On April 22, 2014, a team of officers from the Nashville, Tennessee police department and staff from Metro Animal Care and Control executed a raid on two properties whose owner was suspected of running a massive heroin and cocaine trafficking organization, in addition to a dogfighting ring.
What they discovered was horrifying: dozens of dogs and puppies – many of them emaciated, scarred, or marked with gaping bloody wounds - tied down with heavy chains, spent syringes likely used to inject the dogs with steroids, treadmills, and other evidence of dogfighting and abuse. Yet, in spite of the abject suffering and despair, the rescue team was greeted with wagging tails and hopeful faces. “The dogs knew they were being saved,” said Becca Morris, Public Relations Coordinator for the Nashville Health Department, who was on the scene at the time. “It was beautiful watching the officers and folks from the DA’s office interact with the dogs, who were very excited to see us,” she said. “This case really changed a lot of people’s minds about judging dogs based on their past.”
Morris, who was tasked with running the off-site shelter that temporarily housed the dogs until they were placed, worked with expert behaviorists from Animal Farm Foundation to have each dog individually evaluated. “None of the dogs showed any signs of human aggression,” said Morris.
When City Dogs Rescue co-founder Gina Tomaselli - now an attorney for The Humane Society of the United States, which assisted in the raid - found out that some of the dogs were still in need of placement, she knew exactly whom to call.
“We agreed this was an important opportunity to raise awareness and show people that dogs are not defined by their past,” said Meredith Raimondi, CDR director, who coordinated with rescue partner and dog rehabilitator Pam Nalley to have Nash and Roger brought to South Carolina, where Pam would work with them until they were ready to be in placed in foster homes. "Pam Nalley has been a tremendous addition to the CDR family and we wouldn't have been able to save these dogs without her help," said Raimondi.
"They couldn't walk on a leash and froze when anyone touched them, but they showed absolutely no aggression."
“When I first picked them up back in June, they were terrified,” Pam said. “They couldn't walk on a leash and froze when anyone touched them, but they showed absolutely no aggression.” Pam’s daughter, Tiffany, and a dog trainer, Kerry Freeman, worked on building their trust over the following several months. “Roger in particular was extremely shut down. Nash had more confidence, but she was not comfortable around other dogs. However, Tiffany, who has been the dogs’ primary caretaker, gained their trust almost immediately. Little by little, Roger came around. And just last week, Nash had supervised playtime with a male dog, and showed positive interest in him. It has been beautiful to watch their transformation. These dogs are ready.”
“Ten years ago, these dogs would have been put down automatically,” Raimondi noted. “Fortunately, that is changing, and we are now seeing many former dog-fighting victims living happily as family dogs, and some have even become therapy dogs. City Dogs Rescue is excited to be a part of this change, and we are so fortunate to have a dedicated, active community of supporters that we know will help spread the word about Nash and Roger so they can find the loving homes they deserve.”
[Note: It is a common misconception that dogs rescued from dogfighting operations are too damaged to find homes, but the rescue of the dogs from Michael Vick’s operation – several of whom became therapy dogs – and the many others that followed proved this to be completely wrong. See http://www.viralnova.com/vicks-fighting-dogs/.]
Co-founders Darren Binder and Dave Liedman added, “City Dogs Rescue was formed to give dogs like Nash and Roger – dogs who otherwise might not have had a future – the second chance they deserve. They are no different from many of the other abandoned, abused, or neglected dogs we routinely rescue. We are honored to play a role in giving these dogs the opportunity to shine.”
Join the movement to help Nash and Roger!
If you would like to be a part of Nash’s and Roger’s journey, please visit their pages (Nash’s profile and Roger’s profile) and share them with your friends, family, Facebook, etc. Both of them need foster homes in Washington, DC starting on December 6 for at least two weeks. They are both currently available for adoption as well through CDR.
City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties volunteers.