Make Possession of Animal Fighting Paraphernalia Illegal in Maryland and Close the Loophole in Our Dogfighting law.
Dogfighting is cruelty on an extreme scale and brings organized crime, guns, and drug dealing to our neighborhoods. Animal fighting is a brutal contest in which two animals are put in a pit to fight to the death or near-death of one of the animals. In some instances, one of the animals may be a bait dog, cat, or other animal. Dogfighting is violent, sadistic, and illegal.
Animal fighters use specialized equipment to ready animals for fighting and to stage the illegal fights. Dogfighters use contraptions on the animals such as rape stands to forcibly impregnate dogs, cat mills where smaller live animals are used as practice prey, and treadmills for training with heavy weights around the animal’s neck and body. Although dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, possessing dog fighting equipment for illegal fighting is not a crime in Maryland.
This is a serious loophole in Maryland’s law. Maryland needs to rid our communities of dogfighting, and outlawing possession of animal fighting paraphernalia is critically important to this effort.
Those involved in dogfighting go to extensive lengths to avoid detection by law enforcement, and investigations can be difficult and dangerous. Because fighting paraphernalia provides evidence of dogfighting if animals are present, criminals have learned to keep animals and implements in separate locations to evade charges. Currently, when officers find clear evidence of dog fighting such as rape stands, injectable steroids, fighting rings, and other specialized equipment, they cannot pursue charges if the animals are not on site at the time of entry.
So the cycle continues.
Dog fighting attracts criminals to neighborhoods where it gets established as a criminal enterprise that includes illegal weapons and drug sales. Often, children are brought to animal fights and the extreme violence they witness has adverse effects on the next generation as they see this cruelty, violence, and criminal enterprise as normal.
Unfortunately, dog fighting operations continue to exist in Maryland. At least 16 states, including neighboring Pennsylvania, prohibit possession of fighting paraphernalia. When Pennsylvania passed its law in July, within just 12 weeks it was able to effectively use it to charge 2 dogfighters under the new law. As adjoining states like Pennsylvania pass stronger animal fighting laws, our state becomes more attractive to these criminal operations.
What about the dogs and other animals? The animals subjected to dogfighting suffer unimaginable cruelty and abuse both in training and in the pit.
Consider the case of Vixen who was seized in 2013 from a dog fighting ring in Maryland. She was barely one year old, but had suffered immensely during her entire young life. When she was rescued she had suffered multiple traumatic injuries including such severe bite wounds on her face that they extended into her bones.
Vixen required extensive medical care to treat her injuries. She was sheltered in a home with other dogs during her recovery where she learned the joy of a kind hand. Vixen was very loving and affectionate by nature, but she had been forced to fight to survive, subjected to horrific abuse both in the fighting pit and out. All she wanted was love and companionship.
Happily, after her rescue and recovery, Vixen adapted well to her loving home where she is bosom buddies with the other animals.
Maryland Votes For Animals is working with legislators to make the possession of dog fighting paraphernalia illegal in Maryland. It is imperative that Maryland continue its tradition of protecting our people and animals by cracking down on dogfighting operations. Let’s close this loophole in the law and rid our communities of dogfighting for Vixen and the thousands of other innocent victims.