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Protecting the Lives of Animals in Gaston Co

I truly sympathize with livestock owners whose animals are injured or killed by roaming dogs.  No one wants to see that happening and trapping the offending dog(s) is the right thing to do.  In that regard, authorities in Gaston Co, NC have taken appropriate action in this recent case:

Authorities believe they have captured the dog that has been attacking and killing barnyard animals on a farm between Gastonia and Cramerton.


Animal Control Sgt. Jim Phil said they set a trap baited with food on the property of a nearby landowner last week.

A dog was caught in the trap that same day and the livestock owner was brought in to see if the dog was a match for the one he’d seen attacking his animals.

“He said he was 95 percent sure that was the dog,” said Phil. “Hopefully we got it.”

This is the Gaston Co AC’s website posting for the trapped dog, who is noted as “shy” and listed as a Pitbull:

Click to enlarge.

I was unable to verify if the dog was killed on Wednesday as the pound is closed but unless an owner redeemed him, I assume that’s what happened.

Based on the history the dog is believed to have, it would not be eligible for rescue from the shelter, [Sgt. Phil] said.

“This would not be one we’d want to adopt out,” he said.

Why?  Gaston Co AC killed about half its pets last year, some by injection, others via the gas chamber.  While I can certainly understand not wanting to adopt the dog out to someone who would fail to keep him properly confined, why should AC make the assumption that every rescue group or adopter would fail this dog and put more livestock at risk?  To my mind, it’s an unreasonable assumption because clearly many rescue groups and adopters have demonstrated they can provide appropriate confinement for dogs.  Further, the faulty assumption results in the dog’s death.

AC has no way of knowing who might want to rescue or adopt this dog.  It might be someone who lives in a city without livestock and who intends to keep him fed, well cared for and appropriately confined.  Why deny the dog that opportunity?  Also, what if it was the wrong dog?  The dog in the photo doesn’t especially look like a Pitbull to me and the one eyewitness was not even 100% sure this was the same dog.

Sure, I know it’s possible no rescue or adopter who fit the desired specifications might have stepped up for this dog.  But if AC would have allowed the dog a chance to live, it’s possible that the right person might have applied.  With the dog going directly from his cage at AC to the landfill, we’ll never know.

In an interview with a researcher, a representative of Gaston Co AC made reference to the public’s increasing awareness and desire for no kill:

The interviewee notes the facility/animal services want to be on the “positive side” of the “changing paradigm of placement being preferable to euthanasia.”

Until we evolve beyond the-answer-to-killing-is-more-killing mentality, we can not expect to influence the pet owning public in the positive way in which shelters, including Gaston Co, say they desire.  In order to demonstrate that a shelter favors placing an animal over killing him, the pet must be offered for placement.  In failing to offer this dog for responsible placement with a screened rescue group or adopter, Gaston Co has demonstrated that it favors placement over killing only at times of convenience.  The county should expect to see the results of its failed leadership directly reflected in the local community’s attitude toward pets.  Local shelters can choose to lead by example or to fail by example.  In this case, Gaston Co made the wrong choice.



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