Court-Appointed Special Master Recommends Best Friends Animal Society for Placement of 22 American Pit Bull Terriers from Vick Civil Forfeiture Action

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A favorable ruling from U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson would mean that the dogs will be relocated from various shelters in the Virginia-Washington D.C. area to the animal sanctuary operated by Best Friends on 33,000 acres near the town of Kanab in southwestern Utah.

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We are hopeful that the court will grant Best Friends the opportunity to do what it does best—provide a caring, rehabilitative home for these abused, homeless animals

A guardian/special master appointed by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has recommended that 22 of the 48 American pit bull terriers connected with the Michael Vick civil forfeiture action be placed with Best Friends Animal Society (http://www.bestfriends.org).

A favorable ruling from U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson would mean that the dogs will be relocated from various shelters in the Virginia-Washington D.C. area to the animal sanctuary operated by Best Friends on 33,000 acres near the town of Kanab in southwestern Utah.

Valparaiso University School of Law Professor Rebecca J. Huss, in a Summary Report to the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, recommended that 47 dogs (one has been euthanized for medical reasons) be placed with eight organizations, with Best Friends receiving the most dogs (22). The next largest group would be placed with Bay Area Dog Lovers Responsible About Pit Bulls (BAD RAP) of Oakland, Calif. (10). Other organizations that would receive dogs are Richmond Animal League of Richmond, Va. (4); Georgia SPCA of Suwanee, Ga. (3); SPCA of Monterey County, Calif. (3); Recycled Love Inc. of Baltimore, Md. (3); Animal Rescue of Tidewater, Chesapeake, Va. (1); and PACK (Pit Bull Advocates for Compassion and Kindness), San Francisco, Calif. (1).

“We are hopeful that the court will grant Best Friends the opportunity to do what it does best—provide a caring, rehabilitative home for these abused, homeless animals,” said Paul Berry, chief executive officer of Best Friends. “They deserve the very best that we can give them, and we are prepared to provide a safe place for them to stay for the rest of their lives.”

Founded in 1986, Best Friends is home to approximately 2,000 displaced, homeless dogs, cats, birds, horses and other domestic animals. Among the more than 600 dogs that reside at Best Friends are 160 special needs dogs that receive expert, compassionate care. Best Friends was responsible for helping to rescue 6,000 dogs and cats during Hurricane Katrina. Following earthquakes in Peru and floods in Mexico, the organization dispatched rapid response animal rescue teams to help, and continues to rescue animals from emergency situations throughout the United States.

“The pit bull is easily the most misunderstood breed of dog in the U.S.,” Berry said. “Unfortunately, it is the very loving and loyal nature of these dogs that makes them prone to exploitation.”

Huss expressed confidence in Best Friends and the other rescue organizations recommended for placement. “For the dogs that may need to remain in a sanctuary environment, although there will certainly be a period of adjustment, I believe that these dogs will not just survive, but thrive in that environment.”

The report was prepared during multiple visits by Huss to Virginia, where she interacted with the dogs and their caretakers, and spoke with animal control officers and numerous rescue organizations, including Best Friends.

In July, the United States filed a civil forfeiture action relating to approximately 53 American pit bull terriers located on the property of Michael Vick. The court appointed Huss as guardian/special master of the 48 surviving dogs.

“Kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us”

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