“Pit Bull.” There is no other breed of dog—or arguably, any other animal at all—whose mere mention can elicit such strong opinions. Try a word-associate game with your friends: Ask them what they think of when you say “Pit Bull.” Chances are that by the numbers, their responses will be more negative than positive. And it’s no wonder: No other type of dog is as widely banned from housing, legislated against, or incorrectly vilified by the media.
How did we get here? Pit Bulls were once widely considered ideal family pets—affectionate, loyal and gentle with children. But in recent years, these dogs have suffered tremendously from a combination of overbreeding, bad publicity and irresponsible owners. In reality, the overwhelming majority of Pits and Pit mixes are sweet goofballs who have gotten a very bad rap.
Two years ago, Penguin Group USA published The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption, an in-depth look behind the scenes of the Michael Vick dog-fighting case and “where are they now” account of the dogs rescued from his property. The book was a hit, becoming a New York Times bestseller—and we especially loved it for the way it portrayed Vick’s Pit Bull victims as the sweet, heroic dogs they truly are.
Now, Lost Dogs author Jim Gorant has a new book out: Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls—One Flying Disc at a Time. Like its predecessor, this compelling book tackles the pervasive myth that Pits are troubled dogs by telling the rags-to-riches tale of Wallace, a shelter dog on death row who beat the odds to become a champion in the sport of canine disc.
Pick up a copy of Wallace for yourself or the animal lover in your life! (Tip: If you order the book on Amazon.com using this link, the ASPCA will receive a small donation at no extra cost to you!)
To learn more about the book and see videos of high-flying Wallace in action, please visit Jim Gorant’s website, www.wallacethebook.com.
In June, we told you about a dog fighting bust the ASPCA and New York Police Department conducted in the Bronx. Today, we’re happy to share some good news: 26 of the dogs have found placements with rescue groups, and another seven of them have placements in the works! We’re hoping continued rehabilitation and forever homes are just around the corner.
Partners that have embraced these canine survivors include St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey; Charles Henderson Animal Rescue in Brooklyn, New York; Columbia Greene Humane Society in Hudson, New York, and Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire in Bedford. Some dogs have also been transferred to the ASPCA’s Adoption Center in Manhattan.
These dogs’ lives are already so different from the ones they led just a few short months ago. On June 21, we found them living in the windowless basement of a six-story apartment building with a makeshift fighting arena.Also discovered on scene were a loaded .25-caliber handgun, U.S. currency and other equipment associated with dog fighting—including dog treadmills, harnesses, muzzles, syringes and a shopping cart full of raw chicken parts.
For more than two months, ASPCA responders cared for and provided the dogs with extensive socialization, a healthy diet, medical care and exercise at a temporary shelter. Each dog was carefully evaluated by a team of animal behavior professionals prior to being transferred to the rescue groups.
While the majority of the dogs in this case may be rehabilitated, some were far too dangerous for placement. These dogs were victims of the brutalities of dog fighting—bred over generations to exhibit aggression, trained to fight with lethal intent, subjected to a life of inhumane treatment and, as a result, displayed highly aggressive behavior. After extensive evaluations, all decisions to euthanize were based on recommendations of multiple behavior professionals who weighed in objectively and independently, with the best interest of each individual animal in mind.
The dogs’ owner, Raul Sanchez of the Bronx, was arrested during the raid and arraigned on 63 counts of animal fighting, six counts of aggravated animal cruelty, six counts of animal cruelty, and one count of criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he faces up to four years in jail.
The ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy team is providing support to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in this case.
The reality is startling. Young puppies bred for fighting are often forced into lives of abuse and neglect. Tethered to short, heavy chains, they often receive inadequate care, little socialization and can go for days without food or clean water. And when they are old enough to fight, many die of blood loss, shock and exhaustion. Others are simply killed. From the very beginning, these dogs are fighting for their lives.
With your support, our team works hard to put an end to dog fighting. Our elite Blood Sports Unit provides critical training to animal control officers, police officers and veterinarians across the country. They also lead criminal investigations, providing expertise in carrying out large-scale rescues and raids. With your help, the ASPCA can remain a leader in the battle against dog fighting—working to rescue animal victims and prosecute offenders.