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For the first time in more than 50 years, legendary actor Sir Patrick Stewart opened his heart and home to foster a dog. Less than a month ago, the world watched as Ginger and Patrick met for the first time. Their bond was instant.
Two-year old Ginger was rescued by LA-based rescue Wags and Walks from a dog fighting ring, where she’d been used as a breeding dog. Within just days of meeting each other, both Ginger and Sir Patrick Stewart’s lives were changed forever. And, it was something Stewart himself hadn’t anticipated.
In an interview with People, Stewart admitted that he, too, had once believed the negative stereotypes about pit bulls, that they were inherently dangerous or violent. That was, until he moved next door to a senior pit bull named Sadie 5 years ago.
“I had a reaction to that, which I am now significantly ashamed of, because pit bulls to me meant only one thing: aggression, hostility, violence. I was uncomfortable with the idea of meeting this dog,” Stewart explained. Sadie showed him the truth about these amazing dogs.
“Immediately upon meeting her, something happened and I found myself simply absorbed in her whether she was paying attention to me or not,” he said of his first moments with Sadie. It was his special bond with Sadie that inspired him to foster a pit bull of his own.
“One morning they arrived with Ginger and almost immediately something happened. First her warmth and friendliness and curiosity and good manners impressed us right away, but what we were not prepared for is what very quickly followed and that was that we fell in love.” Stewart said.
Stewart and his wife, Sunny Ozell, have both admitted they’re smitten and would love to adopt Ginger. However, due to breed specific legislation in the UK, taking Ginger to their home in England would be nearly impossible. So, instead, the couple are focusing on finding the absolute most perfect forever home they can for the girl they’ve fallen so madly in love with.
Although Ginger won’t physically be with Stewart for the rest of her life, she’s already made an impression that will last a lifetime. The famed actor is now dedicating his time to ending the breed specific legislation that originally instilled in him a fear of the breed, and ultimately prevents him from adopting the dog he loves so dearly.
“The want to please is an absolute characteristic of pit bulls,” Stewart said. “It means that these dogs can be used trained and tampered with in a way that, in order to please their masters, makes them angry and violent, and makes them become fighting dogs.”
Adding, “I am very happy to be part of the campaign that is speaking out against this and the urgent need for the law and organizations to intervene whenever they can.”
As part of his efforts to give a voice to the voiceless, Stewart is teaming up with the ASPCA’s National Dog Fighting Awareness Day campaign to raise awareness on the prevalence of dog fighting in the U.S. and encourage animal lovers nationwide to take action against one of the most brutal forms of animal cruelty.
“No civilized society should tolerate barbaric practices that profit off animal torture, yet this is exactly what happens at dog fights – which occur more frequently, take place in more communities, and involve a broader population of individuals than most people realize,” said Sir Patrick Stewart. “Dog fighting represents the worst of human nature and the ultimate betrayal of loving animals, so it’s important to build awareness and a resounding public rejection. I proudly stand with the ASPCA’s #GetTough campaign because it’s an active step toward the ultimate eradication of this heinous ‘blood sport’.”
“Contrary to what many people think, dog fighting isn’t rare, or a relic of the past. As recently as last December, the ASPCA has been called in to assist law enforcement in dog fighting investigations, and we’ve seen firsthand the suffering and torture these dogs are subjected to,” said ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker. “Fighting to eradicate dog fighting is the work of committed rescuers, advocates, political leaders, and the general public, which is why we’re encouraging everyone to do their part to end this horrific activity in American culture.”
Throughout the month of April, Patrick Stewart and the ASPCA are urging animal lovers across the country to #GetTough on dog fighting by posting selfies with their pets to their social media channels, flexing their muscles in solidarity with the movement and taking a stand against dog fighting.
In addition, animal lovers can speak out against dog fighting using the hashtag #GetTough, visit aspca.org/gettough to learn about dog fighting, and help end the stereotyping of pit bull type dogs by fighting breed-specific legislation and fostering a shelter dog.
Despite being a felony in all 50 states, dog fighting continues to be a popular underground activity, with thousands of dogs being fought or bred in almost every state. The ASPCA estimates that there are tens of thousands of dogfighters in the U.S., forcing dogs to train, fight, and suffer at the hands of humans every year. Losing dogs are often killed, sometimes by shooting, electrocution, or drowning. These animals fight in urban, suburban and rural settings in all regions of the country. And dog fighters and individuals who attend these events are just as varied. Lawyers, judges, teachers, high school football coaches and veterinary technicians have all been arrested in connection with dog fighting.