Journey to Freedom

August 27, 2012  

For some pit bulls seized in a dog-fighting case, forever homes and freedom are finally within reach

By Kirstyn Northrop Cobb

In August of 2011, 21 dogs were seized from a dog fighting case in Charles County, Md. Among them were six puppies. Unfortunately, because these dogs were part of a court case, they were to be housed at the local shelter until the court case was over. No one could’ve predicted how long that would be.

The local shelter for Charles County is a place called Tri County Animal Shelter (TCAS). It is rumored to have once been a bomb shelter that has been made into an animal shelter. It does not have air conditioning and does not have central heating. TCAS does not adopt out any dogs that are or could be considered “pit bull” dogs, amongst many other types of dogs, including Rottweilers, any Mastiff breeds and more. To make matters worse, because these dogs were court case dogs, they were not allowed the simple things, such as human interaction, dog interaction, not even toys or blankets. Nope, three walls and a fence, all day every day. And for a long time. Unfortunately, it would be the following July before the case would be over and these dogs would have the opportunity for a change of scenery.

Although law officials tried to keep this a secret, this is a small community and word got out. Soon, the local rescues were getting calls. “Do you know about those dogs down at TCAS?” we would be asked. We would respond with a “yes,” which would inevitably be followed up with “Well, what’s going to happen to them? Do you know that some are just puppies?” It tugged at the hearts of every rescue for almost a year – all the while, some of us were circling, waiting for something, anything, to happen.

Finally, something did happen! July of this year, the court case was over. Twenty-one counts of dog fighting and David L. Proctor Jr. was convicted. Unfortunately, his sentence would be suspended, and he would spend no time in jail. But this story isn’t about him. This story is about the dogs.

Representatives from the ASPCA came down to Maryland and did behavioral assessments on the dogs. After all that they had been through, some of the dogs were deemed too aggressive for adoption or placement. Others were too shut down for an evaluation. Remember, these dogs had gone without proper socialization for almost a year. That being said, despite all hardships and against all odds, seven of these dogs were considered not only acceptable for rescue, some were actually considered adoptable right then and there! Again, TCAS does not adopt out “pit bulls,” though, so all dogs had to go to rescue to have a chance.

This is where I come in. On a Thursday afternoon, my phone rang. The person on the other end informed me that the dogs are now available to go to rescue, and would I come get them. Well, I must say that I was stunned and overwhelmed, and the answer was “no,” I don’t have room for seven dogs, but, I would love to help to find placement for all seven. And so it began. The next day, I went down to TCAS and checked out the dogs. Yes, some were frightened, but nothing that couldn’t be worked with. I took pictures and then I went to home and set about getting these dogs to rescue.

I contacted everyone that I knew. I called some, I emailed some and I emailed the “crossposters.” Also, the wonderful Laura Petrolino gave me the StubbyDog master list of rescues to help these guys out. Eventually, the responses started coming in. I knew that I would be taking two under the rescue that I work with, the Humane Society of Calvert County. Response-A-Bull from Wilmington Delaware would be the next group to step up.

So, on Monday, Caitlyn Reynolds from Response-A-Bull (photo right) and I headed back down there. But this time was different. This time, we weren’t just going to check dogs out, this time we would be freeing dogs! One by one, Caitlyn and I took the dogs into the play yard. When I had worked with them a few days before, we stayed indoors. This was a totally different experience. They were so happy to be outside! Some got the “zoomies” right off the bat, some chose to sniff, some just rolled in the grass and soaked up the attention that they were getting. Finally, we picked out our dogs. Response-A-Bull would be taking two dogs, and the Humane Society of Calvert County took two dogs out of there that day. Before the week was through, the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria in Virginia would step up and take two, and Ring Dog Rescue would take the remaining one. As a part of my ploy to get them out, I offered to drive the dogs to the rescues. On a Thursday, I took the final one out of there to Ring Dog Rescue in Richmond, Va. My daughter (who gets dragged into this often but seems OK with giving up life as a teenager to drive dogs everywhere) and I packed up the last of the dogs and drove him down to Richmond, where I dropped him off and said goodbye.

So, all seven “adoptable” dogs are safe. I am happy to report that all are doing well. The Humane Society of Calvert County took the most timid one and placed her in a foster home. She is no longer #77462, but is now named Pie. (photo below) Pie was so nervous that she would not walk into the foster home. After a year of only eating in a kennel, she wouldn’t eat unless in a crate. But, despite being reserved, she sure would come out of her shell when the foster family’s little dog was around! She loves other dogs and watching her play bow and just act like a dog is a wonderful experience. Pie also loves to pay fetch, and we are happy to report that just a few days ago, Pie started walking into the house on her own.

More good news: Wally, a little black male, (top photo) zipped through obedience classes and has started CGC classes. He’s having a little difficulty with the “stay” aspect of it, but who can blame him! After a lifetime of not enough attention, he doesn’t want to be left again! He’s soaking it up!

Ring Dog Rescue reports that Mcgyver, (second photos) the dog that they took, is doing very well and is set to start CGC classes soon. Both dogs residing with Response-A-Bull in Delaware are also doing very well and are available for adoption. The two who went to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria are loving the attention that they are getting.

At this time, all of the dogs are awaiting adoption at their respective rescues and shelters. It has been a long and emotional journey that I am honored to have been a part of. Hopefully, their next stop will be a forever home!

« « Names for Pit Bull Mixes | Rosie to the Rescue » »


20 Responses to “Journey to Freedom”
  1. jcorvis says:

    I see the ASPCA is still condemning innocent dogs to death with their bogus behavioral assessments.  Apparently they are too stupid and heartless to consider the effects of being held in a stressful situation will have on a normally good dog.

    • Kirstyn says:

      jcorvis Actually, the ASPCA was very helpful in this case. Had they not stepped in, who knows what would have happened.

    • Kirstyn says:

      jcorvis Actually, the ASPCA was very helpful in this case. Had they not stepped in, who knows what would have happened.

      • skreidle says:

        Kirstyn jcorvis Kirstyn, I agree that the ASPCA was instrumental in helping seven get rescued… but they effectively condemned 14 others due to their troublesome behavioral assessments–not the first time I’ve heard this sort of outcome from them. :

        • Judithg says:

          skreidle Kirstyn jcorvis I believe HSUS and PETA are much more prone to condemn that ASPCA.   I used to donate to them, but no longer.  People that think they understand pit bulls usually do not.  I have two and they are just lap cuddlers and kiss givers.  But, because they are protective, I’m sure the non-experts might see them as “aggressive”.  It is a stereotype that people in general fall for.  

      • jcorvis says:

        If a more qualified group, such as Bad Rap (, had examined these dogs then perhaps just about all of them could have been saved, like with what happened to the Vick dogs.

  2. Kirstyn says:

    Update: Dudley, who went to Response-A-Bull, has been adopted! Congratulations Dudley!

    • StevenMacKenzie says:

      Kirstyn Met dudley and dino at resonse-A-bull.  I only got to spend a little time with dudley but dino i see him 2 or 3 times a week.   He went from being a shy boy and not wanting to come out of his cage to barking at me to get him out when he saw me walking up to the door of the shelter.  I absolutely love him (well i love them all really)  he will make an astounding companinon for someone one day.

    • Kirstyn Glad Dudley found his furever home!

  3. DianaJones says:

    Why could these dogs not be held in foster homes? Setting them up to be killed, by holding them in what sounds like the canine equivalent to Auschwitz, is reprehensible. That place and staff should be barred from animal care. It is itself the essence of animal cruelty. I hope the remaining seven live out their lives in comfort and happiness with families who love them. They are brave little souls!

  4. I’m not feeling this story due to the dogs that have been put down.  Why didn’t anyone, someone attempt to work with the dogs? It’s not as if those involved didn’t know the situation in which these dogs came from.  With so many dogs going back into the system due to Maryland Court of Appeals I understand it’s overwhelming however, no one at all wanted to work with these dogs? Please don’t take my disappointment as complaining just asking.  Thank God for those that were saved.

    • Kirstyn says:

      theprettychic Unfortunately, after all they had been through, some of the dogs were showing severe signs of aggression, some towards people. Due to Maryland shelters and rescues being overwhelmed, we were unable to get those dogs out. National rescues were also reached out to, and believe me, I was up at night worrying, there was crying, the whole thing was emotionally draining. Unfortunately, due to the severity of the issues noted in the dogs who were not rescued, there were just very limited options for them.

      • skreidle says:

        Kirstyn theprettychic That’s what they said about a lot of the Vick dogs at first, too… but they saved 95% of the Vick dogs in the end, vs 33% of these? (See also: Oreo.)I don’t fault the underfunded, overworked people and rescues and shelters involved… but I can’t believe that 2/3 of those dogs were unsalvageable.

        • Kirstyn says:

          skreidle Kirstyn theprettychic I understand. I would like to add that some of the dogs were gone before I even got involved. But again, the effort was made, but without anyone to take them or anywhere for them to go, unfortunately, there was nothing left that could be done.

        • skreidle says:

          Kirstyn theprettychic — And seven is far better than zero. 🙂

      • Kirstyn theprettychic I know all was done, it saddens me that these dogs are the ones who lose their lives and an opportunity due the negligence of others.  The more I say I don’t have the resources to be a full rescue stories such as this makes me want to go in deeper.  I can only imagine how draining it is.  When I do rescue a dog, bringing them into my home; trying to find a rescue that will take them is extremely exhausting and I make the dog is fully vetted or the owner gives me the money to have them vetted & I’m the foster for the dog and I still have rescues that are hesitant or won’t respond.  Please don’t misunderstand my frustration it’s not you or any other rescue or shelter.  Thanks for all you do

  5. DianeM says:

    The ASPCA has millions and millions of dollars. Why didn’t they put the rest of the dogs into a private kennel and give them the training and love they needed to be ready for adoption.   It is unbelievably sad that all those dogs were killed.  Why should small rescue groups be the only way to save the dogs when ASPCA has so much money?   Response-a-Bull Rescue is a wonderful group, and No Kill advocates in Delaware are extraordinarily grateful for all they do.  But we have Pit Bulls being slaughtered in Delaware at our high-kill SPCA.  Maryland No Kill advocates and rescue groups need to step up and save the Pit Bulls in their state.  There are some very wealthy counties in Maryland – Montgomery County next to Wash. D.C. is full of wealthy people, for example.  Money won’t solve everything, but it sure would help.  What are the wealthy people in MD doing to help the poor Pit Bulls?  Why didn’t the ASPCA save those dogs?  

  6. GVPC says:

    There absolutely needs to be a change in how these dogs involved in court cases are housed. Many don’t stand a chance after a year of near solitary confinement. Odds are high that they will fail. More could potentially be saved if changes in the way they are housed during the case are made. It would be less expensive and time consuming for rescues to rehabilitate them if they were not total basket cases in the end due to solitary confinement. This is one of the main issues that some of the large orgs have with accepting dogs such as these. The time and expense. Sure, Best Friends took some of the Vick dogs but look how many years it took for them to meet the requirements to be adopted. A few will never leave BF. Many of us in animal welfare believe every dog deserves to live. However, many of the large orgs are not embracing no-kill philosophies or they have their own interpretation of what no-kill means. They often do not believe that every dog should be saved. Many rescues will no longer take any dog that is aggressive in any way because they do not have the resources to work with that dog. Its sad to see dogs such as these destroyed but when there is no place for them to go, what do we do? There are no easy answers.

  7. HowManyPits says:

    Hi Kirstyn-Thank you for your work! Do you have any more info on Pie or can you point me in her direction?I’m in her area….