On August 18, the ASPCA Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) Team and Humane Law Enforcement Agents (HLE) rescued 11 dogs—mostly medium-sized Pit Bull and Shepherd mixes—from a small apartment in Brooklyn, NY. The rescued animals lived in cramped and unsuitable conditions with 10 other dogs who will also be removed from the home in the near future.
"A misguided rescuer, the owner took in most of the dogs after finding them abandoned in nearby streets and yards," reports Stacy Wolf, ASPCA Vice President and HLE's Chief Legal Counsel. "Since they were not spayed or neutered, a few dogs soon became more than 20, far more than the tiny apartment or the owner's meager means could support."
As they were led out of the apartment building, Stacy says, the dogs were wide-eyed and appeared startled by daylight. They likely spent most of their lives without setting foot outdoors—some refused to walk and were carried by their owner with their legs wrapped around her neck. With expert animal handling skills and compassion, the CIA team and HLE Agents made all 11 dogs as comfortable as possible in crates for the trip to the ASPCA headquarters in Manhattan. The CIA team also comforted and reassured the owner, who assisted in removing the dogs and thanked the team for helping in her time of need.
The 11 rescued dogs are being cared for by staff at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where the remaining 10 dogs will join them in groups. All of the canines will be evaluated medically and behaviorally before being made available for adoption or being transferred to partner rescue groups. The ASPCA Adoption Center and ASPCA Animal Hospital Teams—along with several rescue and shelter partners—have stepped forward to lend a hand in giving these dogs a second chance at better lives.
Animal hoarding is a complex and far-reaching community health issue. It encompasses mental health, animal welfare and public safety concerns. For more information about our efforts to help the human and animal victims of hoarding, please visit our Hoarding FAQ.
The ASPCA is excited to announce the upcoming release of The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Sports Illustrated senior editor Jim Gorant (Gotham Books: September 2010; $26.00). The book covers the Vick case from beginning to end, explaining how Vick and his cohorts were caught, detailing the abysmal treatment of the animals and examining the difficult path to rehabilitation—and the ultimate triumph—of dozens of abused dogs.
Luckily, you won’t have to wait until September to learn more about The Lost Dogs—Parade magazine, which is bundled with the Sunday editions of more than 500 newspapers nationwide, is running a feature article on the book and the lives of the rescued dogs this weekend. Look for the article on Sunday, or visit Parade’s website for a sneak peek today.
During the Michael Vick investigation, the ASPCA’s forensic veterinary team, led by Dr. Melinda Merck, helped produce the evidence that led to guilty pleas. The ASPCA’s Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, Executive Vice President, and Dr. Randy Lockwood, ASPCA Senior Vice President, Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects, led a team of certified applied animal behaviorists in behavior evaluations of nearly 50 rescued dogs; as a result, all but one were spared euthanasia. This was an unprecedented outcome for seized fighting dogs at the time. Drs. Merck and Zawistowski are quoted extensively in Gorant’s new book.
The Lost Dogs can be preordered now on Amazon.com and will soon be available for purchase from the ASPCA Online Store. To learn more about the ASPCA’s involvement in the 2007 Michael Vick dog fighting case, visit our Fight Cruelty section.
As animal lovers become more aware that purchasing a dog from a pet store supports the inhumane practices of puppy mills, commercial breeders are using online sources to get their dogs directly into homes across the country.
On August 3, seven puppies died of suspected heat-related complications in the cargo hold of a plane en route from Tulsa, OK, to Chicago, IL. The victims were seven of 14 pups transported by the airline, and reportedly came from a commercial breeder in Oklahoma—many of the puppies were booked on connecting flights, making it likely that they were purchased online by buyers in different cities.
“Puppy mill operators are creating professional looking websites that convincingly dupe consumers into thinking they are reputable breeders,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “A sure way to spot a scam is that they often offer to ship the dogs to the buyer without ever meeting in person. No reputable breeder would ever ship a puppy to a buyer sight unseen.”
Buying a puppy over the Internet is just as risky as buying from a pet store—you can’t see the puppy’s breeding premises or meet his parents. Furthermore, those who sell animals online are not held to regulations established by the Animal Welfare Act.
“The Animal Welfare Act requires breeders to be licensed and meet specific minimum standards of care for animals bred for resale, but a loophole allows puppy breeders who sell directly to the public—which includes over the Internet—to go unregulated,” says Menkin. “They are able to keep inspectors away and operate without being accountable to anyone.”
“The bottom line is the only way to be sure your new puppy isn't a product of cruel and inhumane conditions is to see for yourself where he lives—visit the breeder’s facilities and meet the puppy’s parents,” Menkin states. “Or better yet, adopt from your local shelter.”
For more information on the risks associated with buying a puppy in a pet store or online, please visit our online Puppy Mill campaign.
On August 10, Brooklyn, NY, resident Vernon McClam was arrested and charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. The 55-year-old is accused of neglecting and severely starving his 2-year-old Pit Bull, Lena. This is McClam’s second arrest for animal cruelty—he was taken into custody by ASPCA Special Agents for an unrelated incident in 2003.
The initial investigation began in early May when an ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Dispatch Operator received a tip regarding the animal’s poor condition. On May 12, ASPCA Special Agent Pat Breen responded to the scene, where he discovered the severely emaciated dog in dire need of medical attention—her weight had dropped to only 26 pounds.
"Unfortunately, Lena’s case is far too common—we often see Pit Bulls that have been severely neglected by their owners," says Stacy Wolf, Vice President and Chief Legal Counsel of the Humane Law Enforcement Department.
Lena was rushed to ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, where she was treated for dehydration and an infected ulcer on her hip. Veterinarians performed additional tests to determine whether her condition was due to neglect or illness. The final report concluded that malnourishment was to blame—all muscle and fat had been exhausted.
This is lena today, currently weighing in at 54.5 pounds—a 106% increase in body weight.
“This is not the first time Mr. McClam has been arrested for animal cruelty—we hope the courts take this into consideration and see fit to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law,” states Wolf.
On August 4, the ASPCA filed a legal petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requesting new policies be implemented to strengthen its enforcement of the federal Horse Protection Act (HPA). The ASPCA, along with the Humane Society of the United States, American Horse Protection Association, Friends of Sound Horses and former U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings, is specifically asking APHIS to toughen its enforcement of laws banning the inhumane practice of horse "soring."
Soring is an illegal training method in which pain-causing chemicals or objects are applied to horses' limbs or hoof pads to achieve the "big lick"—the exaggerated, high-stepping gait of some horses in the multimillion-dollar Tennessee Walking Horse industry. The practice often involves applying chemicals such as diesel fuel, kerosene, or mustard oil to the horse's limbs, causing severe pain. Another commonly practiced form of soring, known as pressure shoeing, involves cutting the horse's hoof to the quick and tightly nailing on a shoe, causing an extreme amount of pain every time the horse bears weight on his hoof. The Horse Protection Act was enacted in 1970 specifically to prohibit these inhumane practices. Unfortunately, soring continues to occur in the gaited horse industry.
The ASPCA’s petition seeks to permanently disqualify from competition any violators of the Horse Protection Act and any horses found to be victims of soring. It also requests that mandatory enforcement protocols be implemented and any non-compliant horse inspection groups be decertified by the USDA.
"The ASPCA is dedicated to improving the lives of horses across the country and we will continue to speak out against the illegal practice of horse soring," says Sherry Rout, Legislative Liaison for the ASPCA. "Soring is a particularly cruel form of abuse as the horses are forced to endure years of chronic pain throughout their show careers while the USDA does little to enforce existing laws."
For more information on the ASPCA’s mission to fight horse cruelty and neglect, visit our Equine Cruelty section. Please stay tuned to the ASPCA Blog for updated information on the legal petition to protect horses.