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Published: December 20, 2013 print this article Print save this article Save email this article Email ENLARGE TEXT increase font decrease font

Too quickly put down

On Dec. 13, Animal Friends in Pittsburgh, which claims to be a no-kill shelter, euthanized a pit bull named Blue after the dog was involved in separate fights with two other dogs. One dog was killed and the other was injured.
There are many questions regarding whether his death was truly necessary, but it is clear Animal Friends needs to review or revise its policies and procedures to make sure this does not happen again.
I’m sure staff and volunteers are devastated — Blue was a shelter favorite — and and I am truly sorry to question them in their time of grief. But I hope they are reviewing the policies and procedures that put Blue in a situation were he was set up to fail.
My understanding is that Blue was never aggressive with people, but a much smaller dog did die after an altercation and then a second incident occurred with both dogs in the fight being injured.
When Blue was placed on “death row,” a professional trainer experienced with difficult dogs, Paul Anthony of Lawrence County, offered to take and train Blue. Anthony was told his “balanced” training, which includes negative reinforcement when necessary, is not Animal Friends’ preferred training method.
Later, on various Facebook pages, a trainer for Animal Friends referred to Paul as a “Cesar Milan Wannabe” despite her having never met him or seen him train. Their attitude was clear.
A published news release from Animal Friends described Blue with comments like: “he may be the most well-trained dog at Animal Friends;” and “Blue is sure to amaze his new family with his loving nature, his trust, and his willingness to please.” It begs the question of whether Blue was not evaluated properly or not trained properly.
Animal Friends appears to be stuck in a “one training method fits all” mode, to the extent that a professional trainer’s offer of help is flatly refused.
Was it really the dog’s fault? Was it the correct choice to euthanize him? Maybe, maybe not. But the circumstances that led to Blue’s death beg for a review of all pertinent policies and procedures.
Animal Friends should address these issues and not sweep them under the rug so that the deaths of two dogs in their care were not in vain.

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