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A New Day for Fight-Bust Dogs

Advocates push the individual approach for dogs rescued from fighting operations

Bernie doesn’t discriminate: He loves everybody. Children, old people, tall people, short people. “He comes up and he leans in, and he looks up at you with his little eyes, and his adorable little black face, and then he opens his mouth like a pant … and it’s like a big smile,” explains Marthina McClay, an animal trainer who founded and serves as president of Our Pack Inc., a pit bull rescue group in California. “And he’s just like, ‘Gosh, don’t you love me? I sure love you.’”

He gives more love now than he likely received in his formative years. Bernie is one of the “Ohio 200”—a group of pit bulls rescued last September from an alleged dogfighting operation in southeastern Ohio. Our Pack acquired him through the New York-based Animal Farm Foundation Inc. (AFF), which assisted with the fight bust and its aftermath.

In California, Bernie became a certified therapy dog, and began visiting at-risk children during Our Pack’s humane education presentations at the Oakland Animal Services (OAS) shelter.

McClay says as a visual aid, he’s hard to beat.

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