I should probably offer a “trigger warning” here, but I’m not going to because I want you to keep reading. Most of the time in my blogs, I focus on common problems with dogs and try to come up with useful solutions to those problems. I like to think that most of my stories have happy endings. This one, though, may not.
I may sound angry as I continue to write. Well, that’s because I am angry. I am angry at people who participate in dog fights, people who go to dog fights, and people who turn away when they see signs of dog fighting and do nothing. So, without further ado, let’s talk about the facts of dog fighting.
What Is Dog Fighting?
Dog fighting is a supposed contest between dogs that is actually engineered by humans who are not worthy of the name. Two dogs are placed in a pit, or an arena, that is enclosed by walls. They are there to fight each other for the entertainment of spectators who gamble on the outcome of the fight.
Usually, a dog fight lasts an hour or two. It ends when one dog is so hurt that it cannot continue. Often, even the dog that “wins” ends up dying from its injuries. Dogs come out of fights with broken bones, torn skin, puncture wounds, serious bruising, and other injuries. Sometimes, their throats are simply torn out. If a dog is too damaged in a fight, it is killed. It is not “euthanized,” which is a term that we use to describe a dog being humanely put to sleep. More likely it is beaten to death, hung, or electrocuted for the pleasure of the spectators.
How Is a Dog Trained to Fight?
You could call it “training” if you like, but the more accurate terms would be “torture” and “abuse.” Fighting dogs are starved to encourage competition for food. They are subjected to so-called “exercise” to strengthen their jaw muscles – often, this involves being hung from a tree while biting on a rope.
Now, as if this isn’t horrible enough, other animals like puppies, kittens and rabbits are often used as “pit bait” – hung from trees to be mauled to death by dogs that have been so abused and starved that all they see is food.
Is This Legal?
No. Absolutely not. Virtually every state has laws against dog fighting, and, in many, you can actually incur a very lengthy prison sentence for just being present at a dogfight. Dog fighting is a felony, as it should be. It is not a misdemeanor, because the penalties that are associated with misdemeanors do not provide enough of a deterrent – something like a fine would just be considered the cost of business for people involved in dog fighting rings.
Dog fighting is also used to finance other illegal activities, like drug running and prostitution, as if making dogs fight to the death isn’t bad enough.
Can a Dog Fighter Be Rehabilitated?
No. Our justice system is founded on the principle of rehabilitation – you do your time, you learn, and if all works out as it should, you become a productive member of society. The problem is that you can’t fix a sociopath. And that’s the problem with dog fighters – they are sociopaths. They have no conscience and no way of understanding the harm and heartache that is caused by their actions. Michael Vick and his ilk cannot be somehow “repaired” and reintegrated into society, because they just don’t get it. Vick has never said he was sorry for what he did, and he never will, because he doesn’t understand why he should be sorry.
Look, I’m a kind and gentle person most of the time, but I have to wonder why we can’t just take some people out of the gene pool.
The Good News
If we have one thing to thank Michael Vick for, it is that his conviction has brought the problem of dog fighting very much to the fore. It has also resulted in an incredible amount of public outrage. Right now, there are a ton of Facebook groups that are dedicated to bringing awareness. One of the most popular is I Hate Michael Vick. Believe me, these people are not letting go. They have even organized protests at Vick’s games, and may even have been instrumental in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ decision not to sign Vick to another contract. Simply stated, the guy is causing a whole lot of trouble for his team, and there are other quarterbacks out there, so why stick with the guy who is a problem?
What Can You Do?
You can look for signs of dog fighting. If there are dogs of large breeds like American Staffordshire, Rottweilers, Cane Corsos, Dogo Argentinos, etc. in your neighborhood, and they have scratches and gouges on their faces, torn ears or other injuries, there is a good chance that they have been used for fighting. Call your local law enforcement. Never turn a blind eye.
Crime flourishes when good people do nothing. Dog fighters operate covertly, and they succeed when people look the other way. If you think something is wrong, chances are that it is, so speak out.