Dogfighting – Is This Bloodsport Going Vogue?
I did a story a while back, Dog Fighting – On the Rise or Just in the Spotlight?, and closed the story with this comment;
My conclusion – dogfighting may or may not be on the rise but with the high incidences of gangs, drugs and violence nowadays, if it is not currently on the rise, it will be. The bottom line – it needs to be stopped!!!
Lately though I seem to come across news stories almost every day about dogfighting and dogfighting rings and it seems to me to be a chronic problem, and not just in the US. In many circles it’s the ‘in’ thing. Just google ‘dogfighting’ in the news and see what you come up with! Story after story of the atrocities!
Only yesterday there was a story about a man in Pine Bluff who was arrested on suspicion of orchestrating a dogfighting ring, PINE BLUFF MAN FACES CRUELTY, DOG FIGHTING CHARGES. 19 Dogs were seized and Anthony Lynn Walker, 39, is facing 20 felony counts of dog fighting, as well as 40 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and illegally impounding animals.
Then there’s the story today about a Wounded pit bull puppy left in garbage can. A 4 month old puppy was found after having been dumped in a trashcan, barely alive. His body is covered in bruises and old scars, he has a broken leg and ruptured vessels in his eye. The vet suspects that he may have been being trained for dogfighting or possibly been used as a ‘bait’ dog.
Another story last week from Ypsilanti Township. Michigan, Suspected dog-fighting ring discovered, in which 17 dogs were seized and had to be euthanized. Ricky Lee Lynch, 26, of 2300 block of Wiard Road, was arrested and charged with five felony counts of animal fighting, possession of animal-fighting equipment, and performing medical treatment without a veterinary license, a misdemeanor.
Last week there was a very interesting article by Steve Malanga, ‘The sick hipness of dog fighting – For too many top athletes and entertainers, this savage sport is outlaw cool .’ It makes a lot of points and may explain the resurgence and growing popularity of this horrendous bloodsport.
All the vogue among athletes
Embraced by street gangs starting in the late 1980s, who were drawn to it for their own sport then discovered it could be a profitable enterprise, the new world of dog fighting ranges from highly organized, well-attended matches featuring tens of thousands of dollars in betting pools and prize money to impromptu bouts on street corners and in playgrounds. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that as many as 40,000 people participate in dog fighting either as spectators, organizers or breeders of dogs, and tens of thousands of dogs are bred for the ring.
Magazines and Internet sites openly sell training gear and display the “Cajun Rules,” an intricate, 19-point system for adjudicating dog fights. Videos depicting dog fights are available for sale online, including recently at Amazon.com, according to a suit filed against the retailer by the Humane Society.
One reason for the growing popularity of dog fighting is that it seems to have come into vogue among professional athletes and entertainers, whose attentions have given the brutal pastime a certain street cred.
Ho points out athletes, rappers and even how commercial marketing has latched onto this trend and made it seem almost acceptable to certain segments of society. Then he goes on to explore the attending problems and the lack of serious laws and legislation in place to actually do anything about the growing atrocity and problem!
Creating bigger problems
That culture has reached down to schoolchildren, who increasingly seem to think that two dogs at each others’ throats is cool. A survey of schoolchildren by the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago in 2001 found that 20 percent had witnessed a dogfight. Earlier this year, Los Angeles police arrested a 13-year-old boy who had organized a dog fight in an alley.
We ignore the surging popularity of dog fighting and its related activities, such as breeding dogs for aggressiveness, at our own risk. Profits from matches now fund other illicit gang operations, including drug buying. An analysis by the Animal Legal and Historical Center, a project of the Michigan State College of Law, of more than two dozen raids on dogfights found that in virtually every instance the police also seized illegal narcotics and weapons.
The presence in neighborhoods of so many dogs bred and trained to be aggressive is also a growing danger. Just a few months ago in England, which has witnessed a similar growth in urban-centered dog fighting, 5-year-old Ellie Lawrenson was mauled to death by a dog allegedly bred by her uncle for the ring.
Dog fighting has also become a nightmare for America’s lawful pet owners. Although many fighting dogs are bred, gangs steal neighborhood dogs and cats to be used as ‘bait’ in training the fighters and developing a blood lust in them. Several years ago, investigators in Pima County, Ariz., began finding the remains of disfigured dead dogs dumped in the desert and determined that many were stolen pets.
Dogs bred to fight are victims, too, usually living short, cruel lives. Most are so aggressive that they must be chained or caged in isolation, apart from other animals and humans. And even if they are rescued by authorities and heal from sometimes terrible wounds, these dogs most often must be put to sleep because they cannot be adopted as family pets.
Prosecutors go easy
Despite such horrors, dog fighting thrives in part because prosecutions are infrequent and penalties can be light. Prosecutors often plead dog fighting cases down to misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty to dispose of them quickly. Instead of jail time, probation and small fines are the norm — hardly deterrents to an activity that has become increasingly lucrative. In a 2004 raid in Covington, Ga., police seized $250,000 in cash.
Some cities have begun to recognize the seriousness of the problem. Seeing the connection between dog fighting and other gang crimes, Chicago has created a special police unit devoted to investigating cases of abuse. Two years ago, Los Angeles’ police force formed an Animal Cruelty Task Force, which has led to several prosecutions of gang members for animal abuse.
But stepped-up police work and prosecutions are only part of the solution. We are in danger of raising a generation of kids who view animal abuse as a sport, and it is up to responsible adults to change that way of thinking.
Maybe we need to begin by pressuring our sports figures, entertainers and even our advertisers to reform their messages, too.
Idaho and Wyoming are the last two state that do not have felony statues on the books for dogfighting. But it looks like at least one legislator in Idaho is trying.
To be fair, participating in a dog fight is illegal in Idaho. The misdemeanor crime is punishable with up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, has tried to toughen the penalties in the state by making dog fighting a felony offense. Under the terms of his proposed 2006 legislation, those penalties would have risen to five years and a $50,000 fine.
In each of the past three sessions, he’s introduced similar legislation. All three times the bill failed to make it out of the agriculture committee.
“Three times up and struck out,” Trail said. “It’s one of those frustrating things. It seems to most people it should be a slam dunk. We’re a long way from that.”
It should be a slam dunk. Instead, to steal another sports metaphor, it’s a long shot.
Trail said he would attempt once again to get legislation passed in 2008. But he doesn’t sound hopeful.
Personally it just amazes me that he could possibly have any detractors but it seems again and again he has. What is it going to take to wake people up to this? To see it as the serious crime that it is with many additional problems attached to it?
Here’s another story, this time from Georgia. Police came across a vacant lot where they found 13 pitbulls.
“Some of them were chained. Some of them were just laying out,” said Chief David Lyons of the Garden City Police Department. “They were in very, very bad condition.”
Most of the dogs were emaciated, with little food and no water in sight. Their bodies were raw with dog bites. Even the puppies were in poor shape. At least one died. The rest of the dogs were put down.
Police also found a pig they think was possibly used to rile the dogs up. It was missing part of its ear, huddled in a dirty pen.
“The pictures are hard to look at,” said Chief Lyons, “and this was a hard situation to deal with just because of the treatment, the condition the dogs were in. It was deplorable.”
In a dog-fighting ring, dogs are deliberately mistreated, even given steroids, to make them meaner. Police said one of the biggest indicators of dog fighting in an area is an increase in the number of stolen pit bulls, especially puppies.
One of the scariest things, aside from the poor dogs themselves, it that this is in a vacant lot where children could wander at any time. Just imagine it! A child wanders in and and with the natural curiosity of a child wants to see the dogs. These poor dogs who were trained to do nothing but fight would most likely tear this child to sheds. Not their fault, it’s all they know.
Yes, the President did sign an animal fighting bill into law, but more needs to be done, especially on a state by state level. The penalties for these crimes need to be so strong that they overcome the perceived chicness and benefits; money, fame and popularity! There are so many victims; the fighting dogs themselves, the ‘bait’ animals, the stolen dogs used for fighting and ‘bait’, the families that lose their beloved canine companions, the children exposed to this who are taught just by example that life is expendable, and those who inadvertently come into contact with these fight trained dogs and are bitten, mauled, scarred and even killed.
This has got to stop being taken lightly!! Look at the big picture!! See this for what it is, cruelty of the highest degree, on many levels! Something has to be done and done now!
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