DOG FIGHTING HARMS A SOCIETY AS MUCH AS THE DOGS INVOLVED
Dogfighting is not only a problem of cruelty to animals; dogfighting is also part of a criminal subculture that can involve other criminal activities such as illegal gambling, drug related crimes, theft as well as contributing to the destruction of communities. Illegal gambling is an inherent part of a dogfight, and because money changes hands, weapons are common on the scene.
Children are often present, and besides the inherent danger of the situation to a child, their witnessing such premeditated acts of cruelty lead to an ever growing desensitisation to violence. Dog fighting is a strong indicator of a society in decay as it promotes and encourages a culture of non-empathy.
Contrary to popular belief dogfighting, which originates in Europe, is not limited to gangsters and informal settlements, it in fact transverses all segments of the South African population.
- “Street”fighters, often associated with gangs or unemployed youth, engage in dog fights that are local, informal street corner and back alley spontaneous events triggered by insults, turf invasions or simple boredom.
- “Hobbyist”fighters are slightly more organized, with their average ability dogs participating in a number of organised fights a year as a side-line for both entertainment and to attempt to supplement income. They tend to breed their dogs extensively and have a ready supply of puppies for sale.
- “Professional”dogfighters tend to breed, raise, train and fight their own dogs at a set location in matches arranged well in advance. They operate nationally and pay particular attention to establishing and promoting their own winning bloodlines.
Most dogs used for organised fighting purposes in South Africa are American Pit Bull Terriers. Historically bred and known for their known for their courage, loyalty, high energy levels and non-aggression towards humans. These traits, which make well-bred and well-trained pit bulls good companions, have unfortunately been exploited by a criminal element, unscrupulous breeders and by irresponsible owners and trainers who encourage unbridled aggression in their animals via both their abusive training methods and the introduction of human aggression via crossbreeding.
Abusive training/ management methods include:
- Pit bull dogs that do not exhibit suitable fighting potential or are reluctant to fight sometimes have their mouths taped shut and are used as bait dogs for dogs in training. One bait animal can be used repeatedly for this purpose. A bait animal’s teeth may also be removed to prevent the fighting dog from getting injured.
- Due to many of these animals being highly reactive and dog aggressive natural breeding is not possible so to breed and ensure the longevity of a bloodline and the income that this generates, an inhumane rape stand is used. This involves strapping down an unreceptive female Pitbull onto a purpose built rack so that she is unable to move or refuse a mating by a male.
- Chains and Weights:Dogs have very heavy chains and weights wrapped around their necks, so that they build neck and upper body strength by constantly bearing the immense weight of the chains.