Actress Katherine Heigl rescues England, the hog-tied pit bull of Bakersfield
Hollywood, CA – Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl and mother Nancy, co-founders of the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, teamed up with Last Chance for Animals at a press conference Tuesday to announce they will be taking in the Bakersfield pit bull, England, who was found hog-tied and left for dead in the mud for several hours late last month.
"Anyone that would do this to an animal is a coward and would potentially do this to a child or a woman,” said Chris DeRose, president of LCA.
Katherine Heigl added, “We really need to send a message out and educate people about the breed. This cruelty cannot be tolerated.”
Petting her own black pit bull, Apollo, who affably accompanied her to the press conference, she continued, “How can you do this to an animal that’s this loving and playful? All they want is for you to love them.” And love him she did, albeit at the expense of her manicure, which after five minutes was covered in the good-natured slobber of Apollo’s returned affections.
JDHF and LCA officials also announced they will be offering a reward for abuse cases that LCA investigates. “We will do everything possible to find the person or persons responsible and make sure they are made accountable and punished to the full extent of the law for their actions,” said the Knocked Up actress.
In fact, Chris DeRose wants to see the courts take animal cruelty more seriously and said he also wants to help educate the public on what to look for and what to stand up for. He pointed out that violent tendencies often start early and more attention should be given to children who act out aggressively toward animals.
"LCA is a non-profit animal rights organization that exposes cruelty and abuse nationwide. Since 1984 their investigations on vivisection, pet theft, fur farms and circuses have been used to develop public education and outreach campaigns, and to draft legislation leading to lasting changes for the animals. From exposing companion animal meat being sold for human consumption and the mass slaughter of deer by the National Parks Services at Gettysburg, to the first ever conviction of USDA licensed B dealers, LCA is committed to bringing these issues to the forefront and effecting change,” states the LCA press release.
When asked how to ensure the courts dispense maximum sentencing in animal cruelty cases, Guy Shaw, Director of the Kern County Animal Control Department whose jurisdiction includes Bakersfield, said the bottom line lies with the DA, the jury and pressure from the public. He also asked for the media’s help in pushing the legal system to enforce its laws. Several times he related how shaken up and angry he was when he learned of what happened to England.
England, the dog so named after the animal control officer, Kristen England, who came to his aid April 22, went into the care of JDHF on Wednesday. He is recovering well and remarkably does not show any signs of aggression toward people. However, he sustained injuries from having his mouth and legs bound by a bootlace and heavy chain tied around his neck which rendered him unable to move for an estimated four to five hours.
James Worley, 52, the man suspected of committing the act was caught April 26 and faces possible charges of felony animal cruelty. He was being held on $10,000 bail, which he posted, according to Bakersfield.com, and his arraignment is scheduled for Friday, May 7, in the city of Lamont.
Thankfully, England is now in the good hands of JDHF who often takes in dogs who need rehabilitation. According to the Foundation’s website, "One of our major programs, The Heigl Hounds of Hope, focuses on rescuing medium to large dogs from high-kill shelters throughout Southern California. Many have experienced abandonment, cruelty and neglect. To prepare the dogs for a new home and family we have hired a trainer to work with them on basic obedience training. At our training ranch the dogs learn all the basics needed to adjust and prepare for a new good life with a loving family.”
Reportedly, Ms. Heigl’s own dog Apollo was once a rescue dog himself and was retrained successfully by his trainer, David Roe. Roe, also at the conference, said he felt all dogs can be rehabilitated and when asked, said even pit bulls like Michael Vick’s victims are capable of making incredible strides toward becoming loving, sociable animals. He described the breed as, “energetic dogs who just need consistency and structure. They are great dogs.”
Meanwhile, a petition has been started by Karen Marousek, asking the District Attorney’s office handling England’s case to seek the maximum penalty possible under California law for Worley. To date it has over 1,500 signatures.