Today, April 8, 2017, is National Dog Fighting Awareness Day. The activity may seem out of place in our society, where dogs are considered family members. It’s also a felony offense in all 50 states.
Dog fighters often have dark and violent pasts, even though they may come from diverse social and economic backgrounds, investigators say. Doctors, lawyers, teachers and professional athletes have been arrested in federal animal-fighting busts in recent years. One characteristic all of these people have in common is a love for brutality and money.
Florida has a reputation for having a “prevalent” dog fighting problem even though detailed statistics don’t exist. It’s such a covert operation that it’s hard to measure. What is known, for sure, is that big money drives the industry, especially in breeding “bloodthirsty” bloodlines. Buyers in large operations pay between $5,000 and $10,000 for puppies in a champion bloodline. Of course, there is also money in the fight itself. Dog fighters are also motivated by power, according to Mark Winton, a criminal-justice lecturer at the University of Central Florida.
National Dog Fighting Awareness Day isn’t just another way to fill a calendar box; it’s a necessary measure to help stop one of the most horrific forms of animal abuse imaginable.
The following is an excerpt from a journalist’s account, who went undercover during a dog fight: “The crowd’s roar dulled to a hum as the next two fighters appeared. The previous match had been short, as one contestant quickly outmatched his opponent, mauling him badly and tearing off an ear. But this final fight matched two highly respected and feared combatants. They eyed each other warily as their handlers finished corner preparations. Spectators came to the edge of their seats, and fathers lifted children to their shoulders for a better view as the judge stepped to the center, called the dogs to their scratch lines and yelled, “Let ’em go!” A cheer arose as the dogs charged across the pit and violently slammed into each other, teeth flashing as they sought a vulnerable target.
The dogs came apart once, when the brindle appeared to give up, and turned for a moment. They were returned to their scratch lines and held. Both dogs were breathing hard and bleeding. “Let ’em go,” the judge called again. If the brindle failed to attack now, he would lose. But he was a game dog, and responded to an instinct bred into him over generations and nurtured through training. As the brindle charged across his line, his opponent’s handler released him with the encouragement, “Finish him, Bo.”
Tired and weakened by his wounds, the brindle was slow to meet Bo’s ferocious attacks. Bo grabbed the brindle’s right front leg in powerful jaws, bit and twisted. The “snap” of breaking bone was heard as the brindle was flipped onto his back, while Bo sought a better grip on his opponent’s throat. Remarkably, as the judge ordered the handlers to break the dogs, the brindle tried to crawl after Bo, still intent on fighting. His handler gently wrapped him in a blanket, saying, “No more, boy. It’s over.”
Writer Matthew Bershadker wrote in a Huffington Post blog, three years ago: “It’s not enough to see dog fighting as just a crime. Society discourages, yet tolerates a number of crimes – some are even glorified. But dog fighting is a deep stain on our national character, a cultural embarrassment we should all feel. This is not about just locking up bad guys; this is about doing everything we can to bring this nightmarish practice to an end. We can’t rest until it does. That’s why National Dog Fighting Awareness Day isn’t just another way to fill a calendar box; it’s a necessary measure to help stop one of the most horrific forms of animal abuse imaginable.”
To report dogfighting, call the following tip line: 1.877.TIP.HSUS