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1) Implement stricter penalties for those caught dog fighting.2) Make being a spectator at a dog fight a felony in all 50 states.

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In order to put an end to this horrific blood sport, we need stricter penalties for those caught fighting dogs, as well as for those caught spectating at such an event.

The barbaric sport of dog fighting can be traced back to 43 A.D. when the Romans invaded Britain. Both sides used fighting dogs on the battlefield thus beginning the history of dog fighting.  By the 12th century, dogs were being forced to fight in a ring against animals such as bears or bulls, while large groups of people cheered them on. During the beginning of the 19th century, for multiple reasons, such as the cost of obtaining bulls or bears, as well as the rise of animal rights activists, the fight against dog vs. bear or bull, became the fight of dog vs. dog.  Dogs were much easier to obtain and were much cheaper. Around the time of the Civil War, the importation of fighting dogs into the United States began. It was during this time that “dogmen” (professional dog fighters, trainers and handlers) began cross-breeding these dogs in an attempt to create the “ultimate” fighting dog. They hoped to create a dog that could fight for numerous hours and endure extreme pain. In spite of being outlawed in the 1860’s, dog fighting continued to flourish and was often times supported by otherwise law abiding citizens and even law enforcement. In the late 20th century, task forces were formed in many parts of the country to combat dog fighting. In 2007, U.S. Congress passed a Federal law against interstate dog fighting making it a felony. However, being a spectator at a dog fight remains a misdemeanor. Although state punishments for felonies and misdemeanors vary throughout differing states, the underlying issue is that the punishments are not strong enough to deter this violence.

As the owner of a recovering bait dog, now known as Huey, I have seen first-hand the physical and psychological damage that these dog fighters inflict on their victims. Huey was severely malnourished, weighing just 33 pounds when he was found. He had open wounds all over his body, and had numerous infections throughout his body. His mouth had been taped shut (as was evident by the lack of hair around his nose and mouth) to prevent him from fighting back against attacking dogs. Huey had been used for bait; an innocent soul, mouth taped shut, thrown to other dogs to train them to attack, and develop a taste for blood. His tail had been broken; his front legs are extremely bowed due to lack of exercise, most likely having been kept in a cage his whole life. He had severe bites all over his head and face, one being so deep that it had pierced his nasal cavity. Huey has separation anxiety and fears the night. He often has nightmares complete with shaking, crying and vomiting.

While we as a nation have made small strides to curb spectators from attending animal fighting events (proposed and pending bill Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2013), we must increase the penalty of being caught at such an event to a felony. The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2013 calls for a fine and/or imprisonment of up to a year, however it has been sitting in front of a subcommittee since April of 2013.  Even if this bill is passed, in an already overcrowded prison system the chances of the accused serving even a year are just about nonexistent. The proposed small punishments hardly outweigh the monetary gain that these criminals incur from dog fighting. A fight between two well-known dogs can bring in upwards of $250,00.00. During raids of dog fights, it is not uncommon but rather the norm for law enforcement to find illegal drugs and firearms. Not only are these dog fighters a danger to animals, they are also a danger to society.

I have been writing to Senators, Legislators and Assembly men and women, asking for their help in changing our existing laws that pertain to dog fighting. I would like to be able to include this petition as proof that citizens all over the world will no longer tolerate these weak laws against the defenseless. I hope that you will stand with me in demanding a change to our current laws and sign our petition. Please help us be their voice.

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Tracy Lystra needs your help with “ALL STATE AND FEDERAL LAWMAKERS: 1) Implement stricter penalties for those caught dog fighting.2) Make being a spectator at a dog fight a felony in all 50 states.”. Join Tracy and 7,158 supporters today.