Everyone knows about dog fighting and should be aware that dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states, yet the egregious practice against those who can not speak still continues. "Dog Fighting: The Voiceless Victims," a temporary exhibit by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) offers a rare view of the tools used by those involved in this brutal activity. The exhibit also gives visitors a glimpse into the art of the forensic sciences veterinarians are able to employ to discover how animals involved in crimes have suffered and died.
The real victims of dog fighting are the dogs. According to Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice-president of ASPCA Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects, dog fighting is the "greatest violation of the human-animal bond."
In order to strengthen animal fighting laws, just last week U.S. Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), John Campbell (R-Calif.), and Jim Moran (D-Va) reintroduced the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act which would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and impose penalties for allowing a minor to attend an animal fight. Penalties would range from one to three years of imprisonment and fines.
Spectators at animal fighting events often travel long destinations to watch the barbaric life and death fights these animals must endure for their own survival. During animal fighting raids, it is common practice for the organizers, promoters, and animal owners to become part of the crowd in order to elude prosecution. The proposed legislation will give law enforcement officials the ability to bring all of these people involved in this heinous "sport" to justice, and at the same time punish those adults who allow such damaging influence these dog fights have on children.
No case was better publicized than the 2007 Michael Vick dog fighting case where the media showcased the heart wrenching photos of the innocent canine victims brutalized and tortured beyond what most people could ever imagine. Sadly dog fighting still continues, however the passage of this bipartisan bill can help to finally end a brutal part of history filled with cruelty and inhumanity.
Some of the artifacts on display at the exhibit include:
- Treadmill for dogs to exercise
- A "rape" stand used for breeding to immobilize female dogs
- Breaking sticks used to release dogs from each other during a fight
- Spring pole used to strengthen a dog's muscles as he pulls or hangs
- Nailed collar used to make dogs more aggressive
- Dog electrocution device for those who lose
- The skull of a pit bull from a dog fighting crime scene
- Grave excavation equipment
- Records of Michael Vick's dog fighting details and court records
The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team continues to rescue thousands of animals from animal fighting across the nation. The Blood Sports unit investigates both dog fighting and cockfighting and provides training to local, state, and federal agencies.
"Dog Fighting: The Voiceless Victims" will be on display until Sept. 2, 2013. The museum is located on 7th Street NW between E and F Streets in downtown Washington, D.C.
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