In the late days of her life, the American Staffordshire Terrier behaved like any other senior dog. She loved a good snooze. The sweet dog spent time with her family and nibbling on treats. Her favorite toy was a raccoon. This dog showed no signs of the difficult obstacles she overcame.
Layla, the Survivor
Before being rescued, Layla lived in Virginia. Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick kept her as part of his dogfighting ring called Bad Newz Kennels.
In 2007, authorities rescued more than 50 dogs from the fighting operation. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Vick trained his dogs to “cause major injuries” to other pups.
It is hard to imagine someone could hurt dogs in that way.
Thankfully, authorities raided the facilities and saved many of the dogs. Twenty-two of the survivors were transferred to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.
Layla was one of those dogs. She spent five years rehabilitating with Best Friends. At the end of her stay, she passed a Canine Good Citizen test. Now, she could find a forever home.
A New Life Filled with Good News
Once Layla passed the test, she needed to find her new home. Best Friends already had the perfect candidate for the task on staff. Tess Rushton was interning there and she decided to adopt the American Staffordshire Terrier.
“She turned out to be absolutely lovely,” Tess told the Today Show.
Tess fondly called Layla a “clumsy goof.” Layla’s new mom spoiled her, mixing organic food with her high-quality kibble.
Then, they spent the next six years together. The pair traveled and volunteered at the Teen Tracks program of the Arizona Animal Welfare League. As part of her volunteer work, Layla met with teens learning how to care for animals.
“We played it pretty low-key in our lives because I really did just want her to be a dog and stay in her comfort zone, and just live her life. But I also didn’t feel like I’d pass up an opportunity to help educate people about dogs that experienced the kinds of things that she did,” Tess said.
At the end of June, Layla’s health issues became too much for the sweet dog to bear. So, Tess and Layla’s dad Peter Conley made the extremely difficult decision to stop Layla’s suffering.
“It’s really, really tragic and sad. But she’s out of pain, and wherever her little spirit went, I’m sure it’s better than the way that she felt in that poor, aching body,” Tess said.
We love that Layla’s story demonstrates dogs involved in fighting rings can be rehabilitated. Cheers to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for rescuing these Vicktory dogs!
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