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“That face and their eyes tell the story”

Here’s a look inside the cavernous warehouse in St. Louis that has served as the emergency shelter for the hundreds of dogs seized in this summer’s massive five-state dog-fighting raid — the largest in U.S. history.

The Humane Society of Missouri, at one point, was sheltering more than 400 dogs, and 100 newly born puppies, at the emergency shelter, the first public access to which was granted last week to the Associated Press.

More than 120 of the seized pit bulls have been placed in foster homes, but about that many still remain in the temporary shelter. Another 160 dogs were put down because of injuries, illness or behavior.

“They are not a vicious animal. They are the victims of abuse,” said Debbie Hill, vice president of operations for the Humane Society of Missouri. “That face and their eyes tell the story. They only want to be in someone’s home, on a couch, or sleeping at someone’s feet, maybe chew up a rug or two for entertainment. They’re learning for the first time how to be a dog.”

Animal behaviorist Pamela Reid, who was part of the team that evaluated the dogs, said a surprising two-thirds tested well for nonaggression and adoptability. She’s fostering one puppy, although one of her favorite dogs had to be euthanized because he showed aggression toward men.

Comments

Comment from Janet McCulley
Time November 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm

What a heartbreaking yet uplifting story. It is truly unbelievable how heartless people can be to these doggies that want nothing more than to be loved. I am going to donate to this shelter today! : )

Comment from Design4Test
Time November 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Such a resilient breed. I’m glad they weren’t all just indiscriminately put down like so many other rescued pits were… There’s so much ignorance and vitrol surrounding these dogs, it’s a sad thing.

We have a moral responsibility to do the best we can for them. Their unwavering loyalty and desperate need to please has been exploited by cruel and cowardly “dogmen” trying to make a quick buck — how we treat them now will show if that’s the measure of man, or if we can truely do better.

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