Dog Fighting Survivors Get Second Chance; 6 Pit Bull Terriers Going to Pittsburgh Animal Shelters; 11 Were Euthanized

By Schoettler, Jim | The Florida Times Union, April 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Dog Fighting Survivors Get Second Chance; 6 Pit Bull Terriers Going to Pittsburgh Animal Shelters; 11 Were Euthanized


Schoettler, Jim, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Jim Schoettler

Sam and five of his buddies are leaving Jacksonville for a better life, still sporting some of the scars of misery that led to the deaths of 11 of their friends.

The American pit bull terriers all were victims of a dog fighting ring busted in February by Jacksonville police and the Humane Society of the United States.

The owner, Willie B. Coleman, 69, of 9215 Norfolk Blvd., was charged with 17 counts of possessing dogs used for animal fighting. He will be in court today trying to get his case dismissed, records show.

Many of the dogs had scars and other injuries, including mutilated faces, when they were recovered. Eleven of the dogs were euthanized due to medical issues and behavior problems; the others were nursed back to health at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services center.

The survivors are heading for Pittsburgh, where they will be taken to shelters for adoption, said Daisy Balawejder, dog fighting rescue coalition coordinator for the Humane Society of the United States.

The dogs range from puppies to older adults. Balawejder said there's a good reason for not adopting them out locally.

"We would hate for associates of family members of the person involved to get their hands on these dogs," Balawejder said Monday. "They do try."

That's because there's big money in dog fighting and breeding of dogs like Sam, who has been deemed a dog-fighting champion, Balawejder said.

When rescued, much of Sam's upper muzzle was missing and his teeth were exposed. Despite the mean look, rescuers found the tan, older adult to be welcoming. He jumped in Balawejder's lap and cuddled with her at Animal Control Monday morning.

"It's very powerful to see a dog who has been through so much at the hands of human beings, yet continues to trust and love us," Balawejder said. …

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