Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs
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Thread: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

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    Exclamation Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    This is an opinion thread and please feel free to state your sources and argue your case. What I would like to know is do you think fighting dogs should be rehabilitated and adopted out as family dogs, why or why not?

    As many of you know it currently stands that if dogs are seized from a dog fighting ring they are housed till the defendent is found guilty and then euthanized, or if they show any signs of aggression they are euthanized immediately after seizure.

    What I want is your opinions and sources, because this is an important issue across the nation and we need to speak out about it!

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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    Firstly I have thought about this numerous times in the past. I watch Detroit Animal Cops ALL the time and it saddens me to see some of these dogs PTS. I have seen young dogs PTS because they were in the fighting ring, even dogs that show no sign of aggression towards humans or another dog (Some dogs are thrown into the ring and just don't fight back, it's not in them to fight.) That said I believe that this depends on the circumstances.

    If a dog doesn't show signs of aggression, I do believe they should have a chance at a new life. If they are dog aggressive, which I know even dogs that haven't been fought that are dog aggressive, I know some very sweet dogs that are, maybe they could be placed in homes without other dogs. I know this may cause some controversy amongst others who will likely disagree with me but hey everyone has their opinion.

    I have seen puppies PTS because they were used as bait dogs...these young dogs CAN be retrained in my honest opinion. Now I don't have any sources but I do believe that there are in some cases other options besides having the dog put to sleep.

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    Senior Member Dakota Spirit's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by Sketch View Post
    As many of you know it currently stands that if dogs are seized from a dog fighting ring they are housed till the defendent is found guilty and then euthanized, or if they show any signs of aggression they are euthanized immediately after seizure.
    Actually, these days things aren't always so cute and dry. Granted a lot of retired fighters ARE still PTS, but the winds are changing a bit. More and more are being given the chance of rehabilitation.

    Take BadRap for example:
    http://www.badrap.org/rescue/index.cfm

    BadRap is a Pitbull rescue based in the Bay Area that has been making great strides when it comes to helping these dogs and improving their overall rep. They, along with several other rescues, were part of the program that worked to save, rehabilitate, and eventually adopt out the Vick dogs. This was a BIG step for Fighters as a whole, as I think it was one of the first times such a case had been won. I know they had to fight really really hard to win in court and save those dogs...but it worked in the end.

    You'll notice though, that BR is VERY careful about who they adopt out. This is another key to success. I know a lot of people get upset at the strict guidelines some rescues or shelters have...but in some cases it is absolutely necessary.

    Now, in regular city run shelters a lot of fighters are still euthanized. You have to remember though, that these places do not have what it takes to work with a dog that has possible aggression, especially if it's going to be anything remotely severe. Also, they face huge liability if the dog is adopted out and ends up biting or otherwise harming someone. I'm not saying this is a happy policy or one I wish was in place, but I do understand to a degree, why they must do what they do.

    As far as aggression goes though, I suppose that would depend on how severe it is and what exactly the aggression is targeted at. Most fighters are NOT human aggressive simply because that would prevent even their own handlers from moving them, working with them, etc. These people don't need to be able to pet their dogs, no...but they still need to have the ability to lay hands on the dog. Often opponents will inspect each others dogs, check them out, etc. You could not to this if the animal was human aggressive.

    Dog aggression is a bit trickier as many of these breeds are already prone to DA. For that reason alone, I do not feel it is fair to have that be a soul basis for euthanasia. If the dog were trainable, then ultimately I do not feel it would be much different then having any other dog that is DA. The owner simply needs to be responsible and alert with their dog. No off leash parks, no unsupervised play, etc. My own dog is DA and I've managed to contain her just fine. There's been no fights, no attacks...it's all about being responsible.

    I think more then anything the future of these dogs is going to rest with private shelters that can work with the dogs personally for an extended length of time. As I mentioned, the Vick case was a first big step. If we keep building on that I think eventually a program can be achieved that allows us to help these ex-fighters without euthanasia being the only option.

    I'm a bully lover, these are my breeds. I look forward to the day when they aren't so under attack. It's definitely going to take a good amount of work to achieve, though.



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    Super Moderator RonE's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    I was surprised, several years ago, when authorities in Rock County, Wisconsin busted up a large dog fighting ring and lots of the dogs became available for adoption.

    Knowing nothing about pit bulls before I joined dog forums, I mentioned it to a friend who is a trainer and vet tech and she told me it was her opinion that many of those dogs could make very good pets in the right homes. Apparently that opinion was shared by Rock County authorities because they did, in fact, place quite a few dogs.

    My friend also told me she'd personally rather be alone with a room-full of pit bulls than deal with a single dog from some of the more mainstream companion breeds.

    You could not persuade me to identify the other breeds, even if I could remember.

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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    I think some of the dogs taken away from Vick were able to find forever homes, i dont remember how many or any of the specifics but hearing that gave me hope that maybe they can be rehomed with time.

    I think some of the obvious concerns have already been mentioned. I dont think just anybody could adopt one or let one into their home. It would have to be someone willing to stick to rules and routine and make sure the dog is under 110% control at all times. It doesn't mean the dog can't have a happy and fulfilling life though.

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    Senior Member Darkmoon's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by SMoore View Post
    I think some of the dogs taken away from Vick were able to find forever homes, i dont remember how many or any of the specifics but hearing that gave me hope that maybe they can be rehomed with time.
    Out of the 49 taken from Vicks home, only 1 was put down and that was only due to the fact of her health. It was really ill. I know 22 went to Bestfriends.org and only a hand full will have to be there for the rest of their lives. I beleive the rest were adopted out or still being worked on and will be placed at a later date.

    While you can't always take the fighting instinct out of these dogs, but most fighting dogs make great family pets as long as your willing to work with the dog and take the extra precausions. These is a difference between animal aggression and human aggression. There are many stories about fighting dogs being retired and living the rest of their years watching over the dogmen's children. I think all these dogs should be looked at and not judged just because they are DA.

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    Senior Member MissMutt's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    Before I really got interested in it (and before I knew much about dogs, quite frankly), I didn't think it should be done. Now, after reading up SOO much on this and stalking BAD RAP's website almost daily, I have become a huge supporter of giving these dogs a chance.

    Many of Vick's dogs have been turned into Therapy Dogs. Many have passed the CGC or American Temperament Test. I think it just goes to show just how NOT disposable these dogs are. Not only are they now beloved family pets, but they're out there helping people and helping the breed image.

    All it takes is one glance at this and I think many people can become more open minded on the issue.

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    Senior Member Laurelin's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    I know they can be rehabilitated, but my concern is just how many homes are there that are responsible enough to have these dogs that want them?

    I guess it may depend on area, but there are just so many pit bulls here you can hardly place any. Many are put down, fighting or not. With a fighting dog you have to be extra careful you find a good home. At least in this area, there are not enough resources to save them all or hold 'undesirables' too long. It's sad for sure.
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    Senior Member zimandtakandgrrandmimi's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    An old argument....

    Innate Behavior
    http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ult...eBehavior.html
    Vs.

    Learned Behavior
    http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ult...dBehavior.html


    An interesting quote from the above links:
    "However, careful analysis often reveals that any particular behavior is a combination of innate and learned components."


    An overview of aggression in dogs.
    http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ccab/aggression.html
    (as you can see...a very complex subject)

    One Example of an Aggression Assessment Protocol
    http://www.daff.gov.au/animal-plant-...vets/agreesion
    (i put this here with this note: Is this assessing merely aggressive displays...or actual aggression itself?)



    Now....what trait makes a fighting dog..well...a fighting dog and is desired above all else in the fighting dog?

    "If we start with the premise that conformation should reflect the ideal for the dogs usage and that this particular animal was suppose to win a dogfight, we come naturally to the question, what did it take to win?*1. Gameness 2. Attitude 3. Stamina 4. Wrestling ability 5. Biting ability."

    ~taken from http://www.apbtconformation.com/standardcomparison.htm

    What is Gameness?

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gameness


    So...if a fighting dog is bred to be 'game'...where does the aggression come in?

    Logically to me...aggression in the traditional fighting dog would be a learned behavior in most instances..and learned behaviors can be unlearned....

    But

    "Unscrupulous breeders may deliberately or unknowingly breed unsound and unstable temperaments, thus perpetuating what should have been eliminated from the gene pool."

    ~taken from http://www.bulldoginformation.com/fi...og-breeds.html




    This is a sort of summary(I can provide more references if asked) of what I base my belief that ideally seized fighting dogs should be evaluted on an individual case by case basis.

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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    This dogs can be surely rehabilitated. But I don't think there might be a large number of families who will accept the responsibility of such dogs.

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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    I do not think that any dog should be put to sleep just because they will require more resources. That goes for diabetic dogs or dogs with other long term medical conditions as well as training issues. I know it is not always practical, but in my ideal world, all dogs will at least be given a chance. We cannot sacrifice a dog that could be an amazing pet just because it will take more time and money than is normally reserved for rescued dogs.

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    Senior Member K8IE's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    I believe that fighting dogs can be rehabilitated. I think it comes down to evaluating each individual dog to see what the potential is and to go from there. I find it very encouraging that so many of Vick's dogs have been given a second chance and have proven that it can indeed be done when people are dedicated and don't give up on them.

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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    I think if they have stable temperaments then they should be adopted out to proper homes just like any other Pit Bull. As far as being rehabbed that depends on the dog, there background if they need it or not. Plenty of fighting dogs are no different then a Pit Bull who hasn't been fought so rehab probably isn't necessary, only training and socialization that is usually needed by dogs of many breeds. Like obedience training, potty training, leash walking, ect.

    For fighting dogs that have been otherwise abused and possibly very isolated I do think that they should be assessed and see what can be done. I don't have a problem with unstable, HA dogs or those types of dogs being PTS. I think to say we shouldn't spend the $ on them isn't right, when $/time is put into puppy mill and hoarding dogs who need the same type of rehab or who need a lot more time put into them due to mistrust and temperament issues. Of course I'm one who doesn't believe Pit Bulls as a breed are dangerous so I would feel that way. Looking at it like that if no one wants to put out $/time for fighting dogs then they shouldn't for mill/hoarded dogs.

    I'm not sure what to put for sources just my own personal experience and the many fighting dogs I've seen/heard of that have been adopted out successfully. One example was a male I got didn't need rehab. Did need to be trained not to mark everywhere but walked fine on the leash otherwise, didn't pull or anything like that.

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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    Thank you all soo much for your helpful information. I am a student at the University of New Mexico and I am writing a mock bill for my pre-law class about requiring all dogs, not just rescued fighting dogs, to be eligible for adoption if they pass a standard test (like CGC or American Temperament Test) and if they arent they can be given a grace period for rehabilitation. The reaction to my proposition was that nobody would defend fighting dogs being rehabilitated, so all of your opinions have greatly helped to shape my rebuttal. Thank you all so much for caring about the protection of misunderstood and innocent souls. If anyone else has opinions it is still open I can use as much information as possible.
    Thank you again

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    Senior Member MissMutt's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by Spicy1_VV View Post
    I think to say we shouldn't spend the $ on them isn't right, when $/time is put into puppy mill and hoarding dogs who need the same type of rehab or who need a lot more time put into them due to mistrust and temperament issues. Of course I'm one who doesn't believe Pit Bulls as a breed are dangerous so I would feel that way. Looking at it like that if no one wants to put out $/time for fighting dogs then they shouldn't for mill/hoarded dogs.
    I never thought of that before, but I agree with you.. they're both coming from stressful situations and have little to no socialization, is there really that big of a difference? Other than the size of the dogs in question (as puppy mill dogs are usually (not always but usually) the smaller breeds, I think a lot of things between these abused pits and these abused mill dogs are similar. A lot of the dogs that are rehabbed/rescued/whatever from fighting rings don't even have as severe DA as the average person would think. I think the Vick case shows that.

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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    I say yes in the right hands these dogs can be rehabilitated.

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    Senior Member Spicy1_VV's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by MissMutt View Post
    I never thought of that before, but I agree with you.. they're both coming from stressful situations and have little to no socialization, is there really that big of a difference? Other than the size of the dogs in question (as puppy mill dogs are usually (not always but usually) the smaller breeds, I think a lot of things between these abused pits and these abused mill dogs are similar. A lot of the dogs that are rehabbed/rescued/whatever from fighting rings don't even have as severe DA as the average person would think. I think the Vick case shows that.
    Thanks I hope I explained my view well. I think it needs to be on case by case basis as with any type of abuse/neglect case they are not all alike. The individual dogs need to be evaluated no matter the background.

    How stressful and what the dog needs also depends on the owner in each case. Which is one point I was trying to make too. Some might be almost ready to adopt out immediately, others might need lots of work and others it might be the best choice to have them PTS. I think a fighting dog who was raised indoors probably has some manners and who was walked regularly and fed a proper diet is probably going to be in better shape physically/mentally then a dog who was kept in a small dirty cage their whole life with nasty water, little food with barely any human contact. That doesn't mean the mill dog isn't a candidate for adoption but might have more problems then the fighting dog. When it comes to terms of Pit Bulls I'd rather take a fighting dog with a good disposition who just needs a little training and a few good meals then a neglected pet Pit Bull who is fearful of everything or one that has severe HD. For me it is about the individual dogs health and temperament.

    Many fighting dogs are just like other abused Pit Bulls simply starving for attention and love. Some are skittish or shy because they haven't had much socialization though. They are sweet they just need someone to please and someone to love them. I don't know how one could decide to put such a dog down, one that just needs training and wants to give you many hugs and kisses.

    I do agree that many mills have lots of small dogs but there are plenty of big dogs too. Where I used to live was a top state for mills. They had small to large dogs, there are breed rescues across the state who's take them and others went to non breed specific rescue/shelters. So I really don't know here the pet shops have small to giant breeds and I think most come from puppy mills. So you are looking at Great Dane, German Shepherd, Huskies, ect that have probably not been socialized. I know large breeds can have the potential to do more damage whatever breed they may be. I do take temperament testing and good foster homes seriously.

    Oh I agree with the DA too. Fighting dogs run from very hot to almost cold if not cold just like all the other Pits out there. I think having so much publicity in the Vick bust actually helped people realize what Pit Bull owners have known for years.

    There are many Pit owners today who don't fight their dogs but their parents, grandparents or other family member did, in their childhood they didn't know this, today though they will still tell you they couldn't have asked for better companions or canine family member then the ones they grew up around. So these dogs can not all be dangerous when children have grown up around them without ever coming to harm quite the opposite they were very tolerant and loved the kids.

    Oh MissMutt this wasn't all directed at you but I wanted to touch on some of it.

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    Senior Member Inga's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    This really is one of those questions that would be answered differently if it "were in the perfect world". I mean, there wouldn't be fighting dogs and if there were, there would be resources for things like additional behavior modification and medical attention to save all of these dogs. Not to mention all the skilled people needed to be able to make this happen. The dark reality of that is that none of those things really exist. Fighting dogs are flooding shelters that are already over stressed by growing numbers of homeless animals. Especially now in the depressed economy. More and more animals are finding their ways into shelters. Tough decisions have to be made daily by the over worked shelter staff. Fighting dogs or dogs that show any signs of aggression are obviously going to be put to sleep before someones tail wagging Golden Retriever that was dumped because it didn't match the furniture or people were moving. It is just a fact that people are NOT knocking down the doors of shelters to adopt Pit bulls anyway much less dogs from fighting pasts. The shelters need to keep the dogs that are most placeable and put to sleep the ones that would be less likely to have a chance of adoption anyway. They make those decisions from a financial and space issue. I think it is very very sad because many of these Pitbulls could easily be wonderful loving, loyal pets in the right homes. Pitbulls are amazing dogs. I love them. I tend to try really hard NOT to bond with the Pits when they come in because I know that they have a greater chance of a heart breaking end. Life is not fair. I was wrong.... In a perfect world... there would be no need for shelters at all. All dogs would be loved and cared for by their people. Yes, I dream about such things. Volunteering in rescue and in shelter tends to make people that way.


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    Senior Member lovemygreys's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    Quote Originally Posted by SpudFan View Post
    For me it's a simple decision to have them PTS. I think the resources and cost of rehabilitating these dogs can be used much more efficiently on lower risk more viable candidates.

    Until the current population and funding problems of the shelter system are addressed I really don't see this as a difficult decision.

    I do believe many fighting dogs can be rehab'd and rehomed to carefully screened families, BUT I tend to agree with Spudfan from a practical/realistic standpoint.
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    Senior Member zimandtakandgrrandmimi's Avatar
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    Re: Rehabilitating Fighting Dogs

    When I have the resources there will be at least one fighting dog specific rescue. That's my dream. You can bet on your pooches it will one day be reality.

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