“Thank you so much, Deborah Turner!”
Thank you so much, Deborah Turner, for your truthful and informative ANIMALS 24-7 guest column Pit bulls: A retired humane professional speaks out at last.
I have been the director at a large open admission shelter in the south, the Mississippi Animal Rescue League in Jackson, Mississippi, since 1978. During my time here, the Mississippi Animal Rescue League has proudly helped to introduce many of the positive changes in animal advocacy and animal care and control that have transformed the field over the past 40-odd years.
Praised for s/n promotion
As recently as 2005, for instance, the Mississippi Animal Rescue League was widely praised by some of the same big national organizations that today shamelessly push pit bulls for our successful introduction and promotion of subsidized low-cost spay/neuter. Those same organizations urged other shelters to emulate us.
But not all of the changes we have witnessed and experienced have been positive.
Until 14 years ago we were the only shelter serving our community. Now we have multiple “no-kill” or selective admission shelters, as well as foster groups and self-appointed rescuers, all involved in trying to find homes for pit bulls, as well as other animals.
Now slammed & damned
We would welcome the help, if it really was help. Instead, we are constantly bashed on social media for our non-placement policy pertaining to pit bulls. We work with 11 animal control departments through their police and sheriff’s departments, and see the reality daily of what these dogs, through no fault of their own, can do to other animals and people.
We have been branded as pit bull haters. One group proudly painted their foreheads with “MARL Kills” last year at their annual public fundraiser in a local park.
I have seen our staff bonding with dogs we have had to hold for court, having private walks with them to say goodbye before they were euthanized, passing out hamburgers and chicken nuggets and yes, sometimes crying over some of the pits we euthanize.
Family pit bull nearly decapitated child
One self-appointed rescuer even posted on her page that a “pet” pit bull had never killed a person. She should have worked the case one of our area sheriff’s departments worked, in which the family pit bull almost decapitated a 7-year-old girl as she played in the snow.
We held the dog; I saw the pictures.
We also worked a case where several pit bulls managed to break through a man’s back door, going after him and his 4-year-old granddaughter. The pit bull chased them to a back bedroom to attack them, with the child ultimately being disfigured and losing an eye. She required multiple surgeries before leaving the hospital, and will require many more before adulthood to build and expand her eye socket to handle artificial eye replacement every few years.
Believe it or not, her grandfather hid several of his favorite pit bulls when the sheriff called us to come pick up the eight pit bulls on the property. The sheriff managed to locate the dogs he had left with someone else, and we recovered them as well. His granddaughter almost died, and is scarred for life…..what is wrong with these people?
“Yes, we fall in love with some of these dogs”
Yes, we fall in love with some of these big, goofy, funny dogs when they come through our shelter, but we know what they can do.
There is no way to predict when, and if one day, one action will change them from a sweet dog to a raging, unstoppable force that cannot be controlled.
How do we even think of making that choice, of taking that chance with the life of a human or an innocent animal?
How can some people be so smart, yet so stupid as not to understand basic genetics known to every dog breeder for generations?
We can best help pit bulls with low-cost & even free s/n
For our part, we feel we can best help pit bulls by offering low-cost spay/neuter, and when necessary, free spay or neuter for pit bulls.
I am sure you would not be surprised to know how many people refuse to have their pit bulls spayed or neutered, even if we waive their fines or sheltering costs when they come to pick up dogs seized by animal control.
Pit bulls are great dogs until the minute they are not, and then it is too late to undo the catastrophic harm that so often results.
Thank you again, Deborah Turner!
Thank you again, Deborah Turner, for speaking up. Sometimes I feel common sense has gone out the window and money has become more important to many so-called animal advocates than animal welfare itself.
We have been so disappointed in so many big names in recent years. Your voice on this matter helps me remember that what we do at our shelter is the right thing, and that I am not “behind the times.”
In the South pit bulls are so sadly abused, kept on chains, with inadequate shelter, have become the status symbol for tough guys, and suffer abuse at an alarming rate.
How anyone can think this is better than humane euthanasia is beyond me.
Deb Turner says
Thank you! Thank you for having the courage to speak up!
So many I know feel the same way and have had similar thoughts and stories, but not very many are willing to voice it.
Thank you for also speaking out. It’s refreshing to see shelter people being truthful. I just wish there was more of us.
After over a decade working at the NHSPCA and seeing pit bulls do crazy things, I left and spoke out against the breed as well. Needless to say most of my shelter worker friends are no longer friends, calling me a traitor to their cause. They’re the real traitors. Every single time a pit bull kills an innocent person or animal, I’m reminded that they are the actual traitors.
Animal advocates who only advocate for one breed of animal while turning a blind eye to the death and destruction they are causing daily are not true to their calling or their cause. I couldn’t do it anymore and I will never stop speaking out against the mayhem of this murderous breed. If they could only stop the killing, I’d stop calling them killers. But they won’t because they can’t. When you place an animal that kills, then gets killed itself, you actually have a negative save rate. That point is entirely lost on them.
INDEED. Sharing with gratitude and eternal hope for that elusive “common sense” on socials.
Bob Baker says
Dear Debra Boswell,
So glad to learn that you are still advocating and working for the animals. Thanks for all of your tireless efforts over the years. I am privileged to know you and to have worked with you, even though just briefly, many years ago.
Debra Boswell says
Bob so good to hear from you. Yes it has been many years ago. I remember when we waited all through the night at a rural sheriff’s office and jail using it as a staging area while we waited to raid a dog fighting operation in a neighboring county. You have been a great advocate for animals and a good teacher. While there have been many changes in Mississippi, there are still many changes needed. I often wonder where some of the fine animal welfare people I knew years ago where now and what they are doing. The early years…they were good times. Thank you for your comments old friend.
Annoula Wylderich says
Thank you for this. I’ve been doing my research and I agree. I also feel sorry for these dogs for the way they’re so often abused and mistreated. The only answer is to s/n and curtail further breeding. I’m an advocate who loves all animals, but that doesn’t mean we must throw fact and common sense out the window.
Debra Boswell says
Thank you Beth and Merritt. We wonder daily where common sense has gone. Our agency and me personally are bashed almost daily. I don’t know how anyone can look at the pictures of the victims and not see the potential. We counsel people and families weekly about the problems with pits. We are completely up front when owners are turning them in to our shelter that we will euthanize. They have often already bee to the local “no-kill” or selective admission shelters. We encourage them to stay with their dog and give them comfort during the process. We have a private euthanasia room at our shelter, The Rainbow Room for owners to stay with their pets. Some understand and some do not. I appreciate your stand on the issue and we refer people to your page all the time to educate themselves about pits. Some people have even accused us of making these stories up so we can have an excuse the euthanize the dogs. Thank you so much for all you do for all animals but especially for being so supportive of shelters who have to deal with this issue.