On one hand, he rescues and rehabilitates dogs from dangerous environments for a living; on the other hand, he’s constantly front-and-center to one of the most violent, secretive fighting subcultures in America. This year alone, Rickey’s team busted 11 different rings across the country, spanning the Midwest, upstate New York and the heart of the Bible Belt. In 2013, he helped rescue 367 dogs from a ring in Montgomery, Alabama.
In the U.S., like most underground operations, it’s an extremely hush-hush environment: The number one rule about dog fighting is that you don’t talk about dog fighting.
Dog fighting, as a sport, can be traced back to the Roman Empire. After the Romans invaded Britain in 43 A.D., they became instantly impressed by the aggressiveness of the British fighting dogs.
Soon, British dogs were imported into Italy to be used in war and public entertainment. Large audiences would gather in Rome’s Colosseum to watch gladiator dogs fight against other animals — including, sometimes, wild elephants. After being crossbred with the Romans’ breed of fighting dogs, the new breeds were exported throughout western Europe, eventually finding their way back to Britain.
Shortly before the Civil War, the new British fighting dogs were imported into the U.S., where they were crossbred — again — to create the breed we know today as the American Pit Bull Terrier. Fighting became a popular spectator sport on the new continent, but most states outlawed it by the late 1860s. Still, it continued to spread in popularity throughout the world, eventually growing into the huge, underground business it is today. Read more…