INDIANAPOLIS — An essential focus of Thursday’s FBI raids in Indianapolis centered around dog fighting, with at least 75 dogs seized as part of the raids. 

“I was sick to my stomach,” said Laurie Collins, founder of Lucci’s House Bully Rescue.

Those were Collins’ first words when she learned about the dogs who were seized, dogs who were living a life bred to fight.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Collins said. “The pictures of how the dogs are living. That is not an existence and what they are trained to do and the things they’re put through… It’s terrible.”

That’s why a few years ago Collins started Lucci’s House Bully Rescue to give more pit bulls a happy life. In those 3.5 years, she’s helped rescue nearly 600 dogs!

“Those dogs are living their best lives except for the physical scars,” she said. “It takes awhile but you don’t see the emotional ones anymore.”

Collins said pit bulls are not born aggressive but how they are raised and treated by their owners is how they will act.

“Pitties are people-pleasing, they want to please their owner. If that means they are fighting, they are doing that to please their owner,” she said. “It’s all about rewards for them and if the award is attention from their human then they are going to do what is expected of them but they do not want to inherently [fight].”

In Thursday’s raids, officials found many of the dogs in isolating conditions which Collins says increases their reactivity. The isolation then leads to frustration and aggression which can ultimately lead to fighting.

Collins said in time, these dogs will hopefully find loving homes.

“They are 100% rehabilitatable,” she said. “It could take six months… It could take a couple years but the trainers that have the knowledge and skills will evaluate the dogs and start working with them.”

As of now, Collins says the domesticated dogs from Thursday’s raids will go to local shelters but the dogs heavily involved in fighting will likely be treated out of state for investigative purposes, but she still hopes she still can help.

“If we can help we will,” she said. “If they let us take some of them, obviously we can’t take 70, even if we can take a couple and place them with some of our trainers and our rehab people, we will do that.”

She’s now encouraging others to look at pit bulls from a new perspective too.

“I want people to keep an open mind and an open heart,” Collins said. “Don’t judge the dog. Judge the humans on the other end of the leash. It’s time for people to hold the people accountable and not the animals.”

Eventually, many of the dogs from the raids will be available to be adopted and/or fostered. Collins is hoping some of the dogs can find a home with her shelter too. To learn more about Lucci’s House Bully Rescue, click here.