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LTM Editorial: Pit bulls in the news

Ten dogs were taken into custody Sept. 10 on the Dulles Greenway because they were allegedly being transferred from another state without a veterinary inspection.

It’s just one type of incident handled by Loudoun County Animal Control.

What’s notable is that each of the dogs was a pit bull or pit bull mix. Once regarded as “America’s Dog,” the breed has fallen into disrepute after the publicizing of dog attacks and their use in illegal dog fighting.

In Loudoun, it is illegal for the Animal Shelter or Animal Control to allow the adoption of pit bulls in their custody. This rule led to stray pit bulls being put down rather than being put up for adoption.

The most publicized and unfortunate incident came in 2007 when a female stray pit bull was put down along with her newly born puppies.

The policy was upheld in 2009, despite an advisory opinion from then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell recommending against exemptions from adoption based on breed.

We tend to agree with those opponents of the policy. While we remain unsettled by those stories of pit bull attacks, no pet adoption can occur without a behavioral test which should weed out troubled dogs that are a danger to the community.

There have been no notable challenges or arguments against their behavioral tests being used to determine a dog’s suitability for being adopted.

However, the 10 dogs taken into custody by Animal Control recently will see another option if the court decides to take custody away from the men transporting them.

After the controversy over the county policy, Animal Control began working with several other jurisdictions, shelters and rescue organizations to find placement for pit bulls taken in at the Loudoun Animal Shelter.

And yes, these pit bulls do undergo a behavioral test before being transferred to these organizations – most of whom perform their own tests before putting them up for adoption.

While the shelter cannot allow adoptions for pit bulls, it can transfer them to organizations that do allow for these adoptions, according to Animal Services Director Thomas Koenig.

It’s a common sense solution than Animal Services should be recognized for. But with it in place, perhaps it’s time for the Loudoun County policy on the adoption of pit bulls be abandoned in favor of one that simply requires continued use of the (already stringent) behavioral testing.

And while thinking about the issue, also consider adopting one of the furry friends already inhabiting the Loudoun County Animal Shelter.

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