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Animal rights groups rally against dog fighting game

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Dog Wars

The video game industry has come under fire for violence before, but a new line has been crossed by a controversial mobile game.

Dog fighting, which is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, is now a free Google Android video game from start-up developer Kage Games.

Their title, Dog Wars, involves the feeding, training, and fighting of virtual dogs. Gameplay elements include injecting dogs with steroids, shocking them with electric collars, betting on dog fights, and shooting at police officers with guns during busts.

"Anything that in any way appears to promote or condone the serious, violent crime of dog fighting is cause for concern," says Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of ASPCA Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects. "This 'game' comes at a time when public outrage and law enforcement concern about dog fighting is at an all-time high, and the public should make this outrage known to those who promote it."

According to a recent survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 81 percent of the general population say that more resources are necessary to stop animal fighting, particularly training for law enforcement. And more than half of the survey respondents are aware of the connection between organized animal fighting and other serious crimes.

Dog fighting remains a multi-million dollar illegal industry across the country -- and to animal rights groups, a game based on such an activity is anything but okay.

A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) spokesperson said that the organization's preliminary conversation with Google didn't convince the company to do the right thing and pull the game, so they're asking compassionate people to write to Google CEO Larry Pope to express their disgust over the company's promotion of this blood sport.

The tight-knit animal rescue community has already catapulted a web petition to nearly 10,000 signatures in just a few days. PETA has also just released its own free iPhone app allowing animal lovers to rally around "action alerts" like the Android Dog Wars game.

Even embattled NFL star Michael Vick, who served 19 months in a federal penitentiary for his involvement in a Hampton, Virginia dog fighting ring, has sounded off against the new game.

"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."

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