Very recently, the authorities arrested 10 residents of Long Island who have been running an interstate dogfighting ring. As a result, a lot of information has come out about exactly what they have been doing. Apparently, the 10 individuals were pretending to be legitimate pit bull breeders. However, they were taped describing the systematic mistreatment of their animals in detail, with examples including but not limited to starving them, keeping them in cramped conditions, and separating them from their mothers when they were still too young. All of which were intended to make the animals more violent and more aggressive. Every single one of the dogs were subjected to practice fights at an early age. If they showed promise, they were permitted to live; if they failed to show promise, they were killed using inhumane methods such as electrocution. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the same kind of brutality extended to the rest of their operations as well. For example, while they used artificial insemination to produce some of their animals, they weren’t above subjecting their female dogs to rape. Similarly, it was common for the dogfighting matches to result in serious injuries and even death. In total, the dogfighting ring involved dozens of dogs. The court cases have yet to happen, but even at this point in time, what has been revealed seems damning.
How Widespread Is Dog Fighting?
For context, dog fighting has been with us for a very long time. The Romans were huge fans of bloodsports, which served to emphasize their superiority over the human sphere as well as the natural sphere. However, they were far from being alone in their fondness for such activities. This can be seen in how a number of well-known dog breeds were created for the purpose of participating in one kind of bloodsport or another. For example, Old English Bulldogs were bred for bull-baiting as well as similar bloodsports. Similarly, a number of other bulldog breeds from other countries were bred for much the same uses. These bloodsports were very popular in early modern England, so it should come as no surprise to learn that they managed to make their way to the English colonies in what would become the United States.
There, dogfighting entrenched itself. Initially, it was permitted but not particularly popular. However, dogfighting saw a surge in the aftermath of the American Civil War, which in turn, produced an opposition of proportional strength. By the early 20th century, the tide had turned, so much so that the United Kennel Club stopped its one-time support of such activities. This was followed by a series of bans in state by state, culminating in dogfighting being made illegal throughout the whole of the United States in 1976. Unfortunately, the enforcement of said bans has been lax until recent times, which is one of the factors that have contributed to dogfighting’s enduring presence in the United States.
Of course, other countries have similar issues of their own. If interested individuals want to, they can find similar stories about the authorities busting dog fighting rings throughout the English-speaking world and beyond. For that matter, it should be mentioned that dog fighting is still permitted to some extent in a number of countries. For example, Japan hasn’t banned the practice on a national level, though some Japanese prefectures have banned it on a prefectural level. Similarly, Russia hasn’t banned the practice on a national level, though there are some Russian jurisdictions that have instituted their own bans. In any case, dogfighting is a huge issue in the modern United States.
For obvious reasons, the exact number of people involved in such activities isn’t clear. However, interested parties have used various factors such as the circulation of underground publications and the number of dogs being sent to animal shelters showing the signs of dogfighting to come up with various estimates, which include some that put the number of said individuals in the tens of thousands. For a time, dogfighting seemed as though it was on the wane. Unfortunately, the Internet made it much easier for likeminded individuals to gather together in likeminded communities than ever before, with the result that dogfighting seems to have made something of a resurgence in the last couple of decades because of this ease of organization.
As for why people engage in dogfighting, there seems to be a number of common reasons. For starters, there is the matter of money. It isn’t uncommon for tens of thousands of dollars to exchange hands because of a single dogfight, which speaks volumes about the sums that are being tossed about during such activities. On top of this, dogs that do well can raise the profile of entire bloodlines, which can fetch further thousands of dollars through stud fees as well as the sale of puppies. Having said that, there are plenty of people who aren’t motivated by money. To name an example, there are those who enjoy dogfighting because of the brutality that is inherent to the bloodsport. For that matter, there are those who see the dogs as extensions of themselves, with the result that they participate in dogfighting to show their status as well as their strength.
Something that can cause them to do terrible things to the dogs that lose because of the perceived impact on their reputation. In any case, the kind of issues mentioned in this case are not uncommon when it comes to dogfighting as a whole. It is very common for people who participate in dogfighting to either kill or abandon animals that they feel are not performing to their satisfaction. Furthermore, dogfighting matches produce a wide range of issues such as blood loss, broken bones, and crushing injuries. As such, even though most aren’t fought to the death, a lot of the dogs wind up succumbing to their wounds afterwards anyways. This is particularly true for those on the losing side of things, which are often left untreated or even outright killed. In some cases, the dog owners have even been known to execute their own dogs in a particularly brutal fashion when they perceive themselves as having been embarrassed. Ultimately, the problem with dogfighting is that such cases are difficult to crack. After all, the people who participate in dogfighting tend to have a pretty good idea that what they are doing is illegal, meaning that they will make some effort to keep things secret. As such, looking into such cases is resource-intensive, which can be a huge problem when the relevant organizations are working with limited budgets as well as limited manpower.