Dumps Dogs in Nevada
Las Vegas, NV - Best Friends Animal Society is reportedly the country's largest no-kill sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals. The group operates a 33,000-acre ranch in Utah. Best Friends received some of Michael Vick's pit bulls -- 21 "sanctuary" dogs deemed too unstable for adoption. The group believes that pit bulls seized in dogfighting raids can be rehabilitated and adopted out as pets. DogsBite.org believes this policy is dangerous and irresponsible.
Best Friends has shamelessly capitalized on Vick's dogs. Each dog also came with a $18,275 dowry, as part of the sentence deal worked out with Michael Vick. The sizable press campaign around the "Vicktory" dogs has undoubtedly brought in substantial donations, and Best Friends has cashed in on the fanfare. Yet months before acquiring Vick's dogs, Best Friends refused to take in 40 plus pit bulls seized in their own state from a hoarder.
The 40 plus unimportant pit bulls were scheduled to be euthanized because no group would take the dogs, including Best Friends. But a small Las Vegas rescue, Bullie Buddies, wanted to keep the dogs alive and find homes for them. So Best Friends passed the Utah 40 on. Charlene Baroni of Bullie Buddies then said it felt like the dogs got dumped on her. It's seems, from reading the article, that Baroni had expected more from Best Friends.
DogsBite.org would like to state two points. First, Best Friends is unable to maintain its "no-kill" philosophy, which is used in fund raising campaigns. Bullie Buddies only found homes for half of the Utah dogs; the rest were likely euthanized. Russ Mead, general counsel for Best Friends, states in the article: "The issue, of course, is that two more weeks, or paying $2500 for two weeks, isn't going to help these animals. They've already had 40 days to find new homes."
This is exactly why the no-kill philosophy is problematic. Even the country's largest no-kill sanctuary did a flip-flop when confronted with "cost" reality.
The second point is that Best Friends has promoted Vick's dogs as a glamorous outcome to a difficult problem. Best Friends public statements and policies set a dangerous precedent. Shelters and rescue groups follow the leader. As a result, more and more animal groups believe that unstable fighting dogs can be rehabilitated and placed into private homes. This practice, however, places the safety of families and beloved companion animals at great risk.
Rescue organizations that applied to receive Vick's dogs were required to carry at least $1,000,000 in general liability insurance (Section 4-C). The agreement also prohibited using the dogs for fundraising purposes (Section 4-H): Best Friends states on their website that the agreement did allow "the groups to talk about the life stories of the dogs as part of general fundraising activities." DogsBite.org did not find this exception written in the agreement.
10/13/08: "Shuffling" a Pit Bull After a Dangerous Dog Court Hearing
09/05/08: Dogfighting Ring Busted in Delaware, Pit Bulls Up for Adoption