“Dogfighting is all over this country. It’s all over Z

Dog Tales Dog Rescue and Horse Sanctuary sits on a picturesque 50 acres in King

City, Ontario. Complete with walking trails, therapy pools and a grooming spa, it is the perfect setting for abused and neglected animals to heal and be rehabilitated while they wait for their forever homes.

Dogs Playing for Life Is a non-profit organization, founded by Aimee Sadler and sponsored, in part, by Animal Farm Foundation, Humane Society of The United States, ASPCA and Petco Foundation. Programs are being developed to accommodate shelter staff from all over the country, who will have an opportunity to intern with Dogs Playing for Life.

North Florida Animal Rescue

Next Level Dogs

SPCA Florida Lakeland.

James (Jim) W. Crosby, M.S. CBCC-KA Canine Aggression Consulting

The seven other dogs seized in the raid, along with 11 puppies born afterwards, were transferred to other facilities in the United States. Five people were eventually charged with weapons and animal cruelty violations along with charges for owning pit bulls, which are illegal in Ontario.

Florida,” said Connie. “Would we have loved to have helped local dogs who had been confiscated in a dog- fighting bust? Sure, but at the time, these were the dogs that needed help. It was all about timing, and everything fell into place. We had the property, the facility and Aimee’s team already in place in Florida.”The one common denominator Connie says she and Aimee share in working with dogs is not worrying about what other people think. “Aimee is one hundred percent genuine; one hundred percent about the dogs’ well-being,” added Connie. “There is noth- ing that compares to experi- ence. And that is what Aimee is able to bring to the table, first and foremost. A good dog trainer is always learning; always talking to other dog trainers and listen- ing to animal experts,” Connie continued. “That’s why Aimee is so keen on collaboration; intrigued and open to learning new techniques and systems and trying out new equip- ment.”

Connie was instrumental

in bringing the DPFL program to SPCA Florida in 2013. At first, some staff and veterinari- ans were concerned with possible health risks as well as the safety of both the staff and the dogs. Was it going to require more of the staff ’s time, already stretched to the max? Were the results from playgroups really going to make a difference in the number of dogs adopted? In 2012, SPCA Florida’s live release rate was 63 percent. “When dogs are locked in

a kennel and not allowed to exercise, socialize or have access to fresh air, their stress levels increase, compromising their immune systems,” Connie told

us. “With DPFL in place, we immediately noticed that fewer dogs were getting sick.” As far as time management issues — because a larger number of dogs are taken outside for the play-


groups at one time — Connie explained that the kennels are more efficiently cleaned, all at the same time, versus one or two kennels at a time. The live release rate at SPCA Florida for 2017, so

far, is at 95 percent. “This is an amazing transforma- tion,” said Connie. “It is a success our shelter staff deserves for their dedication to the animals.” As for the naysayers, Jim Crosby, a canine aggres-

sion and behavior expert out of Jacksonville, Florida, has this to say about the Ontario 21. “These dogs, like any fighting dogs, have had a rough life. The dogs have been fought (and I can attest that they have), suffered a life of active, horrible abuse to force them to attack and destroy fellow dogs against their natural desires to be social and exist in peace. There are tough times ahead for all of us. But, we will try our best and give them the shot they never would have had. Some may not make it because they may just be too damaged. For those, perhaps permanent safe sanctuary may be the answer.”

“I have always had a profound respect and amazement at the level of forgiveness dogs can show.”

Jim Crosby, Certified Behavior Consultant, retired Police Lieutenant with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department, now an expert in canine aggression and dog bites.

Aimee understands the public has a right to be

concerned about the behavioral issues of these dogs. “They were not raised correctly and then they were incarcerated, so they have both nature and nurture against them. This is a first for all of us — that dogs in Ontario (with breed specific legislation in place) who did not pass an assessment — were allowed to leave a shelter alive. We cannot blindly say that just because these dogs were victims of cruelty they should be euthanized. They deserve some quality of life,” said Aimee. She believes that those in animal advocacy should be providing animals what they need, especially if the animals have been victimized. “I’m very realistic. We may not be able to save all of them. But, I guarantee you this. While they are in our care, they will have an excellent quality of life, however long that may be.”


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