ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A five-year-old pit bull died over the weekend, the bloody climax to a three-hour-long dog fight.
There were no tears when Killa dropped cold on the concrete floor – instead there were cries on elation; someone was walking away with a $2,000 purse.
Sundays are dog-fighting days in this suburban area of Antigua & Barbuda and the kennel competitors are bred to reap financial rewards for their masters.
“They raise them for that you know,” one onlooker, who spoke to OBSERVER Media on the strict condition that his name would not be revealed, explained.
Killa, who got his name and reputation after defeating many competitors, had his last fight on Sunday. The owner repeatedly said age got the better of the beast.
A pit bull pup is a prized possession here; one can sell for as much as EC $1,500 when only a few months old.
“But it’s worth it, believe me they make it back,” said our source who has knowledge of the running of fighting camps.
Dog fighting is big business too. “They bet on them. People who are watching can bet too if they (allow) you. One bet can go for about EC $300 and depending on who is involved the winner can get maybe EC $10,000.”
There is a new dog fighting champion in town but his success may be short-lived. Come next Sunday another fight is due and another dog will die.
“They fight till they die; that is the only way to really say who wins,” our source said.
He explained and OBSERVER received independent confirmation that dog fighting is common in the country, with about five known locations spanning the entire island.
Yes, there is concern but a local veterinary doctor said after advocating for more than 10 years without receiving support, he refused to go on record.
“We’ve been receiving reports for the last six or more years but people call after the fact but after the fact what can be done?
“I don’t want to say anything … It is inhumane, but just saying something about the inhumane nature of it will not change anything,” the well-known doctor said.
Dog fighting is illegal in Antigua & Barbuda although at times it is done in the open, in full public glare.
Ownership of a pit bull, or of a mongrel cross between a pit bull and another species of dog, is illegal.
However despite well-known dog fighting rings, police say individuals are hesitant to come forward with information.
“We have not gotten reports lately of dog fighting. We have not been getting official reports of dog fighting. If things come to us where we can get the evidence we can pursue them,” said Superintendent of Police Nuffield Burnette
“It’s not a case where we don’t think its happening. We will pursue it like any other crime but would urge the public to come forward with information,” he added.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)