Fatal Dog Fights on the Rise

ByABC News
July 19, 2000, 12:53 PM

July 19 -- Lured by gambling profits and machismo, more than 40,000 people across the nation attend staged animal fighting events, which often result in an animals death.

The beast of choice remains the pit bull, favored by trainers for its loyalty, gameness and willingness to continue fighting through extreme pain and exhaustion.

Pit bulls have been bred for more than a century to propagate genes favored in fights, and are thrown in the ring most often. Breeds such as akitas, rottweilers, and German shepherds also are used.

Street-Fighting DogsThere are two main types of dog fighters street fighters who walk around with their dog looking for impromptu fights and dog men who stage fights similar to professional boxing matches.

The attraction crosses across all ethnic lines, sometimes even bringing together members of Aryan, black and Latino gangs to organize a fight card, one detective said.

The street fighters are the ones most likely to torment, assault and terrorize the dogs to make them mean, while the dog men can be found running the Web sites, magazines and sophisticated matches where thousands of dollars will exchange hands during multiple fights with different dogs.

Once in a ring, the powerful dogs growl and fight for hours at a time during a single match. Footage in an educational tape assembled by the Humane Society of the United States shows dogs too weak to stand in the fighting pits, dogs with deep defensive gnashes one flat on its back, blood squirting in an arc from its chest as another pit bull grips and shakes at the downed dogs neck and face.

Trained Like Pro BoxersOn the Internet, owners brag about their dogs wins, posting the fight cards and pictures of their dogs with names such as Gnasher, Butch, Sooooo Evil, Sarge, Baby Snoopy and Trixie. They advertise T-shirts and treadmills that allow an owner to harness a dog behind a caged raccoon and make the dog run for hours while in training.