ASPCA led Expert Behaviorists Provide Recommendations to USDA On Disposition of Dogs Seized in Michael Vick Case

NEW YORK, October 2, 2007 – Following a motion filed yesterday by the U. S. Attorney’s Office on the recommended disposition of 49 pit bulls seized in the Michael Vick case, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today thanked the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the opportunity to lead the behavior evaluations that resulted in these recommendations, as well as the behaviorists who contributed their expertise during this process.

As outlined in the motion, the ASPCA-led team’s report ensuing from the evaluations, which were conducted between September 4 and 6, 2007, show that the experts evaluated 48 of the 49 dogs as having potential for some form of placement. Recommended placement options include possible re-homing into appropriate foster homes, rehabilitation as law enforcement dogs, or placement in sanctuaries (which will need to meet U.S.D.A. facility standards). Only one of the 49 dogs was deemed unfit for rehabilitation and recommended for euthanasia, which order was entered yesterday by Judge Henry E. Hudson.

“The ASPCA—which was founded to fight cruelty 141 years ago—has been honored to assist federal investigators in this groundbreaking case, from participating in the investigation itself, to leading the behavior evaluations, and we greatly appreciate the trust placed in us,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “More than anything, I am extremely proud of the dedication and collaboration demonstrated by the behaviorists who evaluated the dogs—that almost all these dogs can expect to live long and happy lives is an incredibly uplifting and inspiring outcome to this case.”

Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, C.A.A.B., executive vice president, National Programs, and science advisor for the ASPCA, led the team of several Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (trained animal behavior experts who have been certified by the Animal Behavior Society) in conducting the evaluations—the team comprised C.A.A.B.s both from inside the ASPCA as well as independent C.A.A.B.s from around the country. In addition, BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls), a San Francisco-based non profit organization that is an educational resource for pit bull owners and the shelters that house them, also worked with the ASPCA-led team to help identify dogs that can be absorbed into experienced foster programs for further observation and possible re-homing into appropriate homes.

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