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New Wisconsin Legislation Bans Automatic Euthanasia of Dogs From Fighting Operations

Wisconsin just became the 48th state in the United States to ban old laws that required immediate euthanasia of dogs seized in dog fighting operation raids. The passing of Assembly Bill 487 / Senate Bill 450 means that these dogs will know have a fighting chance at a happy life, just like any other dog that steps through a shelter’s doors.

Image source: @DouglasMcCoy via Flickr
Image source: @DouglasMcCoy via Flickr

“For the first time, fight-bust survivors will be given a second chance at life,” Lee Greenwood, legislative attorney at Best Friends Animal Society told iHeartDogs. “That’s a huge win for the state and it’s innocent fighting victims.  There are now only 11 states left that automatically stigmatize these dogs and we’re continuing to work towards lowering that number even more.”

Best Friends partnered with a large group of Wisconsin-based animal shelters and organizations to help get this life-saving bill signed into law. Greenwood explained that, moving forward, these dogs will be treated like any other dog – “individually assessed to see if they’re candidates for adoption.”

Image source: @maplegirlie via Flickr
Image source: @maplegirlie via Flickr

“We know that fight-bust survivors can and do live wonderful lives as therapy and service dogs, breed ambassadors, family pets, and (most typically) as couch potatoes,” Greenwood added.  “All they need is that second chance at life, and we think it’s important to fight to give them that- they’ve earned it.”

The VICKtory dogs – the pit bulls rescued from Micheal Vick’s dog fighting operations – are an excellent example of how many of these dogs can become amazing companions if given the chance. Best Friends took in many of these dogs nine years ago. Today, these dogs are in lovingly homes. Many have received their Canine Good Citizenship and some are even therapy and service dogs. Best Friends just released a documentary about these dogs’ journey to recovery.

One of the twenty-two dogs Best Friend’s took in from Vick’s Bad Newz kennel:

It’s clear these dogs made it through their ordeal just fine:

This bill does not end the possibility of euthanasia. If the dog has an illness that warrants it or if the his behavioral problems are severe enough that it is believed to be a risk to humans, a dog can still be humanely euthanized.

Not everyone is happy about this decision. There were many on the opposing side who are still fighting the outcome. When asked what he would say to those opposed, Greenwood answered:

“All dogs are individuals and should be treated as such.  We’ve seen time and again that fight-bust survivors can have a second act to their life as loving family members.  They’ll all be individually assessed by trained specialists before they’re adoption-eligible, which we think is more than adequate to ensure that all the bases are covered.”

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Written by Kristina Lotz
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