Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City has reported an increase in what are described as aggressive pit bulls or pit bull mixes coming into the shelters.
There are so many of these aggressive dogs filling the local shelters that other dogs must be sent elsewhere.
The numbers are alarming. Of the 566 stray dogs taken to the Humane Societyâ€™s shelter in 2005, 65% were pit bulls or mixes. 60% of that number were said to demonstrate aggression. About 20% of the pit bulls or mixes exhibited signs of fighting or abuse. All of the dogs that demonstrated aggression were euthanized.
According to local animal rescuers, breeders are to blame. Breeders breed the dogs for dog fights which are particularly prevalent in Jersey City. Also, people are said to buy pit bulls as a â€œstatus symbolâ€. They do not neuter them; they want the dogs to be â€œmeanâ€.
There are no regulations at all of breeders in Jersey City or the county, Hudson County.
In Jersey City it is not uncommon for people to put pits in abandoned buildings to breed and keep them. It is easy to make money from breeding aggressive dogs for dog fights. Pit bull puppies sell for $500-$600 or more, even as much as $1200 each. Many youth are attracted to this low overhead â€œbusinessâ€.
Animal control has removed a number of pits from abandoned buildings. The breeders or kids, really, keep them in such places to breed them. If there is no building available, sometimes the dogs are just tied up somewhere. They may be left tied there unless the escape or are bred. They are all almost always euthanized when impounded by animal control because of their aggressive behavior.
Recently, some breeders have been mixing pits with larger dogs like rottweilers or mastiffs. In that way they can produce larger dogs. Of course, they are all bred for the purpose of making them more aggressive.
New Jerseyâ€™s SPCA reports dog fighting is on the rise throughout New Jersey. The agency has identified dog fighting is occurring in every county. Along with dog fighting comes other forms of cruelty to these dogs. They are used as â€œbait dogsâ€. This means they are put into an enclosure with fighting dogs that attack them as a way to â€œwarm upâ€ for their fight.
Dogs used for fighting are usually chained or kept in cages in dark rooms and given little food. They have little or no human interaction and no love. They are bred to be aggressive, to fight.
The dogs are also tortured to make them mean. Dogs have been found with cigarette burns. One pit bull owner reportedly fed his dog gunpowder to make him mean. Of course, the dog died a painful death.
Dog fighting is illegal, of course, in New Jersey. Dog fighting is, in fact, a third degree felony for which an offender can face substantial prison time of 5 years for a first offense with fines up to $10,000.. N.J. Stat. Â§ 4:22-24
Violators usually do not face these penalties, however. There is a lesser penalty described in the animal cruelty statute for dog fighting of fines from $3,000-$5,000. N.J. Stat. Â§ 4:22-26 Offenders are usually convicted of some lesser offense, and most are required to perform community service instead of go to jail.
The SPCA has formed, though, a dog fighting task force, and there may be changes in the way law enforcement and judges deal with dog fighters .
That is not to say dog fighting is easy to prosecute. It exists in a netherworld that rarely comes to light unless there is an informant who is willing to testify in court. It is easy for perpetrators to shut down fights quickly and move locations. The dogs are sometimes just abandoned.
The canine victims of dog fights are dumped everywhere in Jersey City and throughout Hudson County. In Hoboken and Jersey City dogs can be placed in the household trash for pick up as long as they are packaged properly. Thatâ€™s a convenience for dog fighters.
Sadly, the local shelters may have provided a source of pits for breeders. Some shelters do not require spay/neuter before releasing them for adoption. It is a matter of cost, of course. The Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City which takes in all strays there does, however, spay/neuter all animals placed for adoption.
The local shelters are also where most of the dogs used for breeding aggressive pits and fighting end up. If they are not euthanized for aggression, these dogs take quite some time to place. People are afraid of these dogs which in decades past were considered the ideal family pet.
These pit bulls and pit bull mixes have been bred to be dangerous. Gangs and others have demanded mean dogs as â€œstatus symbolsâ€. Dog fighters have been willing to pay substantial sums for aggressive fighting dogs.
If not abandoned on the streets or in the trash, these â€œstatus symbolâ€ or fighting dogs, these sentient beings, will likely die in a cage in a shelter. They will never have known what it is to be a dog, to chase a ball, to run and play, to swim or lie in the sun.