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Dog Fighting

The picture is cute, real dog fighting is not!


The following article is another reason to never run an ad that says, "Free to a good home".  You never know where the innocent animal may end up.  Please spay and neuter and you will never have to worry about what to do with puppies or kittens.

Please take the following article for what it is, an article about animal abuse.  Pit Bulls and Rottweilers have gotten a bad name because of unscrupulous breeders, owners, and people like the ones talked about in the following article.  In rescue you see Pits and Rotts and most of them are just as loving and gentle as the Collie and Shepard.

The Sacramento Bee

No pets safe from thefts: They become fighters -- or bait

By Matthew Barrows
Bee Staff Writer
(Published July 24, 1999)

They arrived early Christmas morning. No one was working. The guard wasn't around. They hopped the fence and snipped the lock on the gate. Then they rolled the van in and started loading.

They weren't after TVs, VCRs, computers or camcorders. They wanted pit bulls, valuable fighting dogs, battle-scarred, conditioned to kill, the same dogs that had been seized weeks earlier last December from a dog fighting ring in Galt.

They loaded 18 dogs and made their escape. And they would have gotten away with it, too, except the pit bulls -- as fighting dogs are apt to do -- got in a fight in the back of the van.

During the fray, the driver started weaving and caught the attention of a passing police officer. Lights flashed in the pre-dawn darkness. The van pulled over.  The dogs landed back at the Sacramento County animal shelter from where they were stolen.

Across town at the Sacramento Animal Control and Care Center, workers used to arrive in the mornings and find the same ominous signs: holes cut in the back fence and dog cages pried open.

Dennis Kubo, who runs the shelter, said about 25 dogs, all pit bulls and Rottweilers, were stolen during one six-month period last year before motion detectors and bigger fences were installed. "We suspect dog fighting was the motive because they were taking the more aggressive breeds," he said.

According to Eric Mindel of the Los Angeles-based animal advocacy group Last Chance for Animals, unless a broken lock or an open cage is left behind as evidence it's hard to tell how many missing dogs -- up to 3 million a year nationwide -- are stolen. But he said the majority of dogs swiped from shelters, back yards and back alleys are taken to fuel a growing dog-fighting industry that ranges from sophisticated rings with purses worth $100,000 to basement brawls among rival gang members.

Experts say it's not just the aggressive breeds that are disappearing. Any dog -- or cat -- is welcome in the underground world of dog fighting.

 "When an animal is stolen it tends to be the less aggressive, more friendly ones that won't give a hassle," said Barry Kent Mackay of the Animal Protection Institute in Sacramento. "People think, 'I won't have any problems because I have such a beloved dog. '”But that's exactly the kind that some of these people go after."

The smaller, meeker breeds are dubbed "bait dogs" and have one purpose -- to turn the marquee fighters, almost exclusively the American pit bull terrier, into killers.

“If an ordinary pit bull is placed in a ring against a veteran fighter, it won't stand a chance against the snapping chops of its seasoned opponent, said Last Chance for Animals' Roland Vincent. The goal, he said, is to take a family pet and program it to attack another animal on command, a process known as "blooding."

Tying the dog to a treadmill and placing a cat just out of reach is one way this is accomplished. After hours of chasing the cat and going nowhere the dog is rewarded by getting an opportunity to kill. Not only is the dog physically stronger after the sessions, it is rewarded with blood.

The match-ups can be even more one-sided. Like a human prizefighter who works his way to the top of the sport by progressively fighting more skilled opponents, dog-sparring sessions begin against weaker and often injured foes.

Vincent said trainers will take a pit bull and pair it with a stolen collie or spaniel and begin to taunt the fighter into a salivating rage. Sometimes, to make sure the sparring partner doesn't put up much of a fight or run away, the trainers will injure the bait dog or even break its legs.
"The idea is for the pit bull to be trained and acclimated toward killing and that's done by abuse," Vincent said. "The more abusive someone is to the animal, the more reward they get -- which is to attack, bite and kill."

Over time the dog grows strong, mean and unrecognizable. Detective Chris Sanford of the Galt Police Department, which last December broke up a dog-fighting ring that used 55 pit bulls, said the dogs seemed a breed apart from the pit bulls he'd seen before. "They're lean and muscular and they had scars all over them," he said. “It looks like someone shot them in the face with buckshot."

Eric Sakach, the director of the West Coast regional office of the Humane Society of the United States, has worked undercover to bust dog-fighting rings from Florida to California. According to Sakach, the people who run the high-level rings don't take unnecessary risks by stealing dogs and cats in someone's yard. Those brazen thefts, he said, usually involve street-level dog fighters who engage their dogs in turf disputes or who simply use winning pit bulls as a status symbol.

But there are other ways to find a cat.

Trainers search newspapers for "free to good home" ads, Sakach said, or may ride through rural areas looking for dogs and cats that are running loose. "When people put those ads in the paper, they’re unwittingly putting their animals at risk," he said.

Some pet thieves have other motives.  Last September, for example, someone stole an 8-year-old yellow Labrador retriever from a legally blind woman and brought it to the Sacramento County animal shelter on Bradshaw Road to be euthanized. As workers prepared to put the dog to sleep, they noticed it responded to hand signals -- common with "assistance dogs" trained to help disabled or elderly owners.

A few phone calls later, they found the woman and the dog was returned to her owner. Shelter director Pat Wilcox said the dog apparently was taken by the woman's former caretaker, who was dismissed months earlier.

 So-called "bunchers" -- people who collect cats and dogs -- have also been known to steal pets that end up in research laboratories and even a peeved homeowner who can no longer stand the incessant backyard barking, might sneak next door in the dead of night and steal the dog.

Mackay said black animals used for ritualistic sacrifices tend to disappear around Halloween. And he said hunting dogs, especially beagles and hounds, are often pilfered in the United States and taken to Canada to augment teams of dogs that track bear and other big game. If they get torn up or lost in the process, Mackay said, no one cares as the dogs are stolen anyway.

And though Sakach has seen dog-fighting rings across the country -- investigators often stumble across the grisly remains of bait dogs, he says – the Galt case was one of the biggest.

In addition to dog-fighting equipment like treadmills and bite sticks, authorities found hours of videotape that recorded the bloody fights. In some footage, Sakach said, "dogs' legs are broken and you can hear an audible snap."

"It's a business," Sakach said. "It's a bloody business. It's a cruel business, but it's a business nonetheless."

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