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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dogfighting Bites

I'm not sure if I could ever be called an "animal lover". I mean, there have been animals in my life I've felt love for - but they're few and far-between. For the most part, I'm a man who believes that animals are made of meat and a pet is no substitute for a child. Non-human animals simply aren't human. And yes, I'm foolish enough to believe humans are better animals than non-humans.

So if all of that winds up putting a bias on my ideas about dogfighting in your minds, so be it. I have to be true to myself. If I weren't, I wouldn't be able to write these articles.

Dogfighting is cruelty. Even I'm sane enough to admit that. Pitting an animal against an animal for the sole purpose of profit and/or bragging rights, just because they don't know any better - that's cruelty.

That in mind, could you really expect better from our society? Wasn't it just a few thousand years ago that leaders of men were pitting humans against each other to the death? Wasn't it also just a few years ago that we brought it to the silver screen and the home television? And what about boxing, or the newer and more violent "ultimate fighting" competitions? Sure, that's done on a voluntary basis, and pretty much never to the death - but still evidence of human thirst for violence.

While dogfighting is illegal in all 50 states, it took until just a few months ago to get cockfighting banned in all 50 states. In fact, the last state's ban won't officially take place until 2008, I believe. Are we suggesting that the more "lovable" an animal is, the more offensive it is to pit them against each other in bloody battle? After all, a few of our first presidents were avid cockfighters. I mean they owned gamecocks and battled them, not that they actually fought against gamecocks or anything. That's just silly.

No, I'm not trying to defend dogfighting. Again, there's little way to see it as anything but cruelty. Of course, everything leading UP to the dogfighting, that might be a different story. After all, it's considered "damning evidence" just to be in possession of both a dog (whose breed is one commonly associated with dogfighting) and a piece of what is considered "dogfighting equipment". That's seriously all it takes to get a case going and a jury completely against you. THAT, I feel, is unfair. Dog owners have the right to train their pets to be as aggressive or passive as they choose. How they train them? That can border on cruelty, yes. Not feeding a dog just to make it hungrier and more aggressive is technically "neglect" - even though it's not being neglectful, it's just being cruel. As for things I've read about mixing dead bumblebees and gunpowder in the dog's food, to rile up the dog as stingers pierce their gums - that's cruelty AND stupidity.

Of course, I'm a man who'd love to lock people up for stupidity as much as cruelty.

Even so, I think the laws and penalties are fine where they are. If you're caught with supplying a dog for dogfighting, or being in charge of anything - that's up to three years in jail. Most of the training things, if you're caught, are rightly dished out as animal cruelty charges, most of which are one or three years. Attending a dogfight lands you up to a year in jail - this one I'm a bit against, mostly because police can never seem to actually track down a dogfight taking place, so why trump up the charges just for being there? As for bringing a child to a dogfight resulting in up to three years in jail, that one I'm more comfortable with. Of course, I'd see it more as "child endangerment", or just being plain stupid - which sadly isn't yet punishable with jail time in and of itself.

But that's fine as it is! We don't need "harsher penalties" all of a sudden. The punishments currently fit the crime, no matter how much you want a bad guy who hurts puppies to get locked up "forever and ever". But lately, there's a fad here in America where hot-button topics get overemphasized, overexaggerated, and overlegislated as a result. When that bridge recently collapsed, there was nothing but fearmongering, causing the closures of way too many bridges. We need to veer some of the news away from hot-button topics, so that the first time we pay attention to things isn't when IT becomes the new hot-button topic.

Dogfighting is cruel and illegal. It was cruel and illegal long before some NFL superstar wound up shedding twenty times the normal spotlight on the issue. It will continue to be cruel and illegal. That doesn't mean that just because it's the "in-thing" to be against dogfighting, that means that we need a hundred more harsher laws and punishments.

We just need to keep enforcing the laws we have, and if that's the best way to remind our law enforcement agents to shape up, so be it. I just want them to remember that there's a lot of human suffering out there and a lot more human victims every day than the counts of dogfighting victims being wallpapered over the newspapers.

I'm not saying they should ignore the poor victims of dogfighting rings. I'm saying they have to pay just as much attention to the violence befalling humans, too.

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