The San Francisco news media recently ran stories about pit bull fights featuring gruesome photos of half-dead dogs used as bait to train the pits. The missing voices in these stories invariably are those of the young people who breed, train, fight, sell, abuse—and sometimes love—pit bulls. Pacific News Service commentator Charles R. Jones discusses the issue with his friend Squirt.
CRJ: How does a dogfight happen?
Squirt: It starts off like this: The owner walks down the street and sees another owner with a dog tied up. He asks, “Do you want to fight?” and the other guys says yes. They may bet money on the side or they may bet the dog’s life. Or they may just say, “We’re fighting for souls.”
CRJ: What gets the dogs to fight?
Squirt: Sometimes the owner puts cocaine on their nose. That’s like a man drinking beer—it gets the dog on the evil tip. Then they go up in the field or out in the middle of the street. They don’t be caring who sees.
CRJ: How do people feel about dogfighting?
Squirt: They love it. Even mothers come out to watch. Seeing two dogs going at it—like a life is about to be took. It’s a trip when it happens, way better than a boxing match.
CRJ: How do you feel about dogfighting?
Squirt: I think [it’s] cool if it’s just one on one, but if you use one dog for a bunch of pit bulls to just rip up, that ain’t cool.
CRJ: You don’t think it’s mean to dogs even one on one?
Squirt: It depends on what type of dog it is. If it’s the same size and nature of dog and is ready to go the rounds, let ‘em go. But if it’s a little wimpy dog against something like a Rottweiler, leave it alone.
CRJ: I hear you. It’s like dogs have personalities . . . I’ve seen dogs that just didn’t like other dogs.
Squirt: Yeah. You can’t blame people for exploiting that anger to their advantage. From what I seen, it’s some dogs born evil.
CRJ: A dog is an expensive possession. It seems only fair for dogs to earn their keep by fighting. Is that why owners fight them?
Squirt: Some people fight dogs for cash ‘cause it’s their only income, or some fight out of love or pride. But mainly they like to gamble on the dog’s life, not for money. They want to see which dog is best.
CRJ: How many dogs you got?
CRJ: What’s his name?
Squirt: He’s a pit terrier named Fluffy Mac.
CRJ: That’s a trip. So much changes as you grow up. When you’re little, you make puppies fight by bumping their noses together. As you age it all gets so serious. People get shot, dogs get shot, money is won and lost. It’s deep.
Squirt: I don’t hit my dog or nothin’ if he loses a fight. That’s why I don’t fight him if he scared. It would be stupid to hit him when he lost if he didn’t wanna fight in the first place. I’m outta $200, my dog all ate up, we both feeling kinda bad, you feel me?
CRJ: Why fight a dog? Why do you?
Squirt: To gain respect for the dog and owner. No one will bother you without a gun.