Can a fighting dog learn new tricks?

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Can a fighting dog learn new tricks?

CREATED Mar 1, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - Thirty-one pit bulls seized in Huachuca City are waiting for a judge to decide their fate.  Police say the dogs may have been bred to fight, but animal control officials say that doesn't mean they can't someday be adopted.

"I think there are some dogs that depending on the dog can be some rehabilitation done," said Justin Gallick with Pima Animal Care Center.  He has seen drastic cases like a bust four years ago when authorities seized more than 100 pit bulls from a dog-fighting ring.  Gallick says most of them had to be euthanized, but more than two dozen were sent to rescue centers around the country, proving they could learn new tricks.

"I have heard back from one of them and that dog is actually being trained to be a cadaver detection dog with Law Dogs USA," he said.

In other cases, he says dogs can go to responsible homes with some stipulations based on their aggressive behavior.

"Not every dog is going to be the kind of dog you take to a dog park," he said, "but it doesn't necessarily mean that dog wouldn't do well in an average household."

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona also looks for signs of aggression before adoption.  They use the S.A.F.E.R test, which analyzes seven aspects including eye contact, paw sensitivity and food or toy aggression.

"We've had dogs that have been involved in dog-fighting situations in previous homes and often they don't have any aggression with people," said Humane Society employee Summer Severin, "and often times can get along with other dogs as well. It really just depends on the dog."

Huachuca City police are still investigating the case of illegal dog-breeding, and have not yet released the name of the person responsible.  Their animal control facility is still accepting donations of dog food and towels.