On Wednesday, the state of Tennessee enacted an anti-animal fighting bill which increases penalties for attendance at an animal fight and for taking a child to such a fight. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and a TGC Council member, commended the new law as “an important step in our communities.” Here are nine things you should know about the cruel practice of animal fighting:
1. Animal fighting is a contest in which people urge two or more animals to fight for the purpose of human entertainment. In some instances, one of the animals may be a bait animal used for the ostensible purpose of sport or training. In the U.S., the three most common types of animal fighting are dogfighting, cockfighting, and hog-dog fighting.
2. Dogfighting is a blood sport in which two dogs—specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight—are placed in a pit (generally a small arena enclosed by plywood walls) to fight each other for the spectators' entertainment and gambling. According to the Humane Society, fights average one to two hours, ending when one of the dogs will not or cannot continue.
3. The dogs involved in dog fighting usually suffer ongoing neglect and cruelty during the “training” process. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the dogs are often: forced to wear heavy chains and run on treadmills; left outside without shelter; fed steroids to increase muscle mass; fed stimulants to make them aggressive in a fight; fed narcotics so they don’t feel pain in a fight; starved to make them aggressive or so they can “make weight” in a contract fight; and subjected to cruel amateur ear cropping and treatment for fighting injuries. Females may be confined in “rape boxes” for breeding.
4. Dogfighting was outlawed in all the states by 1976. Yet despite being a felony in all 50 states, the Humane Society estimates there are more than 40,000 people across the country who buy and sell fighting dogs and are involved in dogfighting activities.
5. Cockfighting is a blood sport in which two or more specially bred birds, known as gamecocks, are placed in an enclosed pit to fight, for the primary purposes of gambling and entertainment. In many of the fights, metal spurs are added to the cocks' natural spurs to increase the violence. According to the Humane Society, a typical cockfight can last anywhere from several minutes to more than half an hour and usually results in the death of one or both birds.
6. In 2012, the Palmetto Family Council released a video criticizing cockfighting from a Biblical perspective.
7. Hog-dog fighting (also known as “catch dog trials”) is a blood sport in which dogs chase trapped hogs in front of an audience. Spectators often place wagers on how quickly a particular dog can bite into a hog’s face, bring them down, or otherwise injure the animal. As the Humane Society notes, dogs often injure the hogs horribly during the match, and the hogs may gore the dogs with their tusks.
8. To give the dogs an advantage in hog-dog fights, handlers may outfit the dogs in Kevlar vests, or cut the hogs' tusks off. Dogs in training may be set upon helpless farm hogs to encourage aggressiveness. The hogs frequently die after dogs tear off their snouts, ears, or jaws in the contests.
9. One of the first organized movements for animal welfare and against animal fighting occurred in 1824 when William Wilberforce‚ the British politician who worked to abolish the slave trade‚ and other evangelicals helped establish the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The RSPCA inspired the creation of similar groups in the U.K., New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, and America, many of which have been instrumental in educating the public about animal fighting and lobbying for legislation to ban the blood sports.
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