An open letter from Beth Clifton to:
Gregory Castle, president, Best Friends Animal Society;
Matthew Bershadker, president, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals;
Wayne Pacelle, president, Humane Society of the United States
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this letter. My name is Beth Clifton. I am the wife of ANIMALS 24-7 editor Merritt Clifton. Briefly, I am a former Miami Beach police officer, animal control officer, and veterinary technician.
In 2011 I rescued, fostered, adopted and loved a pit bull puppy who I named Trooper. Three years later, it became necessary to euthanize him because of serious aggression issues.
Until that point I promoted, advocated, and publicly defended pit bulls, as well as volunteering with a local breed-specific pit bull rescue.
As a veterinary technician at a high volume, low cost spay/neuter clinic, I acquired a great deal of direct experience with pit bull-type dogs. In fact, I and another employee were the unofficial clinic pit bull response team when fights and other behavioral problems occurred.
You can read about my life and experience with raising Trooper in this essay that I wrote and published with the hope that I might help others who were experiencing similar problems or were considering the choice of a pit bull as a family pet: Why pit bulls will break your heart.
As a former law enforcement officer and ACO, I place a great deal of value on public safety. Based on my extensive experience with pit bulls, I came to recognize as clearly evident that these dogs were unique, in that they all seemed to share certain problematic personality traits and behaviors, and a very dangerous degree of instability.
As a veterinary technician I handled hundreds of pit bulls and found them to be consistently nervous and fearful. This behavior in any dog could predictably lead to a dangerous situation for both the vet tech and the veterinarian, but pit bulls are large, strong, and tenacious dogs, with documented history of having caused more serious and fatal injuries than all other dog types combined in every 10-year time frame since 1833.
I recently reviewed a video posted on Facebook of a pit bull who attacked a horse, a frequent occurrence, but in this case the video showed the entire incident. As the dog clamped down on the horse’s mouth and held on with his teeth, the horse was rendered defenseless.
The horse could not kick the dog. The horse could not run. All the horse could do was stand there as the dog ripped the horse’s face apart.
A horse, whose main defense against predators is to flee, could not out-run a pit bull who attacked without provocation or warning.
Gregory, Matt, and Wayne, I have written to the three of you because you head the three largest humane organizations in the United States. Your influence upon the treatment and safety of animals is evident, but you also have a responsibility to the public, and to the domestic animals who are victims of attacks by other domestic animals.
As a person who cares deeply for all animals and humans, I am publicly requesting that you review and reverse your present policies of promoting pit bull acquisition and proliferation, and that you, as leaders of the humane movement, cease turning a blind eye to the suffering of the thousands of innocent men, women and children, and many tens of thousands of pets and farmed animals who continue to be victimized by pit bulls.
I am further requesting that you support any legislation to prevent more births of pit bull-type dogs, and to acknowledge the necessity of stopping pit bull proliferation, which eventually and ultimately causes the suffering of the dogs themselves.
The facts scream aloud. To ignore the facts is a dereliction of duty to your supporters and the animals for whom you advocate and seek to protect.