Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Court to HSUS: Why is this the so-called humane thing to do?

146 Pitbulls, including 19 pups still nursing from their dams, were killed on order of the court in Wilkes Co, NC in February 2009. Most of the dogs had been seized in connection with a dogfighting investigation conducted by local authorities in conjunction with the HSUS. The remaining pups were born after the seizure.

The two HSUS representatives whose testimony Judge Wilson relied upon to make the decision on what to do with the dogs were Amanda Arrington and Chris Schindler.

Although Best Friends had made an offer to the county to save the dogs, their representative was not advised of this hearing which took place immediately after the third defendant in the dogfighting case plead guilty:

Best Friends Animal Society, which operates one the nation's largest animal sanctuaries, had contacted County Attorney Tony Triplett within days of the December raid. The group had offered to work with rescue agencies to place the dogs.

But when Judge Wilson asked yesterday if Best Friends had gotten involved at the last minute, Assistant District Attorney Fred Bauer told the judge that the group had called him last Thursday and Friday, and had called his boss, District Attorney Tom Horner, yesterday.

"That's just totally misconstruing the contacts we had with the county attorney and the attempts we tried to have with the DA," [Ledy] VanKavage [attorney for Best Friends] said.

She said she left a message for Bauer a month ago, on either Jan. 13 or 14, and had made at least three attempts to contact the DA's office. "I left a message for Fred Bauer and he never returned my call," she said.

After court yesterday, Bauer said he couldn't recall if he'd gotten a message from Best Friends, but that he didn't intend to mislead Wilson and would clear it up with the judge today if there was any misunderstanding.

The case had been set for trial next month. People working on rescuing the dogs thought they had more time.

VanKavage said that when she learned about yesterday's ruling she called Wilkesboro attorney William Burke to seek an injunction against destroying the dogs. She said Burke reported that when he got to the courthouse shortly before it closed, the judge was gone and the order was already signed. She said that Burke told her he thought the dogs would be dead before he could get the request before the judge.


VanKavage said that Bauer misrepresented her side's interest to the judge and it affected the proceeding.

"I think the judge wanted to hear our side of it and if we'd gotten some notice, we could have gotten into that courtroom, but the DA's office chose to stonewall us and because of that, these puppies died," she said.
After reviewing a transcript of the court testimony of the HSUS representatives, it does indeed appear that the case for saving the dogs was "misrepresented":

MS. AMANDA ARRINGTON: Amanda Arrington. I'm the North Carolina State Director for the Humane Society of the United States. And our concern is that the only offer of help has been from Best Friends, but they are not offering to take these dogs.

THE COURT: They are not offering to take the dogs?

MS. AMANDA ARRINGTON: They are offering to assist. That is their language that they used. That means it would still be the county's responsibility. And in their own words, it costs about $190,000 per dog to rehabilitate them.

THE COURT: $190,000 to rehabilitate a dog?


THE COURT: That's what Best Friends says?


(Brief pause.)

THE COURT: Why is this the so-called humane thing to do?


THE COURT: Yes, ma'am.

MS. AMANDA ARRINGTON: For the dogs themselves, I think, because of the way that they were bred. I think it is an unrealistic expectation for us to ask these dogs that have been bred generations for fighting to become regular pets. And it's an even bigger thing to ask people to take on that responsibility and the county to take on both the financial burden and the liability.
You know, we could be a couple years down the road and one of these dogs could do something, and I think it ultimately could come back on the county of Wilkes.

To be clear, Best Friends had offered the following:

Best Friends is willing to send a certified applied behaviorist out to evaluate the dogs and puppies. Of those who do well, Best Friends will fund their sterilization and transportation to responsible rescue groups.
I interpret that to mean the county would not be left holding the bag financially or liability-wise. And I'm sure the attorney for Best Friends would have explained that to the judge had the group been made aware of the hearing to determine what to do with the dogs.

More testimony:

THE COURT: Sir, did you want to add something?

MR. CHRIS SCHINDLER: I'm Chris Schindler. I'm the Deputy Manager, Animal Fighting Law Enforcement, Humane society of the United States.


You can't -- you know, even the puppies, you know, as you have heard, have been displaying those you know, those tendencies to start fighting with each other, and that's something you are going to see as they grow older. Most of these dogs, you won't know their true capability until they are at least 18 months old. These guys don't even test them for fighting purposes until they are 18 months old. So the likelihood of being able to hold these dogs until they are almost two years old to find out how dangerous they may be is unrealistic. I mean, housing them just for now has cost, you know, maybe more than $60,000, just to hold them until now, to this point. I mean, these dogs, they are not on the same level. You know, people speak about the Michael Vick dogs. Those dogs have not even been rehabilitated.

Reading the HSUS testimony in the case is helpful in clarifying what was actually said and what the group's position was regarding the dogs. But for me, questions remain:
  • Did the judge get the whole story in this case?
  • Did the judge hear truthful testimony from the HSUS representatives?
  • Who actually killed the dogs and how was the killing funded?
  • Does HSUS honestly believe the Vick dogs have not been rehabilitated despite so much evidence to the contrary? And that it costs $190,000 to rehab a bust dog?
  • If HSUS does an about-face and adopts some sort of policy to save bust dogs (my two cents) at their Las Vegas hotel gathering this month, can we trust them to follow through on it?
  • Will HSUS use as many resources to save bust dogs in future as it has in past to get them killed?

To paraphrase the judge's question to HSUS: Why is killing unevaluated bust dogs the so-called humane thing to do? My response: It never has been and never will be. We are a no kill nation of owners who care about pets. We are the real humane society. Join us.

Every dog deserves a fair evaluation.


More must-read commentary:

Blue Dog State: HSUS on Pit Bulls: Better Off Dead

Caveat: Time for the HSUS to Hit the Showers


mutineer826 said...

Liar, liar, pants on fire! Like I'm SURE they were paying $60 grand a month to care for the dogs...NOT. Receipts, baby, show me receipts.

EmilyS said...

and will any of the koolkidz invited to that LV meeting with HSUS dare to confront Wayne with this?

I wouldn't bet on it, myself.

It's all about get along, go along, put it in the past. Why, HSUS might fund something for them! They have all those great programs, you know...

Jan said...

I'd like to hear a description of how $190,000 is spent for the rehabilitation.

Caveat said...

Good post, YB! I put something up too, read yours after that.

I imagine they had to use the $60K figure because I think that was the ransom that Faron couldn't afford to pay to get his dogs back.

The wanking continues.

Bollocks on their 'pit bull' meeting too. The last thing I want is that bunch of snakes-in-the-grass - all of 'em - making things even worse than they are out here. If I want any s**t from the HSUS, I'll squeeze their heads - after pulling them out of their you-know-whats.

Hero said...

Every time I think of the dogs that were ruthlessly murdered for being born a pit bull, it brings tears to my eyes. This has got to stop...killing without justice is not the humane thing to do! I thought even the judge was pathetic in this case...I don't know whether I should be angry or sad, but these dogs just deserved so much more. I hope HSUS and EVERY SINGLE PERSON involved in these killings burns in hell, I really do.

sfox said...

I am totally disgusted with the "testimony", which would have been perjury if the HSUS lackies had been under oath.

The Best Friends folks must be seething. And HSUS, neener, neener, neener, we WON ::raspberry::, so there. Nice.

Pai said...

Disgusting. For all those people who cried how 'unfair' to the HSUS we were being for accusing them of being culpable for the killing of those dogs, this testimony blows their outrage right out of the water.

It's disgusting that there is an 'H' in 'HSUS'. It sure doesn't belong there.

Anonymous said...

HSUS got the $190,000 figure from the amicus brief filed in the Vick case by The American Dog Owner's Association, The Animal Adoption Center, Best Friends, The Cape Fear APBT Club,CHAKO, The Maryland Dog Federation, The National American Pit Bull Terrier Association, The Real Pit Bull Foundation for Advocacy and REscue, Spindletop Refuge, Villalobos Rescue Center, & Worthy Companions Domestic Animal Rescue

YesBiscuit! said...

Anon - My take on it is this: A figure on a paper that was filed regarding the Vick case is irrelevant to the Faron case. No one said it would cost $190,000 to rehab a Faron dog and *had Best Friends been notified of the hearing* I'm guessing their attorney would have said as much to the judge. It is clear to me that in fact it would NOT cost any such amount of money to take a dog who had already passed muster with a canine behaviorist, been neutered and transported to a responsible rescue (BF's proposal) and get it ready for adoption.

Anonymous said...

Agreed HSUS mislead the court when they used that figure. It was totally taken out of context

Caveat said...

The initial estimate - note, estimate - provided in the Vick circus was not accepted. Also, since the Vick case was a first, nobody knew what would be involved. As it turned out, the groups such as BadRap got very little money to rehab and place the dogs they took. I believe there were concerns about collecting any money at all, since Vick was paying for it. Despite the risk, the groups stepped up and took the dogs, socialized and trained them and placed them with good families.

Also, at that time, nobody knew if the dogs could be adopted out, if they might need extensive and expensive vet care, if they had to be kept for life, needed special containment, etc. It was uncharted territory.

It's like saying Joe got 2 million for his house, even though it sold for 250 thousand. He was asking 2 million, which is a different kettle of fish.

The HSUS was being typically dishonest and emotionally manipulative during this hearing. But hey, it's what they do - stick to the agenda and sculpt the 'facts' - or even make 'em up - to suit.

Such a shame. Wouldn't it be great to have a real humane society with that kind of money and clout?

Nathan for CEO of the HSUS!

YesBiscuit! said...

I've been following the comments on Blue Dog State's post and apparently the $190,000 figure is MIA in the referenced filing or anywhere else. No idea where they came up with that unless we take her literally that "Best Friends said that". Maybe BF said it to her personally and no one else had any knowledge of it. I'm very doubtful though.

Anonymous said...

The %190,000 figure is on page 29 of the amicus brief, under section A Restitution. The brief was authored by Flora Edwards, Russ mean, and Dawn Capps. Blue Dog State needs to read the entire brief. HSUS did take it out of context.

Anonymous said...

Page 29, Section A

Rehabilitation of fighting dogs is a time consuming, labor intensive effort which requires 4 to 6 hours each day per dog. Qualified trainers earn between $50.00-$75.00 per hour. At 5 hours a day, 30 days a month, this $9,70 dollars per month of training. To this, add food and veterinary care, and the price to rehabilitate a fighting dog is a little more than $10,000 per month. If training and rehabilitating a dog takes 18 months, the cost rises to $180,000 plus the run cost of $10,000 or $190,000 per dog.

That's where HSUS got the figure, page 29 of the amicus in the VICK case that had nothing to do with this case.

YesBiscuit! said...

Anon - is this the brief you are referring to?:

If so, I'm not seeing a page 29 or that paragraph you quoted. If you have a link to the applicable quote, I'd be interested in reading it.

Anonymous said...

I got the amicus brief from Professor Rebecca Huss at Valparaiso some time ago-she was the special master in the case and has the documents.

They used to be on the Valpo Law School website. I don't know if they are still there.

She knows more about the court case than anyone. You could probably email her too through the Valpo Law School for clarification.

YesBiscuit! said...

Thank you Anon. I stand by my original point: unless BF told HSUS that it would cost $190k to rehab each FARON dog, the HSUS rep had no business telling the judge that.
Ima get me a dog trainer diploma online so's I can make $75/hour - wheeee!

Donna said...

I have a full copy of the brief in PDF form if anyone wants to see it, and yes - anon is right - the $190,00 figure is in there. Plain as day.

Our group decided not to sign the brief because we felt the cost estimates could hurt future fight bust victims. That, and since the dogs had already won the right to be assessed, we were half way through the evaluations on the date that the amicus was filed.

We will tabulate exactly what it costs BR to intake bust/abuse cases and bring that more realistic figure to the meeting in vegas -- although in the end, finding funding tends to be much easier than finding ready and capable rescuers willing to absorb the dogs. THAT will be our biggest obstacle to getting lives saved.

Donna said...

Oops - Add a zero to my last comment!

YesBiscuit! said...

Thanks Donna - I'd like to see it. Whenever possible, I try to provide sources for readers so I'd like to post at least the applicable page online so that the doc can speak for itself.

YesBiscuit! said...

OK, have received a copy of the Amicus brief and indeed Anon - you are correct. Page 29 is where the $190,000 figure appears. For anyone who wishes to check that out, I posted it here:

I reiterate that this was a public legal doc filed in connection with the Vick dogs and that to my knowledge, no similar figure was ever put forward regarding the Faron dogs. I assume, the rescue community having learned so much from the Vick dog experience, the figure would be different had a similar paper been filed in the Faron case. For HSUS to cite this figure to the Wilkes Co judge as a cost for rehabing each of Faron's dogs *while intimating that Wilkes would bear financial responsibility* was deceptive IMO. The county is very poor and would be hard pressed to come up with any significant cash for the dogs I'm guessing.
It's not unusual to look back on watershed cases and realize that adjustments are necessary. To me, that figure would need adjusting.

Donna said...

> I assume, the rescue community having learned so much from the Vick dog experience, the figure would be different had a similar paper been filed in the Faron case.

The Vick case is not the first time fight bust dogs have been rescued. Rescues have been going out-of-pocket on these cases forever.

The only relevant cost estimate in this conversation should be AC's cost to provide a higher standard of care for the dogs (including kennel enrichment) as well as any 'boarding' costs incurred by the shelters for holding rescues' selected dogs until they can be transported off site. That means the burden is on the rescues to move fast once the city/county gains custody of the dogs. The dogs that aren't selected are typically euthanized, of course - so, no more cost to the county than they would pay without rescue.

We typically eat everything - flights for evaluators, hotel, car rental, transport for the dogs, vet costs, care of the dogs, etc.

It can expensive for US but should not be to AC. We sell t-shirts and calendars so they don't have to. ;-)

Caveat said...

"It can expensive for US but should not be to AC. We sell t-shirts and calendars so they don't have to. ;-)"

I hear that. Do I ever. We pay all our our expenses trying to get the Ontario ban overturned. We raise the money in pretty much the same way - so other dog owners don't have to.

The 'government' has a bottomless pit of taxpayers' money to play with as they will.

YesBiscuit! said...

"The only relevant cost estimate in this conversation should be AC's cost to provide a higher standard of care for the dogs (including kennel enrichment) as well as any 'boarding' costs incurred by the shelters for holding rescues' selected dogs until they can be transported off site."

The HSUS testimony specifically addressed the cost to rehab the dogs - what we've been discussing here - but they did also make reference to the costs incurred in housing the dogs to date ($60k). The subject of bringing the standard of care up to par was not mentioned presumably because the HSUS wanted the dogs killed. The cost to keep them in a clean, warm facility and environmental enrichment would of course be completely opposite of the HSUS goal of death for the dogs.
Perhaps in future, HSUS will use their resources to ensure that seized dogs receive a good standard of care while cases are pending. I would love to see that. But that would have to be followed by a full use of resources to get the dogs evaluated and placed into rescues to my mind.

Anonymous said...

I hope Amanda Arrington and Chris Schindler get cancer and die a very very slow and painful death. Yes thats right I said it!!! Murdering puppies, Murdering Dogs for what?? I have a pit from Wildside, and I didnt' get him to Fight him. He's gentle and kind, and plays with my 2 Yorkies great. Assholes don't know what their talking about. INhumane Society can kiss my white ass!

HSUS Kills Dogs said...

It is simple: HSUS equals dead dogs. They have never proven otherwise.