GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — A federal judge on Tuesday granted the Humane Society of Kent County custody of 11 pit bulls seized in a dogfighting bust, a ruling expected to make the animals eligible for adoption.
The decision, handed down by U.S. District Judge David Lawson in Detroit, ends the U.S. attorney’s office bid to euthanize the dogs, which were seized last summer after agents broke up a dogfighting ring in eastern Michigan.
The Humane Society filed an affidavit in February saying it disagreed with the federal government’s claim that Michigan law bars the dogs from being adopted.
More than 40 dogs were apprehended in the raid and moved to shelters in Kent, Ingham and Lenawee counties. Lawson’s ruling doesn’t extend to two “champion fighting dogs,” which were captured in the raid and currently are housed at the Humane Society of Kent County.
It could take a couple weeks before the 11 pit bulls are eligible for adoption, said Karen Terpstra, the society’s executive director.
“We will definitely be more stringent in our adoption policy for these dogs,” she said, noting they will be looking for owners familiar with the breed.
The U.S. Agriculture Department, which investigated the dogfighting case, said the dogs are highly susceptible to disease and defects because of how they were bred.