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Dog Fighting: Society's dirty little secret

Writing effective letters to officials
Preparing for BSL meetings
BSL Studies
Alternatives to BSL
The Calgary Model
Guardianship v. Ownership
Dispelling the myths
Organizations against BSL
What Pit Bulls Can Teach Us About Profiling
A Message to the Media
Fight the Good Fight - New BSL Presentation
Pit Bull 101
Identification Issues
Discounting the CDC Report
Helpful Facts and Statistics

Dogfighting is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the federal Animal Welfare Act prohibits the interstate transportation of dogs for fighting purposes.   Forty-eight (48) states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have made dogfighting a felony offense. Forty-seven (47) states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands prohibit the possession of dogs for fighting. And 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands prohibit being a spectator at a dogfight.

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 enclosed area) to fight each other, for the purpose of entertainment and gambling by the "spectators".  Fights can average nearly an hour in length and often last more than two hours.  Dogfights end when one of the dogs is no longer willing or able to continue.  Dog fighting is prevalent EVERYWHERE... from the most urban of neighborhoods to the deep backwoods. 

Dog Fighting = Animal Cruelty

The injuries inflicted and sustained by dogs participating in dogfights are frequently severe, including deep puncture wounds and broken bones, and some are even fatal. Dogs used in these "events" often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days after the fight.

Other animals - besides the actual fight dogs - are often sacrificed as well. Some owners train their dogs for fights using smaller animals such as cats, rabbits, or small dogs.  These "bait" animals are often stolen pets or animals obtained through "free to good home" advertisements.

Far Reaching Effects...

Dog fighting has become a serious issue in society today.  Aside from the simple fact that dog fighting is a crime and is terribly cruel to animals, the effects on society are devestating as participants are often involved in other crimes:

  • dog fighters are often involved in illegal gambling, the sale and possession of drugs, as well as illegal weapons.
  • dog fighters and spectators have a history of violent and criminal behavior toward people.
  • dog fighting is another entertainment activity for gangs.
  • dogs trained for fighting have been known to viciously attack innocent people for no apparent reason.
  • it is not uncommon for dog fighters or spectators to involve their children in dog fighting.

Research shows young children who view this type of violence have a greater acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behavior. These children are taught to believe that it's okay to inflict the cruelties they observe and that dog fighting is an acceptable practice.

Rising in disturbing popularity is an animal sport that is drawing many spectators in rural parts of the Southeast: hog-dog fighting.  Considered family entertainment, residents gather from miles around at rodeo-style arenas in rural Alabama to watch as a pit-bull is released into a pen with a wild boar, often without its tusks. The "catch-dog" competes in the blood sport by biting the ears of the hog and pulling him to the ground. Many spectators bet on which dog can subdue the hog first.

"The first time I saw it, it just made me sick.  It's inhumane and is not good for the community." Alabama Rep. Thomas Jackson, D-Thomasville.  "I just can't understand the mentality of some people who call that entertainment."

Sarah Kate Sullivan, Staff Reporter, April 22, 2005

Signs of Dog Fighting include:

**It should be noted that the below "signs" are a compilation of information from various organizations and not meant to substitute real evidence or proof of dog fighting. 

Does the fact that your neighbor owns multiple pit bulls mean they are fighting them?  Of course not.  The same can be said for the tethering of dogs, hanging a tire from a tree, owning a "spring pole," etc.  Bottom line is, dog fighting is a crime for which physical evidence is needed.  If you are going to report dog fighting, please make sure you are reacting to a real crime and not to your fears of a breed that is surrounded in myth and misunderstanding.

*Ownership of several adult dogs and/or puppies that are confined by thick chains with or without weights on their collars.

*Tires or other items suspended from trees to provide jaw strengthening activities.

*Hand walking, jogging or using a treadmill.

*A "cat mill" which confines a cat, rabbit or other small animal and encourages the dog to chase it may be present. As a reward for its hard, work, the dog will be permitted to capture and kill the confined animal.

*People of all ages, some with dogs, coming and going in a residence or other site and a general "party" atmosphere.

*Dogs that have short, cropped ears; recent or long-standing wounds; and/or scars on their head, throat, ears, and legs.

**Please remember that just because your neighbor owns a pit bull, it does not mean he/she is particpating in dog fighting.


What Can You Do?

Remember that violence, weapons, and illegal activities go hand-in-hand with dog fighting. 

*Report any suspected dog fighting activities, to the appropriate local agency.  

*Support legislation that encourages severe punishment of anyone involved in dog fighting.

*It is up to you and your neighbors to spread the word that dog fighting is not acceptable in your neighborhood.

clock Jun 17, 2006 12:41 pm US/Central

Bond Reduced For Fireman Accused In Dog Fight Ring

Carlton Davis Jr.'s Bond Reduced To $50,000

(Post-Tribune) CROWN POINT, Ind. Lake Superior Court Judge Salvador Vasquez reduced the bond for Gary firefighter Carlton Davis Jr., facing 27 felony and misdemeanor charges related to animal fighting and cruelty.

Davis, 33, of Gary, whose bail originally was set at $145,000, or $14,500 cash, had his bond reduced to $50,000, or $5,000 cash.

Davis, who has pleaded not guilty, is accused of running a pit bull breeding and fighting operation in the 3700 block of West 48th Place in Calumet Township.

Defense attorney Garry Weiss called Gary fire Lt. Marvin Brown, who is president of the Gary Firefighter’s Union Local 359. Brown was joined by about a half-dozen other firefighters who stood in the back row of the courtroom at Weiss’ request to show their support for Davis.

Brown said Davis still has his job once he’s released from jail and no action has been taken to suspend him from active duty.

Davis said he joined the Gary Fire Department seven years ago Friday. He said he was in South Carolina on vacation when police confiscated his dogs.

Lake County police raided the Calumet Township home on May 29 after discovering 15 emaciated dogs and one decaying dead pit bull, along with equipment authorities allege was used to train dogs for monthly fights at the home.

Davis told Vasquez he’s never failed to appear in court. “I’ve never been in trouble my whole life,” he said.

Family members, including three of Davis’ sisters, also were present in court. His cousin, Bernice Upshaw, described Davis as loving, caring, compassionate and family-oriented.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Watson opposed the bond reduction, noting that if Davis is convicted, he could be sentenced consecutively on several of the counts.

Weiss, who arranged last week for a news conference for his client, asked Vasquez to impose a gag order in the case. Vasquez agreed no one would be allowed to disseminate information to reporters on evidence in the case.

The judge imposed several conditions on Davis after his release, including that he report to pretrial release services monthly, live only at one address, submit to random drug tests, maintain employment and not possess any dogs.

Vasquez also issued an order that none of the dogs confiscated by Lake County police be adopted or placed in foster homes. Weiss said he will request a hearing in about 10 days after he hires experts to evaluate the condition of the dogs.

By Ruth Ann Krause / Post-Tribune

Below is a form letter to address the above situation, but could be modified to address other similar situations as they arise.
The Honorable Salvador Vasquez
Lake County Superior Court
Courts Building, 2nd Floor
2293 North Main Street
Crown Point, Indiana 46307
          RE:  People v. Carlton Davis, Jr.

Dear Judge Vasquez:

I am writing to express my disappointment with your decision to reduce the bond for Carlton Davis, Jr., for charges against him related to animal fighting and cruelty. Individuals engaged in dog fighting are criminals and, therefore, should be dealt with accordingly. Your actions in this matter have the ability to make a difference to animals caught in this senseless form of cruel entertainment across the country.

Dog fighting is a sadistic "contest" that is a crime in all 50 states; forty-eight of those states consider it a felony. Aside from the obvious callousness, blatant disregard and severe cruelty inflicted upon the animals forced to be involved in this "contest," the effects of dog fighting go much deeper. Dog fighters are often involved in illegal gambling, the sale and possession of drugs and illegal weapons, and even prostitution. In addition, dog fighting has other detrimental effects on the community:

Dog fighters and spectators have a history of violent and criminal behavior toward people;

Dog fighting is another form of "entertainment" for gangs;

It is not uncommon for dog fighters or spectators to involve their children in dog fighting, thus forming children’s acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behavior.

In light of all the above, it is imperative that individuals involved in dog fighting are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As such, I implore you to handle Mr. Davis’ case as the violent and serious felony that it is. You have the ability to not only make a difference in your community, but to send a message to all individuals who take pleasure in inflicting pain on innocent creatures for the sake of "entertainment."


Jodi M. Preis