Pakistan`s canine fighters forced into blood sport

Thousands of wealthy Pakistanis use the quiet winter months to indulge a passion for bloody bulldog fights.

Tangdhe Sayedan (Pakistan): Fighting can be a
way of life in parts of Taliban-scourged Pakistan, but on the
farms it is more likely to be dogs that are in training for
their own violent and bloody battles.

Officially banned by the government and condemned as
cruel by animal rights groups, thousands of wealthy Pakistani
farmers, landowners and businessmen use the quiet winter
months to indulge a passion for bloody bulldog fights.

"I love Moti just like my kids. He`s a source of pride,"
crowed a jubilant Malik Tassaduq Hussain after his dog won a
fight in Tangdhe Sayedan, a village in Punjab province, 110
kilometres east of Islamabad.

To the din of drum beats and flutes, men hoisted Moti
onto their shoulders, danced through the crowds and showered
the animal with banknotes after thousands watched him bite and
tear his way to victory on a secluded plateau.

In villages such as these, fights between bulldogs, known
as "booly" in Punjabi, provide one of the few forms of
entertainment while crops grow.

The rules are brutally simple: the dogs fight until one
bleeds to death, runs off, or until the owner takes pity and
withdraws the animal from battle, handing the opponent

Winning owners can get small prizes such as trophies,
cell phones, or televisions while some organisers give prize
money ranging from 5,000 rupees (USD 55) to 100,000 rupees,
depending on what the organisers can afford.

"We organise these festivals because we love dog fights.
Every organiser chooses his own or associates` land in the
village to stage these fights. It`s a hobby of the powerful,"
said Abdul Ghaffar, a local organiser.

A champion like Moti, whose name means Pearl, costs
hundreds of dollars a month in food and requires extensive
training before the annual fighting season, which runs from
late September to late March.

Hussain explains Moti`s complicated, and expensive diet.
"We give him two litres of milk, one kilogram of meat,
butter and a supplement of an apple everyday. It costs us
50,000 rupees (USD 548) every month," said the 59-year-old

"Half my family is settled in Britain and my brother, who
is a lawyer over there, gives me money to feed the dog and
keep our family`s honour."

Moti is two years old but spent a year training for his
first fight, running behind a motorcycle for more than 20
kilometres a day, Hussain said.