Killed because of the guilt of others
This past week, one year ago, saw the destruction of 146 American Pit Bull Terriers that were "products" of the Wildside Kennels, owned by Ed Faron of North Carolina. Mr. Faron was convicted of 14 counts of felony dog fighting, as the result of a raid on his property December 10, 2008. Authorities seized 127 dogs at that time. The additional 19 were born after the raid. After several weeks of being held by the Wilkes county animal control, the judge ordered that all 146 dogs were to be destroyed. Under North Carolina law all of these dogs were considered dangerous because they were confiscated in a dog fighting operation. Under Wilkes county law, all dogs considered dangerous are to be destroyed. On the morning of February 17, 2009, they began killing every one of these dogs, despite the fact that some of them were born after the fact.
The Humane Society of the United States very quickly jumped into the proceedings and called for the destruction of these dogs. John Goodwin of the HSUS, defended their position by saying these dogs were nothing like the Michael Vick dogs. These were unsalvageable because they came from what he considered a "dog fighters' hero". This is the same representative of the organization that originally called for the destruction of the Vick dogs. This is the same organization that was involved in the largest dog fighting seizure in the United States. Yet these dogs were allowed to live. Mr. Goodwin was correct in his assessment that the Wildside kennel dogs were different than the Vick dogs. These dogs were from one of the oldest uncorrupted bloodlines left in this country.
In 2005 another of the old school dog men was arrested for dog fighting. In this case all 57 of Floyd Boudreaux's dogs were destroyed within 24 hours of being seized by the Louisiana SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). The highway patrol had no idea the dogs were to be destroyed and the SPCA said they assumed that was the plan. In 2008, Mr. Boudreaux was found not guilty. This did not change the fact that all of his dogs had been destroyed. The SPCA officials actually bragged that they had effectively wiped out a bloodline that could be traced back to the 1800's.
I do not want anyone to think that I condone the actions of either of these men. I have made my feelings on the subject of dog fighting clear in past BLOG entries. What breaks my heart about these two court cases is that little by little the heritage of the American Pit Bull Terrier is systematically being destroyed. I fear that some day all of the great bloodlines like Carver, Crenshaw, Tudor, Heinzl and Colby will cease to exist. In their place will be nothing but the back yard dogs and the corrupted bloodlines being produced by the thugs and "wanna be's" that have no idea what a Pit Bull is supposed to be. If we can weed through the dogs being dumped in our shelters and rescues, we will be able to find a good dog here and there, but no longer will we be able to marvel at the genetic masterpiece created by the old dog men.
You see I am not one of these new wave types that tries to deny the history of my chosen breed. I never try to paint a picture of a wimpy, angelic dog that would never do wrong. On the contrary, I can not stress enough the extra responsibility that goes along with owning this breed. This is not the dog for everyone any more than a Labrador Retriever or a Pomeranian is right for everyone. When choosing a dog, you should always research and choose according to your lifestyle and abilities. What I can say about Pit Bulls is that when bred correctly by standard, and owned by responsible people, they are a most amazing dog.
Pit Bulls were bred to be the ultimate athlete. The old dog men had no desire to mess around with dogs that had orthopedic problems. Originally, these dogs were in the 45 pound range. Today the standard allows for males to be between 45 and 65 pounds. There is a proven coorelation between the white pigment and deafness. The standard reads no dogs over 80% white. Blue is still being advertised as "rare" and desirable. Blue coats have some definate skin issues in most breeds. The point to all of these aesthetics and build descriptions is that dogs with any health, foundation or sense disability were culled. That is why there was so little genetic infirmity in the breed. That is, until the uneducated decided that simply having two purebreds made it alright to breed.
The temperment of the Pit Bull came from the desire to produce a power house that was absolutely docile to its handler. The gameness, or desire to fight, is a natural instinct in most Terriers. Terriers are a group of dogs that were bred to clean out varmint infestations without hesitation. The standard for Terriers as a group mentions they are fearless, tenacious and incredibly intelligent. This natural instinct has been exaggerated through selective breeding. The small Terriers are still set to spar, or face off, in the American Kennel Club show ring. This is a trait of the Terrier group. This is not to say they are mean. There is a world of difference between gameness and meaness. Gameness can easily be understood by observing the way humans deal with adversity in their own lives. Some people fall apart, but others face what life throws them head on. They are considered "game".
In the case of the Pit Bull, the old dog men could not have a gladiator that would turn on its handler or that was a danger to his family. That meant that ANY Pit Bull that showed human aggressive tendencies was killed and was NEVER bred. This selective breeding has produced a dog that is so thoroughly humanized it does not know to fend for itself when dumped or lost. That is why I get so many phone calls about Pits that have shown up in school yards or on front porches. Their instinct tells them to find people and they will survive. How sad that people have become their greatest enemy.
Another Pit Bull advocate made a point this week about "one grain of sand becoming a pearl because it caused continual irritation, thus becoming something wonderful". Pit Bull rescuers and advocates as a whole are a formidible group. As a group they were responsible for the discontinuation of a less than flattering commercial starring a Pit Bull, that was to be used by the Verizon Wireless Company. As a group they managed to get major sponsors like Nationwide, L'Oreal and Nivea to pull their advertising during the airing of the Michael Vick special on BET. These are examples of just how powerful one group can be when they work together on a common cause.
The sad fact is though, as seperate entities we have not been able to enact fair laws and ordinances that are effective at deterring the abuse of our companion animals. As seperate entities we have not been able to change our laws from being directed at the destruction of the innocent, while allowing the true criminal to walk away. Just like the point I tried to make with last week's entry, our laws must be dangerous people or irresponsible owner laws. We can no longer tolerate legislature that transfers the responsibility of individual dog owners to the dogs themselves. We must stop the destruction of dogs because of prejudice and misinformation.
As seperate entities we also have not been able to stop the endless breeding of dogs that do not meet the high standards set for this breed by the dog men of old. The issues that face us, face all dog fanciers. There is only one reason to breed a dog and that is to preserve, or improve, the integrity of the breed. It is not for greed, criminal activity or because of irresponsibility.
What might we accomplish if all dog fanciers and advocates joined ranks?
IN MEMORIUM: On February 19, 2010 Daddy, the 16 year old Pit Bull companion of Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan, passed away. Dog lovers everywhere know the pain of losing a beloved pet. They take a piece of your heart when they go. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Milan family.