The fact that NFL player, Michael Vick, is being indicted by a Federal grand jury in connection with illegal dog fighting that took place on his property has focused my attention once more on this barbaric and inhumane practice.

I find it absolutely stunning that some 20,000 to 40,000 people each year participate in dog fighting in the United States. What is wrong with these people that they can revel in seeing one dog maimed or killed by another? I think that people who indulge in and enjoy dog fighting are the scum of the earth. They breed dogs to be aggressive and not submit, and the methods they use to hone the dogs’ fighting skills are torturous and barbaric. How could anyone watch let alone enjoy a fight in which dogs are maimed or killed beats me.

Some dogs suffer broken jaws, others bleed to death in the ring, and the loser, if not already dead, may be electrocuted, drowned, or shot. Scores of dead dogs were found buried on Vick’s property. Apparently, dog fighting occurs mainly in the South and is more prevalent in low-income neighborhoods. People who engage in it are usually not well educated and clearly have no empathy for dogs and probably no empathy for animals in general.

It has been shown that people who are cruel to animals are also cruel to people so their partners better watch out. Currently, state laws vary in how they address dog fighting. In two states, Wyoming and Idaho, dog fighting is not a felony - though it should be. In the other states, punishment for it ranges from a slap on the wrist fine to jail time.

Hopefully, the Vick case draws attention to dog fighting for the heinous practice that it is and the laws against it and the fines and punishment for it will be increased. Personally, I would like to see a Federal mandate against dog fighting. Currently, I believe that the only federal legislation concerns inter-state and foreign trafficking of fighting dogs and, thankfully, fines and jail sentences for people involved in such activities do seem sufficiently punitive. It is time that similar penalties were introduced for in-state owning, breeding, training, and fighting of dogs and for those who bet on the outcome of the fights.

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