Dog fighting began in 1835 when dogs were used to bait bulls, bears and other animals. Eventually, bull-baiting was banned, and owners of bulldogs began to stage fights between their dogs. Larger heavier dogs were then bred with smaller, quicker terriers producing bull terriers, the beginning of the fighting breed. These dogs are known as the class of pit bulls.Â
Not just any dog can be trained to fight; fighting dogs are ready to train for performance almost from birth. Early fights would end with one dog submitting to another by rolling over; the fight would end with no further violence. One of the goals in breeding for dog fighting was to eliminate this behavior. The objective in dog fighting is for the dog to continue to attack regardless of the submissive behavior. A dog that will continue to fight even though it is severely injured expresses this. It is this desire to fight that owners are seeking to achieve.
Over the past 15 to 20 years, a new aspect of dog fighting has emerged. More often, dog fights are happening on street corners and playground areas. These spontaneous fights are void of rules and often begin with insults or turf invasions. Many of these participants lack any respect for the dogs, and numerous dogs are bred to be a threat to other dogs and to humans. These dogs often have their ears and tails cut off. Even though pit bulls exhibit high levels of aggression toward other dogs, they are considered âloyal and gentle companion animals.â
Today, the increasing level of aggression from dogs is a result of poor training and breeding.
A fighting dogâs life is typically miserable from beginning to end. They often live in dreadful conditions at the end of a chain. Fighting dogs that are defeated are usually killed and dumped. Those that are dumped end up in animal shelters. The task of rehabilitating or euthanizing now becomes the responsibility of the taxpayers.Â
About 30 percent of shelter dog population in the U.S. is pit bull or pit bull mixes. The number rises to 75 percent in some urban shelters. Many pit bulls are even-tempered and gentle creatures that crave human attention, but many of these dogs are stereotyped and overlooked or euthanized.
Stolen dogs and cats are used to train fighting dogs to give them the taste of blood. The dog fighter then continues training by progressing on to larger dogs and pit bulls. The loser dies and is discarded like trash.
âDog fighters represent a range of personality types and psychological disordersâ according to Stephanie LaFarge, Ph.D., ASPCA director of counseling services.
And according to Mark MacDonald, an agent with the ASPCA law enforcement, âself-esteem is an important issue.â
âMany fighters come from non-responsive homes and communities with limited social or economic opportunityâ because âthey never acquire the tools to excel,â MacDonald said.
Congress passed and President Bush signed into law legislation to help end organized dog and cock fighting. There are now felony penalties for interstate or foreign animal fighting activities, as well as outlawing any business in cockfighting weapons.
People involved in dog fighting come from every community and background. Licensed veterinarians provide care for fighting dogs, and audiences include lawyers, judges and teachers. Society needs to take a good look at the social structure of dog fighting.
In order to successfully put an end to dog fighting, specialists in gangs, drug abuse, poverty, psychology, education and law enforcement need to be able to comprehend and contend with dog fighting at each level. Often, dog fighting is linked to other crimes such as, auto theft, money laundering, arms smuggling and drug dealing.Â
The internet has also made it easier for criminals to communicate. The problem is not with the breed of dog. Itâs the people who train the dogs. And itâs the dog that is being punished.
Dog fighting is not only brutal and dangerous; itâs illegal too. If you know or suspect that dog fighting is happening in your area, call the authorities.Â