July 31, 2006

"Pit bulls" and "animal rights" - HSUS in Florida

In the past, I have written various e-mails and articles, although not through this forum, about the under-the-table, behind-the-scenes, and sometimes not so subtle, attempts by Animal Rights organizations to influence politicians, lawmakers, and law enforcers. The results of this influence peddling (and meddling) include: breed bans; breed-specific legislation in general; mandatory spay/neuter (often aimed at specific breeds); and other methods of forcing an "animal rights" agenda on those who would prefer to remain concerned simply about "animal welfare".

I have talked about their success in San Francisco in renaming "owners" to "guardians", a huge semantic difference in terms of what former dog "owners" are allowed to do with what is no longer their "property".

I have talked about the recent SB-861 in California and how it can be used to gradually reduce dog ownership, breed by breed.

I have talked about Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, who has stated unequivocally that she approves of the complete elimination of the American Pit Bull Terrier and similar dogs.

I have quoted Michael Bryant, Attorney General of Ontario, and have discussed, in detail, many sentences from his presentation to the Ontario committee hearings. His presentation could be called the "where is the humanity in that?" speech that, to the average listener or reader, provided a somewhat logical approach to the "problem" of overpopulation, bad breeding, bad owners, and bad dogs. I showed how his entire argument was riddled with an animal rights agenda whose ultimate objective was to end all dog ownership, starting with a few breeds. I also talked about how his only bite statistics for "pit bulls" came from an online Animal Rights magazine in Washington State called "Animal People", owned and run by a self-proclaimed "pit bull" and Rottweiler hater named Merritt Clifton.

I have mentioned that various Animal Rights organizations, including PETA and the inaptly named Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), have provided behind-the-scenes advice to politicians and have provided evidence and advice to courts, all in favour of breed-specific legislation. This, despite HSUS's official public position against breed-specific legislation.

Now, I've been reading the excellent coverage by Kelley Benham of the St. Petersburg Times about the 139 pit bulls seized by Polk County Animal Control in Florida.

What do I find? Not once, but twice, in two different articles, up pops the HSUS as "experts". Are they, in either of these articles, taking a stance against dog fighting? Apparently not. How about animal abuse? Nope. Not a word. So what expertise did the HSUS provide to our esteemed journalist?

First, they expound on who owns "pit bulls" and the fact that there are too many of them. Second, they are called on to give "advice" to the Sheriff's office on what to do with the THREE WEEK OLD puppies that were confiscated as part of the raid and the NEWBORN puppies that were born at the shelter after the raid. Their solution? Kill them all.

Here are the two quotes from the two articles, each followed by my comments:

Quote from The Pit Bull Problem by Kelley Benham:

Pit bulls are overrepresented in dog bite statistics because they are overrepresented in the dog population, said Adam Goldfarb, an issues specialist with the Humane Society of the United States. "My personal opinion is they are the most popular dog in the history of the United States," he said. "They are the dog of choice for drug dealers, gang members and anyone else who wants a tough-looking dog."

Polk County Animal Control has adopted out pit bulls routinely, as long as they were friendly toward people and other animals. Everyone, from Sheriff Grady Judd on down, thought that breed-specific policies were a bad idea.
Note the comments from Mr. Goldfarb, the issues "specialist". Note the use of the word "overrepresented". That means "there are too many". Then, he marginalizes both the dogs and their owners by saying that they're the dog of choice for "drug dealers, gang members", etc. By using these two phrases, it then becomes okay to kill them, because first, there are too many and second, only bad people own them.

Quote from Kennel Trash by Kelley Benham:
A decision had been made about the puppies. Lt. Oakman had talked to Dr. Ertel, who had talked to the Humane Society of the United States, whose advice was straightforward: No fighting dog should be adopted out, at any age.

There were several reasons, beyond the potential for aggression. For one thing, shelters were so overcrowded with pit bulls that only the best of the breed should be adopted out. For another, there was a chance dogfighters would recognize their potential and try to adopt or steal them. Euthanasia, the Humane Society said, was the kindest option.

So that was the policy the shelter adopted.
So, despite the shelter's usual policy of adopting out friendly pit bulls, these particular dogs had to be killed because they were "fighting dogs". That's an interesting phrase, "fighting dogs". Remember, whatever I personally think about this owner, he has not been convicted of any charges AND the only dog-fighting charge laid was one of owning dog-fighting paraphernalia (a cat mill). So these dogs have been labelled as "fighting dogs", despite the fact that the prosecutors don't seem to have enough evidence to actually charge him with dog-fighting. But the dogs have to die anyway. And not only did they kill the dogs that may (or may not) have been actually fought, but also a mother and her newborn puppies, as well as dogs that were three weeks old when they were confiscated. The "kindest option" indeed.

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