Pit bull escape, capture a tale of tragedy

Four pit bulls allegedly being raised for the “blood sport” of boar hunting in the Southeast ended at an animal shelter last month in Coupeville after getting loose from their kennels.

Since then, two of the animals have been euthanized for displaying extreme aggression toward other dogs, while another will soon be euthanized after biting a shelter volunteer Wednesday. The fourth dog, a female, is shy and frightened, and shows no signs of aggression, according to the shelter manager.

“She’s too frightened to walk and actually crouches down and tries to walk. We carry her much of the time,” said Shari Bibich, manager of the Whidbey Animal Improvement Foundation. Bibich say shelter volunteers have named her “Poupon.”

Several weeks after the dogs arrival at the shelter March 5, two apparent litter mates had to be put down after what Bibich described as a “horrendous dog fight with blood everywhere.” The fight occurred on March 26. The two dogs, a male and female, housed together in one kennel fought with each other. A third one will be euthanized later this month — following a 10 day rabies quarantine — after biting a volunteer’s hand this week through the kennel.

The owner of the dogs, Maurice Pearson, told Bibich during several telephone conversations the animals were separated from their litter at three months and isolated for aggressive behavior training so they would be good hunters. Pearson, Bibich said, told her the dogs were due to be shipped to a training camp for further training in North Carolina. Bibich said she noticed scars on the dogs’ hindquarters and that their hind legs seemed to be atrophied. Upon seeing the scars, Bibich said she questions whether or not they were actually used for dog fighting.

On March 5, a Clinton woman reported seeing the four pitt bulls in her yard at 11 a.m on South Coles Road. Carol Barnes, Island County’s animal control officer, and Island County deputies drove to the scene when the woman called 911. The caller told deputies that at first the dogs were playful and inquisitive. Still, she locked her own dogs in her horse trailer to be on the safe side.

Her caution may have been well founded. At one point, three of the four pitt bulls turned on the fourth, a female. The witness said her son broke up the fight.

Deputy Rick Felicia said he helped Barnes round up the dogs to take them to WAIF shelter in Coupeville. Felicia said they were not fighting when he arrived.

“We chased them around the neighborhood, then gave them to the animal control officer,” he said. “They were actually timid with us.”

According to Barnes, the dogs were under the care of a Clinton woman who was charged with violating of the county’s leash law, a misdemeanor. Charged was Judith Weston, who pled not guilty in Island County District Court Wednesday.

Because neither Pearson nor Weston provided no proof of ownership of the dogs, the animals were surrendered to WAIF. The shelter requires proof of ownership before dogs can be returned to an owner.

Carol Barnes said she visited the Weston home and found three more pitt bulls thought to belong to Pearson — two females and one male — all in separate kennels, all of adequate size and protected from the weather. Barnes said the male dog was on a heavy chain in the kennel. Barnes said she was told by Weston the three remaining pit bulls also belonged to Pearson. She was told the females were relocated off the island during the first week in April and the male would pit bull was also scheduled to be relocated this weekend.

Barnes said the puppies she and the county deputies picked up were likely not treated properly.

“Based on what we’ve seen the four young dogs we picked up were not humanely trained or socialized and have suffered as a result of the actions of the owner,” Barnes said.

The fourth dog will be kept at the shelter and evaluated for possible adoption.

“We will work with her before we make a decision concerning adoption,” said WAIF’s Bibich. “Ultimately with any adoption, I ask myself, would I want that dog living next door.”

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