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Michael Vick’s Long, Strange Detour
Posted on Sep 27, 2009
By T.L. Caswell
Subjects of high public interest generate magazines, and dog fighting is no exception. There are a number of publications that dance—rather clumsily—around the edges of illegal dog fighting. AnimalLaw.info names five magazines that it alleges are of interest to the dog-fighter community. One not mentioned is the now defunct Pit Bull Reporter, which continues to have a Web site. Internet visitors still can purchase “reprints of old pit bull fighting magazines from the 1950’s-1980’s” that “often contain graphic images of fightings [sic] dogs in the pit!” The site adds: “If that does not interest you or you find it offensive, please move on!”
The reprints—$12 each, $30 for three—are of “historical, educational, journalistic and artistic value. Not intended to violate any egregious, oppressive new law which arbitrarily, illegally and unconstitutionally infringes upon the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. …”
The site is heavy with disclaimers: “ … If any person or agency is aware of any violation of any laws … by the information presented on this web site … we urge you to notify the editor/publisher for immediate resolution. Otherwise we will assume the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is still in effect and this publication will exercise its right to freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
“God protect us against those enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC who would steal our Constitutional rights and our liberty! FREEDOM!”
Atop one article on PBReporter.com is a statement: “This information is … in no way intended to encourage or promote dog fighting or any illegal activity. In fact, it is our hope that with this knowledge the cruelty involved with some curious people ‘trying’ their non-pit dogs against an APBT [American pit bull terrier] may be averted and save their dog the physical harm and mental trauma which would result from such an experience. While we do not necessarily feel there is any cruelty involved in the ‘pitting’ of one APBT against another of similar size, as that breed enjoys the ‘exercise[,]’ very few individuals of any other breed would find it enjoyable or even tolerable for long and would quickly demonstrate their dismay with being involved in the situation. …”
Perhaps to appeal to potential subscribers less interested than the publisher in displaying the fruits of the First Amendment, the magazine was mailed out in “sealed white or manila 9”X12” envelope for your complete privacy! There is no mention of ‘pit bulls’ anywhere on the envelope.” Unmarked, sealed envelopes: animal porn arriving undercover at American homes, much like Playboy’s soft porn.
A Web site that promotes responsible dog ownership lists “techniques of neutralization” from a 1957 sociological study and applies five points from that study to dog fighters’ attempts to justify what they do. Here is that site’s list, paired with excerpted comments that a second site, Animal Law, published in dealing with the same study.
I will leave it to you to make any connection between any of those techniques of justification and the sort of language seen in Pit Bull Reporter (which is far from alone is expressing such sentiments).
Dog fights, which usually occur in wooden enclosures, sometimes go on for hours, until one of the combatants cannot continue. Some animals die in the pits or later from cuts, broken bones, dehydration, exhaustion or shock. Infections—and the wrathful owners of losers—kill many wounded dogs after fights.
A Britannica.com blog had this to say about the owners and dog fighting.
Some trainers use a “catmill/jenny,” a conditioning device in which several arms stick out from a rotating pole in the center. Dogs are chained to one arm and a small animal is attached to another. The dogs run in circles in an effort to grab the bait, which at the session’s end usually is given to the pursuers to tear apart.
Another charming tool of the trade is the springpole or jumppole, which features a spring on which a hanging object such as an animal hide is attached. A dog being trained will bite into the object and hang there for long periods, strengthening the jaw and other parts of the body. For the spice of variation the trainers may replace the hanging object with a cage containing a bait animal; this causes the dog to leap over and over in trying to seize the terrified bait.
The problem of professional dog fighting in rural areas, such as the locale of Bad Newz Kennels, is compounded by a more casual form of the brutality in cities—so-called street fighting—which is outlined by the ASPCA:
Just as music is an element of movie and TV dramas, the subject of music often appears within the Michael Vick saga. Hip-hop is linked to dog fighting in the eyes of some animal-protection advocates, and a number of Web sites mention the Vick case in discussing dog fighting and hip-hop. One of the favorite targets is rapper DMX, who has written lines such as “Place your bets/ You can imagine what the bloodline is like” and “All my pups is crazy, ’cause off the leash/ They can eat, stand a match for three hours at least.” The cover of DMX’s album “Year of the Dog Again” shows the rapper with a pit bull that is snarling grandly.
However, hip-hop does not go undefended. A 2007 MTV.com article minimizes the role of dog fighting in hip-hop culture under the title “Why Does the Michael Vick Case Hurt Hip-Hop?: Genre’s glamorization of dogfights and pit bulls has led critics to associate it with blood sport.” It notes that critics of dog fighting have attacked the “scene in [rapper] Jay-Z’s ‘99 Problems’ video where everyone is getting ready for a big dogfight …, DMX’s album Grand Champ (which is the title given to a dog that wins five matches without a loss), and DVDs of dogfights sold alongside mixtapes in some parts of the country.”
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