10 Dogfighting Myths Former Victims Want You to Stop Believing

March 10, 2022

After being forced to live a life of violence, all former dogfighting victims want is to be loved. Yet, unfair bias and misconceptions can often keep these dogs in shelters, waiting for someone to give them the second chances they deserve. While every dog will experience trauma differently and heal in different ways, at the ASPCA, we’ve seen countless dogfighting survivors go on to find loving homes.

National Dogfighting Awareness Day is just about a month away, so ahead of this very important day, we want to reveal the truth about 10 common misconceptions about dogfighting survivors, clear up any bias and show you just how loveable and adorable these dogs truly are! 

1. They will always be aggressive.

Despite coming from a dogfighting background, many of these survivors are not aggressive–in fact they get along great with people and other dogs. Our expert staff work hard to help these dogs heal and to prepare them to be happy, loving companions. With time, care and socialization, many former dogfighting victims thrive in homes and their true personalities blossom.

2. They don’t get along with other animals.

Many people believe that former dogfighting victims don’t get along with other animals, especially other dogs, due to their past. However, many of these dogs can live alongside canine and feline friends. Every dog is unique, and shelter and rescue staff can usually advise on whether a rescue dog is likely to be comfortable sharing a home with other animals and how to best set up introductions to new furry friends.

3. I can’t let them near my children.

Former dogfighting victims, like all dogs, can vary in how comfortable they are with children. While some love all humans, including small ones, others may have never been exposed to children and find them new and potentially frightening. It all just depends on the dog!

4. They don’t play nicely.

Former dogfighting victims have likely never experienced the joy of toys until they are rescued. After recovering from a fighting background, many dogs realize how fun it is to play—and they won’t mind following the rules either!

5. They will never be cuddly.

Many dogfighting survivors have never known gentle touch or affection until they’ve been rescued so at first, they might not know how to cuddle. But once they’ve had time to open up and trust people, they realize that they never want the cuddles to end!

6. They’re vicious toward people.

Some former victims are especially fearful after their rescue. They simply haven’t been exposed to the world and can be wary of new people. But with love and socialization at a pace that works for them, and often with assistance from our Behavior experts, these dogs can overcome their fears and learn that life with humans is just great! 

7. They can’t live in a family environment.

Dogfighting survivors have likely never known the love of a family before but with time and patience, they can acclimate to life in a home and become great companions. Certain dogs may find young kids too rowdy, but it all depends on the dog’s personality. 

8. They can turn on you without warning.

These dogs are just like any dog in that they communicate primarily through their bodies. Dogs that appear to react “without warning” really do try to tell us, but we just aren’t picking up on their warnings. By learning to read a dog’s body language, you can tell when they are becoming uncomfortable, and get them out of the situation before they feel the need to act on their discomfort. 

9. They don’t make good pets.

Dogfighting survivors can make incredible pets. Perhaps even more so because of their abusive past, these resilient dogs thrive with the loving care of their human families. With training, rescue dogs can go anywhere and do anything, from joining the family on a hike to lying quietly on a dog bed during a family picnic. These dogs are renowned for their distinctive big smiles on their adorable faces. Every dog has their own personality with unique quirks, so it’s all about who you meet!

10. They will never live a “normal” dog life.

Many former dogfighting victims go on to lead perfectly “normal” and happy lives full of love, fun, and everything a beloved pet could want.