'Bait' Pup Who Lost Half Her Face to Brutal Dogfights Learns to Love Again in New Home

A mutt used as "bait" for dogfighters who was so severely injured she lost half her face, including an eyeball, has learned to love again after being adopted.

Despite her gruesome injuries, which saw her "rotting" flesh "falling off," Haddie is now living her best "spoiled" life, after being given a new home by Erin Williams.

Williams, from Washington D.C., got Haddie in August 2020, as she recovered from extensive surgeries to repair the damage to her face.

Williams explained the pup was rescued by a good Samaritan, and brought to Mutt Scouts, based in South California. They were faced with high vet bills owing to the severity of Haddie's injuries, which they funded via donations.

Williams explained to Newsweek her loving pet had been used as a "bait dog," potentially for years. "I don't know how much of that time was spent there (or how she ended up there to begin with). I don't like to think of what that was like—I'm just so grateful she's safe now," she said.

The dog lover explained a woman who lived in the same town as the dogfighting operation contacted authorities, who rescued the pup, thought to be between 2 and 3 years old.

"Haddie was used as a bait dog, which is what dogfighters use to 'train' their fighting dogs by encouraging them to attack the bait dog. They are subjected to repeated abuse and attacks as the fighting dogs learn to be aggressive towards them. All dogs in this situation are victims," she explained.

"She had injuries all over, but the worst of it was on her face. The skin around her eyes and mouth had been injured so badly that it was barely attached anymore and falling off. Much of it had to be removed, as did her right eye.

"They had to remove most of the skin and one eye to save her life. It was essentially rotting off already—I've seen 'before' photos, and it's really gruesome. The injuries came from the forced attacks from other dogs."

Photo of Haddie the rescue dog.
Photo of Haddie. She was rescued last year, but faced extensive surgeries due to her injuries. Erin Williams

After receiving surgery in spring 2020, Haddie was ready to be adopted, and initially Williams said she was merely looking for a dog similar to her previous pet, Elly.

Williams said: "But I kept seeing Haddie's photo on the adoption page, and I couldn't get her out of my head. She had clearly been through so much, but looked so happy. I knew I had to at least apply, then I could move on. But Mutt Scouts called me for an interview, and it was clearly a match! The rest is history."

Williams needed to give extra care to Haddie, who was still recovering, adding: "Much of the serious medical care happened before I adopted her. When I got her, her face was still healing, so my job was to make sure the area was kept medicated as it healed into scar tissue and help her understand that she would be safe and loved for the rest of her life."

Haddie will always need to wear sunscreen on her scars, as Williams continued: "I still have to put a medicated treatment on her snout, which hasn't healed completely because of its location. She likes to stick her snout in bushes looking for squirrels! She may need further medical care in the future, and her remaining eye has a permanent cornea scratch, but for now it's just about making her know she's safe and loved."

Since moving in with Williams, Haddie's life has been unrecognizable, as she learned to trust other dogs again.

 Photo of Haddie the rescue dog.
Photo of Haddie the rescue dog.

Unsurprisingly, she revealed: "Haddie has always been sweet and silly, but in the beginning she was terrified of other dogs. She would be inside and hear a dog on the street and start barking and shaking. Over a few months—and with a lot of work from both of us—she got past that.

"First we worked on being calm when she saw another dog, and then slowly introduced her to them face to face. That part required a lot of hot dogs as treats! She just needed to learn that dogs are there to play, not to hurt her. At this point, I really think she's just like any other dog, albeit a different looking one."

And she's come a long way, as Williams raved: "She loves other dogs! It's so heartwarming to see, considering how fearful she was when I adopted her. We have a park near our apartment and we go almost daily. I really love seeing her run around and play with the other dogs, it shows how much of a normal, happy, spoiled pet she is now."

Since being adopted during the pandemic, Williams pointed out Haddie has been "by her side" virtually 24/7. "I really miss her when I have to be out of the house for too long," she gushed.

Photo of Haddie the rescue dog.
Photo of Haddie the rescue dog.

Williams has been sharing their life together on her Instagram and TikTok accounts, both called Haddie the Pirate Dog, with various posts amassing thousands of likes and comments.

Naturally Haddie gets some stares and questions, but luckily Williams says comments aren't as bad as she's initially feared.

"People are usually curious. Sometimes they make a guess, and unfortunately the truth is always worse. I was worried when I got her that I'd have to fend off rude comments, but I've been happily proven wrong. There is the occasional unkind comment, but they're far fewer than the helpful and kind ones.

"My favorite interactions are the ones we have with kids. She's incredibly patient with them, and loves to sit still while they pet her and ask questions. I give age-appropriate responses, and they're always so understanding and just see her for the good dog she is," she said.