By Deborah Laverty, NWI Times
While Lake County sheriff's police await the filing of charges in a suspected Gary dogfighting ring, the rescued dogs are undergoing rehabilitation.
The 20 rescued dogs, which won't be available for adoption until court proceedings conclude, have been taken to an undisclosed boarding-style building far removed from their previous life, Janette Reever said.
Reever serves as deputy manager for animal fighting cases for the Humane Society of the United States.
"The dogs are the true victims in dogfighting so they need to be given every change possible. ... It's amazing that these dogs -- that have given up on life -- now have life in their eyes," Reever said.
In addition to giving each dog all the basics, including its own room and bed, handlers also provide the dogs with enrichment.
That enrichment includes working off their stress by leading them through obstacle courses or stimulating their minds by giving them small toys filled with hard-to-reach peanut butter.
"We're trying to socialize them and also get them to be dogs that have a life in society," Reever said.
One of the rescued female pit bulls, which was missing a large portion of its lip area, is doing extremely well and has adopted as its "baby" a stuffed animal it carries around.
"The dogs absolutely love these little 'babies' because the toys act as a security blanket for them," Reever said.
Many of the dogs ultimately will be adopted to families where the fit is right or even be used as service dogs.
"We don't want to just give them out to anybody," Reever said.
It was an anonymous tip that led Lake County sheriff's police to a reported dogfighting site July 7 in the 900 block of Willard Street.
Arrested were Brandon J. Peterson, 26, Sammie E. Jones, 28, Clifton Harris, 49, and Willie L. Hargrove, 52, all of Gary.
Charges of animal fighting, a Class D felony, still are pending because police are looking at the possibility of making two more arrests in the case, Lake County sheriff's Cmdr. Rob Arnold said.
Anyone with information about dogfighting or any criminal activity is asked to call the sheriff's anonymous hot line at (800) 750-2746.
In addition, the Humane Society of the United States has a tip line at (877) TIP-HSUS.