The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

June 4, 2011

Take steps to combat illegal dog fights

By Sue Swart
Contributing Writer

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Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states. However, because of loopholes in the laws in New York state, many dog fighters go free. This has made New York a haven for these vicious criminals. People come from other states and cities to rural areas like ours to take part in the criminal activity of dog fighting. Otsego and Delaware counties are close to the Pennsylvania border and within an hour of Binghamton and Albany, making us a central location.

Brutal dogfights often occur with children present. Seeing violence to animals desensitizes children to all violence, including violence to people.

There is ample proof many serial killers started out hurting animals. Do you want your children going to school with violent children that are potential future serial killers?

Organized dog fights can use smaller dogs as bait animals, which enrage the larger dogs as the fight begins.

Bait dogs are stolen off the street or by dog fighters who respond to "free to a good home" ads. The snouts of bait dogs are often wrapped with tape to keep them from injuring the pit bulls.

Dog fighting attracts criminals. A detective told the New York Daily News that "You can get more drugs and guns off the street by breaking up dog rings than you would breaking up drug rings." An Ohio sheriff says that "just about every dogfighting search warrant we've done, we've found drugs."

Pit bulls are wonderful family pets. Due to bad owners and bad breeding, they are getting a bad rap.

Breed-specific legislation is forcing families all over the country to give up their beloved pets. Dogs that have done nothing wrong are taken from their family and destroyed. Even if you do not own a pit bull, you may be affected, since these laws often include rottweillers, akitas and "any pit bull-type dog." You may own a boxer and have to go to court to fight and prove it.

You can help our community by learning the signs of dog fighting and reporting them. How do you spot a dog-fighting ring?

"¢ An inordinate number of pit bulls being kept in one location, especially multiple dogs that are chained and seem unsocialized.

"¢ Dogs with scars on their faces, front legs and stifle area (the hind end and thighs).

"¢ Dog-fighting training equipment, such as treadmills used to build dogs' endurance

"¢ "Break sticks," used to pry apart the jaws of dogs locked in battle

"¢ Tires or "springpoles" (usually a large spring with rope attached to either end) hanging from tree limbs

"¢ Unusual foot traffic coming and going from a location at odd hours.

"¢ Heavy chains around a dog's neck, used to train it and build stamina for fighting.

"¢ People breeding pit bulls.

If you suspect dog fighting in your area, call the state troopers or the Humane Society of the United States tip line, (800) TIP-HSUS.

Sue Swart lives in Davenport