President’s Message:

Dog Fighting in Afghanistan

Rescued horse Sunny and Susan C. McDonough
Rescued horse Sunny and President Susan C. McDonough

Recently, I was reading through some of the old underground dogfighting magazines that I have collected over the years and I came across an article in the Summer 1990 issue of “AMERICAN PIT BULL GAZETTE,” entitled “Dogs fight, too, in Afghanistan.” The article told how dogfighting is a weekly spectacle, despite war. Usually on Friday mornings, as many as 1,000 men, with 200 to 300 dogs, will come to wager and watch the dogs fight. The article includes a photograph of a handler with his dog which is thought to be a cross between a German Shepherd and St. Bernard. Rather than allowing them to fight to the death, attempts are made to end the fight when one dog appears to be beaten, so that they can fight again.

As I read this article. I wondered how many dogs were being fought just in New York State alone. Dogfighting is more popular than ever in this state. Recently, one of the top underground fighting magazines, “SPORTING DOG JOURNAL,” moved its office to Unionville, NY. The magazine includes actual fight reports, ads for implements used in fighting, such as breaking sticks, spring poles, tread mills, cat mills, and for the sale of pit bulls that are described as “hard mouthed, inbred, game, rough, mean,” etc. Some breeders mention that they “cull” their litters to produce only the toughest dogs. Although the breeders will not list their names or addresses, they usually include a phone number, and several of the area codes are in New York State. Studs fees range anywhere from $800-$1,500, and puppies are sold for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

As a result of this activity, animal shelters, in addition to receiving thousands of other unwanted dogs, are being filled with pit bulls who have been dumped on the streets because they were not “game” enough — along with those who police have confiscated when arresting their owners. Shelters and rescue groups are being stretched to the max.

Can we help curtail this problem? One way is to get our legislators to raise the licensing fees for unaltered dogs. Right now, any person can obtain a “breeders license” which will cover up to ten breeding dogs for a mere $25. They can breed up to 25 dogs for $50 a year – and they make thousands on the sale of puppies. The breeders license fee should be increased to several hundred dollars per year. For individuals, the $7.50 a year fee for owning an unaltered dog should also be increased substantially. If every reader sat down and wrote to his/her local Senator and Assemblyperson and convinced them to change these fees, fewer dogs would be fought, starved, beaten, abandoned, or euthanized in shelters.

Susan C. McDonough

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XVI, No.3, Fall 2002.