My readers know that I’m dedicated to writing thrillers that are believable as well as exciting. My plots are always at least theoretically possible. Very often, the things I learn about inform the fiction in my books. This was the case when I was writing Full Metal Jack. I can’t wait to hear what you think!
As you might have guessed – I love dogs! Apart from making wonderful companions, dogs are often the unsung heroes involved in solving many mysteries. Sadly, there are those who like to take advantage of the very traits that make dugs such great companions, which is their loyalty and protective tendencies.
There are few villains more appalling than one who abuses animals. I’m sure you agree. So when I wanted to create a scene to kick off Full Metal Jack to show how despicable the villain is, dogfighting came to mind.
Despite being a felony in all 50 states, dogfighting is an all too common and illicit criminal activity that occurs throughout the country in a variety of forms. Uncovering dogfighting rings is both dangerous and difficult to monitor. According to the Humane Society’s estimates, there are likely 250,000 dogs and 40,000 people involved in these illicit activities nationwide. These operations often involve extensive underground networks composed of breeders, trainers, and transporters.
Secret internet forums and messaging apps are used, too. In some cases, advertisements are posted in public forums using cryptic language. Fights are also strategically planned in abandoned houses, or select neighborhoods where late-night traffic and noise are not suspect. Code words are required before being allowed to watch a fight. Dogs are often transported to different locations to avoid raising suspicion. All of these tactics make it very challenging for law enforcement to find these fights and shut them down.
Dogfighting rings are associated with other illegal activities such as gambling and drug trafficking. In some cases, dogs are trained not only to fight but to protect drugs or to fend off rivals. While fights are sometimes carefully staged events, they may also occur spontaneously. These dogs are trained to be very aggressive towards other dogs and may attack one on the street or in some cases even jump a fence to do so.
Pit bulls are prized in dogfighting rings for their loyalty and strength. These dogs are often raised in isolation and are trained using a variety of techniques to build strength and encourage aggressive behavior. Some are given steroids to increase muscle mass. Cropped ears and tails, along with multiple scars are often telltale signs of dogfighting.
In 2018, footage of two pit bulls fighting in a Florida dogfighting operation led to the indictment of eight people on federal dogfighting charges. The individuals were part of a large dogfighting ring in north Florida. The ring, which operated from 2014 – 2019, was discovered by federal agents while conducting a drug trafficking investigation. The sting resulted in nearly 100 dogs being rescued.