Dog Fighting 2

Dogfighting Is A Felony. Dogfighting is a “contest” in which two dogs—bred, conditioned and trained to fight—are placed in a pit to fight each other for spectators’ entertainment and gambling. The fight ends when one of the dogs will not or cannot continue. Bait animals, which are often puppies, cats, and stolen pets, are tied up and used to train fighting dogs. Dogfights serve as a host to gang activity, illegal gambling as well as drug abuse and dealing, and it contributes to the destruction of neighborhoods. Dogfighting—including fighting, watching or participating in any way—is a felony in many states.. The HSUS estimated that in 2007: • Approximately 250,000 dogs were placed in fighting pits nationwide nor counting animals used as bait animals (often stolen pets, kittens and puppies used to train.) • Approximately 40,000 people were involved in organized dogfighting and an additional 100,000 were involved as street-level fighters

Dogfights serve as a host to gang activity, illegal gambling as well as drug abuse and dealing, and it contributes to the destruction of neighborhoods.

Despite the laws, dogfighting is big business. Goodwin said it’s impossible to estimate the amount of money involved, but the purse for a top-level professional fight could be $100,000.

“There are about a dozen underground dogfighting magazines, and about half a dozen … registries that are exclusively used by either dogfighters or people that are fighting dog enthusiasts,” Goodwin said. “You have an organized infrastructure for what is a criminal industry.”

Issues specific to dogfighting cases:

Canine victims usually suffer ongoing neglect and cruelty during the “training” process. They are often: forced to wear heavy chains and run on treadmills; left outside without shelter; fed steroids to increase muscle mass; fed stimulants to make them aggressive in a fight; fed narcotics so they don’t feel pain in a fight; starved to make them aggressive or so they can “make weight” in a contract fight; and subjected to cruel amateur ear cropping and treatment for fighting injuries. Females may be confined in “rape boxes” for breeding.

Trainers may viciously kill dogs who refuse to fight or who lose fights. Killing methods include shooting, hanging, drowning and electrocution. In the “dog man’s” world, the credo is “Breed the best and bury the rest.”

Trainers ruthlessly acquire animals to use as live bait. Acquisition methods include fraudulently acquiring dogs or cats from shelters or via “free to a good home” ads, setting up a sham rescue organization, or outright pet theft. The bait animals are often attacked and torn apart during training.


Some handlers may lace their dog’s coat with poison or paralytics to harm the opponent.
Innocent people may become terrorized, fearing for themselves, their children or their pets because of criminal activity among neighbors and their vicious dogs who might get loose.

In rural areas, fights are often staged in barns or outdoor pits; in urban areas, fights may occur in garages, basements, warehouses, abandoned buildings, back alleys, neighborhood playgrounds, or in the streets. Dog fights usually last until one dog is declared a winner, which occurs when one dog fails to scratch, one dog dies, or one dog jumps out of the pit. The loser, if not killed in the fight, is typically killed by the owner through a gun, beatings, or torture, in fights run by criminal gangs in the U.S.  However, sometimes dog fights end without declaring a winner. For instance, the dog’s owner may call the fight. 

Dog fighting generates revenue from stud fees, admission fees and gambling. It is also a felony in all 50 U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. In addition, the federal U.S. Animal Welfare Act makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly sell, buy, possess, train, transport, deliver, or receive any dog for purposes of having the dog participate in an animal fighting venture. The act also makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly use the mail service of the United States Postal Service or any instrumentality of interstate commerce for commercial speech for purposes of advertising a dog for use in an animal fighting venture, promoting or in any other manner furthering an animal fighting venture except as performed outside the limits of the States of the United States. Worldwide, several countries have banned dog fighting, but it is still legal in some countries like Japan, Honduras, and parts of Russia.

European history

Blood sports in general can be traced back to the Roman Empire In 13 B.C., for instance, the ancient Roman circus slew 600 African beasts Likewise, under Emperor Claudius’s reign, as spectators cheered, 300 bears and 300 Libyan beasts were slain in the Colosseum. Dog fighting, more specifically, can also be traced to ancient Roman times. In 43 AD, for example, dogs fought alongside the Romans and the British in the Roman Conquest of Britain. In this war, the Romans used a breed that originated from Greece called Molossus; the Britons used broad-mouth Mastiffs, which were thought to descend from the Molossus bloodline and which also originated from Greece. Though the British were outnumbered and ultimately lost this war, the Romans were so impressed with the English Mastiffs that they began to import these dogs for use in the Colosseum, as well as for use in times of war. While spectators watched, the imported English Mastiffs were pitted against animals such as wild elephants, lions, bears, bulls, and gladiators.

In 1817,  Staffordshire Bull Terriers were brought to America and dog fights became a part of the American culture. However, chronicled records of dog fighting can be found back to the 1750s. It was not until the finish of the Civil War (1861–1865) that across the board intrigue and interest in the blood sport started in the United States. For example, in 1881, the Mississippi and Ohio railways publicized extraordinary tolls to a dog fight in Louisville at taverns, such as Kit Burns’ Tavern. “The Sportman’s Hall,” in Manhattan frequently facilitated matches. A large number of puppies tossed into the “proficient pits” that prospered amid the 1860s, originated from England and Ireland—where subjects had taken to dog fighting when bear-goading and bull-baiting gotten to be distinctly illicit in their nations. In twentieth century America, despite the expansion of laws to outlaw dog fighting, dog fighting continued to flourish underground.

 Aiding in the expansion of dog fighting were the police and firemen, who saw dog fighting as a form of entertainment amongst their ranks. In fact, the Police Gazette served as a “go to” source for information about where one could attend a fight. When Henry Bergh, who started the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), witnessed police involvement in these fights, he was motivated to seek and receive authority for the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents to have arresting power in New York. Additionally, Bergh’s 1867 revision to New York’s animal cruelty law made all forms of animal fighting illegal. However, According to the ASPCA website, the Humane Law Enforcement department of ASPCA has been disbanded and NYPD has taken over its duty. As laws were passed to outlaw the activity, high-profile organizations, such as the United Kennel Club, who once endorsed the sport by formulating rules and sanctioning referees, withdrew their endorsement.

On July 8, 2009, the ASPCA also participated in one of the largest federal dog fighting raids in U.S. History. Most of the dogs rescued were pit bulls (over 400 of them). This raid took place in eight states and had 26 arrests, of which 2 defendants are required to spend at least 10 years in prison.

Types of dog fighters
Street fighters

Often associated with gang activity, street fighters fight dogs over insults, turf invasions, or simple taunts like “my dog can kill your dog.”[3] These type of fights are often spontaneous; unorganized; conducted for money, drugs, or bragging rights; and occur on street corners, back alleys, and neighborhood playgrounds.[3] Urban street fighters generally have several dogs chained in back-yards, often behind privacy fences, or in basements or garages.[2] After a street fight, the dogs are often discovered by police and animal control officers either dead or dying.[3] Due to the spontaneity of a street fight, they are very difficult to respond to unless reported immediately.[3]

Hobbyists and professionals often decry the techniques street fighters use to train their dogs. Such techniques include starving, drugging, and physically abusing the dog.


Hobbyists fight dogs for supplemental income and entertainment purposes. They typically have one or more dogs participating in several organized fights and operate primarily within a specific geographic network. Hobbyists are also acquainted with one another and tend to return to predetermined fight venues repeatedly.


Professional fighters breed generations of skilled “game dogs” and take a great pride in their dogs’ lineage. These fighters make a tremendous amount of money charging stud fees to breed their champions, in addition to the fees and winnings they collect for fighting them. They also tend to own a large number of dogs—sometimes 50 or more. Professionals also use trade journals, such as Your Friend and Mine, Game Dog Times, The American Warrior, and The Pit Bull Chronicle, to discuss recent fights and to advertise the sale of training equipment and puppies. Some fighters operate on a national or even international level within highly secret networks. When a dog is not successful in a fight, a professional may dispose of it using a variety of techniques such as drowning, strangulation, hanging, gunshot, electrocution or some other method. Sometimes professionals and hobbyists dispose of dogs deemed aggressive to humans to street fighters.

Gang and criminal activities

Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. While dog fighting statutes exist independently of general anti-cruelty statutes and carry stiffer penalties than general state anti-cruelty statutes, a person can be charged under both or can be charged under one, but not the other—depending on the evidence. In addition to felony charges for dog fighting, forty-eight states and the District of Columbia, have provisions within their dogfighting statutes that explicitly prohibit attendance as a spectator at a dogfighting exhibition. Since Montana and Hawaii do not have such provisions, a person can pay an entrance fee to watch a dog-fight in either state and not be convicted under these statutes. Additionally, forty-six states, and the District of Columbia, make possessing, owning or keeping a fighting dog a felony.

While dog fighting was previously seen as isolated animal welfare issues—and therefore rarely enforced, the last decade has produced a growing body of legal and empirical evidence that has revealed a connection between dog-fighting and other crimes within a community, such as organized crime, racketeering, drug distribution, and/or gangs.[2] Within the gang community, fighting dogs compete with firearms as the weapon of choice; indeed, their versatile utility arguably surpasses that of a loaded firearm in the criminal underground. Drug dealers distribute their illicit merchandise, wagers are made, weapons are concealed, and the dogs mutilate each other in a bloody frenzy as crowds cheer on.[2] Violence often erupts among the usually armed gamblers when debts are to be collected and paid.[2] There is also a concern for children who are routinely exposed to dogfighting and are forced to accept the inherent violence as normal. The routine exposure of the children to unfettered animal abuse and neglect is a major contributing factor in their later manifestation of social deviance.[2]

Animal welfare and rights

Animal advocates consider dog fighting to be one of the most serious forms of animal abuse, not only for the violence that the dogs endure during and after the fights, but because of the suffering they often endure in training.

According to a filing in U.S. District Court in Richmond by federal investigators in Virginia, which was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and published by the Baltimore Sun on July 6, 2007, a losing dog or one whose potential is considered unacceptable faces “being put to death by drowning, strangulation, hanging, gun shot, electrocution or some other method”. Some of the training of fighting dogs may entail the use of small animals (including kittens) as prey for the dogs.

U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. said in a statement provided to ASPCA:

“These dogs lived in deplorable conditions that constituted extraordinary cruelty. They were made to fight and if they lost, they were killed. In addition to the brutality experienced by the dogs, these events attracted drugs dealers and illegal gambling. It was not uncommon for large amounts of cash, often between twenty and two-hundred thousand dollars, to change hands. The prospect of huge profits made these fights even more popular and provided a venue for other criminal activity. I hope that these sentences demonstrate the seriousness of this crime and will deter others from committing these atrocities.”

To review the laws in each state go to:





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