It’s a felony offense in every one of the 50 states. In addition, it is a felony under federal law. But that doesn’t seem to be enough to stop individuals from organizing or attending dog fights.
Authorities base their estimates of dog fighting participants in the United States on reports in underground publications dedicated to the blood sport and on the number of animals relegated to shelters bearing the scars of their battles.
The sport did demonstrate a decline back in the 1990s, but reported dog-fighting rings have increased in recent years, aided by the ease with which organizers can use the Internet to further their despicable practices.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, some people are drawn to dog fighting because it is lucrative. Major raids on fighting establishments have yielded more than $500,000. Authorities say it is commonplace for $30,000 to change hands during a single fight on a card of many.
Stud fees from “breeders” promising a championship fight bloodline number in the thousands. Whether at the professional or hobbyist level, the sale of pups from parents who have won numerous fights continues to be a very lucrative business. While money can certainly be viewed as one of the roots of this evil, it is not the only one.
Some owners use their dogs as an extension of themselves, to bully others or to wield power. It is not uncommon for a losing dog to be tortured by the owner as a punishment for the disgrace of a loss. Although a fight to the death is not a “given,” losing dogs are often massacred as part of the “entertainment.”
Last week, Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron imposed a sentence of nine months in jail to Davoughn Fitts, 29, and three years’ probation for Cherise Mickens, 28, after they pleaded guilty to an agriculture and markets law which related to owning, possessing and keeping a dog with the intent to engage the dog in animal fighting. We commend Your Honor for his sentencing, but wish it could have been quadrupled. Actually what we really wish is that these two-legged animals could have been made to face the same ring the dogs they were holding would’ve been forced to face.
Many breeds of dogs are used throughout the world in dog fighting. Here in the US the breed used most often is the American pit bull Terrier. Dog fighting has helped to foster the opinion that all pit bulls are vicious animals. Anyone who knows a pit or has one in their family probably knows a completely different story. The dogs have a bad rap because of the violent, ignorant thugs that use extreme training methods to capitalize on their dominant nature.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are 4.5 million dog bites across the country every year. On a list compiled by the CDC, you’ll find that pit bulls are not the No. 1 breed when it comes to biting humans, but actually No. 3 behind Chihuahuas and bulldogs. In another study, Labradors were held responsible for 13.3 percent of attacks by dogs, while pit bulls were credited with 8.3 percent.
The ASPCA has set April 8 as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day. We certainly agree with them that public awareness of dog fighting in your community is one of the ways to help combat this demented outrage committed against helpless animals.
Dog fighting is taking place in every kind of community across the country. It is our obligation to put an end to it. It needs to be attacked from every angle possible. If you suspect that it is happening where you live, pick up the phone and report it. You can remain anonymous. Call your local elected officials and urge them to push for tougher legislation for offenders and spectators alike. This is an instance where watching it is as horrible as organizing it.
Dog fighting is a stain on the character of this nation that needs to be erased. So please don’t turn your back. Instead open your eyes and your mouth. These animals cannot help themselves. They have no voice.