In the rural areas, there is a long list of social evils that need to be taken to the cleaners: one of them is dogfighting. The culture of dogfighting has existed for long in this part of the Potohar region. It is a sport that involves making dogs fight – at times even until death. It has been practiced since the domestication of animals. However, it gained popularity in medieval times for the entertainment of landlords and as a means to show off strength. Though the practice continues to date, it is a banned sport in most countries including Pakistanwhere, apparently, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has never been implemented. It is interesting to mention that despite being a banned sport, several important political personalities and local landlords are involved in this extremely cruel and inhumane practice.
According to insiders, during the event, dogs are given five to 15 minutes to win or lose the fight. The owners also have the option to leave the dogs fighting till one of them completely bogs down. During the fighting, none of the party cares if their dog is bleeding or dying. If the dog gets defeated, his master loses all respect for it and the animal would either be given to someone or become a stray dog. When the dog is declared the winner, those who favour it resort to aerial firing and celebrate fervently.When this correspondent asked Billo Shah, the owner of a dog, what he could get from a dogfight, he said: ?It?s great fun. For a good dogfight I can sacrifice not only all the resources that I have but also even my life.? The fighter dogs have to go through serious training which includes taking a healthy diet and rigorous exercise. ?In this regard, the amount spent on such a dog is between Rs8,000 and Rs16,000.? Trainer Malik Izram, who considers his dogs as pets, said: ?I feed them two litres of milk with around one kg food in the morning, and then they are given two kg mutton with carrots, turnips, cauliflower and lintels.? Talking about breeds, the trainer, who has been raising fighting dogs for the past 20 years, said the breeds included cocker spaniel, greyhound, col lie, Dalmatian, Pekingese, Alsatian, poodle and Scotch terrier.
It has been learnt that not only owners but also other people who are habitual gamblers bet thousands of rupees on the fighting dogs and encourage cheering crowds to do the same to help them earn more in case their dog takes the field. Those who also come to view the dogfights also gamble.
It is relevant to mention that such dogs are ferocious and keeping them in public areas can also lead to dangerous situations causing grievous harm to humans. Talking to this reporter, Amir Yaqoob Advocate said Article 289 of the Pakistan Penal Code states: ?Whoever, knowingly or negligently, omits to take such order with any animal in his possession as is sufficient to guard against any probable danger to human life, or any probable danger of grievous hurt from such animal, shall be punished with imprisonment… or with fine… or with both.? However, despite the presence of such a law, the illegal practice of dogfighting continues. In this regard, Faisal Muneer Khan Advocate said making a dog fight is a punishable crime; therefore, any activities connected to dog fighting are, if not punishable, still illegal.
Asim Mir, president of a local NGO, the Voice, said according to law, any person inciting any animal to fight or baiting any animal or aiding or abetting any such incitement of baiting can be punished with fine which may extend to Rs100. ?Isn?t it a cruel joke, considering the brutality to which the animals are exposed and the huge money bet on this sport,? he said. He suggested that the government should increase the fine to curb this social evil.