Friday, October 14, 2011

Study Conducted by Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Explains Why They Failed to Rehabilitate Vick Dogs and Why Fighting Dogs Will Never Make Good Pets

There has been a lot of press surrounding the new large-scale study conducted by Best Friends Animal Society and the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School of Medicine; in a nut shell, this study found that puppy mills inflict irremediable damage to pet dogs. It found that dogs used as breeders in puppy mills had long term psychological damage, regardless of how clean and well run it was. Here is an excerpt:
The results of the study indicate it really doesn’t matter if the breeding operation claims to be shiny and clean, abiding by the laws, or even whether or not they are licensed by the USDA,” McMillan said. “This study gives us strong evidence that the dogs kept in these large scale breeding facilities don’t just suffer while they’re confined there, but carry the emotional scars out with them for years even when they’re placed in loving homes. Many of the dogs show difficulty in simply coping successfully with normal day-to-day life.
There is no precise, legal definition of a puppy mill. It is generally accepted though, that they are large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities that operate for profit. It is generally understood that they will sacrifice animal welfare to maximize profits. In Defense of Animals notes that any breeder with 4 breeding animals that sells to wholesalers must obtain a USDA license, but that average puppy mills house 65 to 75 animals, though some house thousands.

The main contributing factor to the damage done to these dogs is poor breeding (inbreeding and over breeding), the isolation and lack of "normal" exposure to people, places, noise, etc. Even a small facility that keeps dogs in cages, inbreeds, over breeds, and limits stimulation and socialization can be damaging. The study admits that these dogs will often never be "normal".

So how is this different from what the Vick dogs experienced? The Vick dogs were kept like puppy mill dogs and in addition many suffered the added abuse associated with dogfighting. Federal officers reportedly removed about 54 apbts from Vick's property according to a transcript of his indictment. Of the 54 apbts, about 30 were found on chains in a yard.

Examples of dogfighter's yards show these are large scale
puppy mills designed to produce mentally damaged dogs

The Virginia Beach SPCA reportedly took Vick's 9 beagles, two rottweilers, and a cane corso according to other sources. The beagles had been kept in cages and reportedly had been used both as bait dogs and as blood sources for blood transfusions for the fighting dogs.

Note that JR suffers from the exact
behavioral issues described in the BR study

Do you see any irony here? In fact, how is this different from what LOTS of pit bull breeders are doing with their "yards"? Vicks pit bulls were not pets, they were kept in isolated kennels, yet the public was told they all went on to assimilate easily and become normal pets! We all know that, in reality, thats not true. Read about Best Friend's Vick dogs: Shaky Mel, Handsome Dan, and the saga of Tug, Denzel and their victim, Beans). Then there is Sweet Jasmine, Sweet Pea and a third, nameless pit bull. Read their accounts and notice that these dogs were suffering in just the way the new BF study describes puppy mill dogs always suffer.

A perpetually terrified Sweet Jasmine bolted
Stirling, was struck by a car and died.

The HSUS, ASPCA, Best Friends, and other humane groups have previously been VERY careful when discussing commercial breeding operations, for good reason. MANY working dogs are raised in conditions that may constitute commercial breeding operations. Hunting dogs bred and raised on hunting plantations down south are very typically raised in outdoor kennels, whelped outside, and not treated or handled as pets. Some detection dogs used for security are kennel raised dogs...Some trainers stopped placing bomb sniffing dogs in homes, in part because they were using play drive for training, and the toy had to become a high value resource; in a family home, they were playing a lot, and lost motivation. Kenneling them allowed the rewards to be more controlled.

There is a very real distinction between working dogs, being used for a specific purpose, and pets, whose role is that of a companion animal. Working dogs who are kenneled and bred in commercial breeding operations are NOT pets, but they ARE afforded an opportunity to regularly engage in the type of meaningful "work" which they are genetically motivated to do. In doing this "work", they get companionship from their handler, appropriate excersize, and rewards, which may consist of food, playtime, affection, etc. Because of their inate drive and desire to perform the "work" which they were bred for, and the fact that this work allows them to form a close partnership with their handler, the quality of life these dogs have is often as good as, if not better than, many pet dogs.

On the other hand, the "job" of a pet dog is to be a healthy, friendly, biddable companion who can assimilate easily into our home and community. That is the "work" of a pet dog. The study makes it clear that commercial breeding operations do NOT produce dogs that are suitible for this "work".

One working dog that must also be highly companionable is the Seeing Eye dog. Long ago, The Seeing Eye recognized that they needed to raise their own dogs to develop dogs that have the best innate temperaments and that were physically very healthy. They also recognized that the had to raise the young puppies in families in order to produce mentally healthy, sociable, companionable and biddable dogs that were suitable for their work.

Companionable, biddable, working Lab puppy being
raised with a foster family as part of the Seeing Eye's

Dusty, a Seeing Eye dog in training, was living
with a foster family as part of the puppy raiser
program when a pit bull attacked him and he had
to be washed out of the program

So any kennel that claims to breed dogs as companions, yet houses them like livestock, can be labeled a puppy mill. Which begs the question....which type of breeder are these APBT breeders who run large "yards"? If both common sense and science show us that raising dogs on chains and in kennels does NOT produce a dog that makes a good pet, can we then assume these are "working dogs"? If they are "working dogs", what kind of "work" do they do? If you have 50 pit bulls on your property, on chains and in kennels outside, and are selling their puppies for huge sums of money, what kind of people are buying them? Since anyone looking for a pet pit bull can find literally hundreds of them in local shelters, with incentives thrown in such as reduced adoption fees, free or low cost training, s/n, shots, etc, why would someone buy one from a breeder? If pit bulls in pet homes are being abandoned by the tens of thousands and ending up in shelters, doesn't that mean they are failing at their "job" as pets? Doesn't it indicate that there is NO pet market for these dogs? So what is the real market for large scale pit bull breeders?

Why is it not OK for a pug to be raised in a kennel, but it IS OK for a pit bull to be raised in a "yard"? Why are the Vick dogs held up as success stories, when they show all the same symptoms as the permanently damaged puppy mill dogs? And if all these large scale breeders of fighting dogs are truly selling them as pets, why isn't Best Friends publicly condemning them for the damage done to these dogs?

So is Best Friends willing to take on the dogmen now? The Best Friends study concludes that dogs raised in large scale breeding operations will never be what our society considers "normal". We have no complaint with that conclusion. But at the same time that BF is paying for and promoting this survey, they also advocate for the placement of pit bulls found during dog fighting investigations. These pitiful victims of the dog fighting culture have been raised in isolation, have not been socialized, bred for an activity so violent that it is a felony in all 50 states, and they are inbred to an extreme. BF has successfully championed changes in state law to allow these most dangerous damaged dogs to be adopted into our communities.

Why isn't BF concerned with the breeding and husbandry practices of pit bull breeders? Why isn't BF concerned with the safety of the humans, pets, and livestock that will come into contact with the dogs bred and trained for dogfighting that they have placed in your neighborhood? Can Best Friends explain how dogs of a hundred different breeds are damaged by commercial breeders to the point where many never become normal pets, but pit bulls can be raised in yards, rescued from fighting rings by amateurs and, with hugs and kisses, become normal pets?

Can we ask Best Friends to publicly condemn dog fighters' commercial breeding operations? Who do you think is buying these old time dogfighter's dogs, and for what purpose? Can we conclude that dogs not bred by responsible breeders and raised and housed as pets will not be "normal"? Shouldn't that mean we should be looking at regulating large scale pit bull breeding operations? Shouldn't we demand that BF look at their own research and condemn the practice of attempting to rehabilitate fighting bred dogs from dogfighting busts? After all, they have just proven that these dogs can never become normal and safe companions in homes.

Authors: Branwyne, april29, snacksizeddog


scurrilous amateur blogger said...

i guess the "distinguished" mr. james serpell is officially just another science whore. doesn't anyone conduct independent research anymore?

i would love to hear best friends explain this discrepancy but i won't hold my breath.

best friends holds candle light vigils for the mass destruction of 145 dogs seized from craven eddy's yard, dogs so dog aggressive that it was reported even young puppies were acting savagely.

read more here

great job you guys.

Jake said...

@Dawn - I take it that the picture of the sweet, innocent looking puppy featured prominently on the page you referenced above is some sort of stock photo, and definitely not one of the fighting pits that was put out of its misery.

Small Survivors said...

good catch Jake!

Here's a photo of a Faron dog. Overbred much?

Small Survivors said...

LOL, and I wonder why they didn't put this Faron dog on their candlelight vigil page. What a SWEETIE!

Small Survivors said...

This was Branwyne's observation, and no, I don't think Best Friends will acknowledge anything. But, it is an important observation - why were there all these shut down incredibly dysfunctionally terrified dogs - the rescue angels want us to believe its because they were bait dogs or because Vick maybe abused them - but the simple and obvious answer is because dog fighters are the puppy millers of the pit bull world, and simply growing up in a puppy mill will damage a dog.

And now BF's research has show that the damage is permanent. A powerful argument for not trying to rehabilitate and put ex-fighting dogs into people's homes.

Thank you branwyne

Tegenpitjes said...

mr. james serpell is that idiot who 'proved' that dachshunds are the most dangerous breed.

Tegenpitjes said...

he also did research that 'proves' neutering makes dogs more aggressive.

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

i agree snack, branwyne's observation is critically important to this debate. i wonder if this blog post should go into the truth blog as well?

tegenpitjes, you're right, he is connected to the SELF REPORT QUESTIONNAIRE study that PROVES dachshunds are the most vicious dog! i forgot about that. and now he claims neutering makes dogs MORE aggressive? what a putz. do you have a link to that?

jake, i don't know whose pit puppy that is but i agree with snack, RENNIE would have been a good one. she looks worse than honeybunch.

MM said...

Is there any way to find out where each and every Vick dog ended up? I know you listed a few, but I'm interested in knowing what happened to all of them.

Anonymous said...

You have to remember that as a child Bledy Von Karnage allowed her gripper to run loose and tear into neighbor's dogs. Now she is hellbent on imparting her distorted dog world view on society....mauling victims and neighborhood dogs be damned.

You mean it's not necessarily the owner, but the breeder?!?

The lengths the Pit Industry will go to whitewash the deaths, lifeflights and the suffering they impart on society makes the tobacco lobby look like choir boys.

Blood Transfusions?!? Are you kidding me? Frickin' Blood suckers!

Anonymous said...


Killer pit bull linked to suspected dog fighting ringBy LIZ HULL
Last updated at 23:27 04 January 2007

The pit bull terrier which mauled five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson to death was linked to a suspected dog fighting ring just a few miles from where she died.
Officers seized eight of the animals from two addresses connected to the family of the girl who was killed at her grandmother's home in the early hours of New Year's Day.
Shortly before the raids, Ellie's convicted drug dealer uncle, Kiel Simpson, 23, who owned the killer pit bull, was interviewed by police after voluntarily attending a police station. He was released without charge.
It emerged that Simpson's three stone dog, named Reuben, came from the same litter as those confiscated by officers acting on an anonymous tip-off from a member of the public.

Read more:


**Disclaimer...I m not making this up!

scurrilous amateur blogger said...

re: the vick dogs, this is probably a pretty good start vick dog blog.

Colleen Lynn said...

A fantastic post! Kudos to all contributing writers and the Craven Desires blog. And yes, it should definitely be cross-posted at the Truth About Pit Bulls website!

Anonymous said... are more stories of the Vick dogs at Best Friends......note that there is no mention of the "accident" involving Denzel and Tug.

The Vick dogs have been cash cows for several humane organizations, and also for the adopters and others, like Jim Gorant, who personally profited from book deals, etc. A few adopters seem to have used their adopted Vick dogs for self promotion.

The urban myth that the majority of the Vick dogs went on to easily assimilate into pet homes as normal dogs is just that...a myth.

Small Survivors said...

I have heard that some of the best adjusted vick dogs were kept in the house - not used conditioned or treated as fighting dogs/puppymill dogs - and that these are the dogs that went to BAD RAP. I couldn't find anything about this except the mention that 54 pits were taken from the compound and only 30 were in the yard on chain sets.

The BAD RAP blog features 10 of the 54 apbts. Obviously Best Friends took the bulk of the most messed up dogs. The fact that each dog taken got an 18,000 dowry easily explains why even when individually assessed, so many really messed up dogs were kept.

I believe Gorant's book doesn't cover all the dogs - none that went to BF.

Bottom line: Like Branwyne said it is a myth that all or even most of Vicks dogs went on to be well adjusted family pets.

Anonymous said...

78 Americans have been killed by Pit Bulls since Vick was arrested in the summer of 2007.

No telling how many terrible maulings.

It's stunning how the Pit community feigns shock over the breeding and culling practices of Vick when it hs been the way of Dogmen for centuries.

Caroline said...

Great post. I remember once talking to a vet tech who told me that she saw dogs who had been in good animal shelters that were showing signs of behavioral problems after just two weeks.
I found this on my facebook wall posted by a friend of a friend:
I just cringe when I see pit bulls and small children together.

Anonymous said...

pitters and there extended families always say small dogs are the most vicious. wienerdogs , toy poodles , chihuahuas and pomeranians. not sure if beagles and bassets are included as in between dashunds and shitbulls in viciousness but im told any dog can be made aggressive by the right , sorry i mean wrong owner. one sure way , ive heard from brainless people to turn your small dog into a vicious killer is to pick it up when you encounter a sweet pitbull ..LOL not.

Anonymous said...


October 18, 2011:
Thomas Stark is too smart to observe Ohio's vicious dog law and hauls ass when his two wigglebutts attack a veteran's service dog in a Walmart parking lot. Surveillance video produced his license plate number and he was hunted down by authorities.

Somehow this obscenity is a just misdemeanor...


**Disclaimer...I am not making this up!