Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Humane Society of the United States Announces Policy Change Regarding Pit Bulls

A summit meeting on pit bulls and other canine victims of animal fighting led to a coalition of groups working together to help the true victims of this organized violence.

Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society of the United States and other animal protection organization met in Las Vegas earlier this week to discuss the dispotion of dogs seized from dogfighting operations.

Among the outcomes of the meeting:

* The HSUS has a new policy of recommending that all dogs seized from fighting operations be professionally evaluated, according to agreed upon standards, to determine whether they are suitable candidates for adoption, and that dogs deemed suitable for placement should be offered as appropriate for adoption or to approved rescue organizations. The HSUS will update its law enforcement training manual and other materials to reflect this change in policy.

Thousands of people are jumping for joy at the outcome of this summit meeting. I’ve read countless posts on forums and blogs across the net, posts from folks who continue to pat pit bull advocates on the back for working tirelessly to gain the result we get to read about today – calling this “history in the making”.

What does it all mean though? Really, I mean REALLY give this some serious thought y’all! I have been sitting on this blog post for a week now, trying to get my head around exactly what it is that I want to say. I want to applaud this policy change as much as any of you. I want to give kudos to all who have worked so hard; BUT (yes, there is a but) I can’t. I can only give kudos for effort right now; I cannot give kudos for more until I SEE people stepping up to truly help these dogs. The HSUS did agree to open new doors, but we need YOU to help keep them open.

New Hope Pit Bull Rescue gets calls and emails weekly from Animal Control officials and shelters across the east coast seeking placement for bust dogs. No, not all of these bust dogs come from fight bust cases. They come from drug busts, animal cruelty, neglect and many other forms of criminal activity cases in which pit bulls are confiscated for one reason or another. Very seldom does a shelter have the resources to hold on to these dogs past the time of ruling in a case, and more often than not the dogs literally have only hours to live. We are not made aware of many of these cases until its “crunch time”, because the inability to disclose location or case information prevents anyone from being able to work in advance to save dogs that are held as evidence. More often than not, these cases do not make it into national news, because the people involved are not the famous Michael Vick or Ed Faron. Those dogs did so much to help clear the path for other victims… don’t let this new policy be their only or final accomplishment.

What do you suppose the HSUS will do to help the victims of these cases after a ruling is made and they are released to go to rescue? Do you think they will step in and buy these animals a “few more days” so that rescuers will have the opportunity to secure foster homes to place them in? The harsh reality is that they will not. They have done their part by changing their policy and acknowledging that these dogs deserve as much of a chance as any other, and by creating a new policy that will allow for dogs to be evaluated individually and even be considered for placement in rescue. The rest is up to us. The pit bull community demanded that the HSUS to change their policy, they did… now what will YOU do to help ensure that the victims aren't let down?

We are always in desperate need of foster homes. There is, unfortunately, a never ending supply of great dogs in shelters that need a safe place to go. Add to the ones who are there due to unfortunate life altering family changes… people are losing their homes, and this means that animals are losing their homes too. We are well aware of these animals and we try our very best to save the ones we can; but the ones we aren’t made aware of until it’s almost too late… how are we supposed to help them when the very people who scream for somebody to help them don’t do their part? They ALL need us; they all deserve the same chance.

It’s so easy to sit down and write a letter to an organization that for so long refused to entertain the notion of giving these dogs a chance. It’s simple to stand in protest over the mass killing of innocent animals that, through no choice or fault of their own, were a owned by criminals who would choose to use them for sick entertainment and abuse them. We sit in our homes, hugging our pit bulls and thanking our stars that they have never known that kind of pain or torture, as we cry for those who have; but that’s all many people do… hug their dogs and thank their lucky stars while getting upset that nobody will help those poor dogs. Some of us grit our teeth in rage and shed many tears for those who have been shown no mercy, because we want so badly to help but where is the community support?

A lot of people say they want to help and that they would if the dogs were given a chance. Okay then, prove it, because dogs in future cases are not going to have time for us to blast myspace, craigslist and the many other sources we use to find foster homes. When we are contacted about a bust case we are expected to respond immediately, but without YOU we cannot do that. Just as we’ve all been watching the HSUS to see if they would prove to us that they care about these dogs, the HSUS is now watching us to see if the pit bull loving community will deliver on our end of the deal.

Are we a community of advocates who only produce lip service? Or are we a group of people who will put their money where their mouth is and step up to help these dogs out of the depths of hell? In the famous words of Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding, Jr.); “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!”

These dogs need you to be there and ready for them BEFORE we are contacted about their case. Will you sit there on the sidelines and watch more die? Or will you stand up to help protect them as you’ve been demanding the HSUS to change its policy? Make a contribution to help support Pit Bull rescue, or apply to become a foster home for a Pit Bull in need today.