Looking for a Fight
by Judith Fish, M.S.W.
Dog fighting is an inhumane and illegal activity that is flourishing
in both rural and urban
areas across our country. Animal fighting is on the increase, especially among juveniles and gang
members in crime plagued inner city neighborhoods. Parents should be particularly concerned about this as there is a strong
correlation between people who are cruel to animals and people who are cruel to humans. Allowing your children to observe
or participate in animal fighting is not only illegal, it also desensitizes them to the needs and feelings of other sentient
beings and renders them incapable of developing empathy, an important character trait. Aside from the obvious issue of animal
cruelty, there are other reasons to be concerned about the safety and well being of your children. Where there is animal fighting
there is also likely to be illegal firearms, drugs, gambling and even prostitution. Animal fighting is an organized and
activity and according to the FBI, the 4th largest moneymaker for organized crime.
fighting is a felony in the state of Florida. Animal fighting includes the exploitation of roosters, other birds, bears and
dogs. Recently, laws have been strengthened which makes it a felony to breed, possess, sell, and transport fighting animals
and also makes it a felony
to be a spectator. In addition, it is illegal to own, possess or sell equipment associated with
animal fighting. Further, it is illegal to work at animal fights as a referee or to act as a security person at these fights.
Governor Jeb Bush signed this into law in June 2003. This law
allows for raids to occur any time day or night.
used for fighting are often kept caged or chained for long periods of time under deplorable conditions. Animals are bred for
maximum aggressiveness and are subjected to cruel and barbaric training methods. Animals who are chained, beaten, unsocialized,
isolated and not neutered, become bored, frustrated, lonely, fearful and unhappy. This situation
creates a dangerous environment
for citizens in that community, especially the children. Stolen pets and stray animals are often used for “bait”
and “losing” dogs often suffer inhumane deaths that range from being burned alive or drowned to being slowly starved
to death. The pit bull terrier is the breed of choice among dog fighters. They are used primarily due to their intelligence,
energy, fierce loyalty, strength and their eagerness to please. Pit bulls are not naturally aggressive and can make great
pets just like any other dog. It’s the humans who make the pit bull aggressive. In fact, you might be surprised to learn
that the pit bull was our
country’s mascot during WWI and Petey the dog from “Our Gang” was a pit bull
terrier. Pit bulls have even been certified as pet therapy dogs, drug sniffing dogs and search and rescue dogs. All dogs should
be treated as family members. They should be socialized, housetrained, exercised and loved. Dog’s are “man’s
best friend” and help humans in so many ways. That is why it is so tragic that humans are forcing them to fight other
animals in such brutal and exceedingly violent ways. Animal fighting is a reflection of the proliferation of violence in our
society and must be stopped. It is particularly detrimental to children who are exposed to
this despicable form of violence.
A campaign in Palm Beach County “ We’re looking for a
Fight” encourages citizens to come forward and
report alleged animal fighting.
Beach you can call 561-688-HELP and in Broward you can call your local police departments. Reporters can remain anonymous
and the tipsters could be eligible for a reward of up to $2500.
is a freelance writer and a child and animal advocate. She holds a Master’s Degree from Case Western Reserve University
and is employed as a School Social Worker with the Broward County Schools. She has previous experience as a child abuse investigator
and is a member of Broward School’s character education committee.