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The Ontario SPCA opposes any activity where an animal may be caused to suffer. These animal cruelty investigations involving dog fighting are some of the toughest scenarios that their agents and inspectors deal with.
The typical cases involve terrible conditions for the animals, disregarding their social, behavioral, physical and psychological needs.
These animals are often medicated with steroids or other substances designed to alter behaviour and increase aggression and strength.
Agents and inspectors have found evidence of fighting pits, treadmills, baiting poles, breaking sticks, dog-training weights and dead animals at the scenes of these investigations.
In the last several decades, the Society has investigated more than two-dozen organized dog fighting cases. Only a handful of these cases have resulted in convictions.
These activities are often well hidden, characterized as underground, taking place in remote areas, such as farms. In more suburban environments, they may take place in parks or underground parking garages. In urban areas, dog fighting typically takes the form of "brawls" or "rumbles", which can be characterized as impromptu contests between two dogs. This format is replacing the former organized dog fights. These activities are often easier to hide, because by the time police can respond, the activity is over and the perpetrators have moved on.
Dog fighting is often associated with gambling operations. It is standard policy to euthanize dogs seized as part of a dog fighting investigation. Though these dogs may be very friendly towards humans, they are extremely aggressive towards other dogs and can typically not be rehabilitated.
The animals that are selected to participate in these activities are the result of selective breeding, designed to take breeds with favourable characteristics (such as strength) and stimulate their aggressive tendencies and characteristics. Those animals that do not achieve the desired behaviours are disposed of by violent means, usually drowning or other methods that cause suffering.
These dogs are born and raised in environments designed to increase anxiety and promote aggression. Kenneled for long periods can lead to physical vulnerability, such as a depressed immunity, bed sores and muscle atrophy.
A Chicago police study determined that 70 percent of people arrested for crimes against animals have also been arrested for other felonies. Pit bulls and other favoured breeds in dog fighting are treated as a kind of currency in the industry; their value is assessed by how much money their genes and jaws can potential earn.
Breed specific legislation unfortunately punishes breeds without addressing the specific issues surrounding dog fighting. Should someone involved in dog fighting find that one breed was unavailable, they would simply select another.
The Ontario SPCA works in cooperation with police services when responding to reports of dog fighting. Some communities in the US have dedicated resources, including task forces, or have increased the number of abuse investigators who investigate the issue. Ending dog fighting requires not just strong penalties, but social remedies.
Opportunities exist to change perceptions through youth-based humane education initiatives. Dog fighting is international, interracial and inter-economical. It knows no boundaries.
We, the undersigned, condemn dog fighting, any other form of animal fighting orchestrated by people for enjoyment, entertainment, gambling, punishment, and any other benefits.
The Support Ontario SPCA's fight against Dog Fighting petition to Dog Fighting Participants was written by Kyung Min Choi and is in the category Animal Rights at GoPetition.