WILMINGTON -- Virginia isn't the only area where dog fighting occurs. Local animal control officers say it is a problem in our area. Animal Control Services Manager Jean McNeil said, "We have fighting that does go on inside our county." In organized dogfights, people bet on the outcome. The winner is the dog who survives. And that survivor will be severely wounded. McNeil said, "You have the very organized fights and you have the small ones where individuals are seeing how aggressive their individual dog is against another dog." McNeil says at the fights there are drugs, guns and children. "They generally bring children in to the fights so that they are raised up in the mode of watching this and they become desensitized to any kind of animal cruelty," McNeil said. Animal Control officers say no breed of dog is born aggressive. In fact, pit bulls get along fine. It's the dogfighters that raise the animals that cause them to fight. McNeil said, "They will tie them out in the yard with the heavy chains and have the equipment that they use to train the dogs." People raising fighting dogs inbreed them to create increased aggression. They hang them from trees to make their necks stronger. McNeil said, "They were also taking the dogs and slamming their head into the door of the cabinet." Your pet is at risk. "You need to be sure that your personal pet is protected because they will use someone's pet off the street and take it to use it to see how well the animal will fight against it," McNeil said. McNeil says that her facility is only successful in removing about 20 fighting dogs a year. Owners of fighting dogs keep the animals in close captivity, even hiding them to prevent Animal Control from confiscating the dogs. McNeil said, "Be aware be strong tell the authorities and be willing to stand up behind your statement." In North Carolina it's a felony to be a dog-fighting spectator, trainer, or owner. If you see signs of animal cruelty or training paraphernalia, contact law enforcement.
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