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Overcoming odds, pit bull pup finds a home
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Overcoming odds, pit bull pup finds a home

Scarred 8-month-old may have been bait dog for fighting

  • Gleason is ready for adoption from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
    Humane Society of Southern ArizonaGleason is ready for adoption from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
  • While he is still a puppy, Gleason always will bear the scars of his early life as a bait dog.
    Humane Society of Southern ArizonaWhile he is still a puppy, Gleason always will bear the scars of his early life as a bait dog.

Gleason, an 8-month-old pit bull-mix, bears the scars of his days spent as a bait dog for fighting, but the trusting and docile pup was ready for a brighter future in a loving home, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona said.

The puppy who peeks out with one blue eye and one brown was found wandering on 36th Street and Campbell Avenue with injuries similar to those of bait dogs, said Lindsay Bruno, spokeswoman for HSSA.

Gleason found a new home when he was adopted on Friday, the HSSA said.

"The woman who found him has found several other stray animals in the area, we are unsure if he was just dropped off there or had walked there from another location," Bruno said.

"It is hard to say for sure he was a bait dog without him being owned, there is no way for us to prove where he came from.  However, the scarring on his face and areas of the neck indicate otherwise," Bruno said.

The dog quickly became one of the HSSA staff's favorites. 

Gleason went through the HSSA's Safety Assessment for Evaluating Re-homing (SAFER) program, which ensures that dogs from situations like Gleason's are ready for a life as a canine companion.

The SAFER program at HSSA was implemented last summer and has been successful with evaluating nearly 300 dogs.  The program is run through the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ASPCA.

The 15-minute evaluation consists of two staff members studying a dog's body language after certain cues, including behavior and aggression, and they slowly work food in to determine if a dog is aggressive toward others around him while eating.

"Food is one of the major points we will assess our animals to see if they are food-aggressive at all or perhaps not used to a regular meal or even sharing food with other animals," Bruno said.

"In Gleason's case, he is not aggressive and he doesn't really react to other dogs around him, we are fortunate to have this program to help assist dogs in similar situations to Gleason's," Bruno said.

The SAFER program at HSSA was implemented last summer and has been successful with evaluating nearly 300 dogs.  The program is run through the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ASPCA.

HSSA is the only shelter in Arizona certified in the program. There are 50 shelter workers in the United States trained in SAFER methods, five of whom are with the HSSA, Bruno said. 

"Because of the SAFER program, we have been able to place so many animals with forever families with the confidence that they are the right fit for each other," said Bruno.

Although dog fighting is a crime in all states, it continues as an underground "gaming sport."

"We encourage people to call the police right away if they see a suspicious activity. Our biggest concern is educating people about the situation — make sure they know it is out there and to be vigilant," said Bruno.

People shouldn't be wary when considering adopting a former bait dog, Bruno said. 

“Bait animals are almost always passive, submissive and not animal-aggressive. If they didn’t have such a docile temperament, fighters would not use them in training. With some love and affection they can make great companions.”

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