You are the owner of this article.

COLUMN: We can’t let dog fighting go on under our noses

Severo Avila

Severo Avila is Features Editor at the Rome News-Tribune.

Last week we learned of more than 100 dogs being chained up in the woods.

Many were underfed, their ribs protruding. Some could manage to reach a crude shelter if their chains allowed it. Those were the lucky ones who got a brief respite from the heat or the rain. Many could not.

Some had access to food and fresh water. Many did not.

I don’t know the reason they were all being kept out there, chained to trees and barking helplessly for food or water or attention or because they were cold or hot or getting rained on.

We can speculate that they were being bred and/or trained to fight or they were being kept as bait dogs used to train fighting dogs.

Whatever the reason, the exposure of these particular recent cases is probably just a drop in the bucket. There may be several other similar large-scale operations happening all around us.

If you have reason to believe that a similar operation is going on near you, I urge you to report it. That’s not to say that y’all need to be calling the police every time your neighbors’ dogs start barking.

But if you are legitimately concerned that dogs are being neglected or abused (not just for fighting), then please alert the authorities.

The man who had these poor dogs shackled to heavy chains in the woods is now facing felony charges connected with dog-fighting. And I hope if he is indeed the one responsible for the condition these dogs were in that they make an example of him.

My granny would say “I hope they put him UNDER the jail.”

And yes, I do attribute equal guilt to anyone who would condone, support or defend someone who treats animals this way.

If you know anyone who collects dogs to be used as bait dogs, please report it. If you know someone who is breeding dogs to fight, please report it.

If you know someone who fights dogs, please report it.

By nature, domesticated dogs are trusting and loyal and courageous. WE have bred aggression into them. WE have mistreated them and neglected them. Whatever faults we find in them, WE have put there.

You don’t have to be a dog lover or an animal rights activist to see that no creature should be kept in these conditions.

I watched the video that Polk County authorities captured and shared when they arrived at the properties and found all these dogs. Many of you shared the video on social media and it was covered extensively by local media.

If you saw that video and weren’t moved to pity for those poor dogs, then there is no humanity in you.

I have friends who live in Rockmart who opened their home to foster one of the many dogs that were recently seized in Polk County. She’s a small, black dog who looks like she’s a pitbull or at least a pit bull mix.

Despite being neglected for however long she had been chained to a tree in the woods (or perhaps because of it), she immediately warmed to my friend’s family.

She immediately showered them with affection. She is as sweet a dog as you could ask for. And if Polk County authorities hadn’t found her on that property when they did, she may have been just another dead dog on a chain in the woods.

I don’t claim to be the most eloquent writer and I know there are those whose power to craft words is far superior to mine. So, I tried to find where someone else has expressed my thoughts better than I have. This came close:

Author Matthew Scully said

“Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind’s capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don’t; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us.”

I’m not appealing to those people who are at this very moment fighting dogs or breeding dogs to fight. If they don’t already feel terrible for the way those dogs are treated then nothing I can say will change their way of thinking. If the money or prestige or power or whatever they get out of mistreating animals is so great, then my little words can’t possibly have an effect on them.

I’m appealing to the rest of you — to decent human beings. If you know or suspect that animals are being abused or neglected, please do something about it. We cannot save every animal. Even I am not so naive as to think we can do that. But we can save a few.

Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune.