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Dog Fighting in the US: Bloody, Illegal and Booming

e gang culture, in every urban area," said Laurie Maxwell of the Humane Society.

In recent years, animal shelters have been "inundated" with injured or scarred pitbulls, she said. The wounded animals account for 30 percent of dogs at animal shelters nationwide and 75 percent in US cities, according to Maxwell. Rescued fighting dogs have to be euthanized as they are too aggressive to be pets.

In city neighborhoods dominated by gangs and drug crime, people use pitbulls to intimidate residents and gangs steal dogs -- even sometimes cats -- for fights.

Fights take place "in abandoned buildings, basement, garages, warehouses, even in apartments where they used the doors to block a doorway and build a pit," Roach said.

"They use treadmills to train a dog to run and to develop their stamina they hang a rabbit or cat in a bag above the dog."

A study by Chicago's Anti-Cruelty Society said 40 percent of primary school children in the Chicago area have seen animal fights or know about them.

A dog fight can last anywhere from 15 minutes to five or six hours, until one of the dogs locks his jaws around the neck of the other and refuses to let go.

Then, "they use a break stick in their mouth to pull them away and release them again against each other," Roach said.

The dogs who lose are "often killed, set on fire with gasoline, electrocuted, shot, put on a railroad track.

"They are sending a message to others, saying, 'This is what happens to losers.'"


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