(Warning: This article contains graphic details of dogfighting and its effects on dogs.)
Dog fighting – Madness from the minds of men. There aren’t enough horrible words to describe someone who’s involved with this “blood sport.” It takes someone who is less than human to watch dogs perform such unnatural acts just for one’s pleasure, pocket, and ego.
Human beings are capable of doing unspeakable things, and dogfighting stands out among the most abhorrent. We present this article to you as education to inform or remind you that the industry still exists and have hopes that you’ll be spurred to take action to stop it.
But first things first. Take a few minutes to learn about dogfighting, where it happens, and what types of people participate in it. You’ll see that it’s often more than the dregs of society who lower themselves to be involved in this activity. And it will take honorable, devoted, and compassionate people to end it.
History of Dog Fights
It all started during the Roman Empire when they invaded Britain in 43 A.D. Although the Romans ended with the victory, the Brits had introduced them to especially ferocious battle dogs (trained to be, mind you).
The Romans began importing them not only to use during war times but to also entertain the masses. The Colosseum became the arena where man’s dark thirst for violence was satiated with animals fighting against each other.
By the 12th century, bears, wolves, and bulls were used in England – called bull baiting – to be slowly mauled to death by dogs for sport. The vicious spectacle was a favorite among the English nobility, but in the early 19th century, its popularity began to wane due to the costs and the focused determination of animal advocates. (source)
In 1835 when the British Parliament outlawed baiting, dogs fighting dogs to their deaths was cultivated as the cheaper and legal way to move forward. And then… the horrific practice crossed the pond.
Dogfighting became a popular sport in the US prior to the Civil War. Men strove to produce the biggest, baddest canine machine out there. (Few are sicker than the followers of this activity.) And the American pit bull terrier was bred by mixing bully breeds. Note: “Pit bull” is NOT a breed but a TYPE of dog.
So here we are. Still talking about dogfighting because it still exists all over the world though in some places more than others. The contents of this article might be hard to stomach, but spreading awareness trumps making people feel comfortable.
Facts About Dog Fighting
Dogfighters usually find their potential dogs at shelters, from the streets, by stealing them or raising them on their own. Dogs are scalded, choked, bitten, starved, partially drowned, cut, electrocuted, and any other depraved way you can think of to torture an animal in order to “make them mean.”
It’s impossible for these facts to land lightly on anyone with a conscience and a heart.
Here is some other notable information about dog fighting:
- In 2017, a BBC undercover investigation blew the lid off an international dogfighting network – from Eastern Europe to Wales.
- Dogfighting in America still remains hush-hush… It flies under the radar by being a clandestine activity and, as such, makes it extremely difficult to discover offenders.
- Tallahassee, FL – In 2019, an undercover video obtained by NBC News led to eight people being indicted on federal dogfighting charges.
- Participants and/or spectators of dogfighting have included blue- and white-collar workers, professional athletes, and law enforcement officers.
- The word “pit bull” was coined in the British Isles in the early 1800s using the word “pit” being taken from the areas where dogs fight and “bull” from bull baiting.
Fighting Dog’s Life Statistics
Fighting Dogs Undergo Horrific Training. (LCA)
The process involves starvation and beatings to increase anger and malice, excessive exercise to increase what the dogs can endure, and using small animals as bait to be killed. The mistreatment and abuse of these incredible creatures is something out of a nightmare. (ICA Animal)
The Time Period of a Single Dog Fight Can Last for Hours. (Humane Society)
These dogs – usually pit bull terrier-type dogs – are strong physically and mentally when it comes to the desire to stay alive. Spectators want a “show,” and often, dogs are maimed or permanently injured during the fight and die the next day.
In the US, 16,000 Dogs Die Annually as a Result of Dog Fighting. (NHES)
We must all do something to stop this unthinkable “sport.” Animals depend on us to be their keepers and protectors. Keep reading to learn what you can do.
The Japanese Dog Fight Can Feature Up to 250 Dogs. (Newsweek)
It’s “big business” in the country. “Dog men,” which dog fighters are called in Japan, believe dogfighting is a part of their culture as whaling or dolphin hunting. The yakuza, a major crime organization in Japan, usually have their hands in organized dogfighting. (source)
Participants of Dog fighting Statistics
Almost 40,000 Americans Participate in Dog Fighting Annually. (The Humane Society)
The general public has no idea dog fights are happening since events are announced via word-of-mouth and other secretive methods. Spectators are often friends or family members (even their children), and this is important; spectators are as guilty of committing a crime as the leaders are.
57% of Americans Think Dog Fighting Has Never Happened in Their Community. (ASPCA)
It can and does happen anywhere in the US – in urban and rural areas. Organizers will go to great lengths to keep the details quiet using internet back channels and even background checks, and it often works.
Some known dogfighting locations:
- Abandoned houses
- Vacant garages
- Isolated warehouses
- Commercial or residential basements
- Secluded parks
- Farmhouses or barns (ICA Animal)
Participants Either Consider It a Hobby or a Profession. (LCA)
Levels of dogfighting:
Leaders, often from organized crime rings, tour the country with events, breed and fight dogs for profit, and keep track of dogs’ bloodlines and histories. Almost all breeds used are: Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, or any other breed commonly known as a “pit bull.”
They have a smaller stable of dogs they breed and usually hold events at the local level.
Gangbangers. They fight all dog breeds and generally keep no records or history of the dogs.
For a Single Fight, Dog Bets Can Reach Up to $100,000.(CNN)
We’re not talking about spare change here. Dog fights bring in major revenue, even if it is done at the lowest level. It’s obvious why organized crime wants in on the action.
“Dog fighting generates revenue from stud fees, admission fees, and gambling.” (encyclopedia.uia.org)
One raid of a dog fight uncovered half a million dollars that were confiscated from the leaders, handlers, and spectators.
Annually, the Owners of Dog Fighting Champions Earn $100,000 Alone from Stud Fees. (PETA)
Owners of champions are often considered to be legendary and are envied by others in the business. These (almost always) men are largely narcissistic and think they’re untouchable.
A Study Conducted in 1997 Revealed Animal Abusers Are More Likely To Harm Humans As Well. (MSPCA)
It’s a well-known fact that 21% of serial killers harm animals before moving on to killing people. It’s also common sense. If anyone is willing to take such heinous actions toward a living being, how would they know where to stop? They don’t.
Illegal Dog Fighting Statistics
In All 50 States of the US, Dog Fighting Is Illegal. (FBI)
It has been illegal in the US only since 1976. (source)
Dog Fighting Fines Could Be As High as $250,000 (NEACHA)
Punishment/Penalties differ from state to state, although in my research, a fine of $250,000 and up to three years in jail is the minimum.
But since it depends on many circumstances… the level of involvement, how many felonies were committed, how egregious the abuse, etc., penalties of all sorts have been handed down. Levels of punishment also greatly depend on the judge. (Neacha)
Dog Fighting Has Been Encountered by 50% of Police Officers at Least Once in Their Career. (FBI)
It occurs much more often than people think it does. Just because we don’t see felonious activity doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
The Average Number of Arrests at a Dogfight is 20. (Police1, 2021)
The range is from one arrest to 123. It’s a spectator sport. Arrests can include dog owners, handlers, and spectators. (source)
In a 2020 Dog Fighting Bust, Police Found More Than 150 Dogs. (The United States Department of Justice)
“In addition to the human offenders, raids can involve 1 to 500 dogs, with an average of 35 dogs per case.” (source)
When the greedy get greedier, operations expand.
Dog Fighting Is a Gateway Crime. (NEACHA)
All types of felony crimes happen at dogfighting events, up to and including murder. Weapons are often present due to the large amount of cash that’s being circulated.
“…dogfighting is often found alongside other crimes, such as gang activity, illegal drug activity, illegal weapons, and human trafficking.” (source)
In One Police Raid, Up to 500 Dogs Were Seized. (NEACHA)
Almost every law enforcement agency you can think of was involved in this, the largest dogfighting ring in US history, undercover takedown. In 2009, 29 properties were raided in eight states. Two hundred firearms were seized, 26 people arrested, and more than 100 felonies handed down.
- Registered nurse
- High school football coach
- School teacher
- Veterinary technician
- Crack dealer
- Convicted killer on parole (neacha.org)
Stats for 2021 Revealed Over 100 Pit Bulls Were Seized by Authorities. (CityWatch Los Angeles)
In Tacoma, WA, 23 dogs were seized from a dogfighting operation.
“Eighty-four dogs had been seized at this location on prior occasions, which brought the total to 107.” (City Watch)
The suspect received 75 charges of animal cruelty and animal fighting. If dogfighting laws were more stringent, he wouldn’t have been around to abuse the additional 23 dogs.
10 People Were Arrested During a Dog Fighting Ring Bust in 2021. (NBC New York)
This was possibly the largest dogfighting ring to be dismantled in New York. There were 89 pit bulls rescued. (source)
From 2016 to 2019, 1000 Dogs Were Rehabilitated. (FBI)
These animal seizure operations are planned immaculately, and animal rescue societies are almost always directly involved. The FBI, US Marshals, and local and state police are just a few of the agencies that carry out the process.
Best Friends Animal Society received 22 of the most traumatized dogfighting victims from Bad Newz Kennels and began the arduous process of rehabilitation. Most of the dogs were adopted into loving homes.
The Reward for Reporting a Dogfight Is $5,000. (The Humane Society of United States)
This is enticing for those with criminal minds as well as for the innocent people who stumble across it. But between humane societies, animal advocates, and rescue organizations, this reward should be five or six figures at minimum. (source)
In 2007, NFL Player Michael Vick Was Caught Organizing a Dog Fight and Abusing Animals. (Washington Post)
Michael Vick’s bio should read –
- Retired Atlanta Falcons quarterback
- 2020 NFL Pro Bowl “Legends Captain”
- One of the most sadistic dogfighting leaders in US history.
I consider it my duty to write about the most despicable animal issues we have in our country since sharing information and educating people is tantamount to positive change.
But learning that Michael Vick was to be included in this article especially heightened my interest in this important work. I’ve been waiting years for the opportunity to say a word or two about him.
Any person who would electrocute an innocent animal to make him more vicious doesn’t deserve to ever again run down a football field and make millions of dollars for it. (This is coming from someone who absolutely loves the sport.)
For the atrocities he committed, he received 23 months in prison and three years probation. When it comes to the penalties of dogfighting, our judicial system needs an overhaul complete with “for the sake of humanity” written into law. (source)
Dog Fighting Injuries
Facts Show Hundreds and Thousands of Dogs Are Abused, Injured, and Get Killed During Dog Fighting. (Animal Legal Defense Fund)
Who’s to say the types of people involved in this activity won’t slip further into the mire? I don’t think it’s a stretch to say if they enjoy this “sport,” how far away are they from bringing back gladiators as a form of entertainment?
Dog Fighting Trainer Harry Hargrove Is Responsible for 1,000 Dog Casualties. (Medium)
The Don Corleone of dogfighting who, to this day, is celebrated by sickos, Harry Hargrove became the most famous person in the industry. He acquired his first dog in 1968 and, at one point, owned 250 dogs for his dogfighting operation.
At the age of 78, he was sentenced to 60 months in prison for his crimes. This is laughable if his actions weren’t so diabolical. (source)
96.8% of Fighting Dogs Suffer from Limb Injuries. (Bristol Live)
The mental anguish and suffering they feel (dogs are sentient animals) is just as debilitating as any physical injury they endure. There’s not enough room to list all the injuries inflicted on dogs used in dogfighting rings. If they don’t die from their wounds, they’re viciously killed to make room for healthy animals.
So What Do We Do?
- If you suspect dogfighting will be or is taking place, use this link that tells you what to do.
- Use social media to spread awareness by using the hashtag #stopdogfighting whenever possible.
- Adopt a bully breed. They’re one of the best dogs you can have when raised with love. Even dogs that have been rehabilitated from torture have been shown to be extraordinarily gentle.
- Give your money, time, or in-kind donations (blankets, food, etc.) to bully breed organizations. If you’d rather, there are breed-specific rescue groups all over the country that specifically rescue bully breeds.
- Teach your children well about loving and respecting animals.
- Research dogfighting and look for avenues to let you speak to groups that would appreciate the information. (Schools, conferences, etc.)
- Share this article with someone.
Why Does It Seem Impossible to Shut down Dog Fighting Completely?
Some issues can seem insurmountable, and they are unless people like you and me do something to make the abuse stop.
Is Watching a Dog Fight Illegal?
Included in a government press release:
“The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which was included in the final 2014 Farm Bill, makes it a federal felony to knowingly bring a minor under the age of 16 to a dogfight or cockfight, punishable by up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and a federal misdemeanor to knowingly attend a fight as a spectator, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. (source)
How Common Is Dog Fighting in the Us?
Although it has been said that 40,000 people participate in dogfighting annually, those who lead the way in the fight against dogfighting know the numbers are much, much higher. Think about it… if 50% of law enforcement has seen at least one case of dog fighting in their careers, the problem is significant.
What Is a Bait Dog in Dog Fighting?
Bait dogs are submissive and nonviolent in nature. They are used as “bait” for the dogs used in dogfighting to kill for practice.
What Breeds Other than Pit Bulls Are Used in Dog Fighting?
Any bully breed, plus others. Here is a short list:
- Cane Corsos
- Great Danes
- German Shepherds
- Doberman Pinschers
I could have included more gory details in this article. I could have included the lingo that is used by the individuals involved in dog fighting. I could have even included pictures you’d need to turn away from in revulsion.
But I know our readers are intelligent enough not to have salacious information to understand the vulgarity of this industry… That, to include those things, could even be attractive to some deranged person.
So I stayed the course of relaying the truth that will hopefully make you angry. Angry enough to make a stand. It’s the only appropriate time to stand up for bullies!
We have a voice. Now’s the time to use it!