Pearl and Spike were rescued from a dogfighting ring in Alabama. They were part of a multi-state raid, which confiscated 367 dogs. The case began with a routine phone tap in a drug case in Georgia; three years later, simultaneously arrests were made in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas, curtailing activities of the second largest dog fighting operation in the country. The FBI led the brigade, working with the ASPCA and the HSUS. Pearl and Spike were initially saved by HSUS and then taken North by Out of the Pits, a rescue in upstate, New York.
The two dogs had been chained outdoors their whole lives, and then kenneled in a shelter for one year, held as evidence in their owner's trial. Pearl was terrified of people; she had been used (or miss-used) as a breeder, which was clear from one look at her. When Spike was rescued he weighed 15 pounds and had abscesses all over his skin, probably from living outside in dirt.
We're not sure if Spike and Pearl are related. (I'm waiting for DNA results.) But they are certainly inseparable--devoted. Pearl is about six years old and Spike is two. Pearl is brilliant and Spike is a goof. When I took them in, they had never lived in a house before. Watching them become civilized has been an incredible experience.
The Duo, as they are called, will eventually be--just dogs. For now, they are learning to live with humans and no longer fear them. My job is to convince them that the world is a kind place. There are big bowls of food twice a day, biscuits galore and marrow bones cooked to perfection. In between meals, they chase bees, nibble sweet grass and just breathe.
Elizabeth Hess is the author of several animal books including, Nim Chimpsky: The Chimp Who would be Human.