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The Irreverent Vet Speaks out on DOG FIGHTING

By: The Irreverent Veterinarian

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Recently, there has been a lot of press about dog fighting after the well known Atlanta Falcons football player Michael Vick was accused of owning and training Pit Bull's for fighting purposes.

Is dog fighting an exciting sport? A gambling opportunity? Or a crime?

Is it natural for dogs to fight? Is it a part of our history and culture?

How do you feel about it? Email me, I'm curious about what you think.

Now...I'll tell you what I think. I don't believe in using any animal for which injury is intended. I think dog fighting is a crime. I also don't believe in cock-fighting. I'm not even sure about bull-riding.

For a full history of dog fighting in the United States, go to The History of Dog Fighting.

People may put themselves in situations that can cause injury for money such as football players or boxers. But putting someone or something else in that situation that may result in injury or death for MONEY, is not right.

How Can Your Tell if a Dog has Been Fought in a Dog Fight?

There are some common signs of a dog that has been fought. Generally, they are pit bulls, Presa Canarios, Dogo Argentino, or other fighting breeds brought into vets and veterinary emergency clinics at night with bite wounds over the face, neck, chest and front legs.

Another common sign is that dogs will have multiple wounds in different stages of healing that suggest other fights at various times

Some clients bringing in these dogs for treatment gives stories of an injury inconsistent with the injuries e.g. the dog ran through a glass window or was in the yard and got caught on a fence. Most veterinarians can identify and diagnose dog bite wounds. Some owners will say their dog was in the yard and attacked by another dog or a group of dogs. It is impossible to PROVE that the dog was fought in a dogfight but many times there are very suspicious circumstances that lead you to believe that a dog was.

Another common characteristic of dogfighting owners is that they are willing to pay the expenses associated with helping their pet and many will pay in cash.

What is the Veterinarian's Role in Dog Fighting?

What is the veterinarian's role in dealing with dogs that have been fought? According to a recent policy statement by the American Veterinary Medical Association, "The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) condemns dogfighting and any event involving animals in which injury or death is intended, and supports the enforcement of laws against dogfighting and dogfight-related activities. AVMA members are encouraged to collaborate with law enforcement with respect to recognition, enforcement, and education.".

This statement encourages veterinarians to cooperate with law enforcement. Seven states require veterinarians to report dogs that are suspected to have been fought.

As a veterinarian, you treat injured and sick animals to the best of your abilities. This includes animals with bite wounds. In the end, how or why an animal is injured does not change your ethical obligation to help the injured or suffering pet. How about the moral obligation?

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