October 9, 2009
U.S. Marines Enlist ASPCA to Keep Marine Corps Pets & Families Together
On October 6, a team of ASPCA animal behavior experts arrived in Beaufort, S.C., to conduct behavior assessments of more than 100 dogs living in Marine Corps housing units in the South Carolina Tri-Command area.
The visit by ASPCA behaviorists comes after these dogs became the subject of a breed ban recently instituted by Marine Corps headquarters. The policy specifically bans purebred and mixed-breed Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids, as well as canines with "dominant traits of aggression" who pose a risk to people living in U.S. Marine Corps housing worldwide.
“Our goal in coming to the Parris Island base is to make sure safe dogs and their families are able to stay together,” says Dr. Emily Weiss, ASPCA Senior Director of Shelter Research & Development, “and so far, the results have been positive."
After assessing individual canines with SAFER (the ASPCA Safety Assessment for Evaluation Rehoming)a research-based tool that helps identify the likelihood of canine aggressionASPCA behaviorists report that of the approximately 65 dogs assessed to date, only two have had significant aggression issues. “One, we believe, will be able to be managed while on base,” comments Dr. Weiss. “The vast majority, however, are well-loved, well-behaved family pets.”
The families of safe dogs will be given the opportunity to apply for a waiver, allowing their dog to remain on the base until 2012. "We're very excited about the ASPCA’s assessment," says Army Capt. Jenifer Gustafson, the Officer in Charge of the veterinary clinic on Parris Island. "This is a welcome alternative to the unpleasant possibility of pet parents being forced to give up their dogs or leave base housing.”
The ASPCA is opposed to breed bans, which target entire breeds instead of focusing on individual dogs. Aggressive canines are often the result of owners failing to provide proper training. Our organization continues to work on identifying potential aggression in individual dogs, opening up opportunities for behavior modification. Read more about alternatives to breed-specific laws.