The award-winning Knock Out Dog Fighting program today unveiled a new public service announcement (PSA) called “It IS Your Fight”.

The PSA stars WBA Super Middleweight Boxing Champion Andre Ward and aims to raise awareness about the fight to knock out dog fighting and the link between animal cruelty and domestic abuse. The PSA can be viewed here.

The Knock Out Dog Fighting program partners with schools, juvenile detention facilities, community centers, law enforcement agencies and gang prevention task forces with the goal of stopping cruelty and abuse by providing alternative activities and interests for young people. Team members include professional athletes, dog trainers, dancers, musicians, artists, and scientists who present information and involve under-served and gang-impacted youth in intriguing alternative activities to get them to stop fighting dogs, away from the gang life and to help them succeed in life.

Ward holds an undefeated record of 21-0 with 13 KOs as a professional boxer and has won more than 90 matches as an amateur, including the Gold Medal at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. As the only American boxer to claim Olympic gold in the past decade, Ward joined the likes of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya.

With more and more kids looking to professional athletes and celebrities as role models, Ward takes the responsibility of being a role model very seriously. He knows that because he is a professional athlete there is a child somewhere watching what he says and what he does. Ward knows his actions can impact lives.

“Because of my accomplishments, I have a platform, whether I like it or not, and there are young and older people looking at me saying, ‘Ok, you’ve accomplished these great things but what are you going to do with your platform?’” said Ward. “I plan to make a difference in the lives of others and bring awareness and knowledge to all who will listen about the cruelties of dog fighting and the link between those who abuse animals and those who abuse people.”

Dog fighting, and all the acts that go along with it – the brutality towards the dogs, the use of weaker animals as bait, the agony inflicted in the fighting pit, the execution-style killing of dogs – cannot be described by any reasonable person as anything less than horrific abuse.

“Unfortunately, many people don’t get involved in stopping dog fighting because they think ’it’s just a dog issue, why should I care?’”, said Knock Out Dog Fighting founder, Kris Crawford. “The mentality that it is just a dog issue and there are more important crimes to worry about – than stopping dog fighting – loses much credibility when such abuse is proven to be linked to serious and deadly criminal behavior towards humans.”

Cruel acts toward animals have long been recognized as indicators of a dangerous psychopathy that often claims more than animal victims. The FBI has recognized the connection since the 1970s, when its analysis of serial killers found that most had killed or tortured animals as children. “Murderers … very often start out by killing and torturing animals,” according to Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals don’t stop there—many of them move on to their fellow humans. The American Psychiatric Association considers cruelty to animals one of the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorder.

In fact, in a home where there is an animal abuser, more often than not there is also elder, spousal or child abuse going on. That’s why the Knock Out Dog Fighting program is so important – it helps stop the cycle of violence.

Andre Ward and the Knock Out Dog Fighting program are not only saving dogs, they are also helping our children and our communities. For more information about how you can join Andre Ward and his fight to stop cruelty and abuse, click here.

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