(07/25/12) - The number one breed most of us associate with dog fighting is the Pit Bull Terrier.
Just this spring, nearly 30 dogs - mostly Pit Bulls - believed to be part of Flint fighting ring, were put down.
The Animal Control director says the animals were too vicious to treat and adopt out.
Typically, dogs endure unspeakable torture in order to be made ready for the fighting ring.
But, is it possible to rehabilitate these animals and make them family pets?
Leslie Toldo has the story of the fight to save one suspected fighting dog.
He was battered, broken and barely alive. One woman made it her mission to bring him back.
But was it too late to save Thor?
On Nov. 2, 2011, along a fence line at Rosewood Manor, Dave Murray saw something he will never forget.
"It was just pitiful. It was tore up and limping and starving - skin and bones and he needed help," Murray said.
A young Pit Bull, used to fight, Dave suspected. He knew he had to help, and he was nervous.
"Oh, a lot nervous, because I don't know a lot about the Pit Bull breed," Murray said.
Still, Dave patched the dog's wounds and called for help.
"They called me not knowing who else to call," said Meg Sprecher.
When Sprecher saw the dog, skin and bones, one ear- nearly torn off- his face and body covered in deep, still bleeding wounds, she was stunned.
"I was pretty sure he was going to die," Sprecher said.
Still, Meg was not about to give up. "It was just something in his eyes," she said.
Veterinarian Joe Hendrix at Briarwood Veterinary Clinic in Grand Blanc saw that same "something".
"You look in his eyes and he just has the look of a friend and gentle companion," Dr. Hendrix said.
But it was clear, saving this dog would not be easy - in fact, it might not be possible.
"This looked like he had been through multiple bite wounds multiple times. So the level of neglect and abuse was beyond the pale," Dr. Hendrix said.
Meg was determined to stand by this dog. She decided on a name. Thor - the god of thunder. "I thought he needed a strong name," she said.
Meg and Thor would need strength - and a lot of patience - over the next several months.
"We had to do daily bandage changes. He had large, open wounds. He allowed me to touch them and re-wrap them and clean them. And, never once did he even turn his head toward me. He was so gentle. He was wagging his tail the whole time I was doing this and giving kisses," Sprecher said.
Thor also went through three months of laser therapy at Briarwood, critical to healing some of the deeper, more devastating wounds.
"The laser that we have is called a therapeutic laser. So we are injecting light energy into tissues to bring circulation, pain relief, healing and an overall regeneration of tissue," Dr. Hendrix said.
The results were nothing short of spectacular. Thor had scars, but the ear that had nearly been torn off was saved.
He was no longer skin and bones.
"We're very proud of him and happy he is in the hands of loving and wonderful people," Dr. Hendrix said.
With his outer wounds nearly healed, Thor faces another life threatening challenge - two more months of treatment. Through it all, one thing never waivered.
And through it all, Meg faced criticism.
This was, after all, a Pit Bull. A fighting dog. A breed that is banned in communities across the country.
"There are people who say, 'you can never trust them. They will always have that in their heart. They are always going to be vicious. They are bred to kill.' But, I don't think that any being is predetermined like that. Not a human, not a dog," Sprecher said.
"The biggest thing that Thor has taught us - lessons we already knew. That Pit Bulls and any breed of dog, they are not naturally aggressive. They are not naturally hateful. They are taught that by us, unfortunately," Dr. Hendrix said.
Thor's body still bears the scars of those lessons in hate. But those, eyes, those eyes, say Meg Sprecher, tell a different story.
"I think he forgot. He's put it all behind him. I think the day that I found him he forgave the human race for what we did to him and has moved on," Sprecher said.
Thor is now heartworm-free, healthy, happy and thriving, Meg says.
If you suspect dog fighting in your community, remember the Genesee Animal Control now has a hotline you can call and report it. The number to call is 810-257-3572.
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