Wednesday, April 8, marks the ASPCA’s second annual National Dog Fighting Awareness Day (NDFAD), and this year we are working harder than ever to spread awareness about this brutal form of animal cruelty. Read on to see how ASPCA staffers and supporters are lending their voice to this important cause, and find out how you can get involved, too!
At the ASPCA offices in New York City, staff members vowed to “Get Tough” on dog fighting by posing for photos with pit bulls and sharing them on social media using the hashtag #GetTough.
Luckily, you don’t have to be an ASPCA staffer or a professional wrestler to take part in National Dog Fighting Awareness Day. Here are three ways you can support NDFAD:
Get Tough. To join our #GetTough movement, simply take a selfie with one of our free, downloadable #GetTough posters and sharables, then post it to social media using the hashtag #GetTough.
Take Action. Sign our petition to tell the Department of Justice (DoJ) that you want to see more federal dog fighting prosecutions.
Donate. Support our work to defeat dog fighting by making a gift to the ASPCA today.
Animals around the country are counting on your compassion, your outrage and your willingness to stop their suffering. By taking one (or more!) of the actions listed above, you’ll be joining a growing group of animal-lovers who are dedicated to putting an end to this nightmare. Thank you for your voice!
"Growing up, my family and I lived in very poor, very dangerous areas and dog fighting was prevalent,” AJ says. “My dad, who has the biggest heart in the world, would open our home to pit bulls that had been rescued from fighting. We fostered four, and kept them until we could find new homes for them."
The fifth dog AJ’s family rescued was a puppy who was being bred for fighting. "We ended up keeping him, named him Mugsy, and he was a part of our family for an amazing 16 years,” she says. Mugsy’s sweet nature inspired AJ’s lifelong commitment to rescue dogs as well as her love of pit bulls. “I've never been more in love with a dog, he was so sweet and kind, loved small dogs, and cuddled like he was Chihuahua."
Alongside passionate animal supporters like AJ, we’re working to eradicate dog fighting by advocating for stronger laws and harsher sentencing for those who fight dogs and by assisting with raids and rescues. But we can’t do it alone.
In honor of National Dog Fighting Awareness Day on April 8, we are bringing you the inspiring story of a black Lab who was rescued from this horrific form of cruelty—and who went on to become a beloved family pet.
Nancy and Rick C. were making dinner plans one November evening in 2013 when they got a phone call from Charleston Animal Society (CAS).
“They asked if we’d be willing to foster a dog seized in an animal-fighting case,” says Nancy. Without hesitation, they packed up Buddy, their three-year-old black Lab, and headed to the shelter for a meet-and-greet.
The dog, an 11-year-old male Labrador/Shepherd mix, was known only as No. 205. He took to the sweet-tempered Buddy instantly, so Nancy and Rick took both dogs to their favorite restaurant—one with a popular dog patio—and ordered a basket of sweet potato fries to share with their new foster.
Dog patios and sweet potato fries were a world away from the life No. 205 had previously known: living in a filthy, wire pen in the middle of a sun-baked yard where dogs were chained and trained to fight. When No. 205 was rescued, his fur was missing in patches and he tested positive for heartworm and tick-borne diseases. He was also underweight and had no access to fresh food or water. His silvery-gray muzzle made it clear that he’d spent most of his life trapped in that terrible place.
“His name is Silver, but I also call him Silver Bear,” Nancy says lovingly. After fostering Silver for nearly a year, she and Rick adopted him.
Though Silver seemed eager to forget his painful past, it was clear that the senior dog had been through a lot in the first decade of his life. “At times he would cower—like he had been kicked or mistreated, or grabbed by his collar—but he’s much more confident now,” says Rick, who takes Silver on long walks at a nearby park. Silver also enjoys the couple’s lake house a few hours away, where he chases ducks and revels in new smells, along with Buddy.
“His past is still with him,” says Nancy. “But the bottom line is we love him.”
Aldwin Roman, Director of Anti-Cruelty and Outreach for CAS, says that all 12 of the dogs transported by the ASPCA to CAS following the raid have been adopted—some, like Silver, by their foster families.
In the past two years, Silver has settled in to his happy new life. An oversized, stuffed red chair is his favorite spot for lounging, and he’s the only dog ever allowed to sleep on Rick and Nancy’s bed.
“He’ll lie in the sun sometimes, wander just a little in the backyard, and then come back inside,” Nancy says. Now weighing 60 lbs.—up from 45 when he was rescued—he gets a daily dose of fish oil to keep his silvery-black coat shiny.
“We are just so happy he found us; he’s brought us great joy,” Nancy says, adding that although the first part of Silver’s life was torturous, “We want his last years to be his best.”
The remaining defendants were sentenced for dog fighting offenses and ordered to pay restitutions totaling nearly $2 million to the ASPCA for the care of the dogs seized. The ASPCA is grateful to Assistant U.S. Attorney Clark Morris of the Office of the U.S. Attorney George L. Beck for prosecuting this case to the fullest extent of the law and ensuring that those responsible for the torture of hundreds of animals received due justice.
After more than a year of care from the ASPCA, hundreds of dogs seized during this case have finally moved on to the second chapters of their lives and are now living in loving homes. We hope that this historic case will send a message to those involved in dog fighting that these activities will not be tolerated in our community.
When an animal is rescued from cruelty, the road to recovery is not always easy. A dog or cat exposed to abuse wouldn’t be blamed for wanting to shut down and avoid the world, but more often than not, the animals we meet prove to have an unrivaled resilience—a strength and spirit that shines through despite the darkness of their past. We are inspired by these animals every day, and we are so proud to share their stories. Here is the Happy Tail of one such animal, a Pit Bull named Stella.
On July 31, 2014, the ASPCA and the NYPD joined forces to rescue 20 dogs from a dog fighting operation in Queens, New York. Multiple dogs, many of whom were emaciated, scarred, and wearing heavy chains, were found without access to food or water. A bloody treadmill, weighted harnesses, steroids, syringes and other dog fighting paraphernalia were also found on the property. Stella was one of the canine victims rescued that day.
After her rescue, Stella spent a month at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where she received immediate medical attention and an eventual spay surgery. After her recovery, she was transferred to the ASPCA Adoption Center to begin her search for a forever home. In early October, she hit the jackpot in the form of Katelyn E. and her boyfriend, Jesse.
Kate and Jesse had been talking about dog adoption for a while before they met Stella. Kate says, “We were looking forward to having a pet in our family—someone to always keep us company and brighten our day. We also knew that there are so many dogs in shelters looking for a home, so we definitely wanted to adopt!” They met a number of dogs at the Adoption Center, but Stella stood out as the perfect match.
“We knew Stella was the right dog for us after our first meeting,” Kate recalls. “Her tail was wagging and she was just happy to be able to play with her toys.” They adopted the 40-lb. pooch and brought her home that same day.
Though we were thrilled to see Stella find a forever home, we knew that her painful past was still a fresh memory. Fortunately, Kate and Jesse were eager and willing to put in the effort to help sweet Stella adjust. “When we first brought Stella home she was very shy and scared,” Kate recalls. Everything was new for Stella—she huddled in her crate and was fearful of the apartment’s stairs. For the first few days, Kate and Jesse carried her up all four flights. But once she realized that Kate and Jesse’s home was now her home, too, Stella transformed.
“After the first few nights, Stella was like a new dog,” says Kate. “She is so happy to be with her new family. Every day we wake up to her wagging her tail—she literally jumps into our laps and kisses our faces to say good morning.” Stella now handles the stairs with ease and eagerly awaits snuggle time with her family. “Every new experience is so exciting for her,” Kate marvels. “She loves getting new toys, bones, and lots of hugs. She is such a sweet dog, and by far the best decision we have made. We are extremely happy with Stella.”
After a lifetime of pain, Stella’s new home probably seemed too good to be true. But she eventually realized that it is in fact the opposite—it’s everything she has always deserved. We couldn’t be more grateful for her very happy ending.