A week ago, Detroit made national news again for all the wrong reasons. Detroit has a dog problem. I have written about it before because it upsets me so much (see post here). Dog fighting is unfortunately still a strong, underground business here and has greatly contributed to the negative image of the Pit Bull breed. In many cases rescued fighting dogs past the age of two are frequently not able to be fully rehabilitated and must be placed in a home with an owner accordingly, which just contributes to the stereotype and the problem when this is not done.
For those unfamiliar with this disgusting practice, there are bait dogs and there are fighting dogs. The bait dogs are used for training the fighting dogs. The fighting dogs are bred specifically for aggressiveness and response- which should be apparent by about 18 months. If a dog doesn’t show the appropriate level of aggression to be considered a fighter, it is used as a bait dog or killed. A bait dog is the one thrown in the training pen for the fight dog to practice on- just like it sounds- bait.
When the bait dog is past its usefulness, has died or been mortally wounded, they are discarded. Because the fighting practice itself is illegal the dogs can’t be buried on the property where the fighting occurs or taken to a vet for cremation so the bodies are dumped (also illegally). The fighting dogs suffer the same fate; everyone remembers the Michael Vick dogs from several years back. They are treated as a commodity. Except you don’t torture your dairy cow when it stops producing milk.
We’ve had record snow this winter, over 90 inches. We average in the 70s. The last time we had this much snow was in the late 1800s. That creates lots of cover to hide things. As the snow has been blissfully melting the past couple weeks, a man was walking near Rouge River Park and noticed a dog uncovered, dead. That discovery led to the discovery of 28-33 dead dogs in this park.
Detroit Animal Welfare Group (DAWG) is investigating and states that the wounds and lacerations are consistent with those commonly found on bait dogs. Many dogs had wounds that were never treated, or they just bled to death. Many froze to death. There were dogs that were amazingly still alive, as this park is apparently a haven for illegal dog activity. The most shocking thing to me was that there were reports of people trying to lure the animals that were still alive roaming in the park, with food, to go with them to use as bait dogs.
This story went national, although it wasn’t hugely reported. March Madness and the missing Malaysian plane are much bigger stories at the moment. We have a new police chief in Detroit and this one seems to actually be making some headway when it comes to crime; drug raids have increased as well as arrests following them, finding and arresting murder suspects, and cracking down on gang activity. Bravo- we certainly need it. Unfortunately, dogs will certainly be last on the list. Right now, we have to rely on the brave and good hearted workers and volunteers of the various organizations that are dedicated to stopping these practices and rescuing the rescue-able. So, we can support these organizations, rehabilitate if it’s within our ability, and don’t adopt a rescue fight dog if it’s not within our ability, and be vigilant when we’re out and about!