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Today is #DogFightingAwarenessDay. This is Murdock. I photographed him a while back in a shelter. He was very affectionate and sweet as can be. By the time I met him, Murdock had been waiting in a cage for a year, kept as Live Evidence in a case against his owner who was charged with animal cruelty for dogfighting. Murdock was later release and adopted by a couple in Arizona, and I traveled all the way to photograph him in his new life.
Talking about dogfighting today is extremely difficult. There are no official numbers of how many people are involved in organized fights, since those are underground (and illegal in 50 U.S. states). Although the practice was fairly marginal and declining in the 1990s, there seems to have been a resurgence of it since the Michael Vick’s case made it appealing to some 😒, and since the explosion of social media has facilitated communication between fighters and organizers - or maybe there are just more task forces dedicated to fighting this crime? Without any official statistics, it’s impossible to know how big dogfighting was and is. Which means, we need to be careful when addressing it.
Most people assume that dogfighting is prevalent, and that all pit bulls in shelters more-or-less come from criminal environments. Most people assume that a pit bull that comes in with facial injuries was a "bait dog". That is incorrect (more on that some other time!). Because of the way people view the dogfighting world, they see pit bulls as aggressors or victims. The truth is more complicated than that. Dogfighting exists, but only a tiny fraction of these dogs probably make it into the shelter system. Compared to the huge numbers of pit bulls entering the shelter system every day, that means almost none of them come from dogfighting backgrounds. And even if they did, like Murdock, it doesn’t define who they are. When you talk about dogfighting and try and raise awareness against it, please remember that as horrible as this crime is, it doesn’t define shelter pit bulls one bit. We need to #GetTough on #DogFighting because this activity and the misconceptions and myths surrounding it are what