The dogs are large Italian mastiffs that, with their ears cropped, resemble American Staffordshire terriers, which are often categorized as pit bulls, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Tuesday.
More Cane Corsos have been abandoned in the area than in the rest of the country combined, possibly by owners who at first were seeking to enter them in dogfights or to keep them in order to look "bad," said a local rescuer.
People who buy the dogs want "a big, tough dog breed to fight" but soon are disappointed to learn the Cane Corsos are not fighting dogs, said Amy Parsons, treasurer of Big Paws, Big Hearts, a Philadelphia-area Cane Corso rescue group.
Cane Corsos are not usually used for fighting, said Chris Schindler, manager of animal-fighting law-enforcement for the national Humane Society.
Nicole Wilson, an animal-abuse investigator for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the agency gets "a lot of cases of neglect and cruelty" that involve food, water, shelter and veterinary care issues for the breed.
Big Paws, Big Hearts has taken in more than 55 of the dogs from shelters in Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania counties, the Daily News reported.
"We have some dogs that were used for breeding purposes and then dumped. One of the older dogs was thrown out of a moving vehicle, Parsons said.
"Sometimes we get dogs that have scars on them indicating they have been forced to serve as 'bait' dogs," used by dog fighters as attack targets during training, she said.