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St. Pete was just voted one of the dog-friendliest cities in the U.S. This “honor” is a disgrace. While millennials take their pups to dog bars and dog beaches, other dogs endure unspeakable acts of cruelty in this city every day. In the heart of this “dog-friendly” city, and in walking distance from luxury apartments, dogfighting is an uncomfortable and yet visible reality.
Residents and members of neighborhood associations who witness clear signs of dogfighting activities alert local authorities, only to be told that there is nothing that can be done, unless somebody calls 911 during an active fight and police are called at that same moment.
Clear signs of dogfighting activities are hoarding situations of pitbulls kept in cages and chained up in the backyard of single family residences in neighborhoods next to Tropicana Field. Even though those are clear violations of several of St Pete laws and ordinances, Animal Services says there is nothing they can do but to stop by and “ask” the owner to conform to the laws and respond to noncompliance with a written citation and a fine (which they have no problem paying, given the large amounts of money dogfighting generates). While they assure they are “aware of the situation,” nothing meaningful is being done.
A brief Google search brings horrifying information on the prevalence of dogfighting in St. Pete. Dogfighting is not hidden in this “dog-friendly” city. Social media provides an active platform for “fans” to communicate and organize dogfights. Dogs are kept in residential areas, close to schools, along school bus routes, without much effort to even hide them. We are teaching children growing up in our neighborhoods that this is normal and acceptable. The only thing Animal Services apparently can do is to stop at those houses, after residents alert them, and “ask” for code compliance. Needless to say, they might as well do nothing at all.
Please read this message as a cry for help from these voiceless dogs. Their lives are worth as much as the designer breeds visiting our parks, bars and beaches. On the occasion of St. Pete being voted one of the most dog-friendliest cities in the U.S., please draw attention to the many dogs enduring daily acts of cruelty in this city without much intervention from authorities.
Given the reality of many St. Pete pit bulls and of other small breeds who perish in anguish every day, St. Pete needs to rescind this “honor” until resources to stop dogfighting are mobilized and something meaningful and forceful is done to eradicate this from our city.
Accepting the title of most dog-friendly city is nothing more than an additional slap in the face, and a willful and cruel negation of the ongoing unspeakable suffering of countless St. Pete dogs.