As we approach the six-year anniversary of Michael Vick’s arrest, we’re reminded of just how much work we still have to do to stamp out dog fighting forever. For the dogs still trapped in fighting rings, our work to end blood sports has never been so urgent.
Here are just some of the realities of life as a dog-fighting victim:
• Tethered to short, heavy chains or locked away in tiny cages, the dogs often receive inadequate care and little socialization. • They can go for days without food or clean water. • When dog-fighting dogs are old enough to fight, many die of blood loss, shock and exhaustion. • Losing dogs are sometimes killed right on the spot for their failure to secure a win for their owners. • Even when they’re lucky enough to be rescued, dog-fighting victims face a difficult path to physical and emotional recovery. Despite the best efforts of expert rehabilitators, not all dogs rescued from fighting will heal.
They live chained up or in a tiny cage. They don’t get the veterinary care they need. They die in the ring or are unceremoniously shot for losing. Some are used as “bait” for other dogs. Some have litter after litter. Some starve. Some go without water for days.
Odds are that dog fighting is happening in your state right now. We need your help to stop it. Give dog fighting victims three minutes of your time?
1. Ask your U.S. representative to support the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act.
The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 23, would make it a federal offense to knowingly attend an organized animal fight and would impose additional penalties for bringing children to animal fights. Violators would face up to one year in prison for attending a fight, and up to three years in prison for bringing a minor to a fight.
You can help the bill along by contacting your rep. We’ve made it easy at the ASPCA Advocacy Center, and we promise it only takes a few minutes, tops.
2. Download our new anti-dog fighting toolkit for citizen advocates.
If you’re as horrified by dog fighting as we are, and you think you might want to commit more time to stopping dog fighting in the near future, download our new toolkit developed with the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s got everything you need to know to get more involved. (We admit, actually reading it will take more than three minutes, but you get the idea.)
3. Fight Pit Bull prejudice via social media.
Pit Bulls and dogs who look like Pit Bulls get a bad rap because of their reputation as fighting dogs. Fight it by becoming a tireless advocate for them on your social networks. Start by posting the profile of a cute, adoptable Pit Bull-type dog on Facebook (we suggest Pet of the Week Champion) or sharing a happy tail about a Pit.
You can even share the story of a rehabilitated ex-fighting dog, like Ninja.
Oh, and of course, a bonus fourth thing you can do: Share this post on your social networks.
Last week a judge sentenced Sanchez to one to three years for animal fighting, one year for animal cruelty and one year for criminal possession of a weapon. (Sanchez will serve these sentences concurrently.)
He’s also been slapped with a ban on keeping animals for the duration of his parole. Sanchez waived his right to appeal.
We hope Sanchez’s sentence serves as a reminder to dog fighters that their crimes against innocent animals carry serious consequences.
Do you wish you could do more to help end dog fighting? You might be surprised by just how much you can help—especially when you use the toolkit the ASPCA developed with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Initially created for law enforcement, Dogfighting: A Guide for Community Actiongives you the tools to recognize the violent crimes of dog fighting in your community.
We know that sometimes the hardest thing about getting involved is figuring out where to start. Our toolkit will teach you how to build an animal task force in your community, demonstrate ways to partner with local law enforcement, and even provide useful tips on how to handle the animal victims involved.
On the heels of last week’s guilty plea by Raul Sanchez for his involvement in a Bronx-based dog fighting operation, we are thrilled to report that many of the dogs are thriving in their new lives as beloved pets.
Mona now lives with two loving pet parents in a spacious house overlooking 50 mountainside acres, where she takes frequent hikes with her new dog sister, Zelda. Her other favorite activities include snuggling with Zelda by the fireplace and lounging on the couch with her new pet parents.
Mona Lisa’s journey to adoption wasn’t easy. After her rescue, she was transferred to one of our partner shelters, The Animal Support Project, Inc. (TASP) in Cropseyville, New York.
“When Mona arrived at the shelter, she cried and whined like a hyena and was extremely anxious, usually sitting pitifully at the kennel door,” says Melinda Plasse of TASP. But after plenty of attention, care and time to recover, Mona made great progress. “She is outgoing,” Melinda reports, “loves belly rubs, and is kind as can be to children and other animals.”
When we picture Mona Lisa romping around in the woods with her new family, we can’t help but smile. We’re working to make sure that animals nationwide won’t continue to suffer due to the cruel practice of animal fighting. Last week, legislators reintroduced the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which would make attending an organized animal fight a federal offense and would impose additional penalties for bringing a minor to an animal fight.