We hear it all the time, and most likely so have you. It seems anymore, that every dog that comes in with injuries, especially a bully breed dog, is automatically assumed to have been used as Bait.
You might be thinking "What is wrong with that?"
Well we are here to shed a little light on the topic, and hopefully reduce the overused label of "Bait Dog" in the rescue/shelter/advocate/general, community.
So what is a Bait dog anyway?
Well, it is said that dogs used for bait (and really not just dogs but cats as well) are used to build a fighting dogs confidence. Sometimes these dogs are said to have their teeth filed down or pulled out, others duct taped about the mouth, and some just thrown into the fray, in the belief that this will make the other dog better able to gain fighting skills.
We are not debating the fact that there are dogs who have survived horrible circumstances in Dog Fighting rings, both as dogs that have been fought for profit as well as those that have been placed in the ring with other dogs and have been encouraged to fight.
What we are debating is the percentage of situations where this is actually the case,vs the percentage of situations where it is assumed to be the case.
When a dog comes into our rescue, their history is often unknown. We don't know exactly who had them, how many places they have been, what kinds of homes they were in, how many other dogs shared the space or if they were ever allowed to wander loose around the neighborhood.
some things to consider when you see a dog with injuries -
- Breaking out of a kennel or crate - this can often cause injuries to the face and legs. Depending on how exactly the dog broke free, soft tissue could have become caught on broken wire and ripped as the dog attempted to free itself. The front of the body might have punctures from the crate wires or scrapes along face, chest, legs and sides.
- A Rock Chewer - dogs who chew on rocks and pebbles or other items with a porous surface can result in teeth that are worn and appear to be filed down. Breaking out of fences and crates could also result in injury to teeth and the need to have some teeth pulled.
- Fighting or Scrapping in a Multi-Dog household - let's face it, sometimes dogs get into arguments when they live together, maybe because one put their nose in the others dog bowl, maybe because there was a toy they both wanted, or perhaps something got them all riled up and they redirected onto each other. These injuries would of course be consistent with Dog fighting or baiting but not the result of professional dog fighters.
- Stray dog - Stray dogs can get themselves into all sorts of situations and may scrap with other strays in the area or become caught on a good number of items that can result in ripping of soft tissue.
- Animal Abuse - people are cruel, and duct taping a dog's mouth shut might be for a number of reasons, a makeshift muzzle, the dog won't stop barking, and so on.
- Street fighting - There are many degrees of dog fighting and sometimes, two kids can let their dogs go at each other to prove a point, to earn bragging rights or even to make some quick cash. This can result in damage to the dogs, but neither of the dogs are being used as bait. Loosing dogs may be left behind.
- Over correction by adult dogs - Many injuries that I see listed as a result of being used as bait, especially in young puppies, could actually be a case of an adult dog over correcting and not using bite inhibition when doing so.
- Fence Fighting - neighboring dogs or enclosed and not enclosed dog fighting through a fence or kennel can result in damage to the soft tissue of the face including that tissue being ripped or torn off.
Fights happen, and sometimes they are accidental, sometimes they are orchestrated by professional dog fighters, sometimes young adults or kids might grab up a few dogs and try their hand at amateur dog fighting on street corners or in parks, sometimes it is the result of an upset in a multi-dog home, sometimes it is not fight related at all and injuries are obtained in a variety of other ways. The fact of the matter is, we are overusing a VERY emotional and ugly activity/word in situations where we do not have the facts to prove it.
Yes, there might be some instances where rescues and shelters are using the term to gain support, donations, and publicity for the dogs in their care, but there are also many instances of people who do not know the breed, do not know the circumstances and are just assuming that an injury is an indication that a dog has been used as bait.
The problem with this is that not only are we continuously reintroducing the act of baiting out into the general public, but we are also inadvertently introducing the concept to those young adults and kids who may then be putting it into action, especially in areas and communities where these activities might be the norm. The general public looks to shelters and rescues and other animal professionals to provide them with accurate information, the latest trends in training and animal care, as well as being an example of how to advocate for the breed. We need to make sure that we are advocating responsibly.
Yes, there are cases of dog baiting, and it is horrible and outrageously cruel and it can ruin many lives. Please though, make sure your information is factual, that it is not assumed, before you put it out into the public.