Dogs used for fighting abandoned ‘on the brink of death’ in Upper Darby

Russ Harper has been rescuing abused and neglected dogs for seven years. This week, he saw one of the coldest cases of animal cruelty he has ever encountered.

“One of the dogs was laying lateral, not moving. All she could do was blink her eyes,” Harper, founder of the organization Justice Rescue, said of two wounded pit bulls left for dead in Upper Darby. “She was the coldest dog I ever felt that was still alive. She was literally on the brink of death.”

About 6:40 a.m. Monday, a passerby discovered two injured and emaciated female pit-bull mixes in Penn Pines Park at Hilldale and Providence Roads, according to Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.

The abandoned animals, which police believe were the victims of dog fighting, were covered in thick, deep scars. One had fresh bite marks on her neck, and the other one could not stand on her own.

“They were almost dead,” Chitwood said. “And whoever dumped them threw them out, then threw dog food next to them. It was like adding insult to injury.”

Harper said he had no doubt that the dogs, estimated to be about 2 years old and about 50 percent below normal body weight, were used for fighting. Scars and bites that covered their bodies are in various stages of healing.

“This is long-term neglect. They were fighting dogs,” he said. “They were fed enough to keep them alive, and then finally they just stopped feeding them.













Chitwood said of people who inflict such abuse, “you can’t even call them animals, because canines are better than that. They are dirt balls.”

Harper said the dogs — named Gracie and Layla by Justice Rescue — were taken to a veterinarian for evaluation and treatment. When Gracie’s temperature finally rose, her pain was audible.

“It was the most horrible sound you could ever hear,” Harper said. “And then the other dog came over and just put her head on her.”