SPCA puts pit bulls up for adoption
The SPCA has reversed a long-standing policy to automatically put down pit bull dogs.
Homeless pit bulls Blue and Riggs have been listed for adoption at SPCA Auckland, marking a policy change by the animal welfare group.
Until now dogs classified as menacing breeds that came into the SPCA in Mangere were euthanased immediately.
Dogs deemed menacing breeds according to the Dog Control Act are the Brazilian fila, Japanese tosa, dogo argentino, presa canario and the American pit bull terrier.
SPCA chief scientific officer Dr Arnja Dale says the society can no longer ethically keep automatically euthanising pit bulls.
Instead she says it will "judge the dog as an individual, not based on breed".
"Breed alone is not an indicator as to whether a dog will bite, breeds such as chihuahua and shepherds actually have higher prevalence of biting," she says.
"We just could not, hand-on-heart, say that euthanising dogs based on breed was the right thing to do."
The two pit bulls now up for adoption have both been vet-checked and passed the standard assessment.
In making an assessment on the safety of menacing breed dogs from now on, SPCA staff will find out as much information about the animal's history as possible, Dale says.
The animal's past treatment by owners, such as whether it had been abused or neglected, will be a key factor.
The dogs will go through a formal behavioural assessment based on the American SPCA's protocols.
SPCA Auckland chief executive Andrea Midgen acknowledged the listing of Blue and Riggs was a milestone for the society.
"I've asked around and nobody here can remember the last time a pit bull was put up for adoption," she says.
Riggs was brought to the society's Animal Village in Mangere by a member of the public after being hit by a car.
Blue ended up there because his previous owners, who were renting, were not allowed to keep him.
Both dogs' adoption listings describe them as affectionate, loyal pups who need a calm, confident owner.
Under New Zealand law it remains illegal to import a listed menacing breed and those in the country must be muzzled in public places and neutered.