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Dog fighting is nothing short of deviant behavior
Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk - photo by Contributed to the Courier

In my column last week, I called attention to the underworld of illegal gambling associated with cock fighting, dog fighting and horse racing. I focused on cockfighting and the brutality and carnage associated with it, as well as the fact that where there is illegal animal-based gambling, there is also sure to be other crimes such as money laundering, drug-related crime and more. Horse racing outside of sanctioned events is illegal, and while there appears to be little harm to these animals in the racing circuit, they are often drugged for performance or to mask injuries so they can still compete. Illegal horse racing certainly has an inhumane component but it does not appear to be as vicious and brutal as what fighting roosters and dogs are subjected to.

This week, the focus is dog fighting. Dog fighting is a blood sport that features gambling and the [human] participants' perverse desire for seeing live creatures shred each other into bloody, lifeless pieces. This sport substantially features an underground gambling component with large sums of money at stake. Pit bulls are usually the dog breed of choice, since they are known for fighting to the death while maintaining their ferocity and drive to the very end. These dogs have extraordinarily powerful jaw muscles and tremendous body strength. Few families use pit bulls merely as pets; rather, more often than not, they are kept for fighting or for breeding fighting dogs. They are also owned by some people who wish to appear fearsome and powerful (in actuality, such displays tends to have the opposite effect, making the owner appear weak and cowardly) by having a dog with a violent reputation.

Dog fighting participants/owners are generally involved in gang activities, theft, and violence towards people, drug use, drug trafficking, and other crime. Fighting dogs are also used by illegal drug makers and dealers to protect their premises and illegal "assets." Drugs are often stashed in containers to which the dogs are chained in yards or vacant fields. The dogs also provide security inside drug houses and warehouses.

Another aspect of the dog fighting world is the fact that innocent stray animals are often captured, adopted from shelters, or purchased from legitimate pet dealers for the purpose of training fighting dogs. The fighters are thereby exposed to blood and are encouraged to viciously tear the innocent dog apart.

Animal shelters and other dog adoption agencies usually deem pit bulls as being un-adoptable because of their propensity for severe bites and not stopping until their victim perishes. Some dog lovers will argue that not all pit bulls are vicious and potentially dangerous, and that their disposition is largely the result of how they are raised and treated by their respective owners. I disagree. As a breed, pit bulls are generally predisposed to relentless and vicious attacks that, once started, can hardly be stopped without killing or taking other drastic action.

Whether at the local, national or international level, dog fighting is essentially organized crime, complete with all of the criminal elements that accompany the criminal milieu. With a few exceptions, fighting dog owners fit the profile of being socially ill-adapted with significant criminal propensities. There are cases of respected community members, business owners and elected officials participating in the dog fighting world either as owners of fighting dogs, observers, gambling participants, or all three of the aforementioned categories. Regardless of their community standing, their mere participation at any level deems them to be criminals.

Dog fighting is nothing short of deviant behavior. Accordingly, the state and federal legislative bodies clearly understand that there must be laws prohibiting such activities. Laws now exist to cover all aspects of the dog fighting scene. Some of the crimes associated with dog fighting include animal cruelty, possessing, keeping or training animals for use in fighting exhibition, illegal gambling, criminal profiteering, violation of the organized crime act, unlawful assembly, conspiracy, participation in a criminal street gang, and accessory to a felony.

Members of the public are encouraged to report dog fighting crime. Even though the police and animal service personnel are always on the lookout for these activities, it is often the neighbors who provide the breakthrough tips leading to arrests and dismantling the dog fighting rings. There are so many different crimes we, as a society, have to concern ourselves with, but dog fighting gets to the core of a civil society, complete with peripheral criminal activities and deviant behaviors. This is a good one to rid ourselves of permanently.