Whimpering in pain, a 4-month-old puppy shivered in terror as a man approached. Left to die in a plastic bag near a dumpster, the American Staffordshire terrier had no way to escape the approaching footsteps.
He closed his eyes, fearful of the hands reaching down toward him. Confused by the muffled voices and flashing lights, the puppy suddenly found himself lifted out of the bag and placed in the backseat of a car.
He heard a soothing voice tell him it was going to be OK. Cautiously, a peculiar feeling crept into his heart, a feeling he had never known in his young life: safety.
Mr. Riley, as the pup was later named, was discovered by a Chicago police officer in Englewood. The officer immediately recognized the telltale wounds that told the story of Mr. Riley’s traumatic history.
The officer rushed the dying pup to the Animal Welfare League for emergency care. Mr. Riley was ushered into the compassionate arms of AWL President Linda Estrada, who explained Mr. Riley’s horrific story.
Mr. Riley had spent his young life used as bait — a helpless cog in the vicious system of dog fighting. Older fight dogs were forced to hone their aggression and fighting skills by practicing on the young, innocent pup.
Mr. Riley’s body was covered with puncture wounds, clinging to life in desperation. He had lost many, many dog fights, but nobody could take away what mattered most to this pup: his fighting spirit and will to live.
“This puppy is fighting for his life, suffering from puncture wounds all over his face and body,” the AWL explained on its Facebook page. “On a slow road to recovery, our bait baby is receiving pain management and intensive care.”
Mr. Riley, along with another dog fight puppy victim named Lilo, will be placed for adoption once they are sufficiently healed. The AWL has seen far too many dogs in this situation, though typically, according to Estrada, bait dogs are older.
“I believe that when people can do something to a harmless puppy or kitten, what can they do to a human?” Estrada mused. “Don’t make a profit on them, find another way to make a living, but not this,” she added.
Those interested in helping Mr. Riley, and other dogs like him, can make a donation to the Animal Welfare League. The AWL is in need of community support as they continue to nurse critically wounded animals back to health, giving hope to the innocent pups who keep on fighting.
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