Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Are You Aware Of The Perils Of Dog Fighting?

Stella
Today is National Dog Fighting Awareness Day (NDFAD). I'm aware. I hope you are, too. The ASPCA kindly invited me to join them in raising awareness and spreading the word that Dog Fighting isn't something we will stand for. It happens everywhere. It's not the only way to be cruel to an animal but it's one in which a large number of animals can be harmed at one time. The ASPCA and other organizations work long and hard to rescue dogs from deplorable conditions that surround dog fighting and they need our help. Whether you are able to assist with adopting, fostering, volunteering, donating, or spreading the word every little bit does, indeed, help.

I live in New York so dog fighting has been a tangential item in the news here a lot lately. You see come this fall Michael Vick (arguably the world's most famous dog fight enthusiast) will be playing for one of our local football teams. I've written some pretty emotional things about him in the past. I've also tried to come to terms with the fact that if I think that the dogs who were abused at Vick's Bad Newz Kennels can change their behavior enough to live in private homes and if I believe that behavioral theory teaches us that most animals learn in similar ways then I have to believe that Vick can also be reformed.

Of course having that potential and living up to it are not at all the same. I can't yet say for certain what Michael Vick, or any dog fighting enthusiast, would have to do to prove to me that they've changed but I can say that I haven't yet seen that from this particular guy. I am still too cautious to believe that any animal (or human) is safe in his care. In casual conversations about Vick's football career I've often said that I think it's perfectly fine that he be re-hired by the NFL and that he continue to play. The only thing that needs to change is that his take home pay should be the same hourly rate as the lowest paid person in his home stadium. I'm talking filling out a time sheet and everything. The balance of whatever the NFL chooses to designate as his salary should go directly to organizations using force free, scientifically based methods to help dogs (and perhaps people) who are learning to live life outside of the fight ring.

I get a lot of grief for both thinking that Vick could reform himself and my personal solution to his continuing to pay back for the harm he's done. I stand by it, though, because real learning doesn't happen in a 30 minute television-friendly format. Real learning takes time, patience, and expertise. None of that comes cheap. Neither is it guaranteed but I believe in it. I believe that people who abuse animals are more likely to commit violence against other people. I believe that animals...and humans, can change. I believe that we need to be more committed to making those changes within each animal's individual boundaries.

Thor & Loki
The first step, they always say, is admitting you have a problem and that's where NDFAD comes in!

In honor of the day the ASPCA is giving this gift package to one lucky reader. It will contain:

1 Anti Dog Fighting T-shirt
1 No One Wins in a Dog Fight Magnet
1 Orange "Fight Cruelty" Tote
1 ASPCA Pet Frisbee
1 ASPCA Orange Wrist Band
1 ASPCA Action Magazine: Inside the Dog Fighting Ring

I will add to that haul one pet toy (doesn't have to be for a dog!) because thinking about dogs fighting makes me sad and thinking about pets playing helps to counteract that.

We're going to work the honor system on this one. Please take one action to spread the word about dog fighting. It can be on social media, in person, or by regular post. You can tell your co-worker, your kid, your fitness class, a stranger on a train, or that one troll who keeps leaving weird posts on your blog. Leave a comment on this post letting me know what action you took to spread the word and I'll pick a winner randomly on Friday morning. Entries close at 9am!

Please, go spread the good word!

*Photos taken by me of adoptable dogs at an NYC Shelter. I am not comfortable sharing the name of the shelter publicly but am happy to talk with you about it privately if you have questions.

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