When Vivian adopted Blue from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona (HSSA), she knew nothing of the horrors the nine-month-old pup had endured at the hands of dog fighters. One of 77 dogs rescued in a multi-state dog fighting raid in March 2013, Blue was chained to a stake in the ground, exposed and shivering in blizzard-like conditions, when the ASPCA rescued him. For today’s special video Happy Tail, we traveled to Tucson to catch up with Vivian and Blue.
Vivian W. grew up in New York with all kinds of pets: cats, birds, even rodents. But she never had a dog. When she moved to Arizona last year, she decided that pit bull adoption was at the top of her priority list. On her second day in Tucson, she adopted Blue.
“It was love at first sight,” says Vivian, recalling the moment she met Blue. After spotting his picture online, she was drawn to his striking blue eye (for which he is named), but knew nothing of his past. As she later came to learn, Blue was rescued by the ASPCA in a massive dog fighting raid. He was emaciated and weighed just 30 pounds when he first arrived at the shelter.
After his adoption, Blue settled in with Vivian quickly. He now devotes his time to the finer things in life: “He loves people, as well as car rides and his rope toy—that’s his favorite,” says Vivian. He is never far from her side, especially when she’s sleeping or cooking, and has even taken a liking to olives, which grow on the many trees that dot their property.
“He seems to have forgotten about everything that happened, which is more than we can really ask for,” she adds.
Blue’s happiness is a testament to his resilient spirit. In many ways, he represents the thousands of dogs who have been rescued from abuse and who refuse to be defined by their traumatic past. Blue never gave up, just as we will never give up our commitment to ending dog fighting. In fact, April 8 marked our first annual National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, a day created to spread knowledge and understanding of dog fighting and to encourage animal lovers to take action against this barbaric practice.
We believe that there will come a time when dog fighting is seen for what it really is: the shameful pastime of cowards. But until that day comes, we will continue to fight for the victims—for dogs like Blue—so that they never have to fight again.
Last August, the ASPCA played a major role in the second-largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history. The raid, which spanned Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, led to the rescue of hundreds of dogs ranging in age from several days to 10-12 years. At the time, we knew that these dogs would have long journeys ahead of them—many suffered physically and emotionally at the hands of their abusers. But they were survivors, and today, just in time for National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, six more of the sweet pups from that raid are ready for adoption.
The six dogs, all between the ages of 8 months and 1.5 years, spent the last seven months in a temporary shelter experiencing love and happiness for the very first time. Through daily enrichment, outdoor exercise, play sessions and behavioral training, they have been rehabilitated and are ready to find permanent, loving homes.
We are so thrilled for these pups—Evie, Charlie, Uno, Willie, Zayla and Rohan—but their story is a real reminder of why National Dog Fighting Awareness Day is necessary. We created NDFAD to increase understanding and awareness about dog fighting, and to encourage animal lovers across the country to take action against this brutal form of animal cruelty.
Just last week, authorities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, along with the ASPCA raided eight crime scenes, seizing 23 suspected fighting dogs. It’s a chilling and sad reminder of how prevalent dog fighting is in America today and a further indication of why it was necessary for us to declare April 8 National Dog Fighting Awareness Day.
Even though dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, the ASPCA’s participation in two major multi-state raids in the last year alone refute any claim that dog fighting is a rare activity, or that it’s restricted to certain parts of the country or people with whom we wouldn’t normally associate.
The truth is dog fighting is not a relic of times past or random, isolated incidents. In addition to last week’s Wisconsin dog fighting case, nearly 100 dogs were seized in a multi-state raid just over a year ago across Texas, Missouri and Kansas. Just eight months ago, hundreds of dogs were seized in what is believed to be the second largest dog fighting case in U.S. history across Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas.
The truth is dog fighting is not a “southern problem.” The blood sport has been reported in urban, suburban and rural settings in all regions of the country.
The truth is dog fighting participants represent people you may know. Lawyers, judges, teachers, high school football coaches and veterinary technicians have all been arrested in connection to dog fighting. People involved in dog fighting also span racial and socioeconomic boundaries.
These are the relatively pleasant truths. Unpleasant truths include stories of animals being routinely and viciously attacked, beaten, electrocuted and drowned. They include stories about “rape stands” used for breeding, and “bait dogs” used for fighting practice. Bait dogs are typically stolen pets or dogs that refuse to fight. Their teeth are often removed so that other dogs can practice fighting without getting injured.
As I wrote recently, it’s not enough to see dog fighting as just a crime. Society discourages, yet tolerates a number of crimes—some are even glorified. But dog fighting is a deep stain on our national character, a cultural embarrassment we should all feel. This is not about just locking up bad guys; this is about doing everything we can to bring this nightmarish practice to an end. We can’t rest until it does.
That’s why National Dog Fighting Awareness Day isn’t just another way to fill a calendar box; it’s a necessary measure to help stop one of the most horrific forms of animal abuse imaginable.
Of course you probably don’t know about dog fights going on where you live. But chances are you know some children, and can talk to them about the value animals bring to our lives, as well as the humanity we owe them in return.
The August 2013 raid spanned Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, and after ASPCA responders provided veterinary care and behavior enrichment to the dogs, many of the dogs went to ASPCA partner organizations to find loving homes.
Buddy, who was just a puppy at the time of his rescue, was transported to the Charleston Animal Society, an ASPCA Partnership graduate agency. He was then placed with a foster parent, Michele W., who described this adorable pup as a “love bug” who quickly learned to get along with his foster parent’s four resident dogs.
Soon after, Buddy was adopted by Nicole M. and Andrew M., and it was love at first sight.
Nicole reports that Buddy is their constant companion. He loves to snuggle and play outside, and he bonded quickly with their resident dog, Cinnamon.
We could not be more pleased to share this happy ending to Buddy’s story. The ASPCA has designated April 8 as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day (NDFAD) to shed light on stories like Buddy’s and to encourage animal lovers across the country to take action against this brutal form of cruelty. Get involved by joining our NDFAD Google Hangout on April 8.
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The ASPCA is currently on the ground assisting the Milwaukee Police Department and the District Attorney of Milwaukee County with a multi-site dog fighting raid in the City of Milwaukee. Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission is transporting, sheltering and caring for the dogs.
Today, eight search warrants were executed at eight crime scenes, where 23 suspected fighting dogs were seized. Investigators also discovered blood on basement walls as well as other evidence of dog fighting, including treadmills, wound treatment supplies and muscle building supplements.
Experts from the ASPCA Field Investigations & Response (FIR) team are on hand to assist with evidence collection and documentation. The ASPCA has been assisting local authorities with this dog fighting investigation for nearly a year.
Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The ASPCA is committed to eradicating the blood sport. We have designated April 8 as the first National Dog Fighting Awareness Day to advance the conversation about dog fighting, and to encourage animal lovers across the country to take action against this brutal form of cruelty.