In 2006, 139 adult dogs and puppies – mostly Pitbulls – were seized by authorities in a Florida dogfighting bust. Nineteen were killed on the spot. Most were taken to Polk Co Animal Control in Winter Haven where twenty-four more were killed the next day. Dozens of people called the shelter, wanting to adopt the dogs:
State law was clear about what would happen to the adult dogs. If they had been fighters – and the sheriff was saying they had been – they had to be put down.
There was no policy for dealing with the puppies. [emphasis added]
There was some hope that once custody of the dogs was given to Animal Control, at least some of the puppies might be saved. Six bitches had whelped litters since the seizure although most of the pups died on their own. By the time the hearing on the disposition of the dogs went before a judge, the youngest pups were two weeks old. Custody was granted to authorities:
Dogs that had been fighters had to be euthanized under state law. Only the puppies had a realistic chance.
A kennel staffer pleaded with her boss to allow a Pitbull rescue to take the pups. At the very least, she asked if just one pup could be saved. The Pitbulls were immediately scheduled for death:
Friday morning came. They would go through the day and start the killing after the shelter closed.
A decision had been made about the puppies. Lt. Oakman had talked to Dr. Ertel, who had talked to the Humane Society of the United States, whose advice was straightforward: No fighting dog should be adopted out, at any age.
There were several reasons, beyond the potential for aggression. For one thing, shelters were so overcrowded with pit bulls that only the best of the breed should be adopted out. For another, there was a chance dogfighters would recognize their potential and try to adopt or steal them. Euthanasia, the Humane Society said, was the kindest option.
So that was the policy the shelter adopted. [emphasis added]
The nursing pups were removed from their dams and sedated before syringe needles were stuck into their hearts so euthanasia solution could kill them. They suckled on the shirt of the supervisor charged with killing them as they died. Not one Pitbull was spared. The supervisor had adopted one of the seized dogs, a Chihuahua, which she kept as a pet. Read the detailed article here.
This case was in 2006. In 2009, HSUS was instrumental in getting 146 seized Pitbulls – adults and pups, 19 of them born after the seizure – killed in Wilkes Co NC. HSUS was asked about the pups who were born after the seizure and whether they might be spared. Their memory is short:
John Goodwin, the manager of animal-fighting issues for the Humane Society of the United States, said yesterday that he couldn’t recall a case in which puppies were born to dogs after the dogs were seized. Still, he said, such puppies would probably be euthanized if the owner is convicted of dog fighting.
“It’s kind of tough with the puppies, because the characteristics that the dog fighters want are selected for by breeding,” he said.
My memory is long.