Friday, July 10, 2009

St. Louis MO - Been there, Done that


... 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.

20 comments:

The Other Sally's Mom said...

If shelters and rescues across the country raised their hands like they did for Katrina, and are open to learning what they need to do to properly care for and adopt out these dogs, we would see a sea change in how pit bulls are perceived and treated from here on out ... Imagine if a lot of shelters took just one or two dogs ...

Nichole said...

The thing I hope rescues and shelters understand is the amazing press that comes out of putting themselves out there to help with a case like this.

The humane society here took in ~20 puppy mill dogs and when they were available for adoption, the number of potential adopters that came in due to the news media was enough to adopt them all, and then some.

That's how I got my first dog too - a feel good news story about a local org who raised $20k to bring 50 Katrina animals to CA.

Anonymous said...

I think I have Caelyn's sister, Haley, now called Zoe. They are the same age and look like twins. Zoe is living the good life in the Sierra Mtns.
It made my day yesterday, when I read this breaking story, to know that all the dogs were not IMMEDIATELY doomed, but I know that a lot of work is ahead to save as many as possible.
Many could be saved if many took a few instead of a few dealing with many.
Let's all step up to the plate for the victims.
Cindy

leigha said...

my heart breaks for every one of those dogs that don't get the chance they deserve. i am going to attempt to get a fundraiser together for bad rap in my area. if that can help just a few more dogs then its well worth the effort. i actually work for a mobile dog grooming company and on slow days we go to our local shelter to volunteer and groom for for free. maybe i can coodinate a day for us to donate half (or all) our profits to bad rap. i will run it by the owners. it would be good press/promotion for us & it would help a very needy/worthy cause

becky said...

Thanks for posting this. I look forward to the info on what foster homes need to know. I am hopeful that this time, this go around, more groups and people are inspired to help out, financially or with a spot to stay.

Dianne in DC said...

I saw this on Wayne Paccelle's blog. One very positive thing is that Scotlund Haisley is involved in this. Maybe you met him in NOLA while he was executive director of Washington Animal Rescue League. He and staff made many trips to pick up dogs and bring them up here. He was also responsible for bringing in 11 of the Vick dogs to our shelter. He's gone on now to be the HSUS director of disaster recovery, a direct result of the NOLA rescues. I think it's the first time I've read about such a bust as a "rescue." I've got my hopes up.

I'm also going to a town hall meeting with Wayne Paccelle here in DC on Thursday, and you can count on me to ask about this.

Jennifer said...

I really hope people are able to step up. I hate to see the dogs victimized two and three times at the hands of humans.

I, for one, would love some fund raising ideas. I have a house chock full of pitties (isn't this always the case???) but I would LOVE to do my part with funding!

leigha said...

sometimes fund raising happens at the simplest of ideas. just do it. let people know why and where the money is going.

Anonymous said...

When we were starting, we found very simple ways to get operating funds - - we host a rummage sale on our property (we arrange to pick up left-overs from half day community sales in high-economic areas, advertise in local newspapers for donations and ask dog-friendly antique dealers to donate leftovers). Used Book drives are pretty successful (collecting overflow books from used book stores and book drives). Although it doesn't make us rich, it provides collectively about $5000 a year as a basis. We participated also in non-profit walks where people sponsor your endeavor, department store fundraisers, Christmas Faires (with the craftier volunteers making goodies) and asking the volunteer base to consider small donations for end of year. Hope this gives some quickie ideas.

Lynn in N. Cal

Mary, Olive's mommy said...

There are groups that want to help by taking in some of these dogs. Lets hope decisions are made soon so we can get the ball rolling. I offered thru a rescue group here in MN to take a puppy. If each state took in 10 dogs...It doesn't seem so overwhelming when you look at this way.

Bailey said...

The involvement of Scotlund Haisely is NOT a reason to be optimistic. He is only going to rescue a dog if it will bring him good press. He also has multiple sexual harrassments cases pending against him. Fortunately, there are other hard working staff at HSUS that have the end goal of eradicating dogfighting in mind, and they are the ones you can trust.

NYCKitten said...

@Bailey - for what it's worth - I know Scotlund is in the press quite a bit now. But I adopted my dog from him 13 years ago when he ran Animal Care & Control in NYC. He asked employees to sit in cages so they would understand what it's like for dogs. I was set to get a frou-frou dog and he asked me to take a pit mix and "save it's life" - the best advice and best decision I ever made was to get that 65lb pit mix. So, my point is - he was all about the dogs then and I have to believe he is all about the dogs now - it's either in you or it's not.

Thoughts said...

I was so glad to hear about this raid but have been wondering all along, what will happen to the dogs? I understand your point about rescues and shelters being over crowded, it is SO sad for these poor animals. Do you have a donation page? Ill have to look for it.

jaime

Jason said...

Hey NYC Kitten, is it possible that press coverage can inflate someones ego and cause them to lose site of what is important?

Dianne in DC said...

Hey NYCKitten,
Thanks for confirming my feeling about Scotlund. I have not worked with him, just in his very long shadow. He designed the facility here, and the staff all have their hearts in it. We took in 80 PA puppy mill dogs on July 1st thanks to Scotlund, and although they get adopted quickly they are pretty badly scarred.

Donna said...

I never would have guessed this thread was going to turn into a discussion on Scotlund! Does he have a track record for helping victimized pit bulls get into homes? I don't know. At this point, the case is much bigger than one man, though. Hundreds and hundreds of homeless pit bulls -- The numbers are stunning. It's an 'all hands on deck' situation to select the most adoptable of the dogs and help them get to safety. And if Scotland turns out to be any sort of positive influence on the HSUS contributing resources to this end of the work, more power to him. My sense is that this case is going to be made up of many heroes instead of a few, however. Fingers crossed for many heroes.

SarahB said...

Fostering is so important, even if you don't want to foster a cruelty case, tell your local rescue that you can help foster other dogs, that way it frees up space for others, whether its a poodle or a pitbull (though I myself am partial to the pitties :) ) fostering makes a huge difference.

Sarah said...

Definitely interested in hearing what it takes to be a foster to a cruelty case dog. Looking forward to your blog on that!

Anonymous said...

Why do you have pictures of Mutts-n-Stuff dogs on your website? Why do you have photos I took and not giving me credit?

Honestly, what is wrong with your group?

Donna said...

Gail - Any photos we recv'd from the Stoddard case came to us courtesy of the HSMO for use on our blog.

I understand that you're experiencing an incredible amount of stress and you haven't been well. But please, curb the nasty.