By Maleah Stringer
For The Herald Bulletin
Donner is a young grey/white Pit Bull.
He has had a miserable life so far.
He has been used as a bait dog for dog fighting not once but twice. He is covered in scars. He is timid and cowers at quick movements. But once he understands that you will not hurt him he is trusting and affectionate. Donner has been used and abused by humans and still he is able to trust.
Donner and dogs like him, who live, are the by-products of dog fighting. Dog fighting, with the people who watch and bet on dog fights, is alive and well in our community. Just because you don’t see it does not mean it is not happening. It is a felony so participants will beware of where they do it.
Our community has backyard Pit Bull breeders coming out our ears. They breed them to sell — for status, for money, for dog fighting. The Animal Protection League is full of the dogs these breeders so carelessly breed and sell. We get their “mistakes,” or accidents as they call them — the puppies that they don’t want.
We get the dogs that the owners just don’t want anymore for whatever reason. We get the ones that are left abandoned in rentals to starve to death. We get the ones that are left chained out in the yards with no shelter or food and water. We get the ones who are too damaged to live. Shelters and rescues are stepping up and accepting the responsibilities for these poor dogs when the people who breed and fight them go unpunished.
At last count this week; we have over 40 Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes in our care. The lucky ones are in foster care. The others live in our shelter; waiting, just waiting, for people to understand what great dogs they are. They’ve got a long wait — many people are not ready to forgive the dog and blame the humans who create the Pit Bulls you hear about in the media.
Until we get a handle on the backyard breeding that is going on in our community this dog abuse will continue.
As long as Pit Bulls continue to be the breed of choice for gangs, and dog fighting, this dog abuse will continue. As long as a segment of our society believe that dog fighting is a sport and they have a right to do it and that it is not abuse, the abuse of these dogs will continue.
Until we as a community have had enough and find our humanity this dog abuse will continue. I urge you, if you know where dog fighting is occurring, please call the police.
Evidence of dog fighting includes: People walking or running or forcing the dogs to keep up with a moving car, Pit Bulls with heavy chains or weights round their necks, numerous Pit Bulls tied outside with tires hanging from trees or treadmills in the yard, large numbers of people going into abandoned houses or buildings. If you see such evidence, call the police.
Do not under any circumstances confront these people on your own. They are dangerous.
Dog fighting is the ultimate animal abuse. With it comes domestic violence, drugs, gang activity, desensitization of the people who participate and the children who grow up with this violence show a lack of empathy and compassion. Is this what we want in our community? It is time to go to lawmakers, law enforcement and ask for something different.
Maleah Stringer is executive director of the Animal Protection League, 613 Dewey St., Anderson. She can be reached at 356-0900 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.