It’s good to be a pittie in Music City! That’s because Metro Animal Care and Control (MACC) just reversed a long-standing policy that will now give pit bulls a new chance at life and love.
Although Davidson County does not have any type of breed-specific legislation, its animal control shelter has long refused to adopt pit bull type dogs to the public, with the Metro Health Department citing safety reasons. Considering that the shelter euthanizes about 76% of the animals they take in, many in our animal welfare community found that policy to be unacceptable, which is one reason why a group of local advocates decided to form Concerned Citizens to Reform MACC.
The group launched a petition on change.org asking the shelter to take positive steps toward saving more lives—steps that would not cost any additional funding, such as working with local rescue groups, fine-tuning a volunteer program and giving pit bull breeds the same opportunity for adoption as other dogs.
The petition, which gathered more than 10,000 signatures, no doubt played a major role in MACC’s recent policy revision. On May 8, Metro Health Department Director Dr. Bill Paul announced at a Metro Animal Care and Control advisory council meeting that rather than facing certain euthanasia at the shelter, pit bull type dogs will now be individually screened to determine adoption eligibility. As Health Department spokesman Brian Todd told The Tennessean, “MACC has considered this policy for several months and recently decided that a change is needed to focus more on an individual dog’s behavior instead of its specific breed.”
MACC director Judy Ladebauche says, "We are all very excited over here that these changes have been made to our adoption policy and that every animal will now have a chance at adoption regardless of breed. Now we just need wonderful families to step up ready to adopt them."
Pit bull puppies under six months old will be available for adoption as of June 1, 2013, while pit bulls older than six months and that pass a health and behavioral screening with no signs or history of aggression will be eligible for adoption by September 2013. In the meantime, MACC staff will undergo a special behavioral assessment training through the American Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The program, known as SAFER Aggression Assessment, is a nationally recognized, consistent method for evaluating the probability of canine aggression in individual dogs and is widely used by many animal shelters and animal control facilities. The training certification will help ensure that dogs are screened correctly and in a consistent and accurate manner.
To further build on these positive efforts, MACC is also strengthening their existing volunteer program at the shelter. Ladebauche says that while the shelter has always utilized volunteers, MACC will now host quarterly volunteer orientation sessions in order to recruit and train new help. "We especially have a need for great cat volunteers," she says. "For the cats at the shelter, it's a long and lonely day. We need cat lovers willing to sit with the cats and socialize them and offer them love and attention--and then we need more families willing to come adopt a cat for life." According to Ladebauche, dog adoptions outnumber cat adoptions 4 to 1.
If you would like to show your appreciation to MACC for the positive changes for the animals, consider becoming a volunteer today. Click here to download the volunteer application from the MACC website.
And if you would like to adopt a forever pet for your family, please visit MACC at 5125 Harding Place to find your furry friend--whether he be a cat, a beagle or a pit bull.