Reportages| All reportages

PITTBULLS: fight dogs

Napoli, it's warm. Unbelievably warm. Outside a street level one-room apartment, a barefoot kid is playing with a dog. He pulls its ears. The pittbull is 4 years old and has not resisted to the first fight. This fight is called "the trial" and is made to test how aggressive the dog is, or is not. In the backyard, in the court of a building that looks more like an abandoned place than anything else (and that has been considered unfit for use since 1980s, after the earthquake), there are some places in which dogs are kept. The access is through an hole in the wall.

Once you step in you'll find rooms, courts, balconies. Even the altar for a saint's icon is used to keep a dog, trapped between the bars of an holy fence.
All around me there's no richness. Not of any kind. The more I get in this parallel, dark and unknown world, the more cruelty and and violence jump out continuously, in a strange balance that leds to no contraddition or scandal, together with scenes of daily lives and beauty. A perfect summary of all this is a tattoo of one of the main characters of this story: a knife and a butterfly. 

Contrasts are not something shocking for Naples, a city that is able to look at them without even noticing, a city in which opposites live together. Antiquity and modernity, inner and outer realities, holiness and paganism, popular scenarios and high culture, old ancient traditions and daily life. A father shows off his animal, holding his son. It looks like an hunting scene, it could have been an old noble's portrait. The dogs' owners make them exercise for hours: hanging in the air biting a tyre, pulled up with huge ropes from the balconies, over the street. Teeth tightened until they can touch. But there's something more: and hand pulling the animal from the tail, lifting it above the street level.

Every dog feeling someone pulling from behind imediately leaves the catch. But so don't those dogs. They remain tense in both the directions. In a hidden corner, where no eyes can see him, Demon, a red nose pittbull, runs on a tapis-roulant engined with an old washing machine. But dogs are also kids' playmates. Kids that take part of the adults' orrifing game, playing grown-ups roles. Dogs are somehow part of the family and of the house and, like all the family members, they are both loved and trated badly. Man is a dog. Male fights, women give birth. One of the females holds her puppy, looking at you reluctantly. Human find in dogs brothers. Rage coming out from the pressure of an existence lived at the border between illegal and legal, fearing jail, and always looking for status symbol (here the unnecessary becomes the necessity), makes people burst out with their animal instincts to dominate the weaker ones. Aggressiveness explodes with violence against the others. Men and dogs live in fear. And sometimes also the punishments are the same ones: dogs' jail becomes a place in the local zoo, that lends cages to the court. Waiting for a trial.