Dogfighting in Afghanistan “Even if people are starving, they’ll still keep dogfighting.”

January 5, 2009

“The interest of the people is increasing day by day,” said Sher Mohammad Sheywaki, 50, who was standing on the edge of the fighting pitch. “Even if people are starving, they’ll still keep dogfighting.”

For the complete New York Times article, go here.


Good Newz from the Bad Newz Kennels: 47 out of 51 Dogs Saved

January 5, 2009

Sports Illustrated has done an excellent follow-up article written by  Jim Gorant on the the rehabilitation of the pit bulls confiscated from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels, read the complete piece here. You should also check out the Photo Gallery link, too. Tell me if you see any monster dogs there.

PETA and the Humane Society argued that this was a misuse of resources, spending so much to save these ‘celebrity’ abused dogs while millions of adoptable dogs await their own death sentences in our nation’s shelters. PETA has no credibility on any issue  whatsoever in my view, they are extremists and perennial publicity sluts. 

I think it was important, especially given the immense amount of bad publicity this breed has gotten over the last 30 years, to make the point  that these dogs could be saved. That’s a message that America needs to hear, while breed-specific bans are considered proper legal responses to the ‘innate viciousness’ of pit bulls.  It sounds simplistic but it is nonetheless true: there are no inherently bad dogs, there are only bad, uneducated dog owners.

For the recored the $928,000 that went to evaluate and place these dogs came from the Michael Vick’s pocket and 47 out of 51 dogs were saved. 2 died in shelters, 1 was euthanized for medical reasons and only 1 was destroyed because it was considered ‘too violent.’

In other news a 12 year old boy in Douglas, AZ shot his 34 year old mother 8 times last August 1, after arguing with her over chores. (Source). Where are the calls for a ‘breed specific’ ban on 12 year old boys? I’m just saying, is all. . .

Inside Dogfighting Culture

December 9, 2008

Over 17 months, the agents from the Texas state police penetrated a murky and dangerous subculture in East Texas, a world where petty criminals, drug dealers and a few people with ordinary jobs shared a passion for watching pit bulls tear each other apart in a 12-foot-square pit. . .Besides a cadre of older, well-established dogfighters, officials said, the sport has begun to attract a growing following among young people from hardscrabble neighborhoods in Texas, where gangs, drug dealing and hip-hop culture make up the backdrop.


—from the New York Times, complete article here.

This was described as one of the country’s largest dog fighting operations; 187 pit bulls were seized and 80 of them have already been euthanized.

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this. What could possibly drive this need for such cruel entertainment? Have we made no progress at all from the days of the Roman coliseum? Or England in the 1600s?

Shakespeare’s Globe Theater was in a London district that included brothels, taverns and ‘bear gardens’ where a staked and chained bear was set upon by hunting dogs, the precursors of today’s pit bulls. King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I were great fans of ‘bear baiting.’

At the Paris Garden in Southwark, London’s most famous bear garden, a pony with an ape tied to its back was once baited as a ‘novelty.’ A Spanish nobleman reported that “. . .the screaming of the ape, beholding the curs hanging from the ears and neck of the pony, is very laughable.” Source.

Isn’t it crazy that in the 21st century some of us still consider watching canine gladiators mutilate and kill each other a ‘sport?’ 

Our lifestyle is so privileged. Our need for sensation is so raw and hungry. We turn dogs into killing machines without understanding that we are the ones who are debased by this, not the pit  bulls.

What can explain this?

The majority of the American public has been coerced? seduced? into a child-like state where critical thinking and responsibility are shunned and consumption is the ultimate value. Rational discourse is limited and the public debate is conducted in sound bites and dominated by shouting extremists.

You have to be shrill and outrageous in order to cut through the media clutter. But the audience quickly becomes desensitized and needs an ever-increasing amount of shock value to maintain their loyal attention (and the advertising dollars that flow from that attention).

That’s my opinion. Here are some of the facts.

At 300 million we are 5% of the world’s estimated 6.5 billion population and we consume 24% of the world’s energy resources. 2.8 billion people across the globe struggle to survive on the equivalent of $2 US dollars a day and something like 1.7 billion people don’t have ready access to clean drinking water. Source. Source.

Americans spent $9.63 billion dollars going to the movies in 2007. The average annual outlay per person for entertainment [ broadcast and cable TV, movies, magazines, newspapers, books and Internet service ] is $848.46. Source.

Of course, a small fraction of this figure is for information and that’s not broken out in these numbers. But I think you will agree that the overwhelming majority of this consumption is for entertainment, not education or news.

There’s a classic book published back in 1985 that today seems prophetic: Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. I urge you to get a copy, read it, and then consider how much worse things are now more than 20 years later.

Does any of this explain the dark heart of the desire to see animals fight for our entertainment? Is this ugliness simply a part of human nature? Of course it is, I think sadly. Don’t be so naive, I tell myself.

I’m reminded of the exchange between Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in The African Queen:

Charlie Allnut: A man takes a drop too much once in a while, it’s only human nature. 

Rose Sayer: Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above. 



Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels — “A heartless enthusiast of barbaric pit bull fights”

November 25, 2008

The US Department of Agriculture released their report this week adding new details to the practices at Michael Vicks’ Bad Newz Kennels in Smithfield, Virginia. Vicks, along with several others, has already pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for running a dog-fighting ring and is expected to plead guilty to state charges, getting a three year suspended sentence. Vicks will be out of Leavenworth in July 2009.

The report shows that after failing an FBI polygraph test in October 2007 the former Atlanta Falcon quarterback recanted his denial and admitted taking part in the hanging of dogs from a nylon cord nailed to a tree and drowning others in a five gallon bucket of water.

Twice Vick put family pets into the fighting ring with pit bulls because he “thought it was funny to watch the pit bulls. . . injure or kill the other dogs.” Vick also admitted watching his friends hang, shoot and electrocute pit bulls.

For the full report go to the Smoking Gun’s site, here.

To learn the details of how Vick went from being the highest paid player in NFL history in 2004, signing a $130 million contract, to bankruptcy while in prison, check out ESPN’s Harper’s Index-style run down on the numbers here.

One bright spot is the $928,073 he was required to give to rehabilitate the 47 pit bulls that survived their time in the Bad Newz Kennels.





Michael Vick, PETA and the Canine Victims: Rehab or Destroy?

March 12, 2008

The New York Times has a piece today that highlights the difference between groups that define themselves as animal rights activists and animal welfare groups, “Vick Case Exposes Rift Among Animal-Rights Advocates.”

PETA’s position is that the pit bulls that were trained to fight by the Bad Newz Kennels financed by Michael Vick, the former Atlanta Falcons star quarterback should be killed. As the Times says, “The folks at Best Friends Animal Society argued that the fighting dogs had been forced to lead brutal lives and should not receive death sentences.”

PETA says Best Friends is “an expensive Camelot.” Could they be more wrong? I don’t think so.

“These dogs have been through very traumatic experiences. These dogs have been abused by humans, yet they still love us, they still look to us for guidance. They still want us to be a part of their lives and they’re happy to see us every single day,” said John Garcia, Assistant Manager of Dog Care at Best Friends Animal Society.

I am not a fan or a supporter of PETA and believe they throw more heat than light on any issue they engage. I do admire the consistency of their view as ‘animal rights’ activists “. . .animals are not ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, or any other purpose. . .”

However, I believe that their’s is an extremist position that, if it were more widely understood, would not be supported by most Americans.

There was a great exposé on PETA done by Penn & Teller in their Showtime series, Bullshit and I recommend seeking it out if you’d like a primer on the arguments against PETA.

Taken to it’s logical conclusion, the world population would have to turn vegan, (a diet that bans meat, fish, milk, & eggs); no one would be allowed any sort of animal pet; all hunting and fishing would be banned; the use of wool, silk and leather for clothing would be banned (in addition to their well-known condemnation of wearing fur) and most medical research would have to be stopped to satisfy the constraints desired by PETA.

PETA founder and co-director Ingrid Newkirk believes that pet ownership is equivalent to slavery. I find this comparison incredibly offensive in a world where actual human slavery and trafficking still exist. My two Labs, Huxley and Luna also take issue with this definition.

She also thinks the production of both milk and honey involves the ‘exploitation’ of cows and bees. And, of course, she’s right, but I think most people would reject her use of the loaded term exploitation to describe the process. As far as developing drugs to battle Alzheimer’s Disease or the production of insulin for diabetics is concerned, her anti-science bias is crystal clear:

“If abandoning animal research means that there are some things we cannot learn, then so be it. . .We have no basic right…not to be harmed by those natural diseases we are heir to.”

One can agree that there are horrific abuses of animals world wide without accepting PETA’s simplistic black and white, good or evil model. Just as one can be a supporter of going ‘green’ without endorsing the eco-terrorism of groups like the Earth Liberation Front or support animal rights without endorsing the Animal Liberation Front.

Just to be clear, the ELF has been designated a terrorist organization by the FBI and has received direct financial support from PETA. They gave $1,500 to the ELF in 2001 and $45,200 to the Rodney Coronado Support Committee. Rodney Coronado was convicted of arson in federal court for the 1992 firebombing of a Michigan State University research lab.

Remember that as a non-profit organization your tax dollars help support PETA whether you donate directly to them or not. Should an organization that supports violence have their tax-exempt status yanked? I think so. But then again, I’m a ‘slave’ owner. Now you’ll have to excuse me, I’ve got to go feed my ‘slaves’ their kibble.