Eight of 10 pit bulls seized in NL raid are spared

One of 10 pit bulls that were seized in a drug raid and then held at the New London Animal Shelter.  Two of the animals were euthanized and eight were adopted.
One of 10 pit bulls that were seized in a drug raid and then held at the New London Animal Shelter. Two of the animals were euthanized and eight were adopted.

New London - The outcry from local dog activists over the fate of 10 pit bulls seized in an October drug raid resulted in the city saving eight of those dogs and pledging to review its policy on euthanizing animals.

Mayor Rob Pero said Friday the city did all it could for the 10 pit bulls. Two of the dogs were determined by animal rescue groups to be unable to be rehabilitated or adopted and were euthanized, Pero said.

Four dogs went to the Connecticut Humane Society and four were taken by the Simon Foundation Inc. of Bethelehem and Bloomfield, which adopts and places dogs and cats, he said.

The dogs have "been putting a strain on the pound in terms of space and the ability to bring in other dogs," Pero said.

Word that most of the dogs were saved was good news to local animal groups.

"I feel really good about it. I feel like we accomplished what we set out to do," said Chris Lamb, founder of Connecticut Animal House, which helps raise money for animal shelters. "We wanted them to get a fair shake because that breed of dog gets a bad rap."

Animal groups became concerned when word spread that the dogs were going to be put down. They called local politicians, who intervened.

The dogs, which were kept in a basement, were discovered during an October drug raid on a house on Alger Street where police found drugs and firearms. The owner of the pit bulls is in federal custody, said Police Chief Margaret Ackley, but signed over the dogs to the city.

The dogs were not vaccinated, some were sick and some aggressive, she said.

It had been the police department's policy, based on recommendations made more than 10 years ago by the City Council, not to send pit bulls or Rottweilers recovered by the animal control officer out for adoption. At the time the policy was enacted, a woman had recently died and another person suffered serious injuries after being attacked by pit bulls, Ackley said.

The city's policy is to return all dogs to their owners and try to find homes for any that are unclaimed. Under state statutes, the city's animal control officer determines whether a dog is safe to be adopted.

If a dog can be saved, it is generally transferred to a third-party agency that handles the adoption, Ackley said.

On Tuesday, the City Council agreed to review its policy on when dogs should be euthanized, and Pero said Friday the city will adopt a written policy on the handling of seized dogs.

The issue has also raised concerns beyond New London.

State Rep. Diana Urban, D-North Stonington, said she was going to work at the state level on legislation concerning the issue.

"I am going to take it to the next level. New York and New Jersey both have legislation prohibiting anything, any law that is breed-specific," she said.

Urban said she also received calls concerning the pit bulls being put down and was happy with the eventual outcome.

"I really think this outcome is a good one," she said. It's "incredibly heartening, the people who came together."

m.naughton@theday.com

Day staff writers Kathleen Edgecomb and Lisa McGinley contributed to this report.

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