Why do people fight dogs? Ever since we started covering Michael Vick’s dog fighting scandal back in May, the question has lingered in my mind. What is it about two animals tearing flesh from one another that so enthralls people? Why would they cross the country in search of such inhumane acts, risking their freedom in the process?
After reading the horrific descriptions in the Michael Vick indictment, I wondered if money was the motive behind dog fighting. Vick and his millions aside, do people fight dogs because of the tens of thousands of dollars involved? Maybe, but you could just as easily bet illegally on sports without crossing state lines.
If you think dog fighting is limited to a certain skin color, educational background, or income level, you can stop right there. Regardless of the people in this case, this isn’t a black community problem. “Old dogfighting lithographs show gentlemen dressed in their Sunday best, but today it could just as easily be the country guy down South as the gangster wannabe in the big city.”
Dog fighting is a relic of barbaric humanity that still lives in the uncivilized, unspoken corners of our hearts. It’s ugly, brutal and bloody, and that’s exactly the reason it thrives. Those who fight dogs know that it’s barbaric — whether they like the term or not. Calling it barbaric is no deterrent to those who love dog fighting — the more barbaric it is, the more the attraction to the “sport.”
Is it a sport? Absolutely not. Today’s dog fights are ramshackle relics of ancient gladiatorial combat. The grand arena of Rome have been replaced by barns and back alleys, the emperor is played by a bookie, the gladiators replaced with unsuspecting Pit Bull puppies whose instinct have been twisted by men whose bravado outstrip their braveness. Sadly, the whole spectacle is idolized by men and boys who confuse manhood with the appetite for violence and blood.
(Picture: Michael Vick posing with a dog)
There’s an estimated 40,000 active participants in dog fighting and according to National Illegal Animal Fighting Task Force, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry whose mystique and glamor is perpetuated by pop culture and athletes. So how do you stop it? Or should we even stop it?
I’ve read this and variations on this debate on many websites with seemingly no conclusion in sight: “What’s wrong with two adults doing something natural with their own property? Dogs are here to serve us.” People can argue that we are harnessing the natural behaviors of animals to our gain, just as we have used cows to get milk or horses to carry us. So I am not going to give you the typical “it-is-not-natural” answer.
The ability and will to fight are natural instincts in animals — and, yes, even humans. Once upon a time, people solved disputes with axes and swords. Once upon a time, when a stronger person beat you senseless and took all your belongings, there was no police to call. Once upon a time, you had to do as your king commanded. But we learned. We got wiser. Dog fighting is wrong because the community of humanity says it’s wrong. We became better. Morality is enforced by the community at large and we’re telling you that dog fighting is evil, vile and inhumane. If you can’t understand why, I’m sorry to tell you that you’ve become a relic. We all grew up and you didn’t.
So to me, the only question remains: How do you stop dog fighting?