Over 6,000 Dog Lovers Ask Ohio Shelter To Stop Euthanizing All Pit Bulls

Written by: Arin Greenwood

April 14, 2016

Pit Bulls in shelters across the country face tough odds of making it out alive. Those who come into the Darke County Animal Shelter in Greenville, Ohio are fighting an even more uphill battle because of a shelter policy that virtually guarantees they will be killed.

“We do not adopt them out to the public,” shelter director Duane Sanning told BarkPost.

This doesn’t leave a lot of promising options for the dogs just now, which is why so many animal lovers are pushing for change – to give Pits the same chance at a good life as any other dog.


Under current policy, a licensed Pit Bull who winds up in the shelter may be retrieved by his or her owner.

Unlicensed Pit Bulls — strays, or those whose owners never registered them — have grimmer prospects: under Ohio law, the dogs must be kept alive for just three days. After that, the shelter may kill them at any time.


Sanning said that he allows just one rescue group to take Pits from his shelter — giving them a shot at adoption, instead of death — but that group isn’t currently accepting any new dogs, because “they are too full.”

These options are unacceptable to the more than 6,000 people who have signed an online petition asking Darke County’s shelter to “Stop Murdering Pit Bulls“:

Join us and demand that the Darke County Animal Shelter stop killing “pit bull” type dogs! The shelter doesn’t even attempt to adopt out these innocent dogs. Instead they euthanize them because they have visually identified them as “pit bulls”.

Luke Westerman, a Pit advocate and entrepreneur — and co-founder of a political action committee for Pit Bulls — said he started this petition because he wants to see an end to “discriminatory policies” at  this shelter and all shelters.

“Dogs should be judged based on their individual behavior – just like people are,” he said to BarkPost. “Judging a dog based on a subjective opinion of the breed as a whole is not only discrimination, but a deeply flawed logic.”


Darke County isn’t the only shelter that will not adopt out Pit Bulls. According to Lee Greenwood, an attorney with Best Friends Animal Society (and, full disclosure, this journalist’s brother), there is no census of how many shelters discriminate by breed — but the number appears to be shrinking.

Just last week, a North Carolina shelter announced that it would no longer kill all Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Chows as a matter of course, but would — in line with standard current sheltering practices — evaluate these dogs individually, and place them for adoption accordingly.

But Sanning maintains that Pit Bulls are somehow different from other dogs (and that he can tell the difference between Pits and other dogs just by looking at them) — beliefs that might justify his shelter policy, had they not been proven to be demonstrably false.

Despite the public outcry and a wave of research showing that a dog’s breed does not influence their dangerousness, Sanning said he is not inclined to reevaluate the Darke County policy.

Said Sanning:

I love all dogs, including Pits, but where does my liability, or where does my moral judgment, fall?

Still, Sanning seems proud of his shelter’s other successful adoption efforts, boasting that he placed 85 percent of the dogs who came into his shelter last year.

And he did say he would be amenable to hearing from more Pit-friendly rescue groups, so long as they can prove to him that they will treat the dogs they get from his shelter well.

In the meantime, there’s a Pit who’s been in the Darke County shelter for a month now.This dog is licensed, and Sanning knows the dog’s owner — who has so far declined to come into the shelter to collect the dog.

Sanning said the Pit “seems nice to me,” but can be killed at any time now, if the shelter fills up and the kennel space is needed.

Hopefully, he said, the owner “will change their mind and come and get their dog.”

H/T My Dayton News

Featured image via Flickr/MickiTakesPictures

Written by: Arin Greenwood

April 14, 2016