This has been bugging me - so in spite of already covering the Sports Illustrated article, I feel like I need to address it again.
Late in the Sports Illustrated article, the question got asked, "was it worth it?" Was it worth it to invest the time and resources to save these 47 dogs when millions of animals languished in shelters?
At least one commenter here expressed the same sentiment, and I've seen in mentioned elsewhere.
At first glance, it would appear that the time and money put into rehabilitating the dogs probably wasn't the best use of resources -- if your focus is only on the 47 dogs. But this is about way more than 47 dogs.
There tends to be a lot of publicity about these major abuse cases - and the horrors that come from these major hoarding and fighting situations.
And of course, Bad Newz Kennels.
But the reality is, in spite of all of these horrible situations, it pales in comparison to the thousands of pit bulls that are killed in city shelters quietly every year. Sometimes they are killed because they are not able to find homes for the dogs because of the stereotypes that surround the dogs.
Often times, even the shelters, like in Ripon, CA, that are supposed to be protecting the dogs have policies in place that don't allow pit bulls to be adopted out. Just the mere entrance into the shelter is a death sentence because they're "too much work", "could fall into the wrong hands" or whatever. Many shelters don't think the 'pit bulls' can, or should, be rehabilitated or are worth the adoption space. In North Carolina, dogs pulled from fighting rings are mandated by law to be euthanized.
And then, there are the thousands of dogs that are killed in cities each year that are killed just for being 'pit bulls' because that city outlaws their very existence.
No. Saving the 47 Vick dogs was not just about the 47 dogs. It was a statement that these dogs matter.
It was a case study in the adaptability of dogs -- that these 47 dogs, who were in some of the worst of situations - are adaptable enough overcome horrific situations, to become normal household pets. Dogs are a product of their enviornment -- and when you remove the awful environment and replace it with a good enviornment, they can, and do, thrive. It is a statement that the dogs can be rehabilitated and are worth saving. If the shelter community, HSUS, PETA, etc all think that the dogs should be killed (which has been their stance for decades), then why would a dog fighting thug think that the dog's life matters either.
It does. They all do.
Nope -- this was about sending a message. These dogs matter too. If we are going to become no-kill communities, where no healthy dogs or cats are killed in our nation's shelters, we cannot continue thinking these dog's lives don't matter. We can't continue with shelter policies that mandate that all pit bulls get put to death. Or continue with city laws that make adoption impossible; or laws that take good dogs out of good homes and condemn them to death.
All of the lives matter.
Already, the success of the Vick dogs is paying dividends. A couple of weeks ago, over 100 pit bulls were founding in a hoarding case in Oklahoma. The original thought was that all of these dogs would need to be euthanized. However, because of the success of the Vick Dogs, the Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, and the Kay County Sheriff's department, listened to rescue groups in their pleas that all of the dogs may not have to be killed. Because of this, 30 or so dogs are now alive that would otherwise have been killed. And when these dogs become success stories, more will follow.
The Vick dogs sent the message - -these dogs' lives matter. It is through this message that shelters, cities, rescues -- and yes, even inner city youth kids -- will see that the lives of these dogs matter.
If we don't care, why should they?
If that message gets heard loud and clear across the entire country - -and changes minds - -then it was worth every penny, every hour and every tear.