Virtual dogfighting smartphone game creating controversy

Three dogs Angel Dog Acres says is availible for adoption. People who are interested can call 843.877.6467. / Shadasia Tyler

Violence is not uncommon in video games, TV shows, movies, or smartphone games these days, but one application is causing quite a bit of controversy amongst animal rights activists.

The application is called K.G. Dogfighting, and has more than 450 reviews, and a 4 out of 5 star rating. It costs $4.99 and has a content rating of "high maturity."

The game has messages from supporters and detractors on it's website.

"As an animal lover I disagree with the content in this game but as a game fan I say keep the game up! Every time some one gets upset about a game it has gotten so easy to throw a big enough fit to have it changed or development stopped Every time a developer backs down games take a small step back." one supporter wrote.

Another supporter wrote, "This game could help those type of people that want to do harm. It also gives them an avenue to let there sick rational out without hurting anything. I personally appreciate your willingness to keep these people entertained in a virtual environment."

Almost everyone Newschannel 15 spoke with on this story thought there shouldn't be any application like this at all.

"I do not think it's something that we need to be encouraging out children to do, our teenagers or anyone. Something that is so cruel and so senseless," Karen Lemon.

"It's sickening, really just sickening," said Angel Dog Acres Rescue founder Elanie Tirmenstein.

Developer Kage games says the application raises awareness of illegal dogfighting. In the game, players train by injecting dogs with steroids, restricting their food or water, and teaching them how to fight by practicing attacks on smaller dogs, called "bait dogs."

Tirmenstein says while it's hard to tell for sure, two dogs in her care show visible signs of being bait dogs like clipped and bitten ears. She adds that when she got both of them, they had cuts on their faces and bodies that have now scared over.

Tirmenstein thinks the game will just entice more people to give illegal dog fighting a try.

"I think it makes it seem like it is ok," she says.

"I think dog fighting is one of the hardest things that we hear about in the industry," Kelly Banome with Horry County Animal Care says. "But you're still going to have to evaluate those animals on a case by case basis."

Banome says she can't recall receiving any dogs that showed signs of being dogfighting dogs in recent memory. She adds if they did, the animal would be tested for temperament and health.

While dogfighting remains illegal, there is no punishment for a game or application depicting that. South Carolina ranks 41st in punishment for dogfighters.

According to the U.S. Humane Society, a dogfighting felony carries a maximum punishment of 5 years in jail or $5,000. Being a spectator to a dogfight is a misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of 6 months and $500. Owning dogfighting dogs is a felony that carries a maximum punishment of 5 years and $5,000.