In a landmark decision that has brought about mixed reactions from opposite sides of the dog debate, Wisconsin lawmakers have put an end to legislation that required any dog rescued from an illegal fighting ring to be euthanized. The law did not allow for behavioral assessment or rehabilitation for the animals. It was an immediate death sentence.
The non-profit animal welfare organization, Best Friends Animal Society is at the forefront of a nationwide battle against Breed Discriminatory Legislation. Wisconsin’s decision marks a major victory for them in a fight that is slowly beginning to turn in their favor. Pit Bull type dogs are the breed most commonly chosen for fighting and most often targeted by proponents of BDL laws.
Lee Greenwood is a legislative attorney for Best Friends. He recently sat down with Christina Palladino, an ABC Wisconsin affiliate reporter to discuss the magnitude of the win for his side.
Right now, these dogs are going to be treated like any other dog coming through an animal shelter. As long as they are assessed and pass their behavioral assessment, then they can become family pets or be service dogs or just couch potatoes, which is what most of them become.
Best Friends Animal Society made headlines nine years ago when they took custody of 22 of the more than 50 dogs seized from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring. Many of these pups were considered to be the most difficult cases. The majority of the Vicktory dogs were adopted into private homes, while others went on to train as service dogs and therapy dogs.
Some of the Vicktory dogs have now passed on, but they left behind an ongoing legacy of hope. The Best Friends website has dedicated a page to their inspiring stories. Not one report of aggressive behavior has ever been made against any of the Vick dogs Best Friends helped to place.
This is due, in part, to the extensive behavioral assessment that is performed before the dogs are deemed fit to be re-homed. The assessor observes the dogs’ responses to common events, situations, and stimuli that they are likely to be exposed to in a typical home environment. Best Friends’ behavior consultants use relationship-based training and offer behavioral resources for owners long after the adoption process is over.
Although the Wisconsin decision is cause for celebration, Greenwood reminds everyone that it is still a small battle in a far greater war. A staggering eleven states have similar laws on their books – and they continue to enforce them. Dogs are being put down, not because of what they have done, but because of what has been done to them.
Best Friends Animal Society believes that like humans, all dogs are unique creatures and deserve to be assessed as such. No dog should be put down because of what he looks like or because a human decided to commit a crime against him.
For more information about U.S. Breed Discriminatory Legislation and Best Friends’ Pit Bull initiatives click here. You can also sign up to receive their legislative alerts.
The Champions documentary telling the story of the Vick-tory dogs and the heroes who fought to save them is available to download at bestfriends.org.
Disclaimer: Lee Greenwood is the brother of BarkPost employee, Arin Greenwood
Featured Image via Best Friends Animal Society