The following op-ed piece is written by Michigan Humane Society’s Field Services Manager, Elise Ramsey:

Investigating dog fighting cases is one of the most exciting and fulfilling parts of our job. When our work pays off and we are able to put together probable cause to execute a warrant and save dogs from a cruel life of torture and pain, it reminds us why we do this work. Too often though, the heartache makes us question if what we do even matters.

Historically in Michigan, the dogs seized during a case have not had a chance at life after dog fighting-—they were deemed to have no “useful purpose” in society. To us, these dogs are just like any other that walk through the door, often mistreated by the hands that claim to love them. The same people that take some of their best attributes of loyalty and a desire to please and use them to their advantage; training and fighting them against one another with the only benefit being in the wallet of the owner. Yet dog fighting survivors are some of the most loving and resilient animals I’ve ever seen. That’s why the Michigan Humane Society has been seeking to clarify the law requiring euthanasia of these dogs for years.

On December 20 of last year, Senate Bill No. 416 was passed by the House in Michigan, allowing dogs removed from suspected fighting locations to be evaluated and placed. This was a huge victory for Michigan Humane as well as the survivors of dog fighting. As this bill was being enacted, our cruelty investigators executed four search warrants after obtaining information that a convicted dog fighter was back in the game. After diligent investigation, we were able to remove 32 dogs from a life of fighting and suffering.

Catching an already convicted dog fighter again was cause for celebration, but more exciting was that we knew that we now had the opportunity to assess and place the dogs from this case. It’s a tough position to be in when you want to celebrate a victory of saving game dogs, knowing that their outcome was destined by the law. It makes it mentally challenging to pursue these cases, but because we now have an opportunity to place these dogs, it final feels like a real victory for all.

We knew that finding a forever placement for these dogs would be a challenge, but we’re incredibly fortunate to have found a partner and friends at Even Chance Pit Bull Rescue in St. Louis, Mo. This amazing organization specializes in working with pit bull-type dogs that have come from inhumane conditions. They work to find the best homes possible through a program that includes behavior training, foster care and other supportive measures. MHS is forever grateful for Even Chance Pit Bull Rescue for giving us the opportunity to learn more about these beautiful creatures and find them the forever families that they truly deserve.

We could not be more thrilled about this next chapter in combating dog fighting here in Michigan, and are incredibly grateful to all who extended their support as we worked to find new beginnings for these dogs.

Photo credit: Lou Bopp