Friday, May 8, 2009

Bust Dog Evaluation: Live or Die?

The dogs seized from a Virginia sheriff's deputy in connection with dogfighting charges have reportedly been evaluated. Subsequently, 12 were killed and 7 are being put into rescue:

[Lt. Doug] Perry says that was the case with the 19 dogs who survived after being seized from the home of former Richmond Sheriff's deputy Dave Robinson, who is charged with animal cruelty and dog fighting.

He says experts from the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force, and local group Ring Dog Rescue came in to evaluate the surviving dogs, to see if any could be rehabilitated and adopted.

But the experts determined 12 dogs were beyond help.

"They were just not adoptable, these dogs were extremely aggressive, very dangerous dogs, we did not want to do that, but we had to do that, and it was in the best interest of the animal, just to put them down," explained Perry.

12 out of 19 had to be killed based upon evaluations? These numbers scare me. I looked up the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force to see if their evaluation methods were discussed on their website but I didn't find that information. Ring Dog Rescue has more info on their site although I did not see anything about the evaluation methods.

Don't get me wrong, I'm always thrilled to hear that evaluations are being performed on dogs at kill shelters. But the evaluations must be fair and must be performed by at least one qualified person (preferably a small group). The evaluators should be experienced with rehoming dogs seized from fight cases and familiar with the behavior of dogs in a shelter environment. The evaluation is a useful tool to have in the toolbox. It can help rescues to match dogs to the most appropriate adopters. But it shouldn't be used as a sole means in determining life or death for a dog.

Maybe I've got the entire dog behavior issue terribly misunderstood but to my mind, the overwhelming majority of healthy dogs in shelters are adoptable and will test as such in a fair behavioral evaluation by a qualified individual. Some will be "more" adoptable - that is, they can be matched with a variety of homes - while others will have special needs and their pool of potential adopters will be narrower. Hardly any - and again this is just my thought - will need to be killed based upon a fair evaluation. Am I totally in la-la land or does this make sense?

I am very interested to know what testing methods were used on each of these VA dogs, how long the tests took, who conducted the tests and who interpreted the results. Because something seems very wrong here. An evaluation's purpose is to help match the dog with the right owner so that a successful relationship can develop. It's not a means to justify killing dogs who don't "pass". The test shouldn't be a pass/fail, especially when fail=death. It's one useful way to steer a dog in the right direction as far as training and setting goals for the future. One of those goals should always be rehoming. I understand there can be exceptional cases where a dog is deemed unmanageable and unsafe but that would be after many attempts at rehab training, not after one test. And in this case the majority of dogs were deemed worthy of nothing except death.

On a related note, I read a very interesting post today at KC Dog Blog regarding temperament testing for shelter dogs. Well worth a read.


Bulldog-Mike said...

On of the things that bothers me most about these dogs that the ass clowns at HSUS... the JP Goodwin cronies.... is that the breed is called the American PIT Bull Terrier. These dogs.. whether you like it or not were bred and designed by man for the sole purpose of doing combat with another dog.

Whether you agree with dog matching or not... the simple fact is these dogs are not meant to be "pack" animals like everyone's favorite illegal immigrant Cesar Milan wants people to think they are. These dogs are meant to be people dogs... they are meant to be around people not other animals.

I own several APBTs and none of them are allow around the others because I am smart enough to know if they get around each other the instinct they posses... the desire they posses to fight will come out and they WILL fight.

So instead they stay on proper chain setups.. where they have water, shelter, shade, and are fed once a day. Each dog gets one on one time with me and my wife inside the house... and I spend time with each one when I go out to feed them. They are happy bulldogs.... but sadly the HSUS and the "expert" Goodwin would murder them simply because they don't play well with others. Animal love?
............ hardly

YesBiscuit! said...

I don't "disagree" with dogfighting - I condemn it, unreservedly. The idea that dog behavior is wholly genetic is not one I agree with. John Goodwin incidentally, has used this same argument in defense of killing bust dogs. I believe most dog behavior is shaped by humans and the environment provided. A Pitbull is first a dog. Dogs are pack animals. So if there is a genetic influence on behavior the species influence would be more dominant that the breed influence IMO. Cesar Millan is not an illegal immigrant (WTF?) and the fact is, he has a large number of Pitbulls and dogs with formerly aggressive tendencies living together successfully in a large pack.

Our Pack said...

I agree that behavior is a nature nurture thing. I think environment and genetics both play a rold. One really can't generalize behavior anyway. It's not sound behaviorism. Breed characteristics can always be taken into consideration or course, but the individual dog himself should still be temperament tested based on his individual merit. Otherwise we're just doing what we accuse other orgs of doing....generalizing and categorizing. As a trainer/behavior counselor I don't think I can just sum everything up based on a dog being a certain breed and what his genetics may or may not be.

Pit Bull Lover said...

First, you all should be happy 7 got saved. Usually the number is 0, so this is an improvement.

It's also frustrating to me that usually the people who are the loudest in condemning shelters for any euthanasia of pit bulls are those who are breeding pit bulls.
With 4 million dogs and cats being euthanized each year, please do not have a litter of pups on the ground while condemning euthanasia.

Maybe if every dog had a good home shelters would have more resources to deal with fighting dogs that have a super strong prey drive towards other dogs.

Pit Bull Lover said...

One other thing, and this is for YesBiscuit! I hear you are a regular poster on How can you be so anti dogfighting while posting all your blogs on a web site dedicated to game dogs. Do you not know what a "game dog" is? It's a dog bred for gameness, as in gameness in the fighting pit.

Pai said...

4 million cats and dogs die in shelters.

160 million cats and dogs have homes.

Breeding has little to nothing to do with shelter euthanasia numbers. The math simply doesn't support that belief. Perhaps it was a factor 20 years ago, but we're living in the present, where pet retention problems are the main factor behind animals ending up in shelters now, not breeding. Here's some sources backing up that fact:

Nobody is responsible for shelter euthanasia numbers except the shelters themselves. There is no need for animals to die in this country simply for not having a home, as there are MORE homes every year that get pets than there are pets being euthanized. The reasons why more shelter animals aren't being adopted is a completely separate issue from breeding.

EmilyS said...

The fact that the dog is the American PIT bull terrier, WAS (emphasis WAS) originally bred to fight other dogs and may (or may not) retain some degree of (genetically?) based urge to fight is IRRELEVANT. Their urge to fight has ALWAYS been on a bellcurve, probably skewed towards the positive side.. and that means there have always plenty of totally "cold" and "lukewarm" APBTs.

History has amply proven that individual dogs are NOT necessarily dangerous to other dogs, or to humans.

The point has always been that each dog deserves to be judged individually.

A truly truly over-the-top dog-hating, droolingly aggressive "pit bull" has no place in today's society.

Indeed, the dogmen weren't too fond of such dogs either because of the wasted energy in such stupid displays. And such dogs were and are more likely to be simply fear aggressive than "game".

Bulldog Mike, your bigotry are showing. Mr Milan recently became a US citizen. There's nothing "illegal" about him, whatever you think of his notion of "pack"

YesBiscuit! said...

"Pitbull Lover" - I am not a member of and have never posted anything there. Some forums post blogs via RSS feeds or sometimes individual forum members will post a link to a blog so perhaps that is what you are referring to. I have no control over where my blog gets posted nor do I care. It's a free country, and a free internet. Everyone is entitled to express an opinion. Thankfully, that's one right the HSUS hasn't managed to trick lawmakers into taking away yet. I'm sure they are tempted to try, and probably call it something sweet like "Fluffy's Law" and promote it with a picture of a some poor Pitbull they killed.

If you love Pitbulls and the HSUS, you must not be aware that HSUS has been instrumental in getting more unevaluated bust dogs and pups killed than any other organization. If you are aware of that and still love the HSUS, well then I'll defend your right to express your misguided opinion while pointing out that with "lovers" like you, Pitbulls don't need no enemies.

Bulldog-Mike said...

Well first things first... I have a couple of dogs I can guarantee you they aren't suitable to be in a "pack" environment. I've seen what they can do when they are allowed to be around other dogs....I lost a dog about 2 years ago to a yard accident when one dog got loose and attacked another dog.

Second... Cesar WAS an illegal immigrant that is a fact, he came here illegally.. I have no respect for a man that can't abide by the rules of a country, he should have been deported.

As for his "pack" he has a bunch of fat bullies... there's not one dog that I've ever seen on his show that even remotely looks gamebred. They are always fat out of shape bullies.... just because you call it a APBT.. doesn't make it one. The day he takes a truly.. and I mean truly hot game dog and can keep it from fighting another truly hot game dog by poking it in the chest and saying "shhh!" I'll have a little shred of respect for him.

Lastly I'd rather see these dogs put down than given to someone who ...

1. Can't control them.
2. doesn't understand the breed.
3. Thinks that it is "how you raise them."

I've always said this and I will continue to... I would rather see the wholesale destruction of the American Pit Bull Terrier, than to watch it become a watered down shell of its former self.

There are far too many "mommys" and just flat out idiots running around with "pit bulls" THAT is the biggest problem.. its is not gamedogs that are biting and attacking people it is poorly bred "pit bulls"

And those that have no love, respect or understanding of the history of the American Pit Bull Terrier have no business owning one.... but that is just my .02

YesBiscuit! said...

Fatness overpowers the "gene" for aggressive behavior to other dogs? Have you notified your fellow scientists of this finding?

Katie said...

Sure there are some bulldogs who can't with any other dogs, but I think they're probably the minority. Most pits that I've met, even ones who are intolerant of stranger dogs, can live in a structured, well-supervised home with appropriately-matched dogs that they've been carefully introduced to. I would never want to live with a dog who cannot tolerate any proximity to other dogs. How is that any fun?

Bulldog-Mike said...


Its not fatness... see you aren't familiar enough with the different "types" of APBTs. There is a bully type and a gamebred type. If you google RazorsEdge Pitbull you will see the bully type. They are large, fat, and for the most part have had the aggressiveness bred out of them or watered down. Most APBT fanciers don't consider them APBTs.. we consider them American Bullies.

Then look at one of my APBTs

Thats a gamebred dog.

Just about all of the "pit bulls" I've seen on Cesar's show have been bullies.


The fun I have with my dogs is when I get my one on one time with them. I know they don't need other dogs to be happy. We attend AADR and ADBA dog shows... I work them on the flirt pole and walk them. Not to mention they each get time inside the house where they can lounge around and be lazy. They don't need other dog buddies to be well adjusted.

I understand that my dogs are people dogs.. and that they are dog aggressive. I am not bothered by that at all. I love the gladiator spirit they possess.

EmilyS said...

bulldog Mike, I see now you're one of those phony gamedog cultists.

There is no such thing as a "gamebred type".

Photos of historic fighting dogs show a variety of physical types.. though of course not the Razors' Edge/American Bully mutt type. On that, we agree.

And you yourself don't have a "gamebred" dog unless you know the dog's parents participated in an illegal and immoral activity. What you might have is a "dog descended from gamebred lines". Which means precisely NOTHING about your dog's gameness.

You need to stop hanging out with the AADR and ADBA mutts (don't you just love those merles???) and go find some real purebred APBTs.

The world has a place for a real APBT. A real APBT is NOT solely defined by its willingness to get into a yard "accident" if its owner is careless enough.

I'm not sure the world has a place for people who glorify so called gamebred dogs and extoll dogmen, though.

Bulldog-Mike said...

Emily you show your ignorance...

Merles aren't allowed to be shown at ADBA or AADR shows as they aren't purebred APBTs.

And if you don;t believe there is a difference between a Eli/Six Bits bred APBT and a RazorsEdge/Gotti bred dog you are wither stupid or blind.

I said there are 2 types... because that is how most people associate APBTs as either gamebred (meaning that it comes from historical fighting lines such as Eli/Jeep/Chinaman) or American Bully it comes from lines such as (Gotti, RazorsEdge, Greyline, Watchdog)

I'll match my knowledge of APBTs current or historical any day of the week.

I am not a phony anything, I know what I have and I like what I have. I try not to bash on those that like the American Bully... but its not my cup of tea.

As for what I think of dogmen... I love them. I am good friends with Ed Faron and I have met Tom Garner on many occasions. They are extremely knowledgeable and have helped me a great deal in my time with these dogs.

As far as a yard accident.... no it doesn't show anything other than a willingness to fight. Which is an instinct and is not a created situation for these dogs.

The yard accident that occurred with my dogs was of no fault of my own. My wife simply was trying to move one dog from one chain spot to another and she lost control of the leash. We learned a lesson... she's no longer allowed to handle the dogs.

So yeah... call me a gamedog phony or whatever you like... but I'll keep my GAMEBRED dogs and I'll keep my dogmen and you keep your pound puppies or whatever you have and we will agree to disagree.

EmilyS said...

Mike, you don't know your history.

The ADBA registered merles as APBTs until very recently. The fact is that it is genetically impossible for a merle to be a purebred APBT.
But the reason ADBA gives for excluding merles is NOT that they are mutts, but because merle dogs are allegedly "unhealthy". Go read their website.

They won't allow them in shows NOW.. but many merle mutts have already been bred, and already are in the lineage of dogs that the ADBA has registered as APBTs.

ADBA breeders have been notorious for paper hanging since the beginning of time.