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Dogfighting phone app called 'cruel,' 'sickening' by LAPD union chief [Updated]

April 25, 2011 | 11:21 am

The head of the Los Angeles police union said Monday that a dogfighting game application for cellphones should be yanked from the market because it glorifies illegal activity and promotes "cruel and immoral" behavior.

Paul M. Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said he was particularly concerned that the Dog Wars game created by Kage Games would be embraced by local gang members and encourage them to engage in dogfighting.

"It's sickening, absolutely sickening," Weber said. "They should take it down immediately. These animals are defenseless. It's absolutely the wrong message to send to our children."

The Dog Wars app for the Android smart phone operating system encourages players to "Raise your dog to beat the best" and allows players to train a virtual pit bull to fight other virtual dogs and build street cred that "puts money in your pocket and lets you earn more in fights."

The company's website notes that the game player has a "gun for police raids and can inject the dog with steroids."

The Humane Society of the United States also released a statement urging Android to drop Dog Wars from its applications and calling the game "a step backward."

The humane society and other animal rights groups have been trying to educate the public about the dangers of professional and street dogfighting in the wake of the federal conviction of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in connection with a dogfighting ring at his former Virginia residence. 

"Because Dog Wars actually instructs players on how to condition a dog using methods that are true to organized dogfighting, this game may be a training ground for young people to try the activity in the real world, encouraging cruelty to dogs and leading young people down a dead-end path," said Wayne Pacelle, the humane society's chief executive.

[Updated 1:30 p.m.: Michael Vick issued a statement Monday critical of Dog Wars. “I’ve come to learn the hard way that dog-fighting is a dead-end street,” Vick said in the statement. “Now, I am on the right side of this issue, and I think it’s important to send the smart message to kids, and not glorify this form of animal cruelty, even in an Android app.”]

An email to Kage Games was not immediately returned, but the creators have responded to criticism in an online statement, saying it is not illegal and other games on the video market include crime or killing as part of the gaming experience.

"Just because something is illegal in real life in certain countries, does not mean it is illegal to make a song, movie, or video game about it," company officials said in the statement.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

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