The Face of a Dog-Fighting Victim

Sunday, January 26, 2014

“Never give up hope. Ever.” That simple phrase became a mantra for a young pit bull who was saved from a horrific fate.

dog rescuedThe pit bull, appropriately named Ever, was one of 367 dogs saved from a multi-state dog fighting raid. The raid, supported by PetSmart Charities, was believed to be the second-largest in U.S. history.

Responders from the ASPCA and HSUS took Ever and her companions from a property in the southeastern United States, where dogs were left with poor shelter and no food or water in the sweltering southern heat.

No dog left behind

She escaped with few physical scars, though her emotional scars took over her personality. Most people would write off a dog who spent the first few years of her life in those deplorable conditions, especially a pit bull. But the animal welfare groups involved in the case knew she, and the others, could be great pets with just a little care.

The ASPCA reached out to many rescues across the country to place the dogs. One of the groups was Mayday Pit Bull Rescue in Phoenix, Ariz. They’re committed to rescuing pit bulls with extreme medical and behavioral needs, often thought to be the worst of the worst. Their leadership consists of 2 PetSmart associates.

A little help leads to a second chance

It was really Ever’s lucky day when Mayday chose her to receive their rehabilitative services in November 2013.

“She was extremely scared,” said Richard Courtney, director of education and advocacy at Mayday, as well as a lease administrator at PetSmart. “She was especially scared of males and timid. No aggression, but very shut down and scared, with emotional damage.”

But to Mayday, no case is too difficult to take. They immediately put her into training to build her confidence. She works one-on-one with a trainer who uses only positive reinforcement.

So far, it’s working.

“She has built a tremendous amount of confidence. She’s been coming out of her shell. She’s being a dog. She’s being a normal, healthy dog,” Richard said.

He’s not sure what role Ever played in the dog-fighting ring that caused her emotional problems.

Hope is on the horizon

She has made progress, but there’s still work to do. Richard is certain Ever’s future will get brighter each day.

“It’s a long-term commitment with these dogs. We’re in it for the long run, and whatever needs to be done with her, we will take the appropriate steps,” he said.

Richard said it could take a long time to rehabilitate Ever, but he said she will go to a foster family when the time is right.

The ASPCA said most of the dogs saved from the dog-fighting operation should be able to find a forever home. Richard will make sure Ever is one of them.

“I think all these dogs can be rehabilitated. I think any dog can be rehabilitated. For us, it was never an option that she couldn’t be a normal dog.”


Linda Hueftlein

I adopted a Pomeranian, Charlie, June 1, 2013 who had been used as a bait dog. Animal control picked him up on the street, both eyes punctured, muzzle wired closed, etc. he is incredible. He is now a registered therapy dog. Thank you foR all that you do! You can find him on

long tail pro d...

That was fantastic, thank you for sharing.


That is a nice story. Too bad it is a pit bull and is therefore not allowed to attend your doggy daycare.


Hi Tom, PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal welfare organization, separate from PetSmart Inc. We provide funding to 2,800 animal welfare organizations across North America for adoptions, spay/neuter and emergency relief. You can learn more about our relationship with PetSmart here.


Sadly, PetsMart Charities is just as bad as everything they use in this story to pump their own image. Their stores use private fosters to adopt dogs to the public and have absolutely NO quality control, background checks or ethics involved. Dogs can be housed in horrible conditions, subjected to neglect, abuse and death and as long as they bring a few in for adoption on the weekends that have no obvious wounds or illnesses PetsMart and PetsMart Charities could care less. Often dogs with masked injuries and illness are adopted out to homes only to discover the illness or injury or congenital defects a few days or weeks later, resulting in huge medical expenses, ongoing chronic illness, behavioral problems that create a public safety hazard etc. and when faced with these issues PetsMart Charities either turns their heads or in some cases even comes to the defense of these horrible people and the suffering they cause.


Hi, the health and safety of adoptable pets is a top priority. We would like to get our Adoptions Team involved to address any specific complaints.  Please call 1-800-423-PETS (7387) or email  info[at]petsmartcharities[dot]org and be sure to provide the store location (city & state) . And if you haven’t already, please reach out to the PetSmart store manager with this feedback as well. Thank you.


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