Dogfighting Fact Sheet
1. What is dogfighting?
Dogfighting is a sadistic "contest" in which two
dogs—specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to
fight—are placed in a pit (generally a small arena enclosed
by plywood walls) to fight each other, for the spectators'
gambling and entertainment. Fights average nearly an hour in
length and often last more than two hours. Dogfights end
when one of the dogs is no longer willing or able to
continue. In addition to these dogfights, there are reports
of an increase in unorganized, more spontaneous street
fights in urban areas.
2. How does it cause animal suffering?
The injuries inflicted and sustained by dogs participating
in dogfights are frequently severe, even fatal. The American
pit bull terriers used in the majority of these fights have
been specifically bred and trained for fighting and are
unrelenting in their attempts to overcome their opponents.
With their extremely powerful jaws, they are able to inflict
severe bruising, deep puncture wounds, and broken bones.
Dogs used in these events often die of blood loss, shock,
dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days
after the fight. Other animals are often sacrificed as well.
Some owners train their dogs for fights using smaller
animals such as cats, rabbits, or small dogs. These "bait"
animals are often stolen pets or animals obtained through
"free to good home" advertisements.
3. Are there other concerns?
Yes. Numerous law enforcement raids have unearthed many
disturbing facets of this illegal "sport." Young children
are sometimes present at the events, which can promote
insensitivity to animal suffering, enthusiasm for violence,
and a lack of respect for the law. Illegal gambling is the
norm at dogfights. Dog owners and spectators wager thousands
of dollars on their favorites. Firearms and other weapons
have been found at dogfights because of the large amounts of
cash present. And dogfighting has been connected to other
kinds of violence—even homicide, according to newspaper
reports. In addition, illegal drugs are often sold and used
4. What other effects does the presence of dogfighting have
on people and animals in a community?
Dogs used for fighting have been bred for many generations
to be dangerously aggressive toward other animals. The
presence of these dogs in a community increases the risk of
attacks not only on other animals but also on people.
Children are especially at risk, because their small size
may cause a fighting dog to perceive a child as another
5. Why should dogfighting be a felony offense?
There are several compelling reasons. Because dogfighting
yields such large profits for participants, the minor
penalties associated with misdemeanor convictions are not a
sufficient deterrent. Dogfighters merely absorb these fines
as part of the cost of doing business. The cruelty inherent
in dogfighting should be punished by more than a slap on the
hand. Dogfighting is not a spur-of-the-moment act; it is a
premeditated and cruel practice.
Those involved in dogfighting go to extensive lengths to
avoid detection by law enforcement, so investigations can be
difficult, dangerous, and expensive. Law enforcement
officials are more inclined to investigate dogfighting if it
is a felony. As more states make dogfighting a felony
offense, those remaining states with low penalties will
become magnets for dogfighters.
6. Do some states already have felony laws?
Yes. Dogfighting is illegal in all 50 states and a felony
offense in almost every state.
7. Should being a spectator also be a felony?
Yes. Spectators provide much of the profit associated with
dogfighting. The money generated by admission fees and
gambling helps keep this "sport" alive. Because dogfights
are illegal and therefore not widely publicized, spectators
do not merely happen upon a fight; they seek it out. They
are willing participants who support a criminal activity
through their paid admission and attendance.