Regular readers may remember that some time back I expounded on the pit bull dog. Generally speaking, most of the ones I see (who admittedly don’t belong to drug-dealers and dog-fighters) are family pets with good dispositions.
The big story on NFL star Michael Vick’s dog-fighting operation has brought these concerns to the forefront for a lot of folks. My friend, Dr. Sheila Hellman, is a great animal lover and activist. Her career as a physician sometimes seems almost secondary to the amount of time and energy she devotes to rescuing and caring for a large number of animals. Her letter to me asking me to blog on the dog-fighting subject is eloquent enough for me to just quote it here.
"…I would like to ask you to consider a blog entry about the recently popularized "sport" of dog-fighting. I have been amazed at the number of well-educated people in my circle (doctors, lawyers, teachers) who had no idea what this was all about, how the dogs are trained and selected, and had no idea that family pets can wind up as bait dogs. I am especially distressed for this reason when I see dogs given away for free by owners who naively believe that only well-meaning folks would come adopt them. They have no idea about bunchers, no idea about dog auctions, no idea that dog fighters will collect them for bait and lie about their intentions.
You may remember my delightful little long-haired dachshund, PoohBear. After he died, I was called by somebody who had been to a puppy mill auction, to come get Oscar, another long-haired dachshund who looked and acted virtually identical to PoohBear. As a senior, he had been for sale for only $5 at the auction when a great dane rescuer realized who was buying him. He was about to be bought by a bait buncher, a guy out to buy as many dirt-cheap dogs as he could to use as bait for training fighting pits. Fortunately, this lady had the presence of mind to run his bid up to $20, and bought him. She then did this for a whole van full of little dogs, shutting down the bait buncher for the day. But you and I know they always have a supply of dogs given away for free.
I am writing to ask you to please use the latest publicity about dog fighting to educate the readers of your blog about this grisly form of torture that awaits many dogs that are given away without careful screening of the new owner. Some very basic screening and a modest adoption fee (one that is more than bunchers want to pay) can help a lot. It turns my stomach that my precious Oscar would have met this fate, and that many other animals meet this fate daily.
Although Michael Vick’s carefully prepared statement read by his attorney claims he would like to apologize to everyone who may have been affected by this affair, what I can’t figure out is: How do you apologize to dead, tortured dogs?? "
Does Michael Vick think it’s okay because what he does for a living is so similar? It’s the only sport where you have to wear body armor. I well remember a high-school football coach speaking to Kiwanis and saying, "This game is about hitting. I tell those boys that it’s not about strategy or running or throwing. It’s about hitting. If you don’t have bruises after practice, you’re not hitting hard enough." He’s not coaching here anymore… recruiting problems.
The fact that you can goad a dog into an aggressive frenzy does not make fighting to the death a "natural activity" for him, as proponents of blood-sport would have you believe.
I must confess that I am mystified by people who receive vicarious pleasure from the sufferings of others. As a society, we have an obligation to appeal to the finest in human nature, rather than pandering to its baser appetites.
The men in Ultimate Fighting competitions may appear to act like the dogs in these fights, but they weren’t plucked from the womb and deprived of a normal life in order to make them contestants.
It’s time to make "being human" a virtue instead of a failing.