Tips to protect pets from dog fighting rings

VAN NUYS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Andrew is a Pit Bull mix, and his owner Jenn Aldridge saved him from an animal shelter in Carson. Based off of the scars on his head, neck and back legs Jenn thinks Andrew was bait for a dog fighting ring.

"I had to put heavy blankets on him to make him feel comfortable and secure. I couldn't see him getting past this and it actually took him about a year," Aldridge says.

Aldridge owns multiple Pit Bulls and runs her own nonprofit called The Saving Slim Foundation, named after a dog that she saved from a dog fighting ring in Georgia. She has been a part of multiple ASPCA initiatives to rescue animals from awful conditions, such as bait dogs.

Bait dogs aren't just the typical breeds, like a Pit Bull. Smaller dogs, cats, and other animals can be used as bait.

"Bait dogs are basically a dog that someone who's training for dog fighting uses to build up their dog's mental state," says Annette Ramirez, Director of Field Operations for Animal Services in Van Nuys. "It may back off or not protect itself at all, which allows a dog that's being trained to really cause harm and injury to that dog. Without it inflicting any harm or injury to the dog for fighting, so that the next time it's a little bit bolder."

From what Aldridge and animal services say it is very hard to catch a dog fighting ring.

"Because if you breed game dogs you're allowed to do that, but you have to catch them in the act of doing it," says Aldridge.

If you need to find a new home for your pet there are some things to keep in mind.

"How a pet in the home is currently maintained? Are the dogs tied up in the backyard, are the dogs in the home with the family? It really has a lot to do with how any current pets are maintained," says Ramirez.

Even if the person you are looking to give your pet to doesn't have any current pets make sure to ask how they plan on taking care of the new pet.

"Personally, I don't think you should ever give a dog for free on craigslist. You should always place a value on that animal. Check some background references, you know screen them," Aldridge says.

Bait dogs are really the ones in the most danger because the dogs in the fighting rings are usually bred to fight and not just picked up off of the street.

If you are having trouble finding a new home for a pet reach out to Los Angeles Animal Services at (888) 452-7381.
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