Another week, another dog-fighting bust in Chicago. And unlike Michael Vick's pooches - most of whom who were sent to Dogtown - the two pit bulls found in the basement were euthanized. There was no trip to basic cable for these dogs.
The Chicago Tribune called this crime "shameless." Many of the audience who were arrested expressed utter confusion, wondering why they were being arrested. After all, what's wrong with dogfights? Nobody gets hurt. It's a cultural institution. Sure. And the guillotine was a French cultural institution.
I understand the violence of football. I don't understand the thrill of rugby or boxing, but I also understand that both sports consist of people who are well aware of the risks of the sports. If a player goes down, the odds are 100 percent they will be helped by some of the best physicians, physical therapists, and trainers in the business.
Dogs, on the other hand, are considered far more disposable. Their first loss in a dog fight is generally their last; if they don't die in the ring, they'll be dispatched afterwards. The victors don't have fun, either: for example, the dogfighters in this arrest carried with them amphetamines and steroids to stoke the dogs, and a staple gun to close open wounds. Of course, fighting dogs have no agents to represent them, no ability to complain about their treatment, and only a difficult-to-enforce state law to protect them.
Dogfighters and dogfighting fans are less than shameless: they're scum. They have no morals, no respect for life - human or animal, and are more deserving of the old "eye for an eye" punishment than most. The problem with dogfighting is that, as an illegal "cultural institution," there's a huge demand for it, and if the cops stamp out dogfighting in one neighborhood, it immediately moves to another. The Chicago police have scored some victories, but one of the results is the expansion of dogfighting into the suburbs.
Unfortunately, there's not a lot that can be done on the law enforcement side of things, especially during a recession. The law itself could be made stronger: although participating in a dogfight is a felony in Illinois, watching one is only a misdemeanor. Upping the spectator penalty might help. The most important contribution that can be made, however, is education and volunteering. Chicago police are being trained to better spot signs of dogfighting, and if you want to join in the fight, check out the Humane Society-run End Dogfighting in Chicago web site.