Thank you for contacting us regarding a county judge’s decision in North Carolina to euthanize fighting dogs seized from the property of notorious dogfighting kingpin Ed Faron. We understand your concern about the judge’s order to euthanize the dogs, and it is always a tragic outcome when healthy animals meet such a fate. But the blame lies with Mr. Faron, and not with county officials or The Humane Society of the United States. While we may not endorse every action of the county, we are grateful to them for working with The HSUS to bust a man who is responsible for an enormous amount of cruelty to dogs, and to bring him to justice.
No organization has done more to attack and harm the dogfighting industry than The HSUS. We’ve probably invested more in combating dogfighting than all other humane groups combined, and to great effect. We are principally responsible for the strong state and federal laws that make the practice a felony and ban possession and sale of fighting animals, and we have trained thousands of law enforcement personnel on investigating and raiding fighting operations. What’s more, it is our training, investigations, and rewards programs that are resulting in the arrest of countless dogfighters and the seizure of thousands of fighting dogs (which are, according to the dogfighters, an asset they lose upon seizure).
We are involved in dogfighting busts on almost a weekly basis, and the handling of Mr. Faron’s dogs raises the same questions that confound us constantly. With approximately 600,000 pit bulls killed in shelters each year, why should fighting dogs, which obviously require more resources to manage and which pose an obvious threat to other animals, get placed in favor of other equally deserving pit bulls and other breeds slated for euthanasia? In a local jurisdiction that has perhaps hundreds of other pit bulls waiting for loving homes, why not save them in favor of fighting dogs that will cost far more to handle on a per dog basis? How do we solve the larger pit bull problem in the nation, since we have an epidemic of dogfighters and others breeding them for aggression and for uses other than as companions?
We conducted a long-term investigation that led to the arrest of Mr. Faron and the seizure of his fighting dogs. He is considered one of the “Godfathers” of dogfighting, and it was our goal to put him out of business, just as it is our goal to target other industry leaders, in order to prevent thousands of dogs for use in fighting pits. Had it not been for our investigation, most of his dogs would have suffered immensely in a fighting pit in the weeks and months ahead. And who knows how many other dogs he would have bred to face this same fate.
It is now an HSUS policy to recommend an evaluation of all fighting dogs. In this case, The HSUS offered to pay for an additional professional evaluator to assess the dogs, even though we were skeptical that these dogs could be safely rehabilitated. The county did not take us up on that offer. Without an affirmative professional evaluation to indicate that the dogs could be safely placed in a new setting, we could not recommend adoption of these dogs who had been bred for generations for their instinct to kill.
While separate evaluations were not done, it is safe to say Faron’s dogs have been bred to produce animals with an unstoppable desire to fight, even in the face of extreme pain and fear. Professional dogfighters typically “cull” the dogs that don’t exhibit gameness or aggression, and only keep and breed the ones that exhibit the desired traits. For proof of that, we can refer to Faron himself, from his book about dogfighting:
“His face had only just healed from that fight with the Wreckers’ dog and he got his nose chewed half off again, that night.”
“The gamest dog I ever saw in my life was King David. At ten minutes, his right leg was broken. At twenty-three minutes, his left leg was broken. At thirty-seven he scratched on stumps, and at forty-eight minutes when he scratched he scratched down one wall and down the other ….until he got to Beau again.””
“ I mean, he broke muzzles, crushed skulls- we saw him bite dogs in the chest and their chest would literally collapse. That was Beau…”
Game-bred dogs pose a risk to other dogs not just because of training, but more importantly because of breeding for aggressive characteristics. Even no-kill shelters typically recommend euthanasia of obviously dangerous dogs.
These fighting dogs do not compare with the dogs from amateur “street fighters,” who typically take any, random pit bull and try and force them to fight. If pit bulls have not been bred for generations to have a “fight crazy” instinct, even if they have been exposed to dogfighting, they have a chance of being rehabilitated. This is why a substantial number of Michael Vick’s dogs were candidates for rehabilitation, after the court ordered Vick to pay $1 million as a set-aside to provide care and retraining for the dogs.
Once game-bred dogs are confiscated from a fighting situation, there are very few good options. There are no sanctuaries that exist for the thousands of game-bred dogs confiscated each year, and as a nation, there are hundreds of thousands of pit bulls awaiting adoptions in shelters every year. The resources that would be required to confine or rehabilitate fighting dogs could save many more dogs in shelters every year. So, in that sense, it is not a zero-sum game when it comes to euthanasia; it is a negative-sum game, and an inordinate focus on these few pit bulls would result in more euthanasia of other dogs. And if you impose upon rural counties – where most fighting busts occur – the burden of long-term holding of fighting pit bulls, then they may decline to intervene in criminal fighting cases, allowing the dogfighters to continue to operate.
There are tough choices to be made, and the only morally clear act is to attack the dogfighters where they live. We are the only national organization that has an entire unit devoted to this work on a national scale. That’s what we’ll continue to do.
A few points:
1. "We understand your concern about the judge’s order to euthanize the dogs, and it is always a tragic outcome when healthy animals meet such a fate. But the blame lies with Mr. Faron, and not with county officials or The Humane Society of the United States."
*sounds buzzer* Mr. Faron did not advocate for the killing of the seized dogs - the HSUS did. Their testimony led to the judge's ruling.
According to a ruling Monday by Judge Ed Wilson Jr. of Superior Court, state law defines dogs as dangerous if they are involved in a dog-fighting operation, and a county ordinance requires that dangerous dogs be destroyed.
The raid was the result of a three-year investigation by the Humane Society of the United States, in cooperation with Wilkes County Animal Control and the Wilkes County Sheriff's Office. Representatives of the Humane Society told the judge that the dogs should be destroyed, because they had been bred for generations to be aggressive.
Judge Ed Wilson entered the order after hearing arguments from Wilkes County officials, from the prosecutor and from The Humane Society of the U.S. that the dogs are dangerous and would pose a risk if adopted into homes.Therefore, I'll assign blame for the destruction of those dogs as I see fit - at the feet of the HSUS.
2. "With approximately 600,000 pit bulls killed in shelters each year, why should fighting dogs, which obviously require more resources to manage and which pose an obvious threat to other animals, get placed in favor of other equally deserving pit bulls and other breeds slated for euthanasia?"
*raises hand and waves violently* [I SO know this one! I hope he calls on me.] No one is placing any dogs "in favor of" any other dogs and why is it the HSUS gets to decide who's more or less worthy of a chance at life in bust dog cases? I know this message is not getting through to you HSUS, but not everyone agrees with your assertions as stated above. Some people in fact, think it's malarkey. If YOU feel a bust dog is not a good match for YOU, then don't adopt one. But by the same token, don't advocate to get them all killed before someone else, who might feel differently than you about bust dogs, has a chance to rescue them. If there is the desire out there among rescue groups to save these dogs, what business is it of yours how those rescue groups spend their resources? Perhaps you are concerned that you will be proven wrong again, like you were about the Vick dogs. Speaking of which -
3. "While separate evaluations were not done, it is safe to say Faron’s dogs have been bred to produce animals with an unstoppable desire to fight, even in the face of extreme pain and fear. Professional dogfighters typically “cull” the dogs that don’t exhibit gameness or aggression, and only keep and breed the ones that exhibit the desired traits."
This is the same argument used by HSUS when advocating for the killing of the Vick dogs:
Pacelle said, "If the current set of facts is not disputed, that they were killing off the less aggressive animals and keeping alive the best, most aggressive fighters, then it does not make sense to keep these animals alive."
And that argument turned out to be wrong. And incorrect. And really quite off.
4. "There are tough choices to be made, and the only morally clear act is to attack the dogfighters where they live. We are the only national organization that has an entire unit devoted to this work on a national scale. That’s what we’ll continue to do."
Fine. Bring it. You keep seizing Pitbulls and advocating for their destruction and we'll keep the spotlight on your hypocrisy machine. It's the only "morally clear act".