By Wayne Pacelle
Yesterday, we carried out the public launch for our End Dogfighting Philadelphia program.
It’s a program that employs community organizers to identify kids involved in dogfighting or at-risk for involvement, turns them on to a positive way of thinking about animals, and pulls them into a program of pit bull training that opens up a new world for them. In the program, they work with our professional dog trainers and learn to value the physicality of the dogs differently, and they can treat the dogs as loving companions and not as fighting machines. Our community organizers and trainers work at both ends of the leash — offering a better outcome for both people and dogs by strengthening the bond of compassion between them.
It’s now our third city for this pioneering anti-dogfighting program, and we introduced the players and the program yesterday at the Hunting Park Recreation Center in North Philadelphia. For anyone that gets involved in the sordid enterprise of dogfighting, the only outcomes are bad. For the dogs, it’s injuries and death. For the people involved, it’s incarceration, occasional violence, and a deadening of their spirit and a loss of empathy.
The highlight of yesterday’s event for me was getting a chance to hold Yukon Cornelius, who has been getting tender love and training from the folks the Animal Farm Foundation, after The HSUS rescued him from a suspected dogfighting operation a few months ago in rural Ohio. He’s enjoying his new life, and a more gentle and loving creature you’ll not find. Yukon is a symbol of the redemption, growth and opportunity that is at the center of this program.
The HSUS attacks animal fighting from every angle, and our program on the streets is one of the most important of our current approaches to preventing cruelty and to saving the lives of dogs and men. It’s the primary mission of HSUS not only to intervene when cruelty is taking place, but to prevent cruelty from happening in the first place, and that’s why our End Dogfighting program is so important. Here’s a write-up in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer. We’re grateful to our friends at Animal Farm Foundation for their support, and to the Pennsylvania SPCA for its participation and its strong enforcement work against animal fighting.
P.S. You can also check out this story about how a local high school student, Morgan McCafferty, is lending a hand to our End Dogfighting Philadelphia program.