Dave Barry once made the observation that one should make a point of avoiding people who are nice to you, but rude to wait-staff and other service industry workers.
I heartily agree, mainly because I’ve known so many people who fit Mr. Barry’s description. I can think of at least one occasion when the individual I was dining with became so abusive to our server that I excused myself and walked out of the restaurant. I have neither seen nor spoken with the offending party since.
I have a second grouping whom I categorically avoid, and they are much, much worse than the first. That would be people who are cruel to animals.
No, I am not even tangentially comparing humans with animals. I’m attempting to comprehend the depths of human callousness and depravity.
Cruelty to animals goes back as far as human history. The Roman Empire raised animal cruelty to a gruesome art form. In the days when the Coliseum of Rome was the pop-culture center of the western world, animals were slaughtered by the thousands for the sheer enjoyment of its citizens. So were many people, of course, but our focus today is animals.
This penchant for watching the suffering of animals for purposes of entertainment seems not to have abated substantially since Caligula walked the earth.
High-profile examples involving dogs surface regularly. Most of us can remember the 2007 case of veteran NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who was embroiled in a long-term, inter-state dog-fighting ring. We all gasped and tsk, tsked in shock at Vick’s crimes. But when he went to prison we put him out of our minds. We shouldn’t have, because his tale was only a fraction of the story.
As you have read in The Daily Advance, a dogfighting ring of substantial size was broken up Feb. 5 in Pasquotank, Perquimans and Camden counties by a joint federal and local law enforcement task force. It is but another example of the understated efficiency of Pasquotank Sheriff Randy Cartwright and his department. The suspects were initially investigated for drug possession and distribution. That investigation coughed up the dog-fighting operation. The scale was overwhelming.
80 dogs — all pit bulls — were seized, along with industry-specific training paraphernalia and PEDs. Authorities believe that breeding, along with fighting were the twin focuses of the operation.
On Feb. 8 the same scenario went down in Charlotte. Twenty-seven dogs were confiscated, and two suspects are in custody.
In both instances neighbors said that they had no idea that massive dogfighting operations were going on, virtually in their own backyards. They heard no suspicious animal or crowd noises and nothing unusual or out of the ordinary was noted.
I’m not questioning anyone’s veracity, but I live adjacent to a fairly primordial swamp. It’s my experience that a pair of randy owls can result in sleeplessness. Perhaps I’m a light sleeper.
There are many reasons to develop selective hearing, of course. Fear of drug dealers could surely be one. Indifference could be another.
Dogfighting in this country is a billion-dollar pastime. That’s billion with a “B.” It is largely bankrolled by organized crime and promoted as “gentlemen’s” entertainment in both urban and rural settings. Expensive cigars, high-dollar cognac, free-flowing drugs and exorbitant wagers fuel this “game,” but are only a tiny part of its draw.
That’s because the real appeal is carnage on a level that most of us can scarcely imagine. The “contestants” are bred to be savage. Brutalized beyond belief, they are relentlessly beaten, subjected to electric shock and tethered to the kinds of heavy chains that are used to tow cars. These treatments are alleged to toughen them. “Bait” dogs and cats are scooped up out of our neighborhoods and literally fed — with their snouts duct-taped shut — to these brutes in order to increase their blood-lust to the proper levels.
The combats themselves are extraordinarily vicious, with the dogs often fighting to the death. The losers left standing are generally executed. It’s more expedient than fixing them. Vick’s method of choice was internal electrocution. The lucky ones are shot.
The “winners” are frequently too maimed to survive, so they suffer the same grisly fate as the losers.
I won’t mince words. Anyone who participates in this sickening slaughter — at any level — no longer qualifies for the designation “human,” in my opinion. To protect participants is to endanger your status as well.
We must somehow unite to abolish this barbarity. And not soon … now!
Bud Wright is a published author and Pasquotank County resident