So...fair warning: this is not going to be a cutesy, froo-froo or feel-good story. Far from it. A Facebook page that has been brought to the forefront this week illustrates a demon we have within our society. This monster is one that I feel strongly about, yet have a hard time talking about - or writing about. Admittedly, just the thought of this issue makes me cringe. It's something I usually shy away from for that reason. I suspect I'm not alone in this. The gore, the guts, the brutality...I refused to include a photo showing this, just as I won't glorify that Facebook page with a link. But I wanted to get your attention. Below is a photo of one who is discriminated against and despised merely for having been born. One who is the product of man's sins, yet shines with the glory of goodness.
Yes, I'm talking about dogfighting. And Pit Bulls. Dogfighting exists around the globe; but as the saying goes, "sweep in front of your own door first". Here in our country - our civilized, highly developed, technologically advanced, globally superior society - the practice of dogfighting not only exists, it flourishes. Why? Well, the excuse given is that it is a sport. Forgive me for not comprehending that line of logic. The truth is, it's extremely lucrative, oodles of money changes hands at fights, money that is more likely than not tainted from drug sales, gang activities, unlawful activities of all sorts. The tie between dogfighting and crime has been documented repeatedly by not only animal rights activists, but by law enforcement officials and government agencies. No one has produced evidence of it ever occurring without those horrible attachments. Violence begets violence. Crime is crime. Those who are willing to partake in unlawful activities, do so in more than one way. And dogfighting is unlawful - it is illegal in every single one of these United States, as a felony no less.
The media frenzy over Michael Vick aside, there are so many people who organize and run fights across our country, it is sickening - a serious stain on our collective conscience. Dogs are bred or bought specifically for the purpose. Dogs are mistreated - abused - and neglected, to strip them of their good natures, bring them to the brink. They are trained, through torturous means, to enhance their fighting potential and teach them the fighting way. Yes, they are taught. These dogs do not come into this world ready to fight. Even the ones who've been bred specifically from "great" fighters. It is a process, and it is inhumane in itself. Then there are the dogs who are obtained merely for use as bait. There is absolutely no regard whatsoever for them. How can this possibly be condoned, even if by our silence in the knowledge of it?
Just as animal abuse by children has been found to correlate with later violence against people, partaking in dogfighting practices has been shown to include other violent, illegal behavior. And the kicker, is when these sickos take their children to a fight! Imagine what impact that might have on an impressionable child. It is not a reason to avoid it that it doesn't involve us personally; what happens within our community eventually will affect us personally. We know these things, we know what is going on, we need now to stop shying away from it because it grosses us out or frightens us. We need to face it head-on, tackle this part of our society and eradicate it. The dogfighters want a fight? Let's give them one!
Then there are the victims, the survivors of these horrible activities - and the ones who just look like them as well. Pit Bulls are wonderful, sweet, loyal dogs who can make the best of family pets. Yes, family. If they have been trained to be otherwise, they may be able to get back to their natural ways, given a chance. Some have such docile natures they were only used as "bait", unable to fight whatsoever. Many who are in need of a home - sitting in shelters or rescues - have never been in a fight, never been trained to fight, never been part of a dogfighting ring. They just happen to be Pit Bulls, or look like Pit Bulls, and understandably people see the horrible images of fighting when they see that Pit Bulls.
If we can get past our horror about it all, realize that many dogs just don't fit in that nasty-fighter category, they may have a home and a family may have a great pet. Breed-specific legislation, which has been on a merry-go-round in communities throughout the country, makes no sense and helps noone. To ban Pit Bulls, simply because it's a dog of choice for dogfighters, does nothing to end the fighting - there are plenty of other dogs they can, and will, use instead. It only hurts the innocent dogs. As a friend recently said to me, there are other breeds who are more likely to bite and she is wary of.
So what can we do, as individuals, to take a stand on this issue, do our part to resolve it?
Here is a list that I can think of, please feel free to comment if you know of additional:
-Report any suspicious activity, immediately, to authorities.
-If looking to rehome your pet (cats included) -
Do not offer "free to a good home"
Scrutinize the potential adopter carefully and thoroughly
Do a follow-up, including a home visit, after a reasonable period of time
-Keep your pets safely indoors, or under supervision/on a leash when outside
-Immediately go after any publicized support for dogfighting - report it
(The Facebook page has been reported by many as violent, to be taken off the site)
-Support legislation in your community for stronge enforcement against fighting
-Support legislation in your community that does NOT discriminate against specific breeds
-If looking for a new dog for your family, consider adopting a Pit Bull or look-alike breed
-Consider fostering in your home
-Spread the word - It's not the dog, it's the man
May all our loving and faithful pits someday soon live peacefully with us, without risk of those evil enough to force them into fighting, or those blind enough to condemn them.