Swans Commentary » swans.com July 30, 2007  



Dog Fighting
Barbarity, A Common American Practice


by Senator Robert C. Byrd





[ed. Last Monday, we took our dogs, Mestor and Priam, to the Ukiah veterinary clinic for a series of vaccinations, checkups, and, in the case of Priam, allergies that have caused him much discomfort. Both dogs, as long-time readers are aware, were adopted from the Humane Society (in San Mateo for Priam, and Lakeport for Mestor). It's been an expensive trip to the Vet...but these two cherished companions deserve no less. On our way out, we saw a mum and a dad with their son walking in the clinic. The mother was holding a tiny, at most four-week-old gray female kitty. The son and his friends had found her abandoned in a cardboard box the size of a 12-pack beer container near their house. Four kittens were in the box, in the midst of summer, without water. These good people took the kittens home. Three quickly died, mainly out of dehydration -- left in a box in the middle of summer without water...abandoned to die in the middle of summer...little kittens abandoned...without water...in the summer heat...four little beings...left to die by some inhuman barbarian called a "human"...

It brought to mind a speech that the senior senator of West Virginia, Robert Byrd, delivered on the floor of the Senate on July 19, 2007. Profoundly outraged, the 89-year-old senator rose to the floor to squarely take up the issue of illegal dog fighting rings in the USA. More than 40,000 exist in the country. Dogs are trained to fight to death for the profit and the entertainment of the owners, and the gallery that bets on an eventual "winner" of that deadly game. Like cockfighting, this bloody and barbaric undertaking is an unrelenting plague pervading American culture. Senator Byrd, a dog lover, an indomitable character, and undoubtedly the greatest orator that august body has known in the past five decades, spoke in passionate terms about this barbaric practice. Being a modern-era Demosthenes, Senator Byrd's oratory is best listened to rather than read. For those readers who have a fast access to the Internet, here are the links (on YouTube) to his speech, in three parts:

Part I

Part II

Part III

The text of his remarks placed in the Congressional Record (pages S9568, S9569) is reproduced below. That the good senator did not make a link between the barbaric practice of dog fighting and the violence inbred in the American culture is regrettable, though clearly understandable. Again, readers will be better served if they listen to Senator Byrd's oratory -- it is psychologically intolerable for most individuals to acknowledge the wickedness of one's own culture.

Senator Byrd, in the twilight of his life, after many disgraceful positions in his younger years, has become a very powerful voice for the folks who hold stubbornly to their humaneness, even if only by their fingernails. (Note: The title and subtitle are the editor's.)]


(Swans - July 30, 2007)   Senator Byrd:

Madam President, for several days -- for several days -- the news has been saturated with stories about the indictment of a well-known professional football player for running a dog-fighting operation. I am not going to comment on that particular case.

The man has been accused. He has not been convicted. We must wait until all the facts are in and a verdict is rendered. The man cited in these recent news stories is innocent until proven guilty, and Lord help him if he is proven to be guilty in a court of law. We must wait for the justice system to run its course. But the facts are already in, and the verdict has already been delivered.

What is it about? What is it about, Madam President? It is about the scourge of dog fighting in the United States -- dog fighting in the United States. According to the Humane Society, there are about 40,000 dog-fighting operations in the United States. The deputy manager of dog-fighting issues for the Humane Society, John Goodman, points out, "..... dog fighting is at an epidemic level" in the United States. It involves urban areas as well as rural areas. It involves all sections of the country. It cuts across cultures and class and other socio and economic differences.

Dog fighting continues even though all 50 States have laws on the books prohibiting dog fighting. Dog fighting is a Federal crime. Let me say that again. Dog fighting is a Federal crime, and yet animal welfare officials report that dog fighting is more popular today than ever. Shame, shame, shame.

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars have all been at stake in the breeding, the training, and the selling of fighting dogs. How inhuman, how dastardly.

Two dogs are placed in a pit and turned loose -- turned loose -- against each other. How inhuman, how cannibalistic, how sadistic. Let me read that again.

Two dogs -- God created the dog to be man's companion -- two dogs are placed in a pit -- think of that -- placed in a pit and turned loose against each other. And get this: the fight can go on for hours. The fight can go on for hours. Do you hear me? The fight can go on for hours. The poor dogs literally bite and rip the flesh off one another, and bets as high as $50,000 are placed.

The brutality goes on until one of the poor dogs is seriously injured or killed. So the poor dog died -- died. The dog died. And for that reason, dog fighting is regarded as a blood sport. A blood sport. While bloody, Madam President, it is hardly a sport. Hardly a sport.

It is a brutal, sadistic event motivated by barbarism of the worst sort and cruelty of the worst sadistic kind. One is left wondering: who are the real animals -- the creatures inside the ring or the creatures outside the ring?

The depravity of dog fighting is a multimillion-dollar business that involves training innocent, vulnerable creatures to kill -- to kill -- and putting them in a ring to be killed or to kill for the entertainment and/or the profit of their owners and other spectators.

I have seen one individual in my lifetime electrocuted in the electric chair -- in my time. It is not a beautiful spectacle. So I can say I could witness another one if it involves this cruel, sadistic, cannibalistic business of training innocent and vulnerable creatures to kill.

Undercover investigators who have infiltrated the dog-fighting ring have found blood-soaked dogs with life-threatening injuries that are left to die as soon as they are no longer able to compete. Undercover investigators have found dogs with ripped ears, torn lips, genitals dangling from their bodies, eyes swollen shut, and faces riddled with punctures so severe that they were barely able to breathe. How inhuman, how inhuman, how sadistic.

Dogs that survive a fight often die days or even hours after the fight from blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection. What a shame. What a shame. If the losing dog survives the ordeal -- get this -- it is usually so mangled that it is no longer of any use and, therefore, it is put to death -- put to death.

I have seen a human being put to death for killing another human being, but why a poor dog -- a poor dog? If the losing dog survived the ordeal it is usually so mangled that it is no longer of any use. How sad, sad, sad. It is put to death. Even the winner of a dog fight commonly suffers from massive bleeding, ruptured lungs, broken bones, or other life-threatening injuries.

The training of these poor creatures -- weigh those words -- the training of these poor creatures to turn them into fighting machines is simply barbaric -- barbaric. Let that word resound from hill to hill and from mountain to mountain, from valley to valley across this broad land -- barbaric. May God help those poor souls who would be so cruel. Barbaric. Hear me. Barbaric. Such practices as starvation of the poor animal to encourage malice, and beatings to build endurance are common. It involves teaching the dog to maul by using smaller animals, such as cats or rabbits or small dogs as training bait.

The result of this most cruel business reaches beyond the fighting ring itself. There are cases of dogs trained to kill that have broken loose and mauled human beings to death. It is reported that dog fighters often involve their children in their bloody activities, with severe damaging psychological impact. What a sin. What a sin. Studies have revealed that children exposed to dog fighting develop a greater acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behavior. They are taught to believe that violence -- violence -- is entertaining, and that it is OK to inflict the cruelties they have observed. Dog fighting, reports the Houston Chronicle, simply breeds violence.

Madam President, as a dog owner and a dog lover, I cannot even begin to understand how human beings can be so cruel to man's best friend. Over the centuries of time, these creatures of God have made a place in our hearts as well as in our homes. Dogs have endured as our devoted companions. They provide important emotional support to humans so that the mere petting of these social creatures can lower blood pressure in humans. Get that, Madam President? The mere petting of these social creatures can lower blood pressure in humans.

The affection that a dog provides is unlimited, unqualified, and unconditional. Ever the loyal companion, dogs protect us, assist those of us with afflictions, and provide hours of enjoyable companionship. Therefore, I take great satisfaction in knowing that if the people allegedly involved in this outrageous business are found guilty, they will have to answer to our judicial system -- and may God help their souls. Congress has made it a Federal crime to engage in dog fighting.

God, the one, eternal, everlasting God, made man caretaker of the Earth. God gave man the responsibility of tending to the natural world with dominion over animal life. We honor God when we treat all of his creatures responsibly and with decency and with respect.

The Book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible, King James Bible, tells us: [Page: S9569]

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

The immortal Dante tells us that Divine justice reserves special places in hell for certain categories of sinners. I am confident that the hottest places in hell are reserved for the souls of sick and brutal people who hold God's creatures in such brutal and cruel contempt.

I yield the floor.


Once more, you can hear his powerful speech on YouTube:

Part I

Part II

Part III


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About the Author

Robert C. Byrd is the senior senator of West Virginia, president pro tempore of the Senate, and the longest serving senator in US history.



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Published July 30, 2007