in favor of what was done in North Carolina. And you know what? While I wouldn’t have been a cheerleader for the killings, I would have been sadly accepting at that time.

    I’m not now. The Vick dogs changed everything for me.

    I have been writing about pets and their care for 30 years, and I can’t tell you how many opinions I once held that have evolved quite a ways over that time.

    That’s why I’m just not that swayed by something someone else said unless it’s pretty recent or has been recently reaffirmed. (Or can be found online as a policy statement, which is usually the case with PETA says one thing/believes another PR spews.)

    Wayne Pacelle of the HSUS isn’t the devil, and he isn’t an idiot. I have found him to be forthright and unflinching in conversation, even in disagreement. And I don’t think he’s unwilling or unable to change, either his own views or the organization’s policies.

    I could be wrong, but I hope I’m not. In the meantime, I’m not going to stop pushing the HSUS to change, because it needs to, and because when it does, we can use the help.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 7:15 pm

  55. Go here.http://baltimorebulldogs.blogspot.com/2009/02/hsus-dont-blame-us-for-our-actions.html

    Read the letter from J.P. Goodwin of HSUS, that charming convicted domestic terrorist, about the Wilkes County killings.

    Comment by Anne T — February 20, 2009 @ 7:47 pm

  56. Teh Interwebs will bite ya, every time. A lot of organizations (non-profits, companies and government agencies) don’t fully realize that this world is no longer one-way communications written by crisis managers and lawyers, handed down from on high and filtered through the mainstream media.

    I think the HSUS is going to learn a lot from this incident. And the lessons aren’t going to be pleasant.

    But if they learn them, then 145 dogs didn’t die for nothing.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 20, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

  57. I have over a dozen news reports of children who have been SCALPED (literally) due to pitbull attacks over the past 2 years.One pitbull ate the child’s scalp, just over a year old, and the stomach contents of the dog was removed in order to reattach what was left due to excessive loss of tissue. Just google “pitbull attack” in news reports, and they pop up everywhere. There is a RESPONSIBILITY safe guarding children. Surely they count for something, and if these dogs were deemed “safe for adoption,” keep in mind dogs are intelligent and can suffer post traumatic stress syndrome-be sweet for years, then something snaps. Keep in minds, dogs *cannot* talk thus cannot air out their trauma. The pound or agency can be sued millions of dollars and the death of a child-or permanent disability-to save a dog from euthanizing.

    Keep in mind about 30 million dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are also euthanized every year in the United States=literally TONS of dogs and cats put to death because nobody wants them-they are homeless, so they MUST DIE. Who cries for them? Who protests that. Nobody.

    YES it is sad 145 dogs got euthanized. That very moment thousand of dogs and cats were also killed in pounds. Nobody says anything for them. And they had absolutely NO involvement in dog fighting whatsoever.

    You all truly need to get real about the homeless pet problem-most epidemic, piled by the TON in every county dump yard across America. Cry for them. But they aren’t pit bulls and have no association with Michael Vick. How sad nobody cares about them. NOBODY.

    Comment by Luke Thomas — February 20, 2009 @ 8:29 pm

  58. How about all the other hundreds of dogs – where the owners weren’t convicted and the dogs were killed before the cases even got to court? If anybody had listened, the Vick dogs would all be dead too.

    How about AB1634? Louisville? Albuquerque?

    Anyway, it really doesn’t matter because they won’t change, they don’t care, they aren’t an animal welfare organization, they’re an animal liberation organization – and they’re getting what they want. They will spin and put out press releases and everybody will calm down until next time – when they’ll be more careful. Maybe.

    Laws are popping up like mushrooms now. New Hampshire – illegal to sell more than one dog per year, up to two more with permits at $25 apiece. Florida – statewide mandatory neutering by four months of age.

    And so on. That’s the HSUS I know and love.

    Comment by Selma — February 20, 2009 @ 8:34 pm

  59. Keep in mind about 30 million dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are also euthanized every year in the United States=literally TONS of dogs and cats put to death because nobody wants them-they are homeless, so they MUST DIE. Who cries for them? Who protests that. Nobody.

    Luke, you are living in the past.

    THIRTY MILLION? That was the number forty years ago.

    Right now, it’s around 3.5 million, of which around 10 percent is the normal kinds of euthanasia any loving pet owner would do, and the rest is population control killing. That remaining 90 percent is still 90 oercent too many, but it’s a massive sea change from the days you’re harking back to.

    As to saying, “Nobody cries for them,” where have you been? There has been no more transforming movement in American sheltering in the last 20 years than the No-Kill movement, which is demanding an end to all population control killing across the nation.

    What you’re writing is not about America today.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 20, 2009 @ 8:54 pm

  60. Remember the Vick dogs. HSUS was very quick with their recommendations to destroy these dogs taken in Virginia. If anyone saw Sports Illustrated, I believe the December or January issue, these dogs were all in new homes and a couple were therapy dogs. You have to remember that HSUS is not an animal welfare organization but and animal rights organization and there is a difference. They lobby to make pet ownership more restrictive, and expensive, not counting lobbying against the beef industry, chicken and egg industry. They often use lawsuits. They believe that non human animals have certain rights. They should not be used for food, wear, or experiment on. They push a veggan lifestyle as a boycott of meat, thus less meat for food needed. No use of wool, leather, fur and work to end animal use for entertainment as dog racing, horse racing, zoos, circus’ and acquariums. No hunting or fishing. In a few words they want to abolish all animal use by humans. When they solicited donations for Katrina, 70 million dollars was taken in. When the Attorney General of Louisanna investigated they found that HSUS only transported the dogs by air at a cost of 20 million dollars. (I would have transported them for 10,000 dollars) Just wondering what happened to the other 50 million dollars. So is anyone surprized they do not believe in no kill shelters and their answer is to euthanize or spay and neuter. This puts new meaning to what Wayne Pacelle quoted long ago, “One generation and out” – no more dogs.
    If you want to donate money, please give to your local shelter. A gift of towels, paper towels, dog food, toys, dog beds, mops, cleaning cloths or anything they can use. The ones trying to find homes for these dogs are my heros as they have no help from HSUS moneywise and they are the ones who are fighting for each dog. Friends don’t let friends donate to PETA or HSUS, know where your money goes. If you are truly an animals friend you will see where your donation goes.

    Comment by hugapug — February 20, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

  61. If you want to donate money, please give to your local shelter. A gift of towels, paper towels, dog food, toys, dog beds, mops, cleaning cloths or anything they can use. The ones trying to find homes for these dogs are my heros as they have no help from HSUS moneywise and they are the ones who are fighting for each dog. Friends don’t let friends donate to PETA or HSUS, know where your money goes. If you are truly an animals friend you will see where your donation goes.

    My local shelter is excellent in many ways, but not No Kill. So they only get food, toys, cat litter–things that can ONLY be used to benefit living animals. I won’t contribute cash that would help pay for the killing.

    But they don’t kill pits just for being pits, and make serious efforts to adopt them out to appropriate homes.

    Comment by Lis — February 20, 2009 @ 10:05 pm

  62. I agree donate locally and only things used for the animals there,not money. If you look you can find accounts of many breeds of dogs that have attacked people[including children].Not just pits. The most dangerous dog I have ever had is my chihuahua and I had a wolf mix.No amount of breeding for aggression explains killing puppies,whatever happened to nurtering and life experience influencing behavior ? Any dog can become vicious due to how it is treated and any dog can be gentle for the same reason.The HSUS needs to change big time before they see a dime from me.

    Comment by Leslie K — February 21, 2009 @ 12:36 am

  63. Killing isn’t rescuing. Never has been, never will be. I wish people would get it about HSUS, ASPCA, and PETA. I don’t know how to make them get it.

    Comment by Kelley — February 21, 2009 @ 1:32 am

  64. Gina, don’t worry about picking on me. I’m used to it :>)

    I just want to add that everyone is entitled to their opinion. So, those who believe the HSUS can change are not necessarily wrong, I just don’t happen to agree that it is likely to happen, mainly because what they are doing now is working for them. They need a lot more negative reinforcement than a bushfire in the blogosphere to change their views.

    I wish it would happen because with all their money and legislative contacts, they could become a force for good. It’s true that they’d have to replace the current Board in order for that to happen.

    Maybe everybody should join the HSUS and attend the AGM. Then candidates who are more reasonable could be elected to replace the animal liberation crew. That’s how the HSUS was taken over in the late 80s and underwent an ideological shift.

    Times have changed. Back in the old days, dogs had three days to be claimed or adopted, then it was curtains. Today, people would be outraged by that practice (although it still goes on across the continent).

    It’s been shown that just by bumping adoptions up a couple of percentage points, convenience killing could end. As it is, more people are adopting dogs than ever before, more people are voluntarily neutering than ever before, more people are learning more about their pets and spending more money on their welfare and entertainment.

    If the HSUS and its ilk would get out of the pet bag and stick to humane farming initiatives and wild animal protection, including habitat protection, I for one would be a lot happier.

    As our fatuous Attorney General said, “Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour”. Indeed.

    Comment by Selma — February 21, 2009 @ 7:45 am

  65. Luke: “I have over a dozen news reports of children who have been SCALPED (literally) due to pitbull attacks over the past 2 years.”

    NO, you do not.

    Comment by EmilyS — February 21, 2009 @ 7:59 am

  66. NO, you do not. <– what she said.

    I love it when people cite these mystery stories, and then get defensive when asked to actually produce them.

    “The Pit Bull people are attacking me!”, seems to be the cry du jour when they’re called on their bull.

    Comment by FrogDogz — February 21, 2009 @ 9:09 am

  67. Well I’ve got TWO dozen reports of children who were BEHEADED by whatever kind of dog Luke has. They’re in my man-sized safe and I’m not going to be tricked by the likes of you Pitbull lovers into taking them out for you to “see”.

    Comment by YesBiscuit! — February 21, 2009 @ 9:12 am

  68. As a card-carrying member of ‘Pit Bull’ International (PBI) I demand to see these news reports.

    Those of us in the ‘pit bull’ community will no longer tolerate this behaviour from the cockapoo lobby! Cockapoo lovers are just frontmen for hunters, ratters and breeders and are lying to the public in order to continue to profit from the ongoing abuse of dogs.

    Comment by Selma — February 21, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  69. More reading:

    Shirley at Yes, Biscuit points out that the dogs didn’t have to die under state law.

    Brent at the KC Dog Blog has a good overview piece with a great headline: “The answer is ‘kill,’ now what’s the question?”

    And this piece from BADRAP before the dogs were killed.

    Finally, a hat tip to Selma, even if we don’t agree on the future for the HSUS, and if, like a fight bust pit bull, they’re worth “trying to save.” I think the HSUS will move in the right direction with love, training and patience; others disagree.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 21, 2009 @ 10:06 am

  70. Well I’ve got TWO dozen reports of children who were BEHEADED by whatever kind of dog Luke has.

    Were they Chihuahuas? I bet they were Chihuahuas. I have over ten dozen stories of Chihuahuas who ate entire towns. I can’t remember where I filed the stories right now, but I SWEAR IT’S TRUE! And if you disagree with me, that means you ‘death threated’ me and I am calling the interweb cops on you.

    All of which makes about as much sense as what we’ve been hearing from the other side lately.

    Comment by FrogDogz — February 21, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  71. Aw shucks, Gina. You know I only like people who disagree with me. I was bred and trained to fight, after all :>)

    Did I say hunters? I meant poachers. Those evil felons on the cockapoo community are front men for poachers!

    Comment by Selma — February 21, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

  72. Here’s more from Nathan Winograd.

    An HSUS staffer pointed out to me yesterday that no group has done more to stop dog-fighting than the HSUS.

    No one has said otherwise. No one.

    But it’s time for the organization to step up for these dogs AFTER the bust. They’ve only recently come around to a policy that addresses individual evaluations, and haven’t done much of anything about it yet.

    The next time will be telling as to the direction this animal-advocacy group is taking.

    Today I also got some nasty e-mails for being an “HSUS dupe” and “HSUS apologist.” I’m guessing that’s because I think the organization can and will move in a new direction.

    That’s my opinion, and it doesn’t make me (and I’m quoting here) “a stupid vegan tree-hugging bitch” or “a lying cunt on the HSUS payroll.”

    But hey, thanks for writing. People like these are why we have spam folders. Delete. Delete. Delete.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 21, 2009 @ 6:40 pm

  73. Gina, WHY do you think HSUS will move in a different direction IRT fighting dogs?

    On the contrary, I think they have so dug in their heels, and have such egos at stake that all the incentives are for them to maintain their “fighting dogs must die” stance

    Comment by EmilyS — February 21, 2009 @ 7:54 pm

  74. Because there’s more support to be gained and money to be raised by supporting saving animals than killing them.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 21, 2009 @ 9:20 pm

  75. Ditto, Gina.

    Comment by Donna — February 22, 2009 @ 9:21 am

  76. That is why people realize you don’t see the HSUS animal rights agenda. They have been killing animals for years;against offsite adoptions,even against feral cats,despite funding for TNR to give appearance of advocate. There is so much whitewash in HSUS,they are pushing LAWS across the US even against animal rescues.Like no warrant search/seizure. It’s one thing for everyone to support their own opinion, it’s another for a pet author to say HSUS only acts wrong when they kill the dogs. This isn’t the first nor last time. HSUS is simply an AR marketing,strategist,political lobbying arm which uses deceptive media practices. You might read Daniel Oliver’s book. HSUS has probably killed over 500 dogs/others you don’t even know about.What HSUS has done for “fighting” is to make $$ for HSUS.After all, they have spent time on it, just like their amicus brief denied by Fed Ct in KY,and like their amicus brief lost on the Stevens’ free speech case, which would criminalize films like Bambi. HSUS is like a sugar coated pill. Eye candy. But NOT saving pets/animals. That’s just the whitewash that people see, and apparently, believe.

    Comment by Petdefense — February 22, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

  77. There’s nothing as grandioise as the courage of anonymous commentors. Except maybe the spoon-fed dogma they spew.

    Petdefense, when you get around to having an original thought and the courage to post your own name, feel free to drop back in. Until then, go find some other dittoheads to hang with.

    These issues are far more nuanced than the extremists on either side believe.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 22, 2009 @ 1:06 pm

  78. HSUS used to take a very strong stance against feral cat advocacy to the point of extermination. Most people were shocked to find out that, if they were looking to prevent the destruction of cats in their neighborhoods and gave HSUS a call, HSUS took the side of the exterminators. Boy were they sorry they called. Now HSUS was all up in their business, writing letters to their local governments, claiming what they were attempting to do was wrong. Very wrong.

    Feral cat people were shocked much in the same way that dog lovers are now shocked that HSUS is taking the same extermination stand on pit bulls who have been bred for fighting purposes.

    It was that shock and anger at policies that were so antithetical to the purported mission of HSUS that eventually convinced HSUS to change. It was only recently and it was a painfully slow process that is probably still to this day having a ripple effect throughout the organization as competing philosophies battle for their own policy turf.

    Advocates were never seeking for HSUS to become the banner waving standard bearer for feral cats. What they wanted was for them to get the hell out of the way and stop testifying to municipalities and writing official letters of condemnation regarding feral cat projects. That objective was accomplished and more.

    Much in the same way, I doubt any pit bull advocacy group expects or insists that HSUS take the lead and wave the pit bull banner. But for dog’s sake they want them to get the hell out of the business of condemning the very animals they claimed to have saved. Testifying in a courtroom that the dogs should be killed is a mirror reflection of HSUS’ previous feral cat extermination policy.

    I’m certain that they can and will change.

    Comment by Sue Cosby — February 23, 2009 @ 9:14 am

  79. Very interesting observations, Sue. I hope the HSUS does have its collective finger in the wind to feel the change and at least not impede progress.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 23, 2009 @ 9:36 am

  80. I think it’s moved beyond just a wind, at this point – and Tornadoes are awfully good at knocking down straw houses, aren’t they?

    Comment by FrogDogz — February 23, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

  81. Gina wrote: “I hope the HSUS does have its collective finger in the wind to feel the change and at least not impede progress.”

    Instead of drifting in the breeze of public whim, I’d prefer that HSUS actually takes a hard look at morality of its positions, has a change of heart, and acknowledges that killing animals for convenience is just plain wrong. That’s probably too much to ask from a organization devoted strictly to fund raising. I suppose that anything that gets them out of the way is better than nothing.

    Comment by grahund — February 23, 2009 @ 6:49 pm

  82. hey, there’s going to be a meeting!
    All good now!

    http://news.bestfriends.org/index.cfm?page=news&mode=entry&entry=A5FA8ABB-E5AB-575C-E288C54E52B91634

    Like grahund, I’ll remain skeptical until HSUS admits it was WRONG, fires (or reigns in) Goodwin and puts some actual real cash into pit bull rescue

    I think it’s finger in the wind, and covers on the a**…

    Comment by EmilyS — February 23, 2009 @ 8:49 pm

  83. Don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, do ya Mr. Pacelle.

    Is that the sound of footsteps desperately running in an attempt to stay out in front on this issue before the HSUS gets run over by it?

    Comment by Susan Fox — February 23, 2009 @ 9:23 pm

  84. Oh lovely, let’s have a meeting and reevaluate our policies. How about resurrecting the 145 dog you demanded be killed. Guess that won’t happen, but you can have a friendly dialog. Killing 18 helpless puppies is not a failure of policy. It is a failure of leadership, of fundamental morality. What is it going to take to get HSUS to stop promoting breed specific legislation, mandatory spay neuter laws, breeder licensing laws and other laws that punish pet owners. How many more photo-op massacres to change a crisis driven fund raising organization back into an animal welfare organization?

    Comment by grahund — February 23, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  85. Same thing the HSUS does at every rooster fight raid or anyone they suspect raising fighting birds. They come in and kill every bird there…healthy roosters, hens, chicks and eggs as well. All destroyed. And this is saving the animals? A least the ones fighting them give them a chance at life somewhat…the hsus slaughters EVERY last one of them…no chance…no compassion. They are no the saviors they are made out to be in alot of cases to put it lightly.

    Comment by Josh — December 26, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

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