Update: because of the public furor over the (unwritten) policy to not allow the direct adoption of “purebred” pit bulls from the Madera County Animal Shelter, the policy has been changed. For now, pit bulls may be adopted no matter the age. Previously, only pit bulls under the age of six months could be adopted.
Bruno doesn’t need to die. He’s a sweet, typically high energy pit bull, and lucky for Bruno, he has someone who wants to adopt him and bring him home to her three dogs, a pit bull and two Chihuahua mixes. But unless Catherine Gray can find a rescue to help her, Kirsten Gross, director of the Madera shelter, told her that Bruno, like every other pit bull that is deemed “pure bred,” will be killed.
At Madera County Animal Shelter in California, it seems as if the shelter director enjoys killing pit bulls. She certainly doesn’t want them adopted out. She seems to want them killed, and many volunteers have voiced their opinion that she hates pit bulls. While she claims that it has virtually always been the shelter’s policy not to allow direct adoption of pit bulls, she certainly has the power to change that. Pit bulls, regardless of whether they are the sweet, tail-wagging kissy ones or the aggressively raised kind, are all killed. Quickly. As soon as it’s legal to do so.
It doesn’t matter that experts have found in study after study that visual identification of “pit bulls” is unreliable more than 50% of the time. A study by Maddie’s Fund found that: “Because the observers’ identifications were so inconsistent, visual identification of breed is unreliable.” And the National Canine Research Foundation, a group one might suspect of knowing more about dog breed identification than Ms. Gross, also wrote that visual breed identification is inaccurate.
Yet Ms. Gross seems to believe that she knows more than the experts. Even when Ms. Gray, who wanted to adopt Bruno, pointed out the breed standards according to the AKC, and explained that Bruno did not conform to those standards, Ms. Gross claimed to know better. She “knows,” she said, that Bruno is not a pit mix. Because if he were a pit mix, she would have to allow him to be adopted by Ms. Gray — that’s shelter policy. But by claiming that she “knows” he is a purebred pit bull, Ms. Gross can have him killed. She did agree not to kill Bruno immediately, but to give Ms. Gray a few days to try to find a rescue to help her adopt Bruno.
While Ms. Gray is working with the volunteers in Madera County, and from as far away as the United Kingdom, to try to get Bruno tagged and safe, it must be hoped that Ms. Gross keeps her word. Tomorrow is Tuesday, and Tuesdays at Madera County Animal Shelter are for killing. Rumor has it that the dead bodies, still warm, are loaded up onto waiting trucks that are from Sargeant’s Wholesale Biological. The owner of that company and workers at Tulare Animal Shelter were charged with animal cruelty and bribery in 2009. That’s just before Ms. Gross recommended that Madera County sell them the dead animals.
Ms. Gross claims that because of dog fighting, she is worried about adopting out pit bulls that might be aggressive. Apparently Ms. Gross’s psychic powers extend to knowing dogs’ DNA without expensive testing, but when it comes to temperament testing a dog, she is incapable of that. Many of the pit bulls at Madera County Animal Shelter are sweet and docile, yet they are killed quickly anyway.
And Bruno? Last night a group of volunteers went to work. They found a rescue willing to help pull Bruno to save his life. They worked feverishly to do this — as everyone knew, time was short and Bruno’s life was on the line. Tuesdays being one of the two kill days made it more urgent that Bruno be tagged for rescue. Even that is no guarantee. A few weeks ago, a dog who a volunteer had tagged for rescue was killed. The shelter claims that the dog was in poor health. But the same director who assured me that dogs in need get veterinary care told me that Beage did not get any medical care. Yet according to this same director, “The beagle dog was put down today due to health issues. Chronic skin conditions and other age-related issues.”
Will Bruno make it out? Or will he be another pit bull killed and sold to Sargeant’s Wholesale Biological. He is the type of dog they prefer: not neutered. Cross your fingers for Bruno, and for Christine, who desperately wants to give him a loving home. Let’s hope they both are successful today.
UPDATE: Bruno just left the shelter as a rescue. He is in the hands of Christine Gray. He is safe. I did not want to publish this article before Bruno was safe because I was worried that he would be killed in retaliation for this article. If you would like to express your displeasure with the way Madera County Shelter is run, please do not call the shelter. Do not call Ms. Gross’s superiors, either — those on the Madera County Board of Supervisors. They stand behind Ms. Gross “100%” according to the most recent BOS meeting (August 4).
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