I got this literature from the following.
It is very interesting.
Title Name: Detailed Discussion of Dog Fighting
Place of Publication: Michigan State University
College of LawPublish Year: 2005Primary Citation: Animal Legal and Historical
An in-depth article on the insidious crime of dogfighting, including information for investigators and prosecutors. The
discussion focuses on the history, sociology, and and effects on communities due to dogfighting. Further included is a discussion
of the relevant legal issues raised in prosecuting dogfighting offenders.
I. Introduction: What is Dogfighting?
Dog fighting is an insidious underground organized crime that deserves much legal and political scrutiny. The blood sport,
once sanctioned by aristocracy, embraced by medieval gentry and later promoted by colonial and Victorian miscreants, is now
completely outlawed in the United States. Notwithstanding the absolute prohibition in America, it has reached epidemic proportions
in all urban communities and continues to thrive in many rural areas as well. The collective American conscience
has long been repulsed by the undeniable brutality within the culture of dogfighting, but the law enforcement community has
been regrettably lax in appreciating the full scope and gravity of the problem. Historically, the crime was erroneously classified
as an isolated animal welfare issue, and as such has been predominately disregarded by law enforcement. The communities that
have been morally, socially and culturally scarred by the menacing pestilence of dogfighting have paid dearly for the apathy
of the legal community. From a very early age, children are routinely exposed to the unfathomable violence that is inherent
within the blood sport. Even seasoned law enforcement agents are consistently appalled by the atrocities that they encounter
at dog fights, yet the children that grow up exposed to it are conditioned to believe that the violence is normal; they are
systematically desensitized to the suffering, and ultimately become criminalized. Dog fighters are violent criminals that
engage in a whole host of peripheral criminal activities. Many are heavily involved in organized crime, racketeering, drug
distribution, or gangs, and they arrange and attend the fights as a forum for gambling and drug trafficking. Within the last
decade, enlightened law enforcement agencies and government officials have become cognizant of the clandestine culture of
dog-fighting and its nexus with other crimes and community violence. Many individuals continue to deny the existence or scope
of dogfighting in America, or they maintain that it is merely an isolated animal welfare issue; however, it is increasingly
difficult to defend such an archaic notion in the face of overwhelming legal and empirical evidence to the contrary.
This paper will examine the history of dogfighting as well as the cultural and sociological aspects of this crime. In addition
to detailing the laws that directly prohibit dogfighting, an examination of the peripheral criminal activity and laws that
can be used to directly curb dogfighting and its secondary effects are discussed. The paper concludes by analyzing the impediments
to enforcement and how multi-jurisdictional task forces can be instrumental in eradicating this urban plague.
A. The Dogs
In the United States, there are several fighting breeds that are generically referred to as “pit bulls." The American
Kennel Club does not recognize pit bulls, but registers breeds such as the American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull
terrier, bull terrier, and bulldog. The United Kennel Club, American Dog Breeders Association, and National Kennel Club do
recognize the American pit bull terrier as a unique breed, quite distinct from the aforementioned breeds. Quite recently,
the United Kennel Club has recognized the American bulldog and Presa Canario, both of which are often mistakenly referred
to as pit bulls as well. Breeders and professional level dogfighters are very particular about the pedigree of the dogs, but
the great majority of the American fighting dogs that are referred to as “pit bulls” tend to be an amalgamation
of the various breeds. Regardless of the official title, these dogs are arguably among the most loyal and most abused of all
dogs in American culture. They have been selectively bred as fighting dogs due to their unique capacity to fight to the death
whereas most other dogs retreat once they have exhausted themselves. [ 1 ] The immensely powerful dogs are genetically predisposed to inflict maximum damage on an opponent
and once incited do not respond to the natural signals to cease fighting. Generally, pit bulls are remarkably gentle and are
fiercely loyal toward humans. This quality has made them particularly attractive to dog-fighters because they will withstand
considerable abuse and neglect at the hands of their owners and will remain loyal and non-aggressive toward humans. As with
all living creatures, these dogs have a threshold for abuse and neglect, albeit a very high one, and once that threshold is
crossed they can become extremely aggressive to humans as well. The rising popularity of "super-breeds" such as Bullmastiffs
and Presa Canarios, that are much larger than pit bulls and were traditionally bred to be tenacious guard dogs, should be
of great concern when placed in the wrong hands. In some urban areas, these breeds have been crossed with pit bulls to create
larger and more ferocious fighting dogs. Unfortunately, they do not share the pit bull’s gentle demeanor toward humans
and once trained to be aggressive could inflict grievous damage on both animals and humans.
B. The Training
All fighting dogs are conditioned from a very early age to develop what dog-fighters refer to as “gameness.”
The scope and method of training varies dramatically depending on the level and experience of the dog-fighter. The following
implements and techniques are commonly used to train the dogs:
Treadmill : Dogs are run on the treadmills to increase cardiovascular fitness and endurance.
Catmill/Jenny : Apparatus that looks like a carnival horse walker with several beams jetting out from a central rotating
pole. The dogs are chained to one beam and another small animal like a cat, small dog, or rabbit, is harnessed to or hung
from another beam. The dogs run in circles, chasing the bait. Once the exercise sessions are over, the dogs are usually rewarded
with the bait they had been pursuing.
Springpole/Jumppole : A
large pole with a spring hanging down to which a rope, tire, or animal hide is affixed that the dogs jump to and dangle from
for extended periods of time. This strengthens the jaw muscles and back legs. The same effect is achieved with a simpler spring
loaded apparatus hanging from tree limbs. A variation of the springpole is a hanging cage, into which bait animals are placed.
The dogs repeatedly lunge up toward the cage.
Flirtpole : A handheld pole with a lure attached. The dogs chase the lure along the ground.
Chains : Dogs
have very heavy chains wrapped around their necks, generally in lieu of collars; they build neck and upper body strength by
constantly bearing the immense weight of the chains.
Weights : Weights
are often affixed to chains and dangled from the dogs’ necks. This builds neck and upper body strength. Generally, dogs
are permanently chained this way. However, sometimes the trainers run them with their weights attached.
Bait : Animals are tied up while the dogs tear them apart or sometimes they are confined in an area to be chased
and mauled by the dogs. [ 2 ]
Drugs/Vitamins/Supplements : Dogs are given vitamins, supplements and drugs to condition them for or to incite them to fight. Commonly
utilized vitamins, supplements, and drugs include: iron/liver extract; vitamin B-12; Provim; Magnum supplement; hormones (testosterone,
Propionate, Repotest, Probolic Oil); weight-gain supplements; creatine monohydrate; speed; steroids (Winstrol V, Dinabol,
Equipose); and cocaine.
The dogs are trained against one another and against older, more experienced dogs. In
the early stages of training, the dogs are incited to lunge at each other without touching and engage in quick, controlled
fights called “rolls” or “bumps.” Once the dogs appear match ready, they are pitted against stronger
dogs to test their “gameness” [ 3 ] or tenacity in the face of exhaustion and impending defeat. If the dogs pass the test, they
are deemed ready to fight.
C. The Fight
The dogs seemed to explode out of their restraints, two projectiles flying into the air toward the center
of the pit. They met under the gas jets and, leaving a trail of spittle and hair, collapsed in an entangled, heaving heap
onto the dirt…
The dogs tumbled on their sides and Crib broke free. He dove back onto Butts, catching the back of the brindled
dog's head. Butts shook and jiggered, arched his back, tried to loosen Crib, the fine hair of his skull blushing gruesomely.
Crib threw his head back, yanking Butts up. He whipped his head down. Butts hit the ground hard, his legs splaying like the
splatter of an overturned pie. But Crib had lost his grip. Butts twisted his trunk around, swiveled onto his back, front paws
revolving, back legs churning in the air. Crib leapt toward his exposed throat. The crowd bellowed, prepared for, anticipating,
The dirt was turning to syrup around the dogs' tethered heads. The bloody skulls thrashed in a terrible unison,
Butts's muzzle gaping helplessly up at the gaslights, Crib grinding downward…
Now the crowd got what it came for. The blood cascaded down Crib's breast. Butts worked his jaws, deepening
and widening the wound, aided by Crib's jerks and jumps. They lurched together across the pit to the atonal music of the surrounding
chorus, Crib's muzzle propped on Butts's probing skull…
Stamping, applauding, whistling, yelling, the men demanded their due. Winners or losers, they hungered now
for a glorious, fatal finish--a magnificent kill was imminent! [ 4 ]
Dog fights are stages in a variety of settings. In rural areas, they are often staged
in barns or outdoor pits. In urban areas, fights are staged in garages, basements, warehouses and abandoned buildings. Professional
fighters have very specific rules for the matches [ 5 ] , while street fighters are far less organized. Among the professional and mid-level circuit,
matches are arranged months in advance. The locations, referees and participants are carefully selected to ensure maximum
secrecy, and spectators are closely scrutinized to weed out infiltrators. The pits themselves are generally 14 to 20 feet
square and 2 to 3 feet high and are often wood but may be constructed from a variety of materials. Diagonal ‘scratch
lines’ are drawn on opposite corners of the pits, behind which the dogs must remain until the referee commands them
to be released. Before the match, the dogs are weighed and washed to ensure that they are not covered in poison. During the
match, the dogs quietly maul each other until a ‘turn’ is called. A ‘turn’ refers to the act of one
dog actually turning away from his opponent without trying to grab a hold of him. When this occurs, the dogs are separated
briefly and returned to their handlers. The dogs are repositioned behind the ‘scratch lines’ and the match resumes
once the referee orders that the dog that turned be released. The dog must then ‘scratch’ his opponent, or run
to the opposite corner and attack the dog that is still being held by the handler. If this happens, the opponent is released
and the fight continues, if not the match is over. The process of separating the dogs continues each time there is a turn
or if both dogs fail to grab hold of each other for a specified amount of time. Matches end when a dog quits or dies, when
a handler pulls a dog from the ring, if a dog jumps out of the pit, or if the fight is raided by the police. The latter scenario
does not deter the match permanently however; according to rule 19 of Cajun Rules, “Should the police interfere the
referee [is] to name the next meeting place.
. The History of Dogfighting
Dogs have been the unwitting victims of exploitation for blood sports since ancient Roman
times when they fought against other animals in the Coliseum. The practice of pitting dogs against other animals, such as
bulls and bears, continued through medieval times in England until it was outlawed in 1835 by the Parliament in the Humane
Act of 1835. Around that time, the Staffordshire Bull terrier was developed and modern dog-fighting was born. The dog was
brought to America in 1817 and dogfighting became part of American culture. [ 7 ] The “sport” was endorsed by the United Kennel Club, which actually formulated rules
and sanctioned referees. Although dogfighting had become illegal in most states by the 1860’s, it continued to flourish
as an American pastime through the early twentieth century. [ 8 ] It was so popular in fact that in 1881 the Ohio and Mississippi railroads advertised special
fares to a dog-fight in Louisville between Lloyd’s Pilot, owned by ‘Cockney Charlie' Lloyd and Crib, owned by
Louis Krieger. [ 9 ] Public forums such as Kit Burns’ Tavern, “The Sportsman’s Hall” at 273
Water Street in Manhattan, regularly hosted matches [ 10 ] and the sadistic culture became immortalized in the annals of American history [
11 ] and folklore. [ 12 ] By the 1930’s and 1940’s, the blood sport had been driven further underground as
high profile organizations such as the United Kennel Club withdrew their endorsement. Although dogfighting was outlawed in
all the states by 1976, it did not begin to receive serious law enforcement attention until recently. By all accounts, dogfighting
continues to surreptitiously thrive in America; its prosperity due in large part to the chronic apathy of and denial by the
legal system. Today, it is a felony in 48 states as well as the District of Colombia, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
[Ed. note: since the writing of this paper, dogfighting is now a felony in all 50 states.]
III. The Scope of Dogfighting
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are at least 40,000 dogfighters in America, though that number
seems to underestimate the epidemic of street fighting in urban areas. In 2003, the city of Chicago alone recorded and responded
to 1093 animal fighting complaints. Virtually all children in high crime urban areas are exposed to dogfighting
in their own neighborhoods [ 13 ] while American hip/hop culture glorifies the blood sport. [ 14 ] Rap singers and urban clothing and toy manufacturers promote dogfighting through their products
and advertisements. [ 15 ] Dog fighting occurs all over the United States and throughout the world. It has become quite
popular in Eastern Europe, where the Russian Mafia has discovered the lucrative potential of the blood sport. [
16 ] A 1999 article chronicling the rise of dogfighting in Russia highlights its popularity among
“New Russians.” Public fights take place around the country and for many, they are family events. “We mustn’t
hide bloodshed from our children,” said one father who regularly brought his five year-old daughter to the fights, “Life
is a battle and they must get used to it. The strong survive and the weak are killed.” [ 17 ] Evidence of dogfighting has been reported in England, [ 18 ] Afghanistan, [ 19 ] South Africa, [ 20 ] Canada, [ 21 ] and Australia. [ 22 ] In Italy, dogfighting is a huge industry for the Italian Mafia. The nearly $500 million a year
enterprise is extremely abusive, “when dogs are young, they place them in a sack and beat them. The sack is later opened
in front of a cat or small dog, which is attacked so the ‘fighter’ gets a taste of blood.” [
23 ] Many blame the loose regulations for the influx of dogfighting in Italy. [
24 ] In Honduras, the blood sport is legal as well as in Japan, where it has been sanctioned for
centuries by military leaders and aristocrats. [ 25 ] Although several countries have banned dog fighting, its pestilent influence, like many violent
crimes and social diseases, continues to fester throughout the United States and worldwide.
IV. The Culture of Dogfighting
The culture of dogfighting is as diverse as America itself. Dogfighters come from virtually all walks of life and
engage in the blood sport at vastly different levels. Some fighters operate on a national or even international level within
highly clandestine networks. These fighters are professionals that breed generations of skilled “game dogs," take a
great deal of pride in the lineage of their dogs and charge tremendous stud fees to breed their champions. They publish trade
journals for distribution to dogfighting enthusiasts around the world. [ 26 ] The journals, with names like Your Friend and Mine , Game Dog Times , The
American Warrior , and The Pit Bull Chronicle , include information on recent fights including the winners and
losers, and advertisements for training equipment and puppies. [ 27 ] One of the largest and most widely recognized, The Sporting Dog Journal , circulates
over 10,000 copies worldwide. [ 28 ] Because the professional fighters are so geographically dispersed, they also utilize the internet
to communicate with one another. The “cyber-dogmen” maintain websites that to the untrained eye appear to be networks
of breeders or “game dog” fanciers. They often go so far as to publish legal disclaimers on the websites, maintaining
that they do not condone dogfighting and the information should be “viewed as fiction” and utilized “for
entertainment purposes only.” [ 29 ] The websites typically include specific information on the lineage of the dogs, historic accounts
of dog-fighting that glorify anonymous, deceased, or ‘retired’ dog-men, and message boards for enthusiasts to
discuss everything from buying and training champion fighting dogs to veterinary tips on treating wounded dogs. [
30 ] Professional fighters are wealthy and experienced, often investing thousands of dollars on buying
and training their dogs, and on transport to the fight venues. [ 31 ] The fights are extremely well organized and difficult for law enforcement to find. [
32 ] Participants and spectators are often not told where the venues are until moments before the
fight. “Gaining access to these circles is extremely hard,” says Eric Sakach, Director of the West
Coast Regional Office of the Humane Society of the United States. [ 33 ]
The professional fighters are demographically diverse and geographically diffuse, unlike the mid-level dog-fighters
who operate primarily within specific regions. The mid-level fighters are considered hobbyists, [
34 ] enthusiasts, or fanciers. They typically remain within a specific geographic network, are acquainted
with one another, and tend to return to predetermined fight venues repeatedly. [ 35 ] There are both urban and rural networks of dogfighting enthusiasts and the fighting subcultures
largely depend on the culture of the larger regional community. The enthusiasts, like the professional dogfighters, typically
have extensive criminal backgrounds, but they may appear to be highly respected community figures. [
36 ] Spectators at the fights range from hard core criminals [ 37 ] to high profile public figures [ 38 ] and from law enforcement agents [ 39 ] to families with children. [ 40 ] The fights themselves are generally of the depraved carnival variety, set in remote barns or
warehouses. Refreshments, entertainment, and gambling provide a backdrop for the bloody main event. Drug dealers distribute
their illicit merchandise, wagers are made, weapons are concealed, and the dogs mutilate each other in a bloody frenzy as
crowds cheer on. The gambling that is inherent at dog fights amplifies the already violent atmosphere. Violence often erupts
among the usually armed gamblers, as debts must be collected and paid. [ 41 ]
No type of dog fighters are more violent however than the third group, the street fighters. [ 42 ] Dog fighting is an extremely common blood sport in all urban areas. Dog fighters are violent
criminals, often gang members, who conduct and attend organized fights as a forum for gambling and drug trafficking. “Drugs,
gangs, dope, dogs…they all go together.” [ 43 ] Within the gang community, fighting dogs compete with firearms as the weapon of choice; indeed,
their versatile utility arguably surpasses that of a loaded firearm in the criminal underground. To the gang
members, the dogs are an extension of each member’s status; the fights are championship matches that aggrandize the
gang leader’s supremacy and intimidate younger members. It is extremely easy for urban criminals to acquire fighting
dogs. They buy fighting dogs for a few hundred dollars or more commonly, they breed their own or steal them.
Dogfighting is an insidious underground organized crime and all dog fighters, regardless of their level, embrace
many peripheral crimes and gang activities including drug dealing and consumption, gambling, theft, and violence against humans.
[ 44 ] Dogfighting is an incredible source of income for gangs and drug traffickers. In fact, the average
dog fight could easily net more money than an armed robbery, or a series of isolated drug transactions. Organized dog fights
are staged by leaders of the drug trade as forums to distribute narcotics. Many recent dog fighting raids, include those in
Flint, MI (2003), Buffalo, NY (2004), Port St. Lucie, FL (2004), Jones County, GA (2004), and Oklahoma City,
OK (2004), have resulted in the infiltration of major drug distribution networks, and the arrest of the drug kingpins who
regularly organized and attended the dog fights. [ 45 ]
Fighting dogs are clandestine security devices for drug traffickers. Drugs are often stashed in containers
to which the dogs are chained in yards or vacant fields. The dogs also provide excellent security inside drug houses and warehouses.
Where once the presence of dogs was utilized as an overt warning to potential invaders, it is now increasingly common for
criminals to have the dogs debarked (vocal cords severed), to act as silent alarm and attack systems against unsuspecting
invaders. The presence of the silent killers poses a significant threat to law enforcement personnel entering these premises.
With the increasing popularity hybrid human-aggressive fighting dogs, such as Presa Canarios, the law enforcement community
has had to confront the urgency of cracking down on criminals who harbor fighting dogs. These dogs truly are loaded weapons,
when placed in the wrong hands.
Criminals also use dogfighting to yield large profits through illegal gambling. Participants and spectators wager
excessive sums on the fights. "It's so much money. You would not believe the money floating around left and right." [
46 ] Purses for a single fight range anywhere from several hundred dollars to tens
of thousand of dollars, and up. (A recent raid in Georgia in 2004, which resulted in 123 arrests, was an event with a $50,000
pot.) Bets also include cars, property titles, weapons, drugs, jewelry, and other valuables. For many, dogfighting is a lucrative
money making enterprise, but the price that the victims of the bloody sport must pay is simply too high to be ignored.
. The Victims of Dogfighting
A. The Animals
His face is a mass of deep cuts, as are his shoulders and neck. Both of his front legs have been broken,
but Billy Bear isn’t ready to quit. At the referee’s signal, his master releases him, and unable to support himself
on his front legs, he slides on his chest across the blood and urine stained carpet, propelled by his good hind legs, toward
the opponent who rushes to meet him. Driven by instinct, intensive training and love for the owner who has brought him to
this moment, Billy Bear drives himself painfully into the other dog’s charge... Less than 20 minutes later, rendered
useless by the other dog, Billy Bear lies spent beside his master, his stomach constricted with pain. He turns his head back
toward the ring, his eyes glazed (sic) searching for a last look at the other dog as (sic) receives a bullet in his brain.
[ 48 ]
It is extremely easy to acquire fighting dogs. Street fighters can buy fighting dogs for a few hundred dollars
or, more commonly, they breed their own or steal them. The professional fighters often have large sums of disposable cash
and easily spend a few thousand dollars for proven champions. The dogs are extremely difficult for law enforcement to trace
because they are never licensed and they disappear frequently. The average life span of the fighting dog is very, very short.
For most fighters, the dogs are considered disposable, [ 49 ] a fact that is painfully obvious when the fights are over and everyone has left the crime scene.
Inevitably, the mutilated carcasses of the losers of the evening’s match will be left behind. In the world of urban
dogfighting, where an individual’s fighting dog is an extension of his or her own identity, defeat in a fight is unacceptable
[ 50 ] A dog that loses a fight also loses a lot of money and compromises the reputation of his owner. The end result, if the losing
dog survives the fight, is immediate death if he is lucky, or torture and mutilation if the owner is embarrassed or irate.
[ 51 ] For many, this ritual is a way to regain the respect of their peers. There is no reverence for life or concern for the animals.
The abuses that the dogs endure - both in and out of the ring - is so gruesome that even seasoned investigators are consistently
shocked by the barbarities they discover at raids. In commenting on a recent raid in South Carolina (2004), First Circuit
assistant solicitor, Richard Lackey said, “It’s a gruesome scene...I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Newton County Sheriff, Joe Nichols described a 2004 raid in Georgia as, “one of the most horrible things I have experienced.”
. The Children
The systematic desensitization of each new generation in high crime inner cities starts early on; there, most children
are routinely exposed to dogfighting and are forced to accept the inherent violence as normal. The routine exposure of the
children to unfettered animal abuse and neglect is a major contributing factor in their later manifestation of social deviance.
“In many neighborhoods where gangs are strong, you now have 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds conducting their own dogfights. Or
being spectators at the fights people are holding," said Sgt. Steve Brownstein of Chicago’s Animal Abuse Control Team.
[ 52 ] Indeed, for gangs, dog-fighting is a valuable tool to initiate young members into a culture
of violence: “You want to find the perfect way to desensitize a kid so he’ll kill that anonymous gangbanger from
three blocks over? Give him a puppy and let him raise it. Then let him kill it. I guarantee that will desensitize that kid.”
[ 53 ] This early exposure to and participation in dog-fighting is of concern to law enforcement, not
only as a child endangerment issue, but also because children that become desensitized to violence become criminalized and
perpetuate that cycle of violence.
C. The Community
Dogfighting is tremendously widespread and has reached epidemic levels in America’s urban communities.
We have over two centuries of well documented research addressing the devastating impact of social, economic and racial injustice
in these communities. America’s finest legal minds, political activists and social advocates have painstakingly dissected
the culture of poverty in an attempt to understand the disproportionately high rates of crime, drug use, and social deviance
in inner-city communities. We have identified several hundred factors that contribute to these social ills, and understand
intrinsically that no single contributing factor exists in a vacuum; all are interrelated and all must be addressed. Shockingly,
one of the most obvious and avoidable contributing factors has been largely ignored - animal legal injustice. Although dogfighting
is outlawed in all fifty stated and is a serious felony in most jurisdictions, it has been largely ignored by law enforcement
in the urban communities where it is most pervasive. When we, as a society, fail to hold perpetrators criminally liable for
violating dogfighting and other animal cruelty statutes, we not only condone their behavior, but send a message that our legal
system is weak and inconsistent. The plight of the animals in inner-city areas is so blatantly obvious; even those who are
not themselves immediately involved with dogfighting are routinely exposed to the abuse and neglect of the animals. The legislators
clearly understand the extreme violence inherent in the blood sport, and the corresponding drug use, gambling, and violence
against humans. They have enacted comprehensive laws and very stiff penalties to deter and punish those engaged in dogfighting,
yet in urban communities where those laws are shockingly under-enforced, the legal system has made a mockery of the laws.
VI. The Sociology of Dogfighting
It is extremely difficult for anyone besides dogmen to justify dogfighting. Law enforcement officials that
penetrate the clandestine subculture are routinely sickened by the macabre blood sport. American culture has criminalized
dogfighting and stigmatizes those deviant enough to engage in it. Our collective American consciousness is repulsed by dog-fighting
with much the same disdain that we feel for child molesters. One study, published in Society and Animals, attempted
offer a rare glimpse into the psyche of the prototypical dogman and to rationalize the behavior that to the rest of us is
incontrovertibly perverse. [ 54 ] According to the study, there are five major techniques that dogmen employ to justify dogfighting:
(1) denial of the victim; (2) denial of responsibility; (3) denial of injury; (4) appeal to higher loyalties; and (5) condemnation
of the condemners. [ 55 ]
of the Victim : Most dogmen adamantly deny that the dogs are victimized by the culture of dogfighting. The dogs are glorified as
fighting machines with insatiable blood-lust. High profile boxer-turned-convict, Will Grigsby, maintained that the dogs he
fought were no more victims than the athletes in his profession. “To me, it's just like boxing. It's cruel if you put
a pit bull on a poodle, or a pit bull on another pit bull that don't want to fight. But if you have two dogs that weigh the
same amount in an organized dog fight, well, that's just like boxing." [ 56 ] There is a perception that in the fighting circuit, the dogs get whatever they deserve. If a
dog shows ‘gameness’ and wins several matches, he earns titles such as ‘Champion’ or ‘Grand
Champion’ and the respect of the ‘fanciers.’ If a dog quits or loses, he is considered a ‘cur.' There
is no place for ‘curs’ in dogfighting, they are a humiliation to the trainers, handlers, and to those that bet
(2) Denial of Responsibility :
In an interview, one archetypal 'dogman' found moral vindication through
denial, “We’re not hurting anybody and the dog’s love to fight, so what’s the harm? If you could see
the way the animals love it…you wouldn’t think it was cruel.” [ 57 ] Fighting is portrayed as something that comes naturally to the dogs - that they’re
born with an undeniable propensity to kill. “This dog GAR, when he was nine months old, I let him kill a female that
had no place on this yard…He was a pup born by himself and had to be taken away from his mother at near five weeks.
He was a fight crazy dog from just a puppy…He was a wild eyed dog that showed the eye of the Beast to all that he looked
at.” [ 58 ]
(3) Denial of Injury : Many
fighters claim that the dogs are treated well, both before and after the fights, [ 59 ] and what happens in the pit - well, “they enjoy fighting.” [
60 ] Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some dogmen insist that “[i]t's not the
blood and gore that people have been led to believe.” [ 61 ] Many proponents of dogfighting claim that the bloodsport is no more violent than boxing. [
62 ] (4) Appeal
to a Higher Authority : The culture of dogfighting perpetuates itself by glorifying
its own history and aggrandizing those who are heavily involved. “Old timers” are lauded as warriors, [
63 ] heroes, and role models. [ 64 ] “The old timers know all the champions and the great bloodlines. They have produced most
of the champion dogs. If they don't like you, you are not going anywhere in dogfighting. You have got to show them the respect
they deserve.” [ 65 ] Dogfighting literature, publications, and websites are replete with dogmen fondly recalling
their early experiences of becoming indoctrinated into the “fraternity” by men that they idolized. “In dogfighting
you start at the bottom and...work your way up to be an old timer. If they accept you, an old timer will take you on like
an apprentice. An old timer...got me started....He saw dogfighting was important to me, and brought me into this insider circle.
I would not have made it without him.” [ 66 ] Many fighters maintain that dogfighting is a rich tradition with cultural and historical significance
that is proudly passed from generation to generation. “When I reach the other world and stand in front of my father
once again, we will surely discuss my accomplishments of this world. I would consider it the greatest honor if my father would
feel that I had became a conditioner capable of competing with Mayfield. My battle quote for this issue goes out to all dog
men or competitors of any kind. It is from our late President Theodore Roosevelt and says, ‘Far better it is to dare
mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither
enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat’.” [
(5) Condemnation of the Condemners : Dogfighters
often see themselves as a misunderstood group, victims of cultural genocide. “Dogfighting is a part of this culture.
You don't change culture. It dies but it does not change. Dogfighting, cockfighting, fishing, hunting are all parts of our
heritage. We have seen many intruders try to change us, it's always outsiders...but we are just ordinary folk who are different
in some ways.” [ 68 ] Dogfighting literature is often replete with juxtapositions of the bloodsport, religion, and
patriotism: “God protect us against those enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC who would steal our Constitutional rights and
our liberty! FREEDOM!” [ 69 ] Some dogmen even go so far as to maintain that they’re “truth seekers,” ordained
by God to control all living beings and to preserve the “game” of dogfighting. [ 70 ] Dogfighters perceive their behavior as normal and often try to portray humane organizations
and other anti-dogfighting groups as extremists and as true animal abusers. One website, Gamedogs.com, has an entire section
devoted to news of “abuses” committed by humane workers, or “humaniacs” as the dogmen often refer