Several uplifting stories about pit bulls made the news last week, along with a cautionary tale everyone should read.
In North Carolina, a pit bull mix named Susie appeared before the state legislature's House Judiciary Committee along with her adoptive person, Donna Lawrence, to advocate for passage of H.B. 1690, popularly known as Susie's Law, which makes animal cruelty a felony in North Carolina and allows judges to impose prison sentences.
Susie's saga began on August 9, 2009 when one Lashawn Whitehead kicked in the then-8-week-old puppy's teeth, broke her jaw, and set her on fire. Susie ran away and miraculously survived for two weeks on her own despite being horribly burned, injured and starving.
Someone walking in a park saw the poor puppy, near death and covered with maggots, picked her up and called animal control, where there was some debate about whether it would be more humane to put her to sleep than attempt a possibly hopeless and painful recovery effort.
According to Ms. Lawrence, the shelter's owner said Susie "looked up at her with those big brown eyes and was wagging her tail, and she said, 'We've got to help this dog; she wants to live,'" so an extensive process of surgery and treatments began.
Susie's therapy continued long after the shelter placed her with a local foster couple. Lawrence, a beauty salon owner, was one of the people assisting in Susie's care. When the time came for permanent adoption, she jumped at the chance.
Making Lawrence's act of kindness even more impressive is that she had been attacked and badly injured by a pit bull in the past. She bears no animosity toward the dog, however, blaming the attack on bad owners, and now she's making it easier to put people who abuse their animals behind bars.
The reason? The villain in Susie's case served ZERO jail time for his offense. The presiding judge publicly stated that he wanted to put the man in jail but sentencing guidelines forced him to give a suspended sentence and probation instead.
Thus began the crusade for tougher animal cruelty laws in North Carolina. Susie's Law passed the House by a unanimous vote of 113-0 and the Senate version, S.B. 254, has passed the Judiciary Committee and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.
If you live in North Carolina, please tell your state senator that you support the passage of this bill into law.
Pit Bull, Labs and Humans Rescued In Oregon Mountains
A pair of hikers and their three dogs (two black labs and one pit bull) lost in the Oregon mountains were rescued four days after being reported missing. Everyone was alive and well, though pit bulls are not a cold-loving breed so no doubt the pit was happiest of all about being rescued.
At least these hikers had their priorities straight. One of them, Christopher Feightner, said the humans had gone without food for the last two days. "I made sure my dogs had enough to eat, but I haven't eaten for a long time," Feightner said.
Pit Bull Down Under
In Houston, traffic was diverted as firefighters responded to reports of a human heard screaming underneath a manhole cover. It turned out to be a pit bull trapped in the sewer system beneath the street.
It took animal control officers 90 minutes to free the pit bull. Officials stated that he was soaking wet but otherwise in good condition. No one knows how the dog, who was taken to the local animal shelter, ended up in the sewer system.
A Cautionary Note
Most animal control and shelter workers are kind-hearted people doing a good job. But that doesn't mean that all the rules governing shelters are reasonable, or that all animal control workers are honestly looking out for the animals in their care as best they can.
Andrea Botley found a stray pit bull and spent two weeks trying to find her a home. Eventually she took the pit bull girl to a local animal shelter, hoping they would have better luck finding her a permanent home. "The officer said they will find her a home," Ms. Botley reported. However, when she returned to the shelter three days later to check on the pit bull, she discovered that the dog had been "put down" immediately.
Apparently the local shelter committee has a policy of not placing certain breeds up for adoption, including pit bulls, pit bull mixes, chows, Shar Peis, Akitas, and Alaskan Malamutes. Rottweilers and German Shepherds also receive special scrutiny and are "evaluated on a case-by-case basis" to determine whether adoption efforts will be made.
Animal shelters perform an important service, but this shelter isn't the only one with such a policy. Please check the rules at your local shelter before dropping off an animal, especially if it's a pit bull or other supposedly "dangerous" dog breed.