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Dog Fighting: The Pit of Despair

By: Renae Hamrick, RVT

Read By: Pet Lovers
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Down a lonely alley, tucked away in a seemingly abandoned warehouse, there is a world of violence, pain, and greed. Being entertained are people of all ages, social classes, and races. For the sake of money and pride, there are victims suffering mutilation and death. These victims are dogs. Dogs deprived of a life of chasing a ball, walking at the park, and barking at squirrels. Dogs bred to hate and be hated. Dogs deserving of so much more.

History of Dog Fighting

Accounts of dog fighting date back to the 1750s, but its popularity boomed in 1835 when bull-baiting (fighting of bulldogs with larger animals, such as bulls and bears) was declared illegal in England. At that time enthusiasts of animal fighting began to fight their dogs.

The strength of the bulldogs was combined with the speed of the terriers to produce the Bull Terriers, which are talented fighters. American Staffordshire Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and American Pit Bull Terriers were other ancestors popular in the fighting ring. All these dogs are referred to as pit bulls, named for their performances in the fighting pits.

Dog Fighting Today

Driven by money and a sick passion for torture, there is a diverse group of people behind fighting dogs today. From laborers to lawyers, high school drop-outs to college graduates, children to adults....the illegal fighting ring attracts many.

It is estimated that 20,000 to 40,000 people participate in dog fighting today. Sadly, the "sport" is a multibillion dollar industry. Large amounts of money (often more than $500,000) are found during raids of this illegal activity. It is not unusual for tens of thousands of dollars to be turned over during bets on the fights. Dogs with a successful fighting history are bred, and the pups, which are sold for fighting, also bring in thousands of dollars.

It is easy to see that dog fighting is fueled by greed. Money and sadistic entertainment cloud the reality of this cruelty. The pain and suffering of the dogs is glorified, seen as a sacrifice to the owners.

The Dogs

Not every dog can be a fighting dog. The ideal fighter is muscular and athletic with an extreme drive of aggression toward other dogs. Most dogs in an everyday squabble will back off when one rolls over and shows submission. Fighting dogs are aggressive through submission signals and through their own pain.

Many breeds are used in fighting; however, in the United States, the American Pit Bull Terrier is the most popular. Outside of professional fighting, in situations like street fighting, breeds such as the German Shepherd and Doberman are also used.

Dogs raised to fight live a life of misfortune. Their owners are committed purely to designing a warrior; aggression and strength are the goals. Beginning at an early age, these pups are attached to heavy, short chains or kept in small, stacked cages. They are sometimes loaded with drugs such as steroids and narcotics to build muscle and anger. Starvation, abuse, and lack of socialization are other methods used to increase aggression.

To provide less opportunity for wounds and to mask the emotions and intentions of a fighting dog, the ears and tails are cropped and docked extremely short. Often the owners perform these procedures themselves, in order to avoid contact with a veterinarian.

A problem which has become more recognized and feared in recent years is the theft of small pets by fighters to use as bait for their dogs. Fighting dogs are given small pets to kill as a reward, fighting practice, and to encourage their desire for the taste of blood.

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