Best Friends Blog

Another win for dog-fighting victims

Before Best Friends and a small group of pit-bull terrier advocacy and rescue organizations, such as BAD RAP, championed the cause of the Michael Vick fight-bust dogs, the surviving canine victims of every dog-fighting-ring bust were routinely killed owing to the prevailing myth that such dogs were bad by breeding and unsuitable for rehabilitation and adoption.

The success of the Vick dogs as ambassadors for both dog-fight-cruelty survivors and pit-bull-type dogs in general has helped to change all that. Best Friends led the charge on that change by bringing other national organizations on board and taking the lead in introducing new legislation at the state level to require dog-fight-ring victims to be individually evaluated for a chance at a new life.

On Wednesday, thanks to the tireless work of our lead legislative analyst Ledy VanKavage and a broad spectrum of Florida advocates, Florida Senate Bill 722, spearheaded by Best Friends Animal Society, passed the Florida Legislature, opening the door for Gov. Rick Scott’s signature.

Previously, Florida law required that all dogs primarily or partly involved in dog fighting be deemed dangerous dogs, which was an automatic death sentence, even though experts might not have evaluated them. SB 722 will result in dogs rescued from fighting scenarios being evaluated individually to determine if they could be placed.

The bill, which had unanimously passed in every committee and in the Senate, today cleared the full House by a 99-17 margin. The bill had bipartisan sponsors and co-sponsors.

Ledy summed it up well: “We have been working to remove the automatic ‘dangerous’ stigma from dogs and puppies seized from fighting busts, and although we are pleased with today’s vote, 13 states still have these arbitrary laws. After SB 722 becomes law, we will continue our work to remove the designation in the other states as part of our national pit-bull terrier initiative.”

What the Vick dogs have demonstrated in a very high-profile way is that even dogs that were bred, raised and used for fighting can be rehabilitated and re-homed; they in no way match the image that has been cultivated by gang-banger culture and a media often prone to sensationalism over fact. Pit-bull terriers are like any other type of dog in that their behavior is a product of how they are raised and trained. They are smart, loyal animals that do not deserve the stereotyping and abuse that results in the death of hundreds of thousands of muscular dogs with blocky heads and short coats – many of which are not actually pit-bull terriers at all – in our nation’s shelters.

If we are to achieve No More Homeless Pets, we must remake the public perception of these wonderful dogs. Florida SB 722 is a significant milestone on that path.

Julie Castle
Senior Director of Communications, Best Friends Animal Society

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  • Starrett Susan

    I have a square headed dog and am sad on a regular basis at the attitudes of people toward and about him based on nothing but his looks and their ignorance. Everyone who gets to know him and spends time around him comes to experience and comment on what a nice dog he truely is. It’s funny to me who naturally enjoys all dogs that people are just put off by his looks. Thank You God and Best Friends and everyone else responsible for SB 722. The fight rages on!

  • Sanpilar

    Se pueden rehabilitar por Dios, no los matemos y no todos son agresivos. Esto se lo debemos a un grupo de criminales que los dañan pero en el fondo son seres hermosos.

  • thomas

    God bless you!!! proverbs 12:10

  • savethem

    Great news. Keep up the great work to help these wonderful dogs have a second chance at life after all they have been through. We all just have to keep speaking up for them however we can and reducing the mass hysteria and blame given to these dogs because of dog fighting and irresponsible pet owners. It looks like a lot of people are trying their hardest to make it right for these wonderful dogs and that is a good thing. I hope it won’t be long before things get much better for pit bulls. I hope I get to see it in my lifetime.

  • Pat

    Unfortunately we lost the fight to end Greyhound racing. We won’t give up!

  • You described very well about dog. I like dog very much. Thank you for sharing this information.

  • Maham1

    Thanks so much ya’ll for all you are doing to bring positive light to the outstanding pit bull terrier breed. Thanks to ya’ll and your hard, dedicated work, these fine dogs now have a chance for a good life. God bless you!

  • YEAH!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I just got a notice from the Best Friends Network that there is a teacher in Osbourne High School in Manassas, Virginia who made the students do an assignment giving reasons why NOT to own a pit bull. It is in the BSL news. I tried to give the link but the Disquis said they had to moderate the comment before posting so I don’t know if it will be posted. But anyway I was notified by the Best Friends Network.

  • CambridgeRatMom

    Now if we can just get people to understand how uneducated breed specific legislation is and get rid of those laws. No more Denvers!

  • Loucecilia

    I give about 6 times a year, I love animal,s .

  • OmniDIYer

    Now, if Florida would just bust know dogfighters. A friend moved to a tiny town in rural north Florida–and discovered with horror that the neighbors sponsored weekly “Dog and Hog” fighting. It was the local entertainment, and when she reported it to the local sheriff, he did nothing.

    • Jocavett

      That is horrible! Someone needs to go to state authorities about both situations….lazy Sheriff and the dog abuse.

      • Glennbeck

        actually a she
        riff on the payroll Ill bet. I wonder what percent of the take he gets to look the other way!!!

    • Anonymous

      Maybe contacting the media might help. It needs to be investigated. That is the only way it can be stopped.

  • doug

    If only humans were so easily rehabilitated to a loving nature after such history..Thanks, and maybe as we learn…Well you just never know..

  • Lovefelines2003

    Terrific news!!!!!

  • Carrie

    Great work! Hopefully more and more people will realize that these are wonderful, loving dogs deserve a second chance at life after having been abused by the people who should be caring for them. Go Pitties Go!!!

  • Anonymous

    I posted in the weekly wrap-up also but I’ll say it again. Wonderful, wonderful news! These dogs need all the help they can get.