Celebrities have been known to defy the odds and do some pretty outlandish things, too. Much of the world was outraged as NFL superstar, Michael Vick came under scrutiny for running a dogfighting ring and subsequently was handed-down a jail sentence in 2007. But, Vic is one of the very few who got caught, as it has been practiced in the U.S. since the 1750s as a common form of entertainment among firemen and police officers. With that, the ins-and-outs of dogfighting will be tackled in this article.
Some Very Far-Fetched Facts
While Vic may have a chance to shed the stigma from his past, some of his dogs may be mentally and permanently scarred for the rest of their lives, because they were thrown into a situation beyond their control.
‘Man’s best friend’ undergoes unspeakable acts of cruelty during dogfighting. What is dogfighting? Dogfighting is considered a blood sport. And, each fight may be set-up differently between dogs.
Although there are tons of breeds of dogs that may be used in dogfighting, the dog of choice for fighting in the U.S. is the American Pit Bull Terrier. Know this, dogfighting occurs on different levels, professional, street and hobbyist and it can occur at any time, at any place.
The Doggone Truth
A dogfight is carefully planned by those who are only vested in their own interests. Generally speaking, dogfighting is viewed in a pit that is between 14 and 20 square feet. The flooring of the pit may be made of sawdust, dirt, wood or carpet. And, the pit has “scratch lines” marked in opposite corners, where dogs will face each other from between 12 to 14 feet apart.
What occurs next in dogfighting? While you may think the situation can’t get any worse, it does. During the beginning of the fight, dogs are released from their corners and usually meet in the middle, each wrestling to get a hold on the other, sometimes until death. Handlers are not allowed to touch the dogs except under the direction of the referee, with fights lasting just a few minutes to several hours in time.
Are both animals injured as a result of fighting? Yes. Both animals can sustain massive injuries, which may include blood loss, puncture wounds, broken bones, lacerations and crushing injuries. Dogfighting usually does not last until death, however, many are so battered that they eventually may succumb to their injuries later on.
Dogs also may die at the hand of their owners, unless they have had a good history of past performance or come from valuable blood lines. Says, The Humane Society of the United States, “Dog fighters sometimes kill the losing dogs, and even winning dogs may die from their wounds. Police often discover drugs, guns, and even murder in connection with dog fights.” The organization also touts itself as being, “the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization.”
A Bone to Pick
Why do people participate in dogfighting? People are enticed by dogfighting for various reasons including for entertainment purposes, but the most common reason is for monetary gain. Major dogfight raids have resulted in seizures of more than $500,000. It also is plausible for $20,000 to $30,000 to change hands in a single fight.
And, while dogfighting is generally perceived to occur in urban areas and a result of urban decay, this is not the case. It has been “reported in urban, suburban and rural settings in all regions of the country,” according to ASPCA. The organization unveils a startling statistic, “Every 10 seconds an animal is abused.”
Paws for the Cause
Now for the good news; there are laws that have been signed to protect the loyalist of the loyal. Since 2008, dogfighting has been considered a felony in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Moreover, in most states, even possessing dogs with the intent to fight is considered a felony offense. Those watching a dogfight may come under fire also, because being a spectator at a fight is illegal in all states except Hawaii and Montana.
Furthermore, in 2007, Congress passed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act. ASPCA says, the Act amended the Animal Welfare Act and provides felony penalties for import and export relating to commerce in fighting dogs, interstate commerce, fighting cocks and cockfighting paraphernalia. Not only that, but each violation can result in up to three years in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine.
Another noted organization, The Animal Legal Defense Fund has stepped-in and acted in animal’s best interests. Says the organization, “For more than three decades, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system.”
You can dig your own holes in dogfighting by becoming aware; ASPCA insists the enforcement of animal cruelty laws begins with the individual. What does this mean? To put it simply, if you see something don’t hesitate to speak up about it. By notifying your local police and/or humane law enforcement of any suspicious activities that suggest dogfighting is taking place in your community you can save the life of a dog.
Digging Further Holes into Dogfighting
Any form of cruelty toward animals truly is unacceptable. Nonetheless, since dogs involved in dogfighting can not speak, they are depending on us to be their voice. They need your protection from maiming and this often life-threatening event. It’s time to eradicate these abusive practices, so dogs can go back to doing what they do best; taking in the scenery and urinating on fire hydrants while in the midst of walks.