City Desk

Dog Found in Dumpster May Be Even More Traumatized Than Originally Thought

D.C. animal lovers have been following the recovery process of Trooper, the swollen and bloodied dog tossed in a Southeast dumpster last month. It's been assumed the mangled pit bull, given her name by the Washington Humane Society (WHS), was discarded after she lost a bout at an illegal dog-fighting event.

As it turns out, Trooper may not have made it even that far. "I have a gut feeling she was a bait-dog," says Scott Giacoppo, the chief program officer for WHS and a dog-fighting expert.

Bait dogs are untrained canines (sometimes snatched from the street or people's yards) that dog fighters force to face off with hardened fight dogs. The pairing allows the stronger dog to hone its skills and heighten its confidence. Bait dogs are maimed in training sessions that get repeated over and over until the weakling is either dead or too weak to function anymore. Then they get dumped.

Giacoppo receives daily updates on Trooper and visits with her frequently. Asked why he believes she's a bait dog and not a battler, he cites "a series of things, like the severity of her wounds and the lack of previous scarring." A fight dog, he says, would have plenty of old scars from previous fights.

The reason the severity of her wounds figures into his assessment is because the damage Trooper suffered from another dog implies she didn't know how to defend herself. That's a skill a trained fight dog would definitely have.

Other reasons?

"Besides the fact that she's small," Giacoppo explains, "the dog's demeanor isn't right for a fighter. Generally speaking, if another dog is in the room, a fight dog will have an intense focus, a stare you can't break. They fight in a pit that's surrounded by people yelling and they have to focus in on just the other dog. Anything that breaks that focus can cause them to lose." Giacoppo says Trooper doesn't have that stare—but he also admits he'll have to wait for her to fully heal so he can see what her demeanor is like when she's healthy.

It's all speculation, says Giacoppo, but "I'm willing to bet she's a bait dog."

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  • NoPits

    Here we go again. It appears that all pits are "bait" dogs, none are fighters. This person fails to acknowledge that fights go by weight, so to say this pit was too small doesn't hold water. The lack of old scars doesn't mean much either, it just means the pit was just beginning training/fighting. The pit was dumped because it didn't have "game", that is what the fighters do. All these descriptions don't add up to a "bait" dog or the pit would be dead. The whole purpose behind a bait dog is to let another kill it and get a taste for blood. So let's adopt it out as a "bait" dog like they do all the rest. And then let's see how long before it jumps another dog or attacks a human. The "Savior" complex speaks yet again.

  • Brandon

    How horrible!

  • Typical DC BS

    Ah, nothing like another exhibit of why SE DC is still the armpit of the city. Nobody knows anything, nobody sees anything, nobody hears anything. The only creature I feel sorry for is the dog.

  • Friend of Trooper

    I have personally visited this beautiful animal to see for myself how she suffered at the hands of man. She is warm and loving, and wants attention from humans, even though humans created her current horrific condition.

    Pits are not the problem. The problem is a human with no conscience. Just like dobermans, german shepherds and dalmations before, pits are only aggresive if they are bred or trained to be. It wasn't so many years ago there were efforts to ban those other breeds, at the same time we only knew pits as the dogs featured in the "Little Rascals" or as the mascot on the Buster Brown commercials.

    We need to increase penalties for anyone who engages in the inhumane culture of animal fighting, and ostrasize anyone involved in the sport. That includes Michael Vick, who got a pass to save his career by the Humane Society of the United States. Ironically, Trooper was found by the Washington Humane Society (not affiliated with HSUS) on the exact same day Michael Vick signed his multi-million dollar contract with the Eagles. Sick.

  • Debbie Mason

    This response is to NOPITS: Street fighters do not care if the dogs' weights are matched. They also may or may not fight the dogs to the death. And while the old timers (the dogmen of old) did follow the "rules of the game" these gangbangers, thugs and rednecks are educated enough to read the rules and don't have enough game "ethics" to follow them anyway. The rules that applied THEN don't apply NOW. And last but not least, I do agree the term bait dog is overused and should not be used unless the person rescuing the dog actually saw the fight. No one knows what happened and dogs don't talk. Unsound dogs turn on humans, whether German Shepherd, Poodle or Pit Bull. Just because two dogs fight each other does not mean those same two dogs will attack a human. Dogs must be evaluated as individuals and your making a statement like this "And then let’s see how long before it jumps another dog or attacks a human. The “Savior” complex speaks yet again." is showing your lack of knowledge of BASIC DOG BEHAVIOR. I happen to live with five former fight dogs and not one of them is capable of attacking a human. They (the former fight dogs) are exercised together, under supervision. If you can't speak from experience, keep quiet.

  • Amanda L.

    NoPits: Wake up. This is a man-made problem.

  • P.O.ed

    NoPits you talk about this process as if you were talking about the weather. It's always some ignorant human zoo animal that seem to think it's ok to watch this sick crap. And Michael Vick should have been sent back to the National Geographic channel or the local zoo where he came from. You do need to wake up. Seriously dude. Or dudette.