What happens to dogs rescued from illegal fighting circles


Anya Kopchinsky was not involved in the rescue of the dogs found in the alleged Orange and Meriden battle ring – described by authorities as one of the largest air combat operations on the East Coast.

But she is often called upon to help authorities when they destroy dogfighting rings, first making sure they get the right evidence and, where possible, rehabilitating the dogs.

Authorities described horrific conditions at Orange and Meriden properties, linked to the arrests here and on Long Island. Between the two states, more than 100 dogs have been rescued in recent months, including 15 in Connecticut.

Kopchinsky said about half of the dogs rescued from dog fighting rings can never be placed.

Dogs, she said, are not meant to be aggressive towards each other. The people who make fighting dogs out of puppies are doing something with them that shouldn’t exist, Kopchinsky said.

“You’re doing something that genetically isn’t really supposed to happen,” she said. “Dogs are not supposed to kill each other.”

As Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini said in a statement regarding the Fighting Circle, those charged in the case are charged with “torture” of animals.

“This case is about how a criminal ring bred dogs, tortured them and endangered them just to make money,” he said.

Fighting dogs that display innate aggression are bred in the hope of making dogs less friendly towards other dogs.

“If you have, say, a bitch that has won a few fights, you would want to mate her with the most aggressive male you have in your group,” she said. “In a litter of maybe eight to ten, you have two or three that are born, like just ready to go.”

These hyper-aggressive dogs are bred and, according to Kopchinsky, sold to a stud to create more hyper-aggressive dogs.

“Part of it is because people are betting so you win a lot of money on the fights themselves, then you probably win money with studs and find other people’s dogs who are also” winners. “, and bring them together,” she said.

For dogs who are not natural fighters, there are things like broken sticks designed to keep the dog constantly frustrated.

Broken sticks, she said, “are a long, sharp object that you can put in the small space behind their molars and kind of open their jaw.”

In July, police raided a property on Britannia Street in Meriden where authorities said they had found eight dogs in a “makeshift kennel”.

Police said they also seized many items associated with aerial combat, including shock collars, weighted harnesses and collars, whips and a homemade combat ring.

In October, Connecticut State Police seized seven dogs from a home on Grassy Hill Road in Orange. Sini described the investigation as “one of the biggest dogfighting ring-ups in New York State history.”

Calls to Connecticut State Police and Orange Police were not returned.

The dogs, which Kophinsky says are often kept as evidence, are being held at Milford Animal Control, officials said.

“The dogs are in the care of the state Department of Agriculture, but Milford is helping provide them with shelter,” said Elizabeth Benton, spokesperson for the attorney general’s office.

A spokesperson for the State Department of Agriculture declined to comment because the case is “a pending criminal case.”

When and if they can, dogs can be placed in foster homes for rehabilitation, like Kopchinsky’s, and then into long-term families.

Dogs trained to fight are expected to be aggressive towards other dogs, not people.

“The perfect 10 out of 10 dog for them would be a dog that you can totally manage and that was super social with people,” Kopchinsky said.

This means that when a dog can be rehabilitated, they are often excellent dogs, Kopchinsky said. She has six at home right now.

She starts slowly. It takes time. Dogs held in fighting circles are often never released from cages or chains. It is common that they have never seen stairs and have no idea how to navigate them.

“Some of them are really scared, I’ve had a lot of them in a new environment, they’ve never left this place before and if they did, it wasn’t good.” , she said. “So they’re kind of like sneaking around and trying to figure out how to live.”

But if and when they realize what life is like outside of a fight ring, Kopchinsky said they grow up to be extremely well-behaved and happy animals.

“The good thing is that most of these dogs are incredibly social, like stupidly social,” she said.

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