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Dog Fighting - Please report this to your local authorities, and report any other abuse that you may know about or see.

 The Anti-Cruelty Society's humane investigators respond to reports of cruelty and abuse within the city of Chicago and the surrounding metropolitan area....

They will also assist with cases throughout the State of Illinois and the Midwest. Some cases may be the result of lack of knowledge on the part of the animal owner. In these instances, the investigator will attempt to educate the owner on his or her legal responsibilities. In situations where more extreme abuse or neglect are involved, our investigators will make every attempt to rectify the situation. As a last resort, they are authorized by the state of Illinois to remove the animal from a dangerous situation.

When making a report, please be ready to provide the following information:

The nature of the complaint (i.e., dog tied outside without food or water.)
A description of the animal(s)
The exact address where the animal(s) can be found. If the address is on a numbered street, please specify if the street is designated as 'street' or 'place.' (i.e., 52nd Street or 52nd Place.)
What city or suburb the address is located in
A number that you can be reached at should the investigator be unable to find the animal(s) or has any questions
ALL REPORTS are kept CONFIDENTIAL and your information WILL NOT be given out. If you prefer, reports can be made anonymously. You DO NOT have to leave contact information to make a report.

To report cruelty or abuse or neglect of an animal, please call (312) 644-8338 ext. 304 or send an e-mail to [email protected]


Senate passes Anti-Dogfighting Bill!

This week the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Act (S. 1947), a bill that will close a loophole in existing law and make it a crime to attend an animal fight and bring addi...
tional penalties for those who take a minor along.

There are already existing laws that prohibit staging an animal fight, keeping or training animals for fighting and moving the tools of the trade in interstate commerce, but nothing on a federal level addresses what happens to those who are caught as spectators – the ones who provide major funding through admission fees and gambling that help perpetuate these barbaric activities.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, Scott Brown, R-Mass., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

“Animal fighting is a cruel blood sport that involves maiming and torturing – and encourages other criminal wrongdoing. Unfortunately, this despicable activity continues to exist throughout the country, well-financed by spectators who enable the fighting and engage in illegality like drug dealing, extortion, and assault. Because these crimes often involve actors from a number of different states, local law enforcement simply lacks the authority to crack down and pursue animal fighting organizers,” said Sen. Blumenthal.

“My legislation not only prohibits all individuals from knowingly attending an animal fight, but also strengthens the penalties for those who bring children to animal fights – closing a final key loophole in federal animal fighting law. I am grateful that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have come together to pass this truly bipartisan bill, which will help put an end to this activity.”

Animal fighting is a crime in all 50 states and causes immense suffering for the animals involved, whether they’re trained fighters or bait animals. As many have already pointed out, it’s not like people just stumble on fights as unsuspecting innocent bystanders. This bill will address those who intentionally support animal fighting with fines and up to a year in prison, or worse if they bring kids, and will also help reduce other illegal activities that are often affiliated with fights.

Similar legislation passed as an amendment to the Farm Bill this summer with overwhelming support from the Senate. The House version (H.R. 2492), introduced by Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa., and Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, currently has 227 cosponsors, but must still be passed.


T A K E .. A C T I O N !!!

If you haven’t already, please sign the petition asking your reps to support this important piece of legislation:

Sam & Molly are why we fight against dog fighting rings! Molly was used as a bait dog at the age of 6 months. Sam was a champion dog fighter and lost his lips to this cruel and vicious act of cowardess from heartless evil humans


Dogfighting Fact Sheet -ASPCA Website

Chad Sisneros

What is dogfighting?
Dogfighting is a sadistic "contest" in which two dogs—specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight—are placed in a pit (generally a small arena enclosed by plywood walls) to fight each other for the spectators' entertainment and gambling.

Fights average one to two hours, ending one of the dogs will not or cannot continue. In addition to these organized dogfights, street dogfights are a problem in many urban areas.

How does it cause animal suffering?
The injuries inflicted and sustained by dogs participating in dogfights are frequently severe, even fatal. The American pit bull terrier-type dogs used in the majority of these fights have been specifically bred and trained for fighting and are unrelenting in their attempts to overcome their opponents. With their extremely powerful jaws, they are able to inflict severe bruising, deep puncture wounds, and broken bones.

Dogs used in these events often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days after the fight. Other animals are often sacrificed as well; dogs who are born "cold," or won't fight, may be kept around to sic other dogs on.

In describing the details of one particular dogfight, a convicted dogfighter wrote, "Miss Rufus spent most of the rest of the fight on her back and Bandit broke her other front leg high up in the shoulder, as well as one of her back legs, in the knee joint. The only leg she didn’t break she chewed all to hell. She had literally scalped Miss Rufus, tearing a big chunk of skin off the top of her head alongside one ear." [1]

Are there other concerns?
Yes. Numerous law enforcement raids have unearthed many disturbing facets of this illegal "sport." Young children are sometimes present at the events, which can promote insensitivity to animal suffering, enthusiasm for violence, and disrespect for the law. Illegal gambling is the norm at dogfights. Dog owners and spectators wager thousands of dollars on their favorites. Firearms and other weapons have been found at dogfights because of the large amounts of cash present. Dogfighting has also been connected to other kinds of violence—even homicide, according to newspaper reports. In addition, illegal drugs are often sold and used at dogfights.

Why should dogfighting be a felony offense?
There are several compelling reasons. Because dogfighting yields such large profits for participants, the minor penalties associated with misdemeanor convictions are not a sufficient deterrent. Dogfighters merely absorb these fines as part of the cost of doing business. The cruelty inherent in dogfighting should be punished by more than a slap on the wrist. Dogfighting is not a spur-of-the-moment act; it is a premeditated and cruel practice.

Those involved in dogfighting go to extensive lengths to avoid detection by law enforcement, so investigations can be difficult, dangerous, and expensive. Law enforcement officials are more inclined to investigate dogfighting if it is a felony. As more states make dogfighting a felony offense, those remaining states with low penalties will become magnets for dogfighters.

Do some states already have felony laws?
Yes. Dogfighting is a felony offense in all 50 states, and it is a felony offense under federal law as well.

Should being a spectator also be a felony?
Yes. Spectators provide much of the profit associated with dogfighting. The money generated by admission fees and gambling helps keep this "sport" alive. Because dogfights are illegal and therefore not widely publicized, spectators do not merely happen upon a fight; they seek it out. They are willing participants who support a criminal activity through their paid admission and attendance.

What can I do to help stop dogfighting?
Learn how to spot the signs of dogfighting. If you suspect dogfighting activity, alert your local law enforcement agency and urge officials to contact The HSUS for practical tools, advice and assistance

Post our dogfighting reward posters [PDF] in your community. For free posters, send us an email (include your name, address and the number of posters you'd like). Learn about our Pets for Life program and how to get involved in your community.

If you live in one of the states where being a spectator or other aspects of dogfighting is still a misdemeanor, please write to your state legislators and urge them to make it a felony. Find out how your state treats dogfighting at our page on State Dogfighting Laws [PDF].

  A History of Dogfighting
The genesis of dogfighting as a sport can be traced to a clash of ancient civilizations. When the Romans invaded Britain in 43 A.D., both sides brought fighting dogs to the battlefield for the seven years of warfare that followed. The Romans may have won the war, but the British dazzled the victors with the ferocity of their dogs, which were far more battle-ready than their Roman counterparts.
Thus emerged a canine market of sorts. The Romans began to import British fighting dogs for use not only in times of war, but also for public amusement. In Rome's Colosseum, large audiences would gather to watch gladiator dogs pitted against other animals, such as wild elephants. The vicious dogs, thought to have been crossbred with the Romans' own fighting breed, were also exported to France, Spain and other parts of Europe, eventually finding their way back to Britain.

The Evolution of a Sport

By the 12th century, the practice of baiting — releasing fighting dogs into the ring with chained bulls and bears — had grown in popularity in England. For several centuries, baiting was considered a respectable form of entertainment among the English nobility. The practice, during which the dogs scratched and bit the bulls, was also used to tenderize meat for consumption. But by the early 19th century, the increasing scarcity and rising cost of bulls and bears, as well as growing concern about the issue of animal cruelty, damped the appeal of the sport. In 1835, the British Parliament outlawed all baiting activities. Following the law's passage, dog-on-dog combat emerged as the cheaper, legal alternative to baiting. Fighting dogs were crossbred with other breeds to create a fast, agile and vicious animal capable of brawling for hours at a time.

Dog Fighting Around the World

Fighting dogs were imported to the United States shortly before the Civil War and were crossbred in hopes of creating the ultimate fierce canine fighter: the American Pit Bull Terrier. Dogfighting quickly became a popular spectator and betting sport in the U.S. and parts of Europe, Asia and Latin America. But concern about the humaneness of dogfighting grew, and by the 1860s, most states had outlawed the sport. Nonetheless, it continued to flourish into the 20th century, with widespread support from the general public and police officials.

Though legal in Japan and parts of Russia, dogfighting has been outlawed in most of the world. Still, it remains popular. Legal or not, dog fights are held openly in parts of Latin America, Pakistan and Eastern Europe, and clandestinely in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, estimates that at least 40,000 people are involved in the industry domestically. He calls today's dogfighting the modern-day equivalent of the ancient Roman Colosseum battles.

In Afghanistan, too, the dogfighting industry has seen a resurgence, after virtually disappearing under the Taliban, who outlawed the sport to prevent betting – which is not permitted in Islam. Animal cruelty arguments don't carry much weight in Afghanistan, where dogfighting is a big business and a source of income for the owners of champion dogs.

Rescuing Fighting Dogs

The industry is also booming in the U.S., concentrated in urban areas and the rural South. Nationally, about 30 percent of all dogs in animal shelters are pit bulls, the breed used for dogfighting; in some areas, that figure can climb to 60 percent.

Not all rescued pit bulls are involved in the practice, but John Goodwin of the Human Society of the U.S. says that many bear the hallmarks of the industry: a fight-crazy disposition and the scars to prove it.

Rescued dogs are kept at animal shelters until a judge makes a determination on the dog's fate. Because fight dogs have been bred to attack and kill other dogs, almost all of them are euthanized. There are no definitive figures on how many fight dogs are rescued in the U.S. annually, but Goodwin says that about 4 million dogs in shelters are euthanized each year.

Dogfighting Basics

There are two principal types of dogfighting: street fighting and professional dogfighting. Street fighting is less structured and serves more as a status symbol for the people who take part (frequently members). It’s also the area where dogfighting is growing fastest. Up to 100,000 people in the may be taking part in street fighting. Rival gangs pit their dogs against each other in bloody impromptu battles that take place in garages, alleys or abandoned buildings [Source: ].

Professional dogfighting is a highly organized subculture, made up of secretive groups where large amounts of money change hands. Professional dogfighters publish their own magazines that report the results of fights and chart lineages of successful fighting dogs. They travel widely to show off and fight their dogs. Some do it part-time, staying within the local community. Others make their living by breeding, training, fighting and gambling on the animals.

The handlers involved in professional dogfights often abide by a code of conduct called "Cajun Rules" -- a detailed list of 19 rules covering all aspects of fights, even specifying that a referee must organize a rematch if a bout is broken up by the police. The rules were created in the 1950s by G.A. “Gaboon” Trahan, a police chief in Louisiana. Some dogfighting professionals claim they treat their dogs much better than amateur dogfighters. Others say that dogfighting is an art. But brutality and is still the basis of sport.

Like many illicit subcultures, dogfighting has its own set of code words:

  • Campaign: a fighting dog’s career
  • Champion: a dog who has won three fights
  • Convention: a large dogfighting event, sometimes with accompanying activities like music and food
  • Dogmen: professional trainers and handlers
  • Grand champion: an undefeated dog with five wins
  • Gameness: tenacity and a willingness to fight (critical qualities for a fighting dog)
  • Prospect: a young, aggressive dog identified as a potentially good fighting dog
  • Scratch lines: lines in a dogfighting ring behind which the animals start in a match
  • The keep: the training a fighting dog undergoes leading up to a fight, lasting about six weeks
  • The show: a dogfight
  • Breeding stand: a barrel or stand that a female dog is tied to while a muzzled male dog mates with her

These are just some of the terms used to disguise what the dogfighters are talking about. The code words also indicate that a dogfighter is part of an exclusive group. Although Web sites devoted to dogfighting may use these terms, they insist that the dogfight stories are fictional or that the site’s writers don’t condone the activity. In actuality, these disclaimers likely serve as a legal cover, preserving their ability to deny their connection to any illegal goings-on. the below picture is a dog that was recovered from former Houston Oilers running back Todd McNair.

A Dogfight, or 'The Show'

Dogfights take place in a variety of locations. In rural areas, it can be outdoors, in a forest or in a barn. In cities, garages and warehouses are popular sites. The two dogs fight each other in a pit or ring that’s eight to 20 feet square with two- to three-foot-high walls. A professional dogfight has a judge or referee to oversee the match.

Before the fight, handlers weigh the animals. They then wash their opponents’ dogs to make sure the animals’ coats aren’t covered with slick substances or poison. This tradition falls under Cajun Rules, which also require owners to bring towels, a blanket and to wash their in the same water.

After the referee signals the beginning of the fight, owners are allowed to shout but not to physically interfere, or the fight is called. The match continues until one dog can no longer fight -- when a dog refuses to fight or jumps out of the ring, or a serious injury or death occurs. During a match, the referee will call a “turn” when a dog turns away from his opponent. The referee temporarily stops the fight while the dogs go to their handlers. The dogs are then returned to the scratch lines (starting lines) and the fight continues. Cajun Rules also specify other permissible actions during fights, such as letting handlers “unfang” their dogs (remove a dog’s lip that’s stuck on its own teeth) or provide bottled drinks for dogs, which handlers must taste to show that they haven’t been tampered with.

Dogfights can go on for hours, and by all accounts, they are gruesome events. A dogfight often results in severe injury or death for one of the animals. Many owners kill their dogs if they lose or are severely injured. Reported methods of killing, some of which were allegedly used on NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s property, include drowning, electrocution, hanging, shooting, burning or beating a dog against the ground. If they do survive a fight, dogs are often maimed or die from blood loss, or infection.

Many owners show little concern for the health of their fighting dogs. Pits and kennels inevitably end up covered in blood. Even winning dogs don’t receive proper medical care. Owners will indiscriminately give their dogs antibiotics or use crude measures like stapling shut gaping wounds. Some handlers show remarkable skill at providing improvised medical care to dogs, but their lack of formal training and disregard for the overall well-being of the animals put the dogs at great risk.

Illegal gambling is integral to dogfights. Tens of thousands -- even hundreds of thousands of dollars might be gambled on a single fight. And that's after spectators have paid to watch.

In addition to broadcasting fights online, participants frequently videotape fights. These videos are distributed online or through . One law enforcement officer called videotaping fights a “marketing tool”

Dogfighting Laws

Dogfighting is illegal in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world, though enforcement in other countries is frequently lax or nonexistent. Dogfighting is a felony in all states, except and , where it’s a misdemeanor. It’s illegal to possess dogs for fighting in all states but , Idaho and . Among the states where possession of fighting dogs is illegal, it’s a felony in all of them except for , , and . It’s actually legal to be a spectator at a dogfighting event in two states, but it’s a felony in 22 others and a misdemeanor in the

remaining 26.

Besides its connection to other criminal activities, running a dogfighting operation or breeding dogs for the purpose of fighting can bring other charges, such as animal cruelty, child endangerment or operating a kennel without a license.

Animal rights advocates like The Humane Society say that dogfighting is an underreported and poorly enforced crime. These organizations also claim that the penalties in place and the dangers of being caught don’t deter people from participating in dogfighting given the activity’s moneymaking potential. They also say that dogfighting has been mislabeled as an issue only of animal rights and abuse, not taking into account the the effects of dogfighting and the crimes associated with it.

Compounding the problem is the fact that, in some states, law enforcement officers can only make an arrest if they catch someone in the act of participating in dogfighting. This can be difficult: One animal control officer said that dogfighting rings are “harder to infiltrate than the Mafia” [Source: ]. Professional events are organized well in advance, but attendance is carefully controlled and the location of a fight is only revealed shortly before the fight takes place.

Some law enforcement agencies say that more effort is now going into uncovering and prosecuting dogfighting, while the Michael Vick controversy will likely spur more vigorous crackdowns. The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act represented an effort to make stiffer penalties for dogfighters. Signed into law in May 2007, the Act made dogfighting a felony under law and instituted maximum penalties of a $250,000 fine and three-year imprisonment.

If you see signs of dogfighting, report it to the police. Keep in mind: dogfighting is dangerous and frequently accompanies other types of crime. If you’re unsure if dogfighting is taking place in your community, experts say to look for the following signs:

  • ­Equipment associated with dogfighting, like cages, pits, rings, heavy chains, weights, ­wooden ramps and treadmills
  • Presence of multiple pit bulls
  • Dogs with wounds, scars and untreated injuries
  • Blood spatters
  • Veterinarian supplies
  • An owner abusing dogs
  • Dogfighting magazines
  • Heavy traffic of people and dogs to and from a particular property.

Owners cut her lips off -  she was rescued from a dog fighting ring and has lost her life now.

This is Molly Today, her site is on Facebook with all the updates to her many surgeries.


Illegal Dogfighting Rings Thrive in U.S. Cities

<:time datetime="2007-07-20">July 20, 2007
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This week's indictment of Atlanta Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick on charges tied to dogfighting has brought attention to what activists and law-enforcement agencies say is an increasingly popular, savage underground culture.

Federal investigators say Vick's Virginia estate, where 66 live dogs and the remains of seven were seized in April, was used as a dogfighting kennel and combat arena. The 18-page indictment alleges that Vick and his partners ran a brutal fighting ring, where losing dogs were often killed in the ring or executed by hanging, drowning or electrocution.

Vick's case is shining a spotlight on a bloody industry that is thriving in urban areas and the rural South — despite being outlawed in all 50 states.

In the Ring, Under the Law

In the brutal and secretive world of professional dogfighting, pit bulls are placed in a ring and goaded and cheered by their owners and the crowd while they tear at each other's faces and throats.

The practice is a felony in 48 states, but for years, the secretive network of trainers, breeders and owners have managed to avoid scrutiny from law enforcement.

In recent months, however, high-profile busts of suspected dogfighting kennels in Illinois, Texas, Virginia and Ohio have shed light on its resurgence.

John Goodwin, a dogfighting investigator with the Humane Society, works regularly with law-enforcement agencies on some of the country's most harrowing cases.

He says that during a dogfighting raid in March, investigators found a female pit bull with the entire lower half of her jaw broken off.

In some cities, Goodwin says, the number of pit bulls turning up at animal shelters with scars and fight wounds has risen tenfold.

"Up until 10 or 15 years ago, this was pretty much an entirely rural activity," Goodwin says. "Now, there's still a lot of dog fighters in the rural areas, but they've kind of been overtaken by an urban crowd."

An Accepted Tradition

Goodwin blames dogfighting's latest vogue on pop culture icons, including pro-athletes like Vick and hip-hop artists like Jay-Z and DMX, who've made pit bulls a part of their rebel image.

High-profile investigations are putting more pressure on dogfighters, but in some parts of the country, the illegal contests still enjoy a remarkable level of cultural acceptance.

Rebecca Corenfield is an animal control officer in Bay City, a rural town an hour outside of Houston. She says that before she became an animal control officer, she used to go to dogfights in abandoned homes.

In small towns where dogfighting is a tradition, Corenfield says top trainers and breeders are established members of the community.

"There's high-rollers, like real high-rollers, where you know they're doing it. It's so hard to prove, though," Corenfield says. "If we could get some money to get someone in there undercover, we could bust them. But you know there's not the money or the manpower."

Investigators say high-level dogfighting rings are harder to infiltrate than drug cartels.

Debating the Law

Despite the savagery of dogfighting, a public debate continues over the seriousness of the crime. In Idaho and Wyoming, staging a battle is still only a misdemeanor.

In Texas, where dogfighting is a felony, stiffer prison sentences have triggered controversy. In the spring, Congress debated new federal legislation banning interstate trafficking of fighting dogs and roosters; of the 32 representatives who voted against the bill, 11 were from Texas.

Most of the bill's opponents say they aren't fans of dogfighting but are conservative, pro-life Republicans. Iowa Rep. Steve King from Iowa says it's wrong for the federal government criminalize pit bull trafficking while allowing legal abortion.

"My vote says that human life needs to be elevated and stay above animal life. And I think it devalues all human life, when you set the life of an animal up above that of a human," King says.

But most Republicans — along with more than 500 law-enforcement agencies — did endorse the bill, which President Bush signed into law in May.

Still, veterinarian Tim Harkness says tougher laws and longer prison sentences won't help the pit bulls already being brutalized by fighting rings.

The thousands of fighting dogs recovered every year in the U.S. are kept alive only as long as they're needed for evidence, but they can never be adopted out as normal pets.

"They're unsociable, they're extremely dog-aggressive," Harkness says. "It would be a liability to people if one of these animals were to attack a child, which has happened in Houston. They will be euthanized."

The alleged involvement of NFL quarterback Michael Vick in a dogfighting ring has created a stir, even prompting some members of Congress to make public statements about pursuing tougher legislation. Dogfighting, with its accompanying images of mutilated and bloody dogs, rouses strong passions, but many people don't know the reasons why this illegal activity exists or just how widespread it is. In this article, we'll take a look at the brutal world of dogfighting, including how dogs are trained, what occurs in a dogfighting match, the penalties of dogfighting, and why animal rights organizations and police officers think that dogfighting represents a national epidemic in the United States.

 It's important to make clear that dogfighting, while sometimes referred to as a "sport," is illegal across the United States and in many countries around the world. Training of fighting dogs involves cruel and inhumane practices, and is itself illegal in most states. These fights are much different than a scuffle that a couple of dogs might get into on the street. Those kinds of fights usually end quickly and without serious injury. An organized dogfight, on the other hand, is the product of deliberate antagonism, harsh training and assault by human owners. In addition, other crimes and forms of violence accompany nearly every major dogfighting ring.

The figures on exactly how many people are involved in dogfighting vary, but experts agree that this $500 million industry is rising in popularity, especially in North Carolina and Virginia [Source: The Virginia-Pilot]. ABC News says that there are "20,000 to 40,000 dogfight spectators and participants in the United States" [So­urce:­ ABC News]. The Humane Society puts the number at 40,000 known dogfighting professionals [Source: CNN]; John Goodwin, an official with that organization, maintains a database of 20,000 names of possible dogfighters [Source: The Virginia-Pilot­].

Once confined to the South, dogfighting now involves people from a wide variety of backgrounds, with the most famous dogfighters and breeders enjoying global fame. The so-called "sport" is particularly popular in Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. Crime syndicates in Russia and Italy profit from gambling operations centered around dogfighting. Certain famous rappers and athletes have been linked to dogfighting. The music video for Jay-Z's song "99 Problems" shows dogs preparing for a fight, while DMX raps about dogfighting. NBA player Qyntel Woods once abandoned a pit bull that appeared to have been involved in dogfighting. Even Nike alluded to dogfighting in a TV commercial, showing two dogs seemingly gearing up to fight. These days, dogfighting involves people of all stripes, old and young, rich and poor, urban and rural. One notable case involved a female cancer researcher with a Ph.D. in zoology [Source: Independent Weekly].

The Internet has played its own part in the spread of dogfighting in that it allows breeders to link up with clients and fans online and to exchange videos. Dogfighters publicize events online. Trainers learn about new training methods and wound treatment and buy equipment online. The ease of use of online video means that some handlers now broadcast fights on Web sites, allowing people to bet without even attending the fight.


History of Pit Bulls and Dogfighting

Ancient Romans pitted dogs against each other in gladiatorial contests, but dogs have also played practical roles in society. Dogs have long been used as hunting companions, defenders of property and protectors of livestock against poachers and wild animals. They play key roles in military and K-9 police units. French bulldogs and Olde Boston Bulldogges (or Old Boston Bulldogs) killed household vermin and therefore made valuable pets.

­In England, bulldogs -- frequently crossbred with terriers -- were forced to attack bulls or bears, a practice called bull-baiting that was outlawed in 1835. Following this prohibition, dogfighting developed as a distinct practice, with dogs being pitted against one another rather than bulls. By some accounts, dogfighting arrived in the United States after its development in the late 1830s and early 1840s, but others trace its history back to 1817. In any case, dogfighting was a popular form of entertainment in America until it began to fall out of public favor in the 1930s. Since then, pit bulls have become synonymous with dogfighting and violence, causing many communities to view the dogs with suspicion or to prohibit their presence entirely.

When raised and nurtured property, pit bulls are seen as loyal, gentle animals. At one time, they were nicknamed "nursemaid's dogs" because of their friendly demeanor toward children. Unfortunately, the breed's athleticism and intelligence, which would normally help its case as a good family dog, is manipulated to turn these dogs into fierce fighters. But experienced breeders still argue that pit bulls can be excellent companion dogs if they're properly trained and socialized with other dogs at a young age.

However, many pit bulls come from bloodlines where dogs were bred to maximize aggressiveness. And even with proper training and care, it is possible a pit bull may turn out overly aggressive, experts say. It's also important to keep in mind that, because they are so full of energy, pit bulls need an active life with lots of exercise.

Breeding and Training a Fighting Dog

The specific breeds used in dogfighting are usually American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and bulldogs. Due to frequent interbreeding, these dogs are often referred to simply as pit bulls. They have been bred over generations to enhance aggressiveness. In fact, an official from The Humane Society of the United States said that breeders take advantage of pit bulls’ inherent loyalty to make them more aggressive with outsiders and other dogs [Source: The Humane Society of the United States]. Sometimes larger dogs, like Presa Canarios, are used or are crossbred with other fighting dogs.

Taking a dog from birth to fully trained for fighting can take two years. The animals are often acquired from a pound, shelter or adoption agency. Top breeders sell puppies from a successful bloodline for more than $1,000 each. Floyd Boudreaux, considered the biggest figure in dogfighting for several years, sold his dogs for up to $10,000 [Source: The Humane Society of the United States].

There seems to be a lot of confusion about pit bulls and dogfighting. See if you can separate fact from fiction in this Animal Planet

Pit Bull Myths Quiz.

These dogs are not allowed to live normal lives. Instead, they spend their time chained in place, training or fighting. They often live in small cages and in filthy conditions. Handlers use extraordinarily heavy chains to hold dogs in place, frequently adding weights to them, all with the purpose of increasing a dog’s upper-body strength. Dogs are kept close to each other, but just out of reach in order to increase their antagonism.

Professional dogfighters carefully structure training regimens. Food and nutritional intake are meticulously measured. Some trainers give dogs steroid injections and supplements. To build endurance, dogs are forced to run on treadmills and to swim in pools, sometimes for hours. Trainers keep detailed records of their dogs’ exercise and feedings.

To enhance aggressiveness, the animals are frequently beaten and antagonized. They may also be starved. As part of training, handlers will take cats or rabbits, often stolen, and use these animals as “bait.” These bait animals are tied up while the dog is restrained, or they’re put in a small enclosure with the dog. After training with the bait, the handler unchains the dog and allows him to kill it.

Handlers make their dogs tug on hanging objects, like tires, to increase jaw strength. Some handlers file their dogs’ teeth to be as sharp as possible so that maximum damage can be inflicted.

A “roll,” a dog’s first fight, takes place when the dog is around 15 months of age. This test run between two dogs lasts about 10 minutes and allows handlers to measure each animal's demeanor. A dog that’s deemed a non-prospect may be neglected, abandoned or killed.

A second test fight occurs at around 19 months of age. If it’s successful, the dog will be scheduled for “the show,”

Effects of Dogfighting

The effects of dogfighting are widespread and go beyond brutality to animals. As in many illegal gambling operations, dogfighting attracts other crimes, notably drugs, money laundering, racketeering and illegal firearms. A sheriff’s officer in Ohio said that 64 out of 65 dogfighting raids he had conducted also revealed drugs [Source: The Arizona Republic]. In the case of NFL star Michael Vick, law enforcement officers discovered signs of dogfighting at the quarterback's property in Virginia as a result of a drug investigation. Theft is a frequent occurrence as handlers steal animals to use them as bait in training their dogs. Research also shows that dogfighting and pet abuse are linked with spousal and child abuse [Source: The Humane Society of the United States]. With thousands of dollars in cash at stake, many participants bring guns to protect themselves or to threaten others.

Dogfight sp­ectators often bri­ng children to matches, which results in these children growing up in a culture where violence is accepted and celebrated. Some gangs even use dogfighting as a way to indoctrinate young recruits, giving them a pit bull puppy to train. Research shows that certain elementary school children have been exposed to dogfighting or already have experience running their own fights [Source: Animal Legal & Historical Center, Michigan State University of Law

Experts say that many people turn to dogfighting because they find in it the respect, acceptance, power or success that’s not available to them in their day-to-day life. these are precisely the reasons cited for why people join gangs, perhaps indicating why dogfighting has risen in popularity among urban gangs.

In and of themselves, fighting dogs, though often chained up, pose a danger to communities, including neighborhood animals. Escaped fighting dogs have killed children before anyone was able to respond. Animal shelters are now faced with a growing number of pit bulls, some of them wounded or scarred from fighting. Besides facing a litany of medical problems, these dogs are simply too aggressive to keep as pets and must be euthanized.

During a dogfighting criminal trial, rescued dogs are sometimes held by charitable organizations in animal shelters at the expense of healthy dogs, who must be euthanized in order to set aside space for the fighting dogs. These rescued fighting dogs must also be killed after the trial because they’re not safe to maintain as pets.

Because of the perceived menace of pit bulls -- which, when raised properly, aren’t dangerous animals -- it is now illegal in some communities to adopt or own a pit bull. In the next section, we’ll look at dogfighting laws and commons signs of dogfighting activity.


 Dog fighting Is a Fact of Life for Many Chicago Kids Updated November 26, 2012 12:00pm

CHICAGO — While walking to the corner store over the summer, 6-year-old Lawrenc...

e Cadle and his 9-year-old cousin Liana stumbled upon a dogfight in an alley on the West Side.
"I never seen two dogs fight like that before, not even on TV," said Lawrence, who described watching a pit bull kill another dog. "To see two dogs go at it was exciting.”
With dogfighting rampant in some parts of the city, children are increasingly among the spectators in the crowd, officials said. And that can have lasting negative effects on their personalities, experts say.
“Dogfighting is nothing new to kids these days,” said Chicago Police Sgt. Mark George, who heads up the Animal Crimes Unit. "Unfortunately, it has become a part of life for many kids.”
A survey by the Anti-Cruelty Society found that one in 15 children in the city have attended a dogfight. The 2006 survey, the most recent available, found that more than 2,300 of the 35,000 kids surveyed in grades K-12 had seen a fight in person. Nearly 5,200 — or one in seven — said they knew such fights were taking place in their neighborhoods.
The ratio is far higher in some neighborhoods in the city, officials said.
“Most of the kids we see at public schools who have attended a dogfight live in minority areas,” said Robyn Barbiers, a spokeswoman for the Anti-Cruelty Society. “It is amazing how some kids who live in certain zip codes have never heard of dogfighting while other kids know as much about dogfighting as we do.”
The two areas that get the most complaints of dogfights are District 11, which includes North Lawndale on the West Side, and District 7, which includes Englewood on the South Side. Last year, out of 757 total calls to the city's 311 line about dogfighting, there were 127 calls from North Lawndale and 112 from Englewood. Through mid-September of this year, there were 71 calls in North Lawndale and 72 in Englewood out of a total of 530.
"Englewood is a hub for dogfighting," George said.
For the children who live in those communities, coming across a dogfight is all too common.
Liana said the summer dogfight she saw on the West Side with her younger cousin wasn't even the first one she attended. Last year, she watched another in which a pit bull was killed.
"I didn't like it," she said. “I don’t think it’s right that people make dogs fight. They’re humans, too.”
Jason Walker, 14, a South Side eighth grader, said he saw a German shepherd badly wound a pit bull in a vacant lot in a fight last year.
“There were probably 100 people at the fight and half were people my age," he said. "I really don’t see what the big deal is about making dogs fight. If two dogs want to fight then how is that illegal?"
Anti-dogfighting advocates fear attending the fights could have long-term consequences on kids' behavior.
"When a child witnesses the kind of violence in dogfighting staged by people, they can become desensitized to pain and suffering, less able to empathize and more willing to accept physical harm in supposed 'loving' relationships," said Cynthia Bathurst, executive director for Safe Humane Chicago, a non-profit animal advocacy organization. "They can learn that victims are expendable ... and even learn to feel empowered by inflicting pain and suffering. They are at risk of repeating abuse."
And although police say the crime is hard to prosecute because they rarely catch a fight in progress, the kids risk jail time if they end up getting involved in organizing the battles in which thousands of dollars in bets may be at stake.
That's what happened to Derek Brown, 36, a former gang leader of the Vice Lords, who said he "had to learn the hard way."
“It took for me to spend a couple of years in prison to fully realize what I had done,” said Brown, a single father of seven who now is a youth mentor to kids in North Lawndale, where he grew up.
“Back then I treated my dog like a piece of meat. If my dog lost, I left him there to die and would go get another dog to fight," Brown said. "I know better now. And when you know better you do better."

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