Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Jackson, MS - The Clarion-Ledger recently published an article about the adoptability of pit bulls seized in dogfighting operations. Ledy VanKavage of Best Friends is quoted in the article. The Ledger took an interest in dogfighting after the February mauling death of Anastasia Bingham, which involved at least one fighting pit bull, an uncooperative family and a Grand Jury that assigned no charges in her death. In June, Hinds County adopted a pit bull law.1
Others quoted in the piece include Georgia Lynn, director of the Vicksburg-Warren Humane Society, who said that pit bulls that have fought or are bred to fight are "virtually impossible" to rehabilitate. "They are wired genetically different from every animal we have. Pit bulls fight to the death," Lynn said. Debra Boswell,2 director of the Jackson-based Mississippi Animal Rescue League, agreed. Boswell doesn't believe rescued fighting dogs are adoptable.
VanKavage contacted the Ledger after a recent story about a dogfighting raid in Claiborne County.3 She wrote to the Ledger, "Through thorough behavioral assessments by professionals ... many of these animals have a chance to turn their dark pasts into a bright future." She then referred to the 51 dogs seized in the Michael Vick dogfighting ring, 22 of which went to her employer Best Friends. Of these 22, only three have been adopted out to families.
"Three have been successfully adopted out to families," VanKavage wrote, "two are in foster-to-adopt, and four have passed the Canine Good Citizen exam, a stringent test of mastery4 of 10 community-friendly behaviors.The Steady Daily Progress of Tug
"One is even a therapy dog for children learning to read. The rest are making steady daily progress."
In October, a Best Friends Vick dog, named Tug, chewed through two dog runs at the facility and attacked two dogs. Tug tore the head off of one pit bull -- a non-Vick pit bull -- and attacked Denzel -- a favored Vick pit bull and critical fundraising tool. The latter survived the attack. Best Friends released the news in a blog post by Faith Maloney, did not offer a name for the victimized pit bull, named by other sources as Beans, and blamed the incident on deer.
In 35 months, only three Best Friends Vick dogs have been "rehabilitated" and adopted into family homes. Each of these dogs came with an $18,000 dowry,5 followed by substantial dollars collected in related "Vicktory dog" fundraising campaigns. Compared to open admission city and county shelters, who often lack financial resources to house seized fighting dogs for an extended period, much less rehabilitate them, the Vicktory dog record is particularly dismal.
Even when generous funds and resources are available, pit bulls seized in dogfighting raids are unable to be rehabilitated.The Deceptive Vicktory Fanfare
All of the fanfare by Best Friends and VanKavage that the Vicktory dogs are a huge success and ought to serve as a model for the rehabilitation of all seized fighting pit bulls reminds us of the Balloon boy hoax. Furthermore, it is "fantasy thinking" to presume that open admission shelters have the budget for such substantial, "breed-specific" pit bull projects. Pit bulls already overwhelm occupancy rates in U.S. shelters, demanding the lion share of resources.
The Ledger did not let VanKavage off the hook either. The writer merely had to choose the "three successful adoption" quote (after 35 months of rehabilitation) to show how far-fetched her claim is. The majority of open admission shelters recognize and operate in "reality," which is that pit bulls frequently make up 30-70% of occupancy -- despite only comprising 5% of the total U.S. dog population -- and accounted for nearly 60% of all dogs euthanized in 2009.
2Boswell's group is in the jurisdiction of the fatal Anastasia Bingham mauling and was the first to point out that one of the seized dogs was involved in dogfighting.
3The follow up article to the Claiborne County dogfighting raid is very educational, "Cooler weather dogfight season." We encourage DogsBite.org readers to view it.
4VanKavage refers to the Canine Good Citizen exam as a "stringent test of mastery." Yet the AKC refers to it as "the first step" in training a dog. View the CGC test requirements.
5Due to the deal struck in United States v. Michael Vick.
10/13/10: "Yard Accident" at Best Friends Involving Two Vick Dogs Leaves Third Dog Dead
06/26/10: 2010 Fatality: Terry Child, 5-years old, Killed by Neighbor's Pit Bull
08/27/09: Collection of Best Friends Animal Society Related Posts - DogsBite.org
08/24/09: 2009 U.S. Shelter Data: Pit Bulls Account for 58% of Dogs Euthanized
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| 11/30/2010 3:03 PM |
ledy vankavage is a skilled con artist if she is convincing people that the vick dogs were a success.
i don't follow the vick dogs as closely as i should but here is an adopted vick dog that screams fail:
mel was in the news again recently and the pitbullforum kooks took up the discussion of this vick dog. many, perhaps most, think mel should be euthanized.
the people who think that dogs this damaged should be kept alive are incredibly selfish.
| 11/30/2010 3:37 PM |
Craven, when Mel does go "pit" it will mean a death, I'm sure. Most rescues I know won't adopt out dogs that are extremely fearful and that poor dog is living a life filled with fear. It's an accident waiting to happen. Thanks for this piece, it makes a point that can be well used.
| 12/01/2010 11:42 AM |
A Quick Run Down on the Vick Dogs
Oct 2010 - Tug chews through fencing, kills Beans and attacks Denzel (Best Friends)
Apr 2010 - Red dies after a short battle with cancer (Monterey County SPCA)
Aug 2009 - Sweet Jasmine (loose at the time) is struck and killed by a car (Recycled Love)
Mar 2009 - Denzel ingests a toy and nearly dies after post-operative infection (Best Friends)
Feb 2009 - Bonita dies during a routine anesthesia procedure (Best Friends)
Jul 2008 - 7 (loose at the time) is struck and killed by a car (All or Nothing Pit Bull Rescue)
| 12/01/2010 12:06 PM |
There is online chatter about another Vick pit bull, a male, unneutered, thaty was given to a pit bull breeder posing as a "pit bull rescuer" (which is common as a way to try to obtain breeding stock) that used the Vick dog for breeding, neglected and abused it, and the dog died.
I believe I saw reference to a discussion about this dog perhaps in comments on Craven Desire's site?
| 12/01/2010 12:41 PM |
I found the information.
"craven, I found this piece of ugliness about one of these "rescues" and a big thing here is that it appears that one of the Micheal Vick "rescue" dogs was studded out.
Rember all those pit bull breeders that Best Friends signed that amicus brief with to get their hands on Vick's seized dogs? Looks like some of them were indeed trying to get their hands on Vick dogs to breed.
ALSO animal control is giving out unaltered pit bulls to breeders that are breeding and selling them. No Kill strikes again!
I may have to break this up into two posts
"My letter to animal control below explains it all. Please write to them yourself if you get a moment: ANIMAL_CONTROL@CO.ONSLOW.NC.US
Dear Onslow County Animal Control,
I am a North Carolina resident that is very active in the pit bull rescue community. Recently, I was talking to someone regarding re-homing their pit bull due to the Camp Lejuene pit bull ban. They were out of options and drove to Symbulls "rescue" facility. The conditions of the rescue caused them to turn around and head home. I can not tell you from first hand experience how the rescue appeared to this particular family, but what I found on their MySpace page was appalling: http://www.myspace.com/thebarnessymbulls
For one, they are letting WAY TOO MANY pit bulls run loose together ... that is a deadly dog fight waiting to happen. Any reputable pit bull rescue will tell you that this breed is dog-aggressive, and they safely separate each dog in their care. If they are running together, it might just be a few at a time and ones they know get along. The pictures indicate that the caregivers have left them unattended and then came back to a yard full of loose pit bulls! "
(Follows is more specific information about this breeder "rescue" from someone who knows them, with this)
Samantha Also, in response. The Barnes family was awarded a dog from the Michael Vick situation. This dog is now dead. They did not properly feed him, nor maintain his conditions. He had a tumor on his throat , he was never neutered. He was used for Stud Services, and he began being starved to death, and is now dead from bad health, and heartworm. And many other reasons.
| 12/01/2010 12:45 PM |
Vick Dog To Breeder information in Comments.
I believe that there was no oversight at all. This was a bungled mess from the beginning, with Best Friends acting with pit bull breeders to obtain these dogs when they first contacted the court and filed paperwork.
| 12/01/2010 1:25 PM |
It is very important to understand when reading VanKavage's comments that Best Friends employees have openly written of a required "contract" that they must sign before employment that they must not speak negatively about the Best Friends organization or go public with any criticism or discuss Best Friends with the media, or face legal action.
In essence, a threat. A gag order.
It is absolutely certain that adopters or fosterers of any Vick dogs must sign a similar "agreement" not to discuss or publish any negative issues without the permission of Best Friends.
No one really knows what is truthfully going on with any of the alleged "adopted" Best Friends Vick dogs, since every piece of information released by Best Friends about any of them is tightly controlled by espensive public relations experts and lawyers. Best Friends is an industry protecting its cash cow.
We do know from past experience though that when Best Friends has told us everything was fine with adopted Hurricane Katrina pit bulls, it was not the case. Some of them were given by Best Friends with donor money to a man named Don Chambers who killed and abused them while Best Friends was telling the public and media that the dogs found "wonderful homes" and that everything was fine.
It wasn't fine.
Nothing that the media or public gets from Best Friends is unadulterated truth. It is all a carefully controlled, staged story designed to increase fundraising and pursue other motives.
| 12/01/2010 6:49 PM |
Only THREE dogs rehab'd and adopted out in THREE YEARS? I'd like to see their business plan as it relates to these specific dogs.
How much money did this organization receive to "rehab" these dogs? How much is it still receiving? Perhaps it's being run by ex-bank execs?
| 12/01/2010 7:43 PM |
Maybe the Vick dogs are simply not "rehab-able".
Also, a general comment about any shelters that were giving out pit bulls without neutering/spaying: That's just outrageous! Shelters are supposed to be much more sensible than that!
| 12/01/2010 8:13 PM |
"How much money did this organization receive to "rehab" these dogs? How much is it still receiving? Perhaps it's being run by ex-bank execs?"
Not ex bank execs, but people with one main goal- make as much money as possible and share the loot.
Low level workers at Best Friends constantly beg for more supplies, more care, more spending on the animals. The reports have increased with the years. They are denied. Management at BF short changes the animals. They are even reducing the numbers at the sanctuaries by the hundreds to reduce spending on the animals.
The number of senior management making large salaries with benefits increases, the founders profit from gift item sales as well, and they are provided with free housing and maintenance.
This organization became an ATM machine for some.
Remember that the judge's court order said the Vick pit bulls specifically were NOT to be used for fundraising.
These people have been breaking the law from day one, expressly defying the judge, court, and law.
I believe the judge's name is Henry Hudson. I don't know that he realized that he was being tricked, but it is certainly a slap in his face to defy his court order.
| 12/01/2010 8:22 PM |
"Also, a general comment about any shelters that were giving out pit bulls without neutering/spaying: That's just outrageous! "
Very common in pit bull country states (and animal control wise, very backwards states) like NC, KY, et,) and thanks to the No Kill disease that have afflicted some shelters where they dump unaltered animals to try to pretend to be "No Kill."
The shelter in question in this case is the Onslow County animal control in North Carolina.
"They also have a dog on their website that was adopted from your animal control/shelter facility on July of 2006, which they are selling. Please DO NOT let these people have any more of your dogs!"
North Carolina is dog fighting country. Some ac has even been involved in some of these southern states breeding/fighting dogs. There are few laws in many of these southern states because the dog fighters and puppy mills that occupy them in high numbers agitate against them.
However, the PACCA animal control in Philadelphia, when it was taken over for a period of time by Nathan Winograd and his associates, were also handing out unaltered pit bulls, with the obvious consequences.
There are many shelters in this country that are worse than puppy mills.
| 12/02/2010 3:45 AM |
Let me get this straight.... Best Fiends received nearly $400K and has had three years and only produced a few adoptions and GCC Certifications.
Now we know why the US DBRF rate has doubled over the past decade. If a professional organization subsidized with Millions in tax free money can't handle these animals, who can?
The Tobacco Lobby ain't got nothin' on these people.
| 12/06/2010 11:26 PM |
I checked my mail today, and among the holiday catalogs, I found a thick merchandise catalog from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
It contained glossy color photos and pages upon pages of merchandise, everything you could imagine. This is a fat and big catalog, not a typical mailing. Ear drops to vitamins to T shirts to dog clothes. This was a VERY expensive and heavy catalog to publish and mail. It isn't a charity gift type catalog. It's a pet store catalog.
Since I have not contributed to Best Friends in some years, it is clear they must have gone through old mailing lists and sent a huge volume of these catalogs out. This publication and mailing cost multi-millions of dollars.
A sales catalog.
However, what was NOT disclosed in this catalog was that merchandise sales are owned and controlled by a private corporation that the founders of Best Friends created. It is the FOUNDERS who benefit personally from the sale of all the Best Friends merchandise and item sales, not the animals.
The recipient however is led to believe that the money from their catalog purchase will go to help the Best Friends sanctuary and animals, when it does NOT.
The money is sent to Best Friends. The recipient thinks their money is going to the animals at Best Friends, not some people's bank accounts.
If any pit bull fans out there think that Best Friends merchandise sales help save the lives of pit bulls, they do NOT.
Best Friends is scamming even what they think is a core audience.
This is absolutely criminal, an abuse of charitable standing.
Every day, Best Friends seems to grow as a scam.
| 3/04/2011 2:58 PM |
Others quoted in the piece include Georgia Lynn, director of the Vicksburg-Warren Humane Society, who said that pit bulls that have fought or are bred to fight are "virtually impossible" to rehabilitate.
Sex offenders are apparently impossible to rehabilitate, too, and we regulate them to the hilt. Fighting dogs are impossible to rehabilitate, and we send them back into the community, unregistered at the very least? Anybody but me see something wrong with this?