If you’re not involved in rescue, its difficult for me to adequately convey the number of emails I receive on a daily basis of dogs in need of a safe haven, a guardian angel, or just a second chance. Over the years, I have seen literally thousands of beautiful, adoptable dogs with eyes that speak of unknown heartbreak and loss. Dogs that have been cast aside when the newness of being a puppy was long gone, when the owner “didn’t have time” anymore, or the dog was simply abandoned, thrown away like they were an object with no value whatsoever. Despite the number of sweet, innocent faces and stories I see and read, I am always touched in one way or another. But there are certain dogs who really tug at your heart. This is about one of those dogs.
Like everyone else, I first became aware of Ace’s situation last week via an e-mail asking for a rescue to help him. This neglected and defeated little dog wandered into an Ace Hardware store in Detroit, Michigan. I can’t forget that first picture…not the one that’s being shown on the news, but the one of him sitting huddled in a corner, hunched over, head nearly touching the ground. A dog in such need of human kindness, yet obviously not familiar with what kindness was. A rescuer heard Ace’s cry for help and tried to answer it, only to arrive at the hardware store to find animal control answered first.
In some places, a pit bull being picked up by animal control is sometimes a blessing – an escape from a horrible situation. Shelters like Young-Williams in Knoxville and the Cookeville/Putnam County Animal Shelter in Cookeville, are very pit bull friendly. They judge dogs for what they are – not for what they look like. They make no assumptions, and each and every dog, regardless of breed or appearance, is given a fair shot at finding a good home. But that wasn’t the case for Ace. Ace lived in Detroit where once picked up by animal control, a pit bull can only be released to his or her owner – they are not released to rescue or adopted out.
Being picked up by animal control could have been the opportunity for a little dog that obviously had not lived “a dog’s life,” to start over. Several rescues and organizations rallied and pled for the life of this defeated stray dog. The city council, as well as a municipal judge, were struck so deeply by the voice given to Ace via his supporters, that they made decisions that would have allowed Ace more time and a second chance. A chance to find a rescue, a home, a future…a happy ending.
But Ace didn’t get that happy ending.
Ace was euthanized, despite an overwhelming number of pleas for his life from the animal welfare community, as well as a court injunction. Ace was denied a happy ending because he was labeled a “pit bull,” which is a death sentence for any “pit bull-type” dog in the custody of Detroit’s animal control department. Like the majority of pit bulls that have gone and will certainly continue to find themselves in the custody of animal control there, Ace did nothing wrong except have a certain physical appearance.
Ace deserved to be judged as an individual. He didn’t deserve to die at the hands of a system even crueler than the person who discarded him on the streets of Detroit. No dog deserves a death sentence based solely on his or her physical appearance.
Ace’s death, while inexcusable and disgraceful, doesn’t have to be in vain. The people of Detroit need to use the momentum and inspiration of that precious little dog to forge change for the dogs that will be undoubtedly be thrown into the heartless system in Detroit in the future. Please let your public officials know that this is simply not acceptable. All dogs deserve the benefit of the doubt and to be judged on their own merits. They deserve the chance to know love, human kindness, and compassion – the breed of the dog shouldn’t be a determining factor of whether or not he lives or dies.
There was no justice for Ace, but that can and should be changed for all those who will follow in his footsteps.