I mention that right out, because those who have infected the nation's animal shelters with a strange and unsupported dogma about "safety" and "prediction" like to pretend that their religious faith is a done deal -- that it represents an established standard of practice, and that failure to meet same is a invitation to charges of negligence.
My first personal goal in flying to Montana to help with Operation New Beginnings in January 2009 was to do what I could to ensure that the dogs weren't signed over to an organization that would summarily kill them without any evaluation or attempt at rehab, as the HSUS had done to the Kapsa Shelties, their predecessors in the Ballantine puppymill, some years before.
My second personal goal was to prevent anyone terrorizing these animals with hoodoo "temperament tests" while the cart with the syringes waited out in the corridor.
Fortunately I was not the only person who thought this way, and the universe was spared the spectacle of Barry White, Curly, Suri, Sparky, et. al. being chased into a corner by Bride of Chuckie and then declared irredeemable dangerous.
No matter. Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that there is some validity to the Poke-It-Till-It-Bites school of "temperament testing." Let's play make-believe that these tests are predictive, and that animals who "fail" by biting a rubber toy or showing "aggression" to a dolly are dangerous and unsalvageable, and those who "pass" by declining to do so are uniformly idiot-proof.
If we do that, can we agree on what an unequivocal "pass" looks like? I would have thought that we could. That, say, if a dog is in the top 1% of wonderfulness when confronted by insanity, that reasonable observers -- including "experts" -- would agree that such a dog is worthy of life.
Consider this four minute evaluation of a dog being held in a shelter in Michigan after being seized in a raid on a "dog fighting operation."
Here's the same girlie on her "dog aggression" (aka, "let's see if we can set up a dog fight") test:
What do y'all think of how this plain brown dog did on her test?
How would your family pet fare under the same circumstances?
I think that, based on Dusty's performance on this "test," I'd take her as a foster in a New York minute. If, after a few weeks of evaluation (and of course, obedience training, because isn't she just begging for direction?) she proved herself to consistently be the dog I think I see in the videos, I'd especially recommend her for a home with kids.
Here's what VMD, PhD, tenured "behaviorist" Katherine Albro Houpt of Cornell University saw. (She is the person in the khaki trousers who is taking notes and doing most of the poking and chasing.)
Dog 206 in cage 33 brown female with white markings Dusty
Wiggled at approach, stare and squat. Bit hand when petted and when eating.
Snarled at doll
jumped but no aggression to male or female dogs
The results of the testing indicates that the following animals: the two males Monroe 207 Reilly 212 that both demonstrated aggression to other dogs and one female Dusty 206 who snarled at the doll should be humanely euthanized because of their lack of any useful purpose and the public safety threat they pose." MCL 750.49(18) aggressive whereas Dog 210 Razzle --- may be safe
Katherine Albro Houpt VMD PhD
Thus leading to the order for Dusty, Monroe, and Riley's deaths.
A judge this afternoon ordered three of the four pit bulls seized during a dog-fighting raid in March to be euthanized.That order dates from July 14. Dusty, Monroe, and Rily's advocates have until the 4th of August to appeal this ruling. I'm trying to find out more about the legal process, and will update here or in the comments.
First District Judge Jack Vitale made his decision following hours of testimony from several witnesses over a three-day period.
No action will be taken for the next three weeks, the time permitted for attorneys to decide if they want to file an appeal. Tracy Thomas, who has represented the organization fighting to save the dogs, said after the decision that he is undecided if he will appeal the judge's ruling to a higher court.
The one dog that was deemed safe has been named "Razzle." Judge Vitale said based on the evidence, the dog is not dangerous and can be released to the Buster Foundation after the 21-day rule. However, the other three -- called "Monroe," "Riley" and "Dusty" -- were determined to show aggressiveness and pose a danger to the public, so they must be put down.
There's a petition on Change.org asking Herr Doktor Professor Houpt to retract her recommendation that these dogs be killed. Not sure what good it would do if she did. I have no faith that a multi-degreed authority who sees a "public safety threat" in the supernatural forbearance of a sweet, wiggly, peaceful, lovey dog can ever be expected to act rationally or with regard to the facts or the truth. But I signed, on the principle that doing so adds my name to the record, to the thousands of gobsmacked animal lovers who have eyes with which to see.
As a cynic, I'm inclined to think that the epitaph "Lack of any useful purpose" could be appropriately scribed on any number of gravestones. There are days when people seem to line up for the honor. I can think of some candidates right here.
But it is not the authoritative coda to the life of a wiggle-butt pit bull who has been sentenced to die for the offense of being a crime victim.
Comments on this post are invited. Anonymous comments that call for retribution against Ms. Houpt will not be posted. Alas, few receive what they deserve in life, one way or the other, and it is not up to the anonymouse internetz to provide it.
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