Dog fighting rescues and rehabilitation

Cheech was rescued from a D.C. dog fighting ring.

Cheech seems like a typical happy-go-lucky puppy, but life didn't start out so well for this Pit Bull. Officials say Cheech was seized from a crime scene where there are strong indications that she, her litter mates and her parents were involved with a dog fighting ring in D.C.

While we may only hear about these cases when celebrities like Michael Vick are involved, humane enforcement officers at Washington Humane Society say that this takes place every day, all over the city.

“A lot of people think of fighting situations as being these large-scale events,” said Scott Giacoppo, Washington Humane Society VP of External Relations. “But actually it can be just two people in a back alley.”

The Washington Humane Society rescues about 20 dogs a year from fighting rings in the district. But humane officers say they need the community's help uncovering more.

And they say veterinarians need to do more too. Dog fighting operators often take these dogs to a different vet for every injury to avoid suspicion. But if veterinarians reported all bite wounds, as required by law, more criminals could be caught.

Fighting dogs can be worth thousands of dollars, so once they're rescued, humane officers keep them in secret locations.

“After we seize fighting dogs, it's very common that the people will try to steal them back,” said Giacoppo. “So we have a policy of not holding them at either of our facilities.”

Trainers then work with the dogs to see if they can be rehabilitated. Some can't, but in the Michael Vick case, 47 out of 51 dogs were adopted and are thriving.

As for Cheech, she's one of the lucky ones. Once her case is closed, she will likely be up for adoption.

To learn more about illegal dog fighting rings in the United States, visit

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