Sir Patrick Stewart Wants You to Get Tough on National Dog Fighting Awareness Day

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aspca get tough dog fighting campaign leroy

Even though it’s illegal in every U.S. state, thousands of dogs are injured or killed each year in cruel dog-fighting operations. To promote National Dog Fighting Awareness Day (NDFAD) on April 8, the ASPCA launched the “Get Tough” campaign in 2015, asking animal lovers to advocate for stronger laws and harsher sentences for creeps who fight dogs.

This year, actor, Pit Bull advocate and all-around cool guy Sir Patrick Stewart and Ginger, the pibble he’s fostering, have joined the campaign.

“The want to please is an absolute characteristic of pit bulls,” Stewart, who believed the negative stereotypes about these dogs until he met Ginger, told PEOPLE. “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.”

To join Stewart in bringing attention to the critical issue of dog fighting, you can share a muscle-flexing selfie either alone or with your pets on social media. Use the hashtag #GetTough and tag @ASPCA.

Along with the selfie, you can participate in the Get Tough campaign by doing the following:

  1. Sign the ASPCA’s pledge promising you’ll get tough on dog fighting by being aware of and reporting these operations, and supporting tougher penalties. As of the morning of NDFAD, over 19,200 people have signed the pledge.
  2. Find out more about how the ASPCA is working to end dog fighting.
  3. Make a donation to help the ASPCA with this cause.

“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,” Stewart told PEOPLE.

R.I.P. ‘Vicktory Dog’ Little Red

Just six days shy of National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, Little Red, one of over 50 dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dog-fighting operation in 2007, crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Her loving dog mom, Susan, hopes Little’s legacy will be raising awareness of animal cruelty.

“We hope you will remember Little’s life,” she wrote, “and keep alive the fight to save animals who have been abused, abandoned and who have suffered, no matter what the circumstances.”

Photo credit: Laura Goldman (that’s Ella and Leroy, who gets very sad at the thought of dog fighting)