AR-News: (PA) Breed unadoptable
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WeArPetitions at aol.com
Sun Nov 2 12:04:00 EST 2003
A pit bull puppy peeks out of its cage at the West Shore Shelter of the
Humane Society of Harrisburg Area. (Wally Shank/The Sentinel)
By Ella McComas, November 2, 2003
The Humane Society is hiking fees for pit bulls because they stay in the
shelter the longest.
Kim Moreland strolls down "pit bull alley" at the East Shore Shelter pointing
out dogs sentenced to a prison-like existence for months on end.
The pit bulls push their noses against the cages in hopes of a pat on the
head or a belly rub. Some bark, some pace. Most just want attention.
Moreland points out Baxter, who always carries a rubber ball in his mouth;
Rosco, Diamond and Bettis.
"They are not the most adoptable dogs," Moreland says. "A whole lot of issues
are stacked" against the breed.
Many people are afraid of the dogs. In addition, many pit bulls in the
shelter came from abusive situations.
Baxter was brought to the shelter in May after wandering the streets of
Harrisburg. He was trained as a fighter.
"He is massive dog," Moreland says. "Who is going to adopt him?"
His previous owner clipped off his ears so other dogs could not grab them in
a match, she says as she pets his head through the fence of his cage. "I feel
fully justified in asking $90 for this dog."
Fees more than double
The Humane Society of the Harrisburg Area is doubling the fee for housing
stray pit bulls from the communities served on the West and East Shores.
As of January, municipalities in Cumberland and Dauphin counties will be
charged $90 for each pit bull brought to the shelter - more than double the $43
fee for all other breeds.
"This is the first year we have differentiated between breeds," says
Moreland, executive director of the society, which has shelters in Monroe Township and
Harrisburg. "We increased (the fee) for pit bulls because they stay here
She estimates the shelter's cost to care for each dog during its stay
averages about $170, but pit bulls cost more. She declines to specify the longest
time a dog is kept before being euthanized because it hasn't been adopted. She
does say each animal is kept as long as possible.
"We are unique because we actually do try to adopt out pit bulls," Moreland
says. "Others don't accept pits or euthanize them 100 percent."
They can be good pets
Pit bulls can be very loving, Moreland says.
However, the breed's reputation for viciousness is not without reason. It is
the most popular choice for dog fighting - "which is a very lucrative business
in central Pennsylvania," she says.
Pit bulls brought to a society shelter are lucky - they were not killed in
the fight but lost anyway.
"The losers are let go (to run free on the streets) or die a horrific death"
from injuries. She adds she has heard of losing pit bulls being burned alive,
locked in rooms to die and thrown into pits of vicious dogs to be torn apart.
They also can be attackers
Al Matthews, a Carlisle resident, knows first hand how vicious pit bulls can
A pit bull, belonging to his neighbor, broke free from his chain last month
and attacked Matthews, sending him to the hospital with several injuries.
"He pulled me to the ground and would not let my stomach go," Matthews told a
reporter afterward. "It was a very scary situation. My hands were scraped up
on the ground. I was a bloody mess."
Those who breed and train pit bulls to fight should be made aware of the
threat the dogs pose to both adults and children, Matthews says.
Since moving from Philadelphia to Carlisle about 19 months ago, he says he
has heard numerous stories about pit bulls from borough residents.
Several weeks ago, Matthews saw two large pit bulls almost fight to the death
across the street from where he works at CyberSpace, a computer resource
center in the 200 block of North Pitt Street. One pit bull so overpowered the
other that those responding to the scene had to insert a rod into the jaws of the
attacker to pry its teeth from the head of the other dog.
"You could tell he was hurt," Matthews says. "It was really painful to see
the one dog attack the other one."
Few shelter them
Although the society's shelters are among the few that will accept pit bulls,
the Furry Friends Network in South Middleton Township has pit bulls for
adoption on its web site, www.furryfriendsnetwork.com.
When the dogs come to the humane society's shelter they are given a
temperament test to gauge if they are aggressive.
If they are deemed adoptable, Moreland tries to keep them until they find a
home, but that is becoming more and more difficult as the shelter fills up with
"When the shelter is 50 percent full with pits there is a problem," she says.
Currently, the East Shore shelter is housing about 38 pit bulls out of about
100 dogs. The West Shore facility has 15 pit bulls out of 40 dogs.
As long as the dogs kennel well shelter personnel try to keep them. But if a
dog is there too long, it can become depressed or "kennel crazy" just pacing
back and forth, Moreland explains.
"They are basically in jail," she says.
Moreland says pit bulls were not originally bred to be aggressive towards
"They are loving animals," she says. "They are the most wonderful dog to
Still, "it takes a special person to adopt a pit bull," she adds.
Adoption applicants are carefully screened. People with children are
discouraged from adopting them.
The Humane Society also is working on behalf of the animals by organizing a
dog-fighting task force, KNOCK OUT, to educate people about the dangers of dog
fighting and the effects on the dogs.
The society also wants to find out where dogs fights are occurring in order
to try and curb the practice.
"These dogs are dying brutal deaths," she says.
It can truly be said: Men are the devils of the earth, and the animals are
the tormented souls. --Arthur Schopenhauer
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