JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Draped in heavy chains with little to no food, dozens of dogs are still needing to be saved after a massive dogfighting bust in Georgia.
"We saw on social media that there were 107 dogs being confiscated as part of a dogfighting bust up in Polk County, Georgia, so we immediately got involved," said Jen Deane, the executive director of Pit Sisters in Jacksonville. “I knew that it was a rural town and the shelters don’t have enough space, so I felt like we needed to jump in and help."
Pit Sisters sent their canine aggression expert, Jim Crosby, to Polk Co. as the dogs were being confiscated. He worked with authorities there to survey the situation.
PHOTOS: Dogfighting dogs rescued
“When Jim first went, the conditions were really bad. The dogs were out on chains, the way that they got fed, if at all, would be food thrown on the ground, scattered on the ground," explained Deane. "You can see their legs are bowed out from being on chains that are way too heavy for the dogs."
The non-profit, was able to bring 20 of the dogs here to Jacksonville to give them a second chance at life.
“They were so happy to get attention. Some of them were a little hesitant, and I don’t blame them, but nobody growled at us, nobody lunged at us, nobody gave us any aggression whatsoever," Deane said. "We’ve taken dogs, I want to say this is either our fifth or sixth dogfighting ring we’ve taken dogs from, and we’ve not had aggressive dogs for humans at all, at all. I mean they want to please their people, that’s why they choose these dogs to fight because they’re so loyal."
The dogs will slowly be made comfortable with other dogs. They will also go through the organizations popular TAILS program, which pairs animals with local inmates to be trained and rehabilitated and made ready for adoption.
“We want to make sure that there is every chance for them succeeding, and so far, we’ve got 100 percent success rate. And we’ve placed lots of dogs through dogfighting," Deane told News4Jax.
For her and the volunteers at Pit Sisters, rescuing dogs like these is heartbreaking, but also rewarding in the end. You can just look at the difference with Charlie, one of the rescued dogs. He's come a long way in the short amount of time he has been with Pit Sisters. (After photo credit: Craig O'Neal)
"All they’ve known for who knows how long is being tied up to a tree," said Pit Sisters volunteer Marcy Mark. "Just the fact that they are willing to come to us for love. Dogs can be so forgiving and so loving and that’s what they’re wanting. They’re wanting the love and attention from whoever will give it to them, so it’s pretty amazing."
"The dogs did not choose to fight," Deane added. "They’ve been forced to do it. They have no voice, so we have to stand up and be their voice, so that’s what we’re trying to do."
Deane wants to emphasize there are a number of dogs left in Georgia from this dogfighting bust that face an uncertain future if they don't get rescued.
"We know the directors at all the shelters, they’ve all been extremely helpful, they want to see the dogs succeed," said Deane.
"This case is a perfect example of how cooperative efforts save lives," said Crosby. "The Polk County Police Department has taken a dog fighter and animal abuser off the street. A team of Animal Control agencies intervened and provided immediate care for the victim dogs. A network of Rescues has stepped forward to place these animals in homes. I am proud to have helped this team effort that has saved over 100 innocent dogs’ lives."
If you are able to help save the remaining dogs in Georgia, or if you would like to help the dogs Pit Sisters has already taken in, contact the non-profit by email at Sisters@PitSisters.org or through its website PitSisters.org.