Tuesday, March 10, 2009

HSUS Understands Birds; Dogs, Not So Much

What's the difference between fighting dogs and fighting birds seized by law enforcement? The HSUS is willing to let some of the seized birds live, based upon their age and gender.

The day after HSUS posted about the Wilkes County Pitbull seizure, they wrote about some birds seized in a cockfighting bust:

The birds' journey to a Texas sanctuary was as unusual as it was fortunate. Fighting birds seized from raids, both hens and roosters, are typically euthanized because of the difficulty of finding proper placement.

Like fighting dogs, birds bred and raised for fighting are too aggressive to be placed with other animals or in a community. Sadly, such was the case with many of the birds seized in the Ramsey raid, and all of the full-grown fighting roosters were euthanized.

The females, chicks and juvenile males were saved with the help of rescue groups.

Obviously birds and dogs are not the same animals. So it is not necessarily appropriate to compare them as far as adoptability. In general terms, dogs have been domesticated to be companions and in some cases, provide services (such as herding livestock) to man for thousands of years. They are commonly referred to as "man's best friend" due to their friendly and loyal disposition. Dogs are highly trainable, intelligent, adaptable and possess a strong desire to please - qualities which are used by trainers of formerly abused dogs in order to acclimate them to new lives as family pets. Dogs readily accept their human owner as their pack leader so long as the owner provides common sense training, discipline, and boundaries. None of these generalizations can be applied to birds used for fighting so to my mind, the dogs clearly have the advantage when weighing adoptability in these cases.

The HSUS takes a completely opposite stand however and is willing to let some of the seized birds live while recommending death for all the seized dogs - even the pups born after seizure, still nursing from their dams at the time the Wilkes Co case went to court. Rescue groups had offered assistance with the dogs and Best Friends specifically had offered to accept responsibility for the dogs, neuter them and evaluate them for possible adoption. The HSUS sent two representatives to court to make sure that didn't happen. They lobbied for the deaths of all the dogs.

There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding when it comes to HSUS and the disposition of seized fighting animals. How else could one explain the "rescued" animal treatment HSUS deemed appropriate for fighting cases reported just one day apart? If the HSUS does change their policy on bust dogs to mandate (not "recommend") individual evaluations by a qualified trainer, I will welcome it. But you'll have to excuse me if I call for the HSUS to stand aside as far as those evaluations go. Cos they don't seem to look at dogs the way I do. You know, as pets. As family members. As sentient beings deserving of compassion and care - not death. Maybe HSUS would be good at evaluating seized birds, I don't know. But clearly, they have no clue about bust dogs. Thankfully there are many people who do.


Rinalia said...

Interesting. HSUS suggested we kill all 130 hens and chicks we rescued from a cockfighting bust because some of the chicks would end up being roos. We ignored them on that one.

Chickens are a domesticated species as well. They are also used in clicker training as well as cognitive processing experiments. They are highly "trainable" critters. :) It's more of perception than ability that makes them less popular as companions (and it's a little harder to potty-train them, heh).

foxstudio said...

Big bust recently of a local who had, count 'em, over 2000 roosters plus paraphernelia on his property. Someone from HSUS was apparently involved and on-site when the cops swooped in. They were being raised to sell for fighting, not sure how many, if any were fought.

Waiting to see how the court case plays out. I don't think the AC director is anxious to kill all those birds, but where that many can go will be the question.

For now, a half dozen or so are being held at the shelter as evidence and the rest are on the property where the out-on-bail jerk is having to pay to feed and care for them all, so it's costing the taxpayers next to nothing. Is AC grinning? You bet.

YesBiscuit! said...

Rinalia - So in the case you mention, HSUS did not pursue legal action to get the birds killed?

Susan - that's good the suspect has the funds to pay for the care of the birds. Often that is not the case.

Rinalia said...

No, they just contacted us and suggested we euthanize the birds in lieu of trying to place them or keeping them at the sanctuary (we're a nonprofit farmed animal sanctuary). The birds had significant health problems and it was months before they could be placed, but when they were ready for adoption, all the hens and most of the roos were adopted within a few weeks. We still get updates on how they're doing. :) I'm glad we didn't kill them.

YesBiscuit! said...

Gee if only HSUS had used the same "call the rescue and suggest they kill the seized animals" approach in dogfighting cases, who knows how many Pitbulls might still be alive and in homes today.