Cautious Optimism About HSUS New Policy

The response to the statement on dogs seized as a part of dog fighting cases released by HSUS and Best Friends has been overwhelming positive yet cautious. While some have long ago written off the HSUS as “non-savable” others have continued to hold out hope that HSUS will use its wealth, size and influence to take a leadership role on the issue. 

It’s important to note that this statement is not a policy. In order for change to happen - and stick - in an organization of any size, a policy has to be written that covers the issue from A to Z. Additionally the people in key positions relating to the implementation of that policy must be wholly on board, able to defend and explain the policy when it comes up. Such as in a court room in front of a judge. 

This is where some of the caution comes in and it’s coming from across the world of animal advocacy, from dog lovers to animal rights activists. Some of the comments and observations include:

  • “We’re all watching to see what happens with the next fight bust dogs.” (PetConnection comment)
  • “Is John Godwin going to toe the line and start saying “oh no, the dogs are NOT natural born killers, we were just kidding about that? Assuming he actually believed what he was spouting, might he just have to experience a bit of… cognitive dissonance?”  (PetConnection comment)
  • “Can the HSUS effectively implement the new policy with people like these working with law enforcement and testifying in court? It seems unlikely to me.” (YesBiscuit!)
  • “That’s progress.  It is still concerning that the nation’s largest and richest animal advocacy group had to be pushed by the general public and other organizations to change a policy that declared that all of these dogs had to be killed even without an evaluation.” (KC Dog Blog)
  • “How can they one day believe these dogs are born irredeemable monsters and suddenly the next recognize that they’re just dogs and deserve a fair shake like any other dog?” (Underdogged)
  • “But the simple truth is that just hoping it means what so many of us want it to mean and celebrating the assumption that the vague, not-easily-reached agreement will mean major changes without real proof or assurances that it will might make us feel better, but it won’t help the dogs.” (Animal Rights @
  • “We’ll see if they practice what they preach here.” (Best Friends comment)
  • “I remain skeptical–I’ll believe it when I see it. HSUS has told so many lies about bust dogs.” (Facebook comment)
  • (S)tarting with evals is a start! hurmmm.. (Facebook comment)
  • “Forgive me if I refrain from doing cartwheels across the lawn, Wayne. Not while “animal protection” for pit bulls remains exponentially missing in action and HSUS’s Dogfight Czars remain on the job.” (Blue Dog State)
  •  (I)’d like to hear more about these agreed upon standards for evaluations. (I) also hope that HSUS isn’t the only organization doing the evals… (Facebook comment)

To repeat: what was released was a statement, not a policy. 

We have started with the idea that each animal needs to be treated as an individual and blanket policies of extermination are wrong. Next there needs to be a road map, a game plan, a play book, real policy on what to do when and how. How will the policy evolve? Who will be involved in creating this policy? 

Those questions will soon be answered if HSUS follows through with the process.  

The world is watching and waiting.

Pit bulls, the victims … are saying thank you for taking the first step.

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