A North Texas animal shelter has dealt with a huge amount of criticism after they implemented a controversial policy on pit bulls. Since March 2004, the Erath County Humane Society automatically euthanizes pit bulls or dogs that look like pit bulls without giving them a chance for adoption and a new home.
â€œThe decision was based not only on our 23 years of experience with dogs and cats of all breeds and cross breeds, but also the statistics and facts provided by various other types of organizations and media sources. The information provided and used in our decision indicates that pit bull dogs, also known as the American Staffordshire, whether full blood or crosses, pose the greatest risk and liability threat of all dog breeds,â€ Gail Johnson, president of the humane society, said in a letter.
The organization said they have the best interest of the public and believe the genetics of pit bulls causes the shelter to be at risk for possible liabilities. So, any dog or puppy that resembles a pit bull is euthanized and is never offered up for adoption after the required three-day reclaim waiting period.
Johnson stated she doesn’t think there are any good pit bulls.
The director of Erath County Humane Society, Judy Hallmark, agreed.
â€œThey’re very strong. [It] takes everything out of me. We donâ€™t have any choice, we canâ€™t run the risk of them turning,â€ Hallmark said.
She added that she used to ask rescue groups to take the pit bulls, but she said now they don’t even want them. She also sometimes had pig hunters take the dogs.
Pit bulls are the only specific types of dogs that the shelter automatically euthanizes.
Kathy Tompson, program specialist for the Tarrant County Humane Society of the U.S. said, â€œIn Texas we have a state law against breed specific legislation. We are against breed specific legislation in all ways.â€
The center recently held a class on pit bulls and how to “tell which are adoptable and those that are not.” Tompson said no one from the Erath County Humane Society attended the seminar.
Both Hallmark and Tompson said many shelters have the same policy regarding pit bulls.
â€œUnfortunately, that is the case and anything with a square head gets dubbed a pit bull,â€ Tompson said. â€œBad dogs go in trends, before it was the pit bull, it was the Doberman in the â€˜70s, and the Rottweiler in the 80s. Some breed is picked on every 10 years or so.
â€œWe recommend that shelters evaluate dogs on an individual basis. We donâ€™t advocate specific discrimination based on breed. Irresponsible owners are the problem, not the dogs.â€
Johnson said the Erath County Humane Society board stands firm in their decision to euthanize pit bulls.
â€œLooking back in history, we can learn of the purpose man had in mind when they used selective breeding of certain breeds of dogs to perform certain tasks. Such are the retrievers, the sheep herding dogs, and the sled pulling dogs,â€ Johnson said. â€œAll of these dogs were developed to provide a useful service to man. Tragically, for the Pit Bull Terrier, man has perfected this breed to be aggressive, fearless and capable of providing ill-gotten income to its owner, even if its death is the final outcome.â€
Of the 1.4 million dogs euthanized at shelters last year, roughly half were pit bull types, according to the latest data from Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People. More than 90 percent of pit bulls in shelters end up euthanized.