Group seeks to save dogs taken in dogfighting bust

By Ed White

Associated Press Writer

DETROIT (AP) -- An animal welfare group has asked a judge to stop the government from euthanizing 13 dogs seized in a dogfighting bust and grant it ownership of them.

The Humane Society of Kent County, in western Michigan, filed an affidavit last Friday saying it disagrees with the federal government's claim that Michigan law bars the pit bulls from being adopted.

The government has been paying the group to take care of the animals, some of them puppies, since agents broke up a dogfighting ring in eastern Michigan last summer and seized more than 40 dogs.

Even if granted ownership, the humane society said it can't guarantee that some dogs would avoid death because of behavior or other issues. But it wants an opportunity to try to place them with responsible people.

The U.S. attorney's office is seeking a judge's approval to euthanize the dogs at the Kent County shelter, as well as shelters in Ingham and Lenawee counties. A hearing set for Tuesday in federal court in Detroit has been postponed until March 3.

The government believes Michigan law prevents people from adopting animals used for fighting, even offspring who didn't fight. There are approximately two dozen dogs remaining in the case. Some have died.

The U.S. Agriculture Department, which investigated the dogfighting case, said the dogs are highly susceptible to disease and defects because of how they were bred.

In the affidavit, the Kent County group included a statement by Eileen Liska-Stronczer of Holly, a lobbyist in the 1980s and 1990s, who said changes to the Michigan dogfighting law were not intended to lead to death for all animals.

"We deliberately created language that clearly allowed dogs who were not deemed dangerous to be housed, fostered and/or adopted into new homes," Liska-Stronczer said.

Published: Wed, Feb 17, 2010