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What happens to dogs rescued from fighting rings?

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Posted at 9:52 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 23:22:57-04

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WKBW) — What comes next for the seven dogs rescued from a dog fighting ring on Bailey Avenue in Buffalo?

“We don't have a cookie cutter for how we do things or how we treat a dog,” Miranda Workman, the Director of Behavior and Research at the SPCA Serving Erie County, said.

The dogs rescued Friday are in the care of the SPCA Serving Erie County. Workman can not comment on those dogs specifically, but can explain how she determines if an animal can find a new home.

“So the first thing that we'll do is do a quick health check just to make sure that they are healthy and then from there we will do some behavioral assessment so we're just looking to see that dogs are safe,” Workman said.

Each dog that comes into the SPCA is evaluated on an individual basis, just like if they were humans.

“They are all individuals, just like we are. Some of us respond differently to traumatic events,” Workman said.

Before 2007, common practice was to euthanize any dog connected to fighting. That changed with Dr. Stephen Zawistowski’s research. The Western New York native led a team of Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists in evaluating the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s property. The team concluded 48 of the 49 dogs could move on to a home or sanctuary.

Workman was a student of Dr. Zawistowski.“We take that responsibility very seriously. We have to look at that risk when we're making choices about providing care, good welfare, and whether or not they are placeable in our community,” Workman said.

If a dog connected to a fighting ring show signs they can be reformed, extensive training and work is initiated on both Workman and the dog’s part. If the dog doesn’t behave in a manner that is safe for both humans and other animals, Workman must make the difficult decision to humanely euthanize the dog. Workman said her goal is to place safe animals into safe and loving homes.

“To see them succeed and to see the relationships blossom, that's what it's all about,” Workman said.