By MICHELLE SEROCKI

There are things in this world that many of us don’t want to think about, talk about, or even read about. I understand that and am certainly not immune to it. I too would like to look the other way and pretend that some things don’t exist—things such as dogfighting. However, there’s a big problem with burying our heads in the sand: Education and awareness can cause big change in our world.

I’ve been educating myself and the public about the heinous “sport” of dogfighting for almost 10 years. It’s almost as hard to teach about as it is to learn about. I’m not a shock value educator. It doesn’t make sense, especially when it comes to dogfighting. It’s naturally scary, violent and awful—plain and simple. There’s no need for embellishment to make it sad or gruesome or heartbreaking. I encourage you to continue reading because the knowledge that you gain could end up saving a life somehow. I promise I’ll be gentle for the ultimate benefit of some potential survivor out there who needs you to pay attention and understand.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that more than 40,000 people participate in organized dogfighting in the U.S., and hundreds of thousands more take part in impromptu street dogfighting. Those numbers are staggering and unexpected by most when they first hear them.

Most Americans have heard of one dogfighting bust in 2007. NFL superstar Michael Vick was caught and prosecuted, and 53 dogs were saved from the appropriately named Bad Newz Kennels. Many think this was an isolated incident or that dogfighting doesn’t exist anymore. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s likely that thousands of dogs are living a horrific life at this very moment, waiting for their next brutal training session, their next fight and their next day of living a loveless life.

Ten years ago, on July 8, 2009, was the largest dogfighting bust in United States history. Over 400 dogs were removed in 10 hours from multiple properties in multiple states. Those 400-plus dogs went on to have more than 120 puppies in the following 60 days. The surviving dogs and their offspring became known as the Missouri 500. Four years later, on August 23, 2013, the second-largest dogfighting bust took place. This one confiscated 367 dogs from multiple properties and states and became known as the Alabama 367. These historic busts, along with at least three others in the 10 years following the Michael Vick bust, netted over 1,200 dogs from organized dogfighting situations.

Although organized dogfighting is most prevalent in the southern states of the U.S., there are problems in all areas of the country, including Wisconsin. The Milwaukee area had a couple small-organized busts in 2011 and 2014, where less then three dozen dogs were confiscated from each. Milwaukee, like larger cities, is home to a street-fighting problem rather then the large-scale organized rings that are found further south. Street fighting is common in urban areas where people face off their dogs in primarily unplanned altercations. Many times the fights are for resources such as clothes, shoes or small amounts of money. Other times fights are used for street cred or status.

Break the Cycle

There are things you can do to help end the barbaric abuse.

1. Tell your family and friends about this article, and raise awareness of this problem. Education and awareness are the two best ways to end violence.

2. Help local organizations to fight this type of cruelty. Check out the Brew City Bully Club and how they’re working against dogfighting. brewcitybullies.org

3. Support national organizations efforts too. The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA both do amazing work against dogfighting.

We all want to live in a world without animal cruelty, abuse and dogfighting. We all want to see the day when dogfighting has been eradicated from our community, country and world! Get involved in one way or another. The more we unite in our stand against animal crimes, the quicker we will see progress!

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