With the recent incident of NFL star Michael Vick's indictment by a grand jury for sponsoring a dogfight operation, the brutal sport is back in the news. I watched in horror as a homemade video was shown on CBS last week, taken by a PROUD dog owner, who was getting his dog ready for one of these illegal fights. He had his wife film him grooming the dog like a prize fighter, while his young son looked on.
Then we got to watch two Pit Bulls locked in a death grip, while a crowd of viewers cheered them on.
After that cheery video, we learned the fate of the losers at Vick's "Bad Newz Kennels." Some were hung by their necks to die, one was slammed to the concrete, and one was wet down with water and electrocuted. This was the fate of the dogs which their owners so "treasured," until they lost too many fights.
The 27-year-old Vick, of course, denied the charges and said that he knew nothing of the operation, which had been going on since 2001. He and three other defendents - Purnell A. Peace, Quanis L. Phillips, and Tony Taylor - could spend 6 years in prison and face $350,00 in fines and restitution.
Judging from the money involved in these fights, $350,000 would hardly be a slap on the hand, but six years (if they get it), probably wouldn't be much fun.
Police conviscated somewhere around 57 Pit Bulls, many of whom were chained to car axels, just barely out of reach of one another - a method used to work the animals up to a fever pitch and make them more vicious and eager to fight, once they're let loose on each other. They often aren't fed for a period of time before a fight, so they'll be more "hungry" for their opponent.
I recently did a story for the North Stoddard Countian about a stray Pit Bull picked up in Marble Hill and housed at the city pound. I called around to several nearby cities to check on anti-Pit Bull ordinances and found that even Marble Hill had an ordinance prohibiting the breed. Advance also has such an ordinance, and Dexter just passed one this last week, I understand. Neither Cape nor Jackson prohibit Pit Bulls, but they do require a license and adequate restraint of the dog.
My daughter, who works with a national animal rights group, says that her organization supports the pit bull bans, because it will reduce the demand for the dog. Their objection to Pit Bulls is that so many people are not responsible enough to keep the dogs securely. Chaining is a very bad idea for any dog, since a chained dog is three times more likely to attack than an unchained dog. A 5-year old Georgia child with Down's Syndrome was recently killed by a chained Rottweiler who lived three houses from her own home.
The Marble Hill Pit Bull was, by all accounts, a gentle dog - and I have heard that it is the owners who make the dogs vicious. I've known Pit Bull owners who defend their dogs as being very sweet-natured. Fortunately for the dog at Marble Hill, she was adopted by a law enforcement officer, who understood the problems involved.
Meanwhile, the debate over Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and other "vicious" dogs rages on.
Who is the vicious one? Is it the dog? Or is it the owner?