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The Heinous Crime of Dogfighting
Philippine News Tuesday, July 17 2012
Dogfighting is a felony offense in all 50 states, and it is also a felony under federal law. It is inhumane “sport” in which 2 dogs --- specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight—are placed in a pit to fight each other for spectators’ entertainment and gambling. Fights last until one dog die or so severely injured that the dog can no longer continue to fight.
The injuries inflicted and sustained by these dogs are severe and most are fatal. When quarterback Michael Vick was convicted on federal charges related to dogfighting in 2007, this underground blood sport was thrust into public spotlight. Vick’s indictment revealed the sickening abuse of dogs which are pitted against one another and encouraged to fight until death while spectators cheer and gamble on a “winner.”
When dogs on Vick’s property were not being forced to fight, they were kept penned and chained to buried car axles. When they were no longer useful to fight, organizers would kill the dogs by being electrocuted, hanged, beaten, drowned, shot or killed in some other cruel means. The dogs most commonly bred for fighting are pit bulls, Staffordshire terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, American bulldogs, and American pit bulls. Dogs are chained or penned (often with heavy logging chains), and many are taunted and starved in order to trigger extreme survival instincts and encourage aggression.
Organizers train these dogs by forcing them to tread water in pools, run on treadmill while a caged rabbit, cat, chicken, other dogs or other terrified animal is dangled in front of them. Many dogs are injected with steroids, have their teeth sharpened, cut off their ears (to prevent another dog from latching on), and add roach poison to their food so that their fur might taste bad to other dogs.
The “pit” where these bloody events take place are very small, surrounded by an enclosure usually about 3 feet hight. Dogs are taken to either of the ring and release at the “face your dogs” command. Dogs die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days after the fight. A federal prosecutor recalls a case in which one of 18 dogs found in a raid had 70 open wounds and was missing half a jaw, while another dog’s body was 75 percent covered in scar issue.
Like other forms of cruelty to animals, dogfighting is often linked to other crimes, including gambling, drug activity, and murder. A detective told the New York Daily News that “you can get more drugs and guns off the street by breaking up dog rings than you would breaking up drug rings.” An Ohio Sheriff commented that “just about every dogfighting search warrant we’ve done, we’ve found drugs.” Young children are sometimes present at dogfights which promotes insensitivity to animal suffering, enthusiasm for violence, and disrespect for the law.
Unfortunately, the blood sport of dogfighting is alive and well. It is a thriving underground crime. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are more than 40,000 people involved in organized dogfighting in the U.S. and thousands more involved in impromptu street fighting. Just as recent as July 12, 2012, Young Calicoe, a Detroit rapper, was raided after he posted a video that went viral of him showing off his “champion” dogs and cocks.
At the beginning of the video, he says “I hope I don’t get indicted like Michael Vick” before proceeding to lead the camera into his shabby looking backyard where he had numerous pit bulls in pens and rooster in crates. He opens the pens containing pit bulls that wagging their tails but extremely nervous. With the help of citizens, the police were able to locate the house, raid it, and all animals were taken to the Michigan Humane Society. Authorities are saying there will likely be criminal charges against Calicoe.
Some signs of dogfighting are usually dogs tied to heavy chains. In urban areas, they are confined in basements. For example, if a home has multiple pit bulls that seem aggressive, unneutered, abused or not socialized, it is highly possible they are being used for dogfighting. Treadmills, most are homemade ones, and are used as conditioning tools. Scarred dogs—fighting scars can be found on the face, legs, thighs and punctured wounds, swollen faces and mangled ears. Call 911 immediately and the Humane Society offers rewards up to $5,000 for information leading to the conviction of a dogfighter.