Concerns arise over lack of laws required at NY shelters to reveal dog bite history to adopters
North Shore Animal League America has been accused of putting dangerous dogs up for adoption without disclosing their biting histories. Some say a new law should be passed to make the practice illegal.
Two former employees tell News 12 the shelter often operated like a revolving door -- taking animals that previously attacked their owners -- and repeatedly passing them off as "sweet," "loyal," and "friendly."
As of now, there are no laws in New York that require shelters to tell adopters about a dog's biting history, and there aren't any bills in the works, either.
Virginia was the first state in the country to pass such a law and that happened just two years ago. Patti Strand with the National Animal Interest Alliance helped spearhead that Virginia law.
Speaking to News 12 via Skype, she says similar measures should be passed across the country.
"Until the shelters and the rescues are held legally responsible, until they are accountable for the dogs they adopt out and the behavior they express and the fact that they knew this dog had a history of aggression, I think it's going to go on," says Strand.
Nassau SPCA Detective Gary Rogers says nothing has been done here because politicians typically react to tragedies, rather than anticipate potential problems.
In fact, the law in Virginia was passed only after an elderly woman was killed by a dog she adopted.
In a statement, the North Shore Animal League denied that bite histories are ever hidden.
"Dogs with a known bite history are monitored and receive behavior modification from our Pet Behavior Team... the dog's full behavior history is disclosed and reviewed -- verbally and in a written document -- with the potential adopter," the shelter said.
The shelter also says that in 2019 it "...celebrated 75 years of Rescue, Nurture and the adoption of over one million homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens."
Strand and Rogers say the focus instead should be on making sure each animal is safely placed in a home that's right for them.
"It's not about numbers. It's about having good adoptions and placing them in the proper environment," says Rogers.
Former North Shore Animal League employee Gia Savocchi says, "We need to have a mandatory law in New York State or federally that says animal shelters and private organizations must disclose all dog bites. These are dogs that if they get loose, they can attack a person, they can kill a child, they can kill another dog."
According to Gary Rogers with the Nassau SPCA, Long Island's town shelters are typically forthcoming about dogs' biting histories and in some cases will not put an animal up for adoption if it has a dangerous past.