Thursday, December 31, 2009

Scott dogs in AC custody will be evaluated

Pit bull advocates such as myself have been lobbying the Dona Ana County Animal Control's leadership for a fair assessment of the Scott dogs the brothers did not claim before a final determination is made about their disposition. It looks like our voices were heard because the supervisor assured us that a search is on right now for a qualified behaviorist to come evaluate the dogs. Any deemed adoptable will be placed in homes; any deemed worthy and capable of rehabilitation may go to rescues capable of handling that challenge; and any deemed vicious or severely aggressive to either humans or other dogs may still be euthanized. Already, some rescues have stepped up to the plate and agreed to take the dogs in; some individuals have also stepped up to offer donations of resources toward the rescue and rehabilitation of these remaining dogs.

Overall, this is a step in the progressive direction for the AC department, and let's be honest, it's the least they can do for these 5 to 7 dogs that remain in their custody and care. If some of these can be saved, it may not make up for the 50 other dogs that either did not make it through the system or those that were recently returned to their former abusers, but it will be a better ending to this horrible story than if they are all systematically put down without a fair, independent assessment.

First, there is one hurdle that needs to be crossed. The AC department has to go before the judge in this case to ask for the assessment to be allowed for the dogs. In many dogfighting cases, it is the judges that call for the complete extermination of all the surviving animals.

Let's hope for the best in this case. Let's hope the dogs get the fair chance they and all victims of abuse deserve at a second chance at life -- a good life free of neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, we all fear the fates of the dogs returned to the Scott brothers, and there isn't anything any of us can do to legally help those dogs.

I was reading the statement of arrest for this case from its beginning in 2007; it is available via this link: For a listing of all the counts of animal cruelty charged in this case, see this link:

Though I agree that in our country we are all innocent until proven guilty in a court of law by a jury of our peers, many an innocent man has been convicted and then later found innocent; many a man has been put to death by capital punishment for crimes they didn't commit; and alternately, many a guilty man has gotten off on a technicality or because they can afford a Dream Team of lawyers for a top-notch defense. The color of justice is--for the most part--green.

When you read the details of this case and the amount of eyewitness testimony as well as physical evidence pointing to the severe neglect, starvation, and abuse the dogs suffered while the brothers had them on their properties in El Paso and Chaparral, there is no doubt how much they suffered and how much more they will suffer now. You can also see the brothers have been covering up their deeds with this story of being show dog breeders and kennel operators for a long time as well.

In my mind and heart, there is also little doubt the dogs were abused and used for dogfighting out rightly and bred to be sold to dog fighters in other areas. Then, after being rescued from this horrible life, the dogs went on to suffer more in the animal-welfare system itself in the intense confinement they lived in as "evidentiary items". Nearly three years later, and most of these dogs were returned to the very beginning of their hell, while just a few await their fates at the hands of our justice system. It seems only those that did not survive in the system--those that died from disease or who were put down accidentally, etc.--may have escaped with the least harm done overall.

That the brothers were not found guilty in the eyes of our justice system does not negate nor erase the suffering of the victims in this case. Nevertheless, I always hope that people can change and know they sometimes do. Sometimes, they learn their lessons. All I can personally hope for is that these men have changed for the better and are doing right by the dogs they took back and are finding them proper, safe placement instead of more suffering or harm. I can't say my faith in this is strong, but I can hope for the dogs' sake and for my sake, too -- so that I can get some sleep at night thinking that maybe their suffering will end and be replaced with some peace and doggy happiness.

On that note, I wish all of you a safe, peaceful, and happy new year!