Sunday, November 30, 2008

Houston - Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

"All 187 dogs seized in the large bust that led to the mass indictments earlier this month, Smith said, were euthanized because of their aggression — an all-too-common end to a life of suffering."

They did it. They went for the all-too-common easy out: The most convenient, economical way to deal with an unwanted excess of abuse victims. Instead of assessing the animals or asking for help, they decided to blame the dogs and make them go away. "Euthanized because of aggression." .... Surely, America will believe that every single one of those 187 was dangerous, because, pit bulls are just freaky scary, right? Who can blame them? Evil, evil pit bulls.

Now that the dogs are 'officially' dead, Houston authorities are planning a campaign to curb the fighting they say is on the increase in their counties. "But the crime is more commonly found here among kids or young adults who spontaneously engage in the activity — referred to as "bumping" — on street corners, in parks or near school grounds." - Assistant DA Smith.

Before they start, Houston might want to look at what's been helping to make it so acceptable among the kids who do it.

Recipe for Increasing Kids' Interest in Dog Fighting:

1. Devalue pit bulls through agency policy: Ban all shelter adoptions. Stand firm against helping any impounded pit bull, no matter how adoptable. Reinforce the public's belief that the dogs aren't worthy...'Nice people don't want pit bulls.'
2. Alienate young people by blaming popular culture for devaluing pit bulls. Kids looove when adults disapprove of their music.
3. Use the media to stereotype. Categorize dogs as "aggressive" and indicate to bored youth that, after all, the dogs were "bred to fight."
4. To separate out from acceptable shelter dogs, reinforce the pit bulls' lessor status: "They are not pets." - Assistant DA Smith
5. Where possible, alienate further by implying that dog fighting is a stain on the lower classes. "I really want to get the word out, especially to the low-income students" - Assistant DA Smith.
6. Indicate that pit bulls are better off dead. "This is a point where death can be a gift." - Houston SPCA veterinarian Harkness.

Finally, Lucky 7. If your audience still doesn't get the message, demonstrate by killing every single pit bull you get your hands on.

That'll teach'em, Houston.

Photo above: Vick dog 'Shadow' during evaluations.


Anonymous said...

Oh no...It's news like this that makes me ashamed to be a part of the human species.

Amanda said...

Well put Donna! This is ridiculous and sad and I find it hard, if not impossible, to believe that ANY of those 187 dogs got a fair evaluation before being put down. =( Heck, maybe there wasn't any evaluations...I mean they had all the info they needed right?! Pit bulls, dogfighting = instant death. GRRRRRR!

So the victims are dead, and what will become of the perpetrators of these crimes? As the law now stands, the consequences are disappointingly low. =(

And you gotta love Assistant DA Smith standing so proudly in front of her door with the pictures of abused animals...yup, she's a hero here for sure. Bleh.

Ugh, okay rant over.

Love the picture of Bob below! =) That's the kind of reindeer I'd love to see approaching my house. ;)

Anonymous said...

What a shame!! What a bunch of uncaring a**holes! Just goes to show you how some people are completely oblivious as to how wonderful these dogs really are!! It only takes time and patience to turn a dog around. Obviously they didn't have the time nor the patience.

Zookeeper56k said...

All this is just to sad.
My local Animal Shelter is getting an increasing amout of animals brought in because the owners don't have the money to care for them. Michigan is hit hard with the lose of jobs and high utility bills. I cried when I saw it on the 11PM news the other day. It scares me as well because I have 12pets of my own. I only hope that the shelter will be able to place them instead of putting them down.
I would take them if I had the room and money to care for them.

Anonymous said...

It`s so obvious that AR people have infiltrated every organization.
It`s not about animal welfare anymore.
And it`s so obvious they have felt the need to counter(attempt to) the great success you have had.
Killing proves nothing about the dogs but what you have done proves EVERYTHING about the dogs.

I will be writing them right after I calm down

Anonymous said...

Oh my God. This really hits hard. So many beautiful souls, not even given a chance to prove themselves worthy of life(and I'm sure many of them would have done so successfully). What a terrible, terrible ending.

YesBiscuit! said...

Sheds new light on the word "rescue". Unfortunately, this Asst. DA is in charge of ALL cruelty cases for her county.

Anonymous said...

This is horrifying, and I'm especially disappointed to see the veterinarian joining in on making the pit bull a punching bag. You would hope a doctor would know better.

I was watching an episode of Animal Cops: Detroit the other night, and 2 perfectly wonderful pit bulls were saved from an abusive situation. They had severe mange, and were underweight. That's it. The veterinarian for MHS stated that given their condition, "and their breed," it wouldn't make sense to try to save them, and they were euthanized. WHAT??!!! How many mangy, underweight dogs have they rallied to save that didn't happen to be pit bulls?

Hey Houston, hey Detroit, why isn't the pit bull worth it?! We are a compassionate society who love our animals, so look beyond stereotypes and show some compassion!

Donna said...

Thanks anon. Agreed on the hypocrisy of the vet.

Detroit - or Michigan Humane Society - has made significant efforts to change their no-adopt policy (asked BR to travel out for a presentation and sent two staffers to Pit Ed Camp to learn best practices in selection & placement), but their progress is slooow going, no thanks in part to a very nervous board who've been educated to believe in the hype -- by who else? as you called out, their own Animal Cops show.

It's so interesting that the cities with some of the worst pit bull policies have been the those with their own shows, isn't it? Houston, Detroit, San Francisco. It makes you wonder why show producers were attracted to these cities in the first place.

Interesting factoid, Animal Cops producers dropped Detroit because viewers complained that it was too depressing. Schinder's List offered more hope in comparison!

Anonymous said...

Houston, you should be ashamed! I would like a few minutes alone with that D.A. and let her meet a rescued dog. What a moron she is. I am very saddened by the whole thing, but will never give up hope that animals-not just the pits- will finally get the love and respect that they deserve.

Anonymous said...

Hey Houston, f@*# you! THIS low-income kid is now a high-income adult who remembers people like your ADA. People who are so sure low-income kids are such snot-nosed losers: they fight dogs, do drugs, and have sex--things their more privileged counterparts would NEVER do.

Seriously, Houston, you have to stop blaming poor people. And you HAVE to stop exterminating pit bulls like they're cockroaches. They're dogs. And in this case, vicitims. I'm sure you are full of good people who would have stepped up to the plate given the chance, but you took the easy way out. Coward.

Leila said...

It's too bad that the people who claim to have the 'best interest of the animals', can't be bothered to see past their own noses.

The 'experts' said that the animals were aggressive, yet the actions taken by the Houston Assistant DA are not? Killing 187 animals who were frightened and confused, not given a chance to calm down and be evaluated, THAT is an act of agression.

Shame on them. I'm going home now to hug my dog.

Anonymous said...

I went home for lunch and held my pittie close and thought about 187 dogs who would never get the chance to know love. I thanked goodness that forces joined together to keep my pittie out of the wrong hands and brought him into the safe ones of the Berkeley shelter, where we found each other. I thought of what a person who administers 187 doses of ketamine to dogs with searching eyes and beating hearts (and no chances) must have to do to steel themselves against the pain. I thought of how far this country has to go to arrive at a point where pit bulls are not vilified, but instead cherished for the unique qualities that make them so special. I thought of the work that all of us who DO know have before us. That is okay-- the goal is worth it . . . 187 times over.

Anonymous said...

Man, this is the sickest thing I have read in a long time. God bless those 187, and all the other innocents little angels who are killed for people's ignorance. Shame on us.

The Foster Lady said...

Send these bozos the article you mentioned in 'Bad Rap Gossip' below....'Vick dogs to be mentioned in a major publication.'

Question: can they read?


Unknown said...

hug your pit bulls people.

Boris said...


December definitely got off to a cold start. So, thank you for your heating-up our heads (blog) and warmin-up our hearts (calendar).

A fleating glimmer of beauty was seen in the early night-sky as a waking crescent Moon shined with Venus and Jupiter in conjunction. A truly breath taking celestial event, lasting meer hours, leaving behind the cold clear darkness.

The night sky and moon cycle reminds us that a Dog's Life runs 7 times faster than humans. So it seems does: brutality, misguided actions and ill-posed laws. So, we can't be slow to act, and let killing 187 dogs be a passing headline event or a seen as a quick cleansing (think flushing a toilet).

Like the stars at night, we pibble families need to shine out and be seen daily. Demonstrate by word and deed (some brighter than other), that the damaged-dog claims are exagerated, pit bulls are family pets, and there are alternatives to fighting & killing.

Also, please like we ask of our dogs, we have to treat people as individuls. Let's not act in similar 'ye-ol' ways by burning down the city, people and all, to get rid of the plague. Houston and Harris County have hearts with a lot of pit bulls in bed with them.

Still we need to keep reminding THEM, THEY (not the criminals) killed 187, including all the pups.

Boris' Family in Houston

Anonymous said...

One giant leap forward (the Vick dogs)....two steps back (Houston)'s a battle that rages on. I'm lighting 187 candles, one per night, for each dog that died needlessly. To my friends in Houston, that invited me and my pittie to come and visit: no thanks. Where my dog (and her kind) is not welcome, I will not go. May they see the error of their ways and change. It's a tragedy for us all.

Pip said...

How awful.
How disheartening.

Houston, I'm ashamed to even live in the same state as you.

Time to go home and hug my own baby and be glad she can't hear the things the world says about her (even my own parents, who warned me not to tell anyone she was a pit mix).

HEY HOUSTON, see this sweet little girl? She's a pit. She's deaf. If it had been up to you she'd also be dead. She also loves everyone (dog and human) that she meets. She made our new neighbor (an older widowed lady) smile.

As for lower-income kids... when I took my cat to get microchipped I was waiting along with a lower-income teen and his mom. The kid had a pit bull puppy named Tex. The teen looked like the sterotype of a gang-banger. You should have seen the way he hugged his puppy and kissed the top of its head. You should have seen the love in that puppy's eyes when it looked back at him.

NorCalRose & Riddick said...

This hurt my heart. However, I appreciate your frank and on target comments. We (they) CANNOT forget education and modeling by example is the only answer. Wake up Huston.

Anonymous said...

Another Bust but at least the language is better and I`ll bet statistically this is closer to the truth.

[quote]While visiting the farm, Kelly said, he saw only two dogs that were so aggressive that they made him feel uncomfortable. Most welcomed their visitors.

"They were just happy to have somebody there to feed them," he said.[/quote]

I`ll bet they were.

It`s too bad the death sentence can`t be used for dog fighters and those who attend dog fights if they are proven guilty.
I`ll bet that would discourage the practice.

Anonymous said...

Check out Best Friends Animal Sanctuary's response to the atrocity in Houston last week. The page includes officials to write to, if you'd like to express your thoughts on the matter to the people who will be making decisions about Houston's pit bulls in the future.

Anonymous said...

While it makes me VERY angry to have representatives of animal welfare organizations making totally false statements about whether or not dogs seized from fighting operations have the potential to be good pets, a part of me can understand why most of these animals end up being euthanized.

If the oft quoted statistic of 1 in 600 shelter pit bulls finding a forever family is true, that means there are a LOT of pit bulls dying in shelters EVERY DAY for lack of good homes. In the case of my local shelter, the average is 70 pit bulls killed EVERY WEEK

Although they currently have a no pit bull adoption policy, our shelter allows temp eval so that local rescues can pull pit bulls from the shelter. There is often a backlog of exceptional shelter pits for which we do not have enough foster homes. This means that if we were ever faced with the seizure of a large number of former fight dogs, we probably wouldn't have any space for them in our foster programs.

In my effort to become more educated about pit bulls & PB rescues across the US, nearly every rescue's website states that they are in a position similar to my local rescues -- not enough foster homes. I suspect that BAD RAP is probably in the same boat -- too many great dogs, too few foster homes right there in the Bay Area.

I think it's great PR (for BAD RAP and for pit bulls in general) to find wonderful tempered dogs who have faced the terrible treatment that one would expect from a dog-fighter owner, and are able to recover from that treatment to become awesome pets. But the idea that more pit bulls could be saved if more of these dogs were given a chance doesn't seem very realistic. Space given to a former fighting dog would likely be space taken away from a 'regular' shelter pit bull. There simply isn't enough space for all of the homeless dogs in our shelter & foster care systems.

Interestingly, I have noticed a trend in pit bull message boards & forums across the US: Lots of railing against someone in a far off city for euthanizing a group of 100+ seized dogs without any acknowledgment that right there in their own nearby big city, chances are 100+ pit bulls are being euthanized EVERY WEEK.

I wish that more of these people would recognize the tragedy of that far away situation -- especially the often untrue, harmful statements that the local officials make about the ability of former fighting dogs to become pets -- while also acknowledging what a difficult situation said locality is facing.

When news of another tragedy such as this one surfaces, I'd like to see it renew the dedication and energy that the pit bull folks across the country talking about solutions (to decrease the homeless animal population, to increase adoptions of all breeds, including pit bulls, etc.) that could make it possible for ALL cities to be able to have the space to be able to keep the best temp-tested former fight dogs. The sad reality is that while some of these fight dogs have the potential to become great pets, so do a fair number of the pit bulls that the shelter has to put down in it's weekly "space making" round of euthanasia. If a shelter is routinely killing "regular" pit bulls with good temp evals, what incentive do they have to try to help save former fight dogs with good temperments?

From what I've read, it seems like rather than rail against a distant local government or shelter for not giving more fighting dogs a chance, on the whole, our energy is better spent trying to get local shelters to start pit bull screening and adoption programs (like the BAD RAP Ambassadog program) so that when there is a seizure of fighting dogs, there's a program in place that could take some of the best tempermented dogs so that they don't all have to die. Without a pit adoption program for "regular" pit bulls, how can we hope to convince them that they should keep and adopt out former fight dogs?

Donna said...

Excellent points, anon. It goes without saying that every city is struggling with too many adoptable pit bulls and never enough waiting homes.

However, you have to agree that fight bust dogs deserve compassion* - in whatever form that compassion is delivered (environmental enrichment in the kennel during their wait, a blanket, a final treat or other form of kindness that they were denied in their former life) - and they certainly deserve the opportunity to be declined by busy rescues rather than labeled and discarded. Sometimes, rescues DO have room or are willing to make room for special cruelty cases.

The incentive for helping them is huge. In our experience, their stories do more good to educate and inspire people to care about general breed issues than 25 shelter dogs who may or may not spark the interest of the uninformed, fearful public. Without the public's concern, even the best shelter dogs are lost.

An interesting by-product of the Vick case that I didn't expect: We've noticed an INCREASE in adoptions since the case hit the airwaves. People who might've purchased their dogs from a kennel are learning that hand selected dogs in rescues or shelters are a healthy option. And places like Humane Society Missouri have made a new commitment to pit bulls since they allowed their bust dogs to be evaled & placed. Before the bust, we didn't see 'regular' pit bulls on their adoptions pages. They're there now. I'm guessing - I'm hoping - that this change came from their positive experience with helping the bust dogs.

These are difficult times for shelters and rescues, and choosing which lives to save is a constant burden. But however a dog finds itself in the shelter system - whether through a cruelty bust or tearful owner surrender - they ALL deserve the same treatment and consideration. We can't start dividing up the animal populations and say that one group of dogs or breed of dogs is more deserving than another. IMO, that's the easy way out.

Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

What the h*** is wrong with HSUS?
Spiegel says the United States Humane Society lists the breeds being regulated as violent or dangerous by nature. [/quote],0,1321245.story

This will be an uphill battle for these dogs until they stop spewing this nonsense that is repeated everywhere.