HSUS Issues New Policy Relating to the Handling of Fighting Dogs, Convenes Meeting to Probe the Broader Issue

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April meeting will include ASPCA, Best Friends, animal advocates

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I am pleased to discuss these issues with personnel from Best Friends and other organizations interested in the welfare of pit bulls.

The Humane Society of the United States has issued an interim policy recommending all dogs be evaluated as individuals, and is calling a meeting of leading animal welfare organizations concerning dogs victimized by dog-fighting.

Wayne Pacelle, CEO and President of The Humane Society of the United States, suggested the meeting of major stakeholders in Las Vegas to work through the associated issues. This meeting is in response to concerns expressed by Best Friends Animal Society in December 2008 regarding HSUS policies related to animals confiscated in dog-fighting busts.

Pacelle said the meeting -- to be held in Las Vegas -- will include the participation of national stakeholder organizations that deal with pit bulls. The meeting was in the planning stages before Superior Court Judge Ed Wilson Jr. ruled that 145 pit bulls, including approximately 70 puppies, confiscated from Wildside Kennels in Wilkes County, North Carolina, would be euthanized without evaluation to determine suitability for placement.

The new interim policy announced by the HSUS, pending the outcome of the April meetings, recommends that local law enforcement and animal control evaluate such dogs as individuals rather than as a category before any decision is made regarding their future.

"We expect government, corporations, and individuals to constantly re-evaluate how they deal with animal issues. Likewise, we regularly review our own policies and procedures here at HSUS, and we think it is important to talk with professional colleagues in the movement to examine issues related to the disposition of fighting dogs," said Pacelle. "I am pleased to discuss these issues with personnel from Best Friends and other organizations interested in the welfare of pit bulls."

Julie Castle, Director of Community Programs and Services for Best Friends said, "There had been more than enough airing of feelings and outrage that the dogs were not evaluated prior to being summarily euthanized. It was time to hit the reset button on this in order to move things forward in a constructive way. Mr. Pacelle was open and receptive to what we had to say and we are looking forward to our meetings in April."

Castle said Best Friends, through its campaign, ''Pit Bulls: Saving America's Dogs,'' is looking forward to working cooperatively with HSUS. "Our goal is to bring positive change to the lives and image of pit bulls," she said. The campaign is aimed in part at educating the public and the media about pit bulls in order to help save the breed's reputation.

CONTACTS:

Best Friends Animal Society (http://www.bestfriends.org)
Barbara Williamson (435) 689-0200 (cell) (or) barbara(at)bestfriends.org
John Polis (435) 644-2001, ext. 4858 or johnp(at)bestfriends.org

About Best Friends Animal Society:
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2009, Best Friends Animal Society advances nationwide animal welfare initiatives by working with shelter and rescue groups around the country. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southwestern Utah is the nation's largest facility for abused, abandoned and special needs companion animals. On any given day the sanctuary is home to approximately 1,700 dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals. The society publishes Best Friends magazine, the nation's largest general interest, pet-related magazine with approximately 300,000 subscribers. For more information on Best Friends Animal Society, visit: http://www.bestfriends.org/ .

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