April 8 is National Dog Fighting Awareness Day. Designated by the ASPCA, the day is designed to educate us about what dog fighting is and how we can stop it.
Here are some interesting facts about dog fighting:
Dog fighting became popular in the US in the late 1800’s. Many police officers and firefighters were participants. That’s why the New York legislature gave Henry Bergh (founder of ASPCA) law enforcement powers- they knew he couldn’t depend on law enforcement for support.
While some dog fighters are “street fighters” who starve and beat their dogs to get them to become aggressive, the hobbyist and professional dog fighters invest in their dogs. They breed for aggressiveness, provide good nutrition and veterinary care for their dogs, and exercise and train them. And it pays off financially. Professional fights can earn big payouts for winning dogs both in purse and in breeding fees.
Stolen dogs may end up in a number of places, including in the hands of dog fighters. They’re used as bait dogs for fighters. It’s why you should never allow your dog outside unsupervised.
The reason more dog fighters aren’t arrested has to do with money. It takes lots of money to care for the dogs, who must be kept as evidence for the trial, and many communities simply cannot afford to do that without assistance from groups like the ASPCA.
Dogs rescued from dog fights are not like other dogs. Despite the hype about how the Vick dogs were rehabilitated, you can’t just adopt one and treat it like any other dog. As I said, these dogs are bred to be aggressive. And just because the dog isn’t aggressive today doesn’t mean it won’t be tomorrow. Also, former fight dogs are sometimes stolen and returned to the fighting world, so fostering a former fight dog is not something you want to brag about.
Want to learn more about dog fighting? Then attend tomorrow’s Google+ hangout from 7-8 PM Eastern time. The event will be monitored by ABC News’ Dan Harris. You can submit questions on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook using #NDFAD.
Find out how much you know about dog fighting when you take the ASPCA’s Dog Fighting Awareness Quiz.