Pima County Animal Care officials announced last week that scores of dogs culled from a high-profile animal breeding and fighting investigation had been cleared for termination.
Even as the cases wind a path through the justice system, last Thursday marked the end of the road for 94 pit bulls seized in a series of west-side busts in February. Sheriff’s officials say the raids shut down two fight-dog breeding and training operations.
But while animal care officials can celebrate the closure of the suspected dog-fighting ventures, there’s no joy for the county workers tasked to euthanize the dogs.
“It’s a sad day for us here,” said Vicky Duraine with Pima County Animal Care Center.
The county made attempts to find suitable homes for the dogs with pit bull rescue organizations and other groups with expertise in rehabilitating dogs bred for fighting, but in the end homes were found for just 15 of the more than 100 seized dogs.
Bad Rap, a California-based pit bull rescue group, took six of the dogs. Another five the Humane Society of Southern Arizona took. Diane Jessup took the remaining four pit bulls.
Jessup heads an Olympia, Wash., group called Law Dogs. A known expert in the breed, Jessup takes pit bulls rescued from breeding and fighting operations and finds homes for them with law enforcement agencies.
According to Jessup, the breed is well-suited for drug, bomb, arson and cadaver sniffing work.
Housing the animals has cost the county more than $1,000 a day since February, when sheriff’s deputies raided the two suspected breeding operations.
In addition to the 94 dogs put down last week, Duraine said seven animals had been previously euthanized because of illness and overly aggressive behavior toward other dogs.
“A greater tragedy in our community is the tragedy that we’re putting down 120 or so dogs a week,” Duraine said.
Because the county does not have crematory facilities or animal burial grounds, the destroyed animals are put to rest in city dumps.