... Now what?
Most animal folks who watch the news know by now that the Humane Society Missouri spearheaded one doozie of a raid this week, resulting in the arrest of 26 suspected dog fighters and sweeping over 400 dogs from several states into custody. ROCK ON HSMO!
This isn't the first time they nabbed a bad guy. We all cheered when they broke up a large dog fighting operation in 2007, and we were honored to work with them to eval all 27 of the dogs from that raid (right). As a result of their good working relationship with rescue orgs, over one third of the dogs went on to new lives. Here's just one: Caelyn
As expected, we're getting a lot of mail from people who want to see the dogs from this recent bust evaluated and given a chance to be rescued. First thing's first tho': Remember that the dogs still belong to the accused, and they deserve their due process. If and when the dogs are released to the authorities, that's when we can begin speculating about their rescue.
Yes, it's a big case but it's good to note that the animal welfare community has had many dress rehearsals for helping animals from bigger disasters, so - I'd like to think - we're getting better at helping the victims. We're trying, at least. During Hurricane Katrina, groups worked together to help thousands of pit bulls as well as non-pits. (Below, one of the hundreds of Hurricane Katrina pit bulls at Lamar Dixon waiting for 'What's next?' ... Did she survive? Most did not.)
Now the bad news. One of more difficult lessons from Katrina however may play out in this case. This is, reputable rescues and shelters may not be able (or in some cases, not willing) to collectively absorb all the foster status dogs from this case. There are just too few of us. And that may be the most difficult lesson of all.
The St. Louis case faithfully mimics what's going on in shelters all over this country: Too many needy pit bulls, never enough adopters or rescues willing/able to meet their needs. No one knows that more than our own local Oakland Animal Services, where staff and a team of dedicated volunteers work butts off daily to deal with adoptable pit bull and pit mixes - their numbers on the increase since the economy took a nosedive. Long story short: even with hardcore efforts, good dogs still lose out.
While we need to stay hopeful, let's also remember that 1) reputable rescue groups need to identify qualified foster homes now more than ever and 2) When we have to let dogs go as we so often do, it's never the dogs' fault. We just have too damn many dogs and never enough helpers. The bitch that was Katrina is a reminder that in all kinds of disasters, including the economic disaster and this cruelty disaster, good efforts do not always add up to the widespread happy endings that victims of these cases so richly deserve.
What you can do: Find out if your local rescue takes in cruelty cases, and if they do, suck up and offer to foster. Seriously. I'll outline the things foster homes need to know in a separate blog. If you have a lease that won't allow you to have a temporary dog, consider fundraising for the rescues are set to raise their hands for these dogs. (Like, - ahem - ours!)
Stay tuned. This case won't be going away anytime soon and there will be lots of twists and turns in the road to report as we humans decide how much room we have in our lives for out-of-luck pit bulls.
Answer to the question above. Yes! This was one of the (few) lucky dogs that did survive Katrina post-rescue.