After two years' worth of legal battles, 18 former fighting dogs are finally getting their second chance.
In October, 2015, 31 pit bulls were seized from an Ontario home. When police raided the property, they found a horror scene where dogs were raised to fight in a ring and forced to exert aggression if they wanted to survive. Police found the dogs constrained with heavy chains featuring gruesome scars on their faces, necks, and forelegs.
Along with the dogs, inspectors also found evidence of an extensive dog fighting industry. There were medical kits complete with injectable solutions and vitamin supplements, syringes, and surgical tools. In another area of the compound, they found muzzles, sticks, and harnesses rigged with weights allegedly used for forced strength training.
Don Cherry inside our custom made, air-conditioned Dog Mobile. We are so grateful to Don for using his voice to advocate for the voiceless. <3
After enduring the nightmare that is being a fighting dog, the group of 31 left the ring behind, but their troubles weren't over. They were transported to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals while they awaited their fate. Pit bulls are banned in Ontario, and after an initial behavioral assessment, 21 dogs out of the group were put on death row.
The OSPCA filed a court application stating those 21 dogs were dangerous and beyond help. Their deaths seemed imminent until an Ontario-based rescue called Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary got involved. Dog Tales co-founder Robert Scheinberg launched a social media campaign in February called Save the 21. After spreading the sad story, thousands of people including celebrities like Paris Hilton, Enrique Iglesias, and Don Cherry spoke out to save the dogs' lives.
Today we received this letter and wanted to share. #enddogfighting #betheirvoice Dear SUFP, A little over a year ago when the OSPCA petitioned the court to euthanize the 21 dogs confiscated in a dog fighting ring Rebecca posted a plea on her facebook and the Stand Up for Pits facebook asking people to call, write letters etc to save these dogs. A rescue out of King City Ontario, just outside of Toronto started the #savethe21 campaign to save these dogs. I am happy to report that today the news was released that indeed they will get their second chance after almost 2 years and I thought you would like to know that. 18 dogs will be transported to Florida to begin rehabbing and get their second chance at life. Perhaps you could post the wonderful news on your site and let the people know the good guys won this battle. Thank You for everything you do on your side of the border for these beautiful animals. Jenn https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1166012740223015&substory_index=0&id=350332985124332
The campaign urged the OSPCA to perform follow-up assessments on the dogs. OSPCA officials finally consented in May and found an overwhelming trend of improvement. One dog, Tommy, was deemed too dangerous to let live and was euthanized. Two other dogs also died while in the OSPCA care, but the secondary assessments gave new hope for the remaining 18.
They still faced serious behavioral issues, but their improvement was enough to change the course of their lives.
The co-founder of our shelter, Rob, with one of the lucky dogs! We can't tell who is more excited! <3
The OSPCA agreed to change their original assessment, and working with Dog Tales, they submitted a joint proposal to send the 18 pit bulls to the Dogs Playing for Life National Canine Center in Florida. After two years of campaigning, the court has accepted the submission, and the dogs are on their way to a better life. Scheinberg said;
"We're very grateful to have the opportunity to save these lives."
Dog Tales is funding the dogs' trip to Florida which is scheduled to happen in mid August. They'll receive 12 hours of daily rehabilitation training with the ultimate goal of finding loving families. Aimee Sadler at Dogs Playing for Life has accepted full ownership of the group, and her staff will work for the next several months to help the dogs with basic socialization and more advanced training.
OSPCA deputy chief inspector Jennifer Bluhm called the outcome "almost unprecedented." In a city where breed specific legislation is the norm, the chances of these 18 dogs with behaviors ranging from "extremely aggressive to unpredictable" being given a second chance was always unexpected.
The positive outcome is a step in the right direction for dog fighting victims in Canada and across the continent.
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