Dogfighting Survivors Want You to Stop Believing These 10 Myths
Having been rescued from violence and often horrific conditions, all dogfighting survivors want is a place to rest their head and someone to love them for who they are. Yet, far too often, unfair bias and misconceptions can keep these dogs in shelters, waiting for someone to see that they’re more than just their past. While every dog will experience trauma differently and heal in different ways, at the ASPCA, we’ve seen countless dogfighting survivors go on to become beloved pets.
National Dogfighting Awareness Day is just days away—April 8 to be exact—and in honor of this very important day, we want to debunk these 10 myths about dogfighting survivors, clear up any misconceptions and show you just how loveable and adorable these dogs can truly be!
1. They will always be aggressive.
Despite coming from a dogfighting background, many survivors don’t display signs of aggression—in fact many of them end up getting along great with people and other pets. But each dog is different and will have different needs for their home. Our expert staff work hard to help dogs who come from cruelty cases to heal. We also help to prepare them to be happy, loving companions through behavioral treatment and enrichment. 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 advise you 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.
Most dogs rescued from fighting have likely never experienced the joy of playing with toys. After recovering from cruelty like dogfighting, many dogs realize how fun it is to play—and they won’t mind following the rules as long as they are given some encouragement!
5. They will never be cuddly.
Many dogfighting survivors have never known gentle touch or affection from people. At first, they may not be comfortable with lots of handling or cuddles. But once they’ve had time to open up and learn how to trust human interactions, most dogs realize that they never want the cuddles from their favorite people 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 at the ASPCA Cruelty Recovery Center or Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, 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, many can acclimate to life in a home and become great companions for families. 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 body cues. 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 rescued dogs go on to lead perfectly “normal” and happy lives full of love, fun and everything a beloved pet could want.