Listed below are the laws
and info about Dog Fighting
1. What is dog fighting?
Dog fighting 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"
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 dog fighting has
been connected to other kinds of violence—even homicide, according
to newspaper reports. In addition, illegal
drugs are often sold and used at dogfights.
4. What other effects does the presence of dog fighting 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 animal.
5. Why should dog fighting be a felony offense?
There are several compelling reasons. Because dog fighting 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 dog fighting should be punished by more than
a slap on the hand.
Dog fighting is not a spur-of-the-moment act; it is a premeditated and
Those involved in dog fighting 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
dog fighting if it is a felony. As more states make dog fighting a felony
offense, those remaining states with low penalties will become
magnets for dogfighters.
6. Do some states already have dog fighting felony laws?
Dog Fighting is illegal in all 50 states and the District of
Columbia, and the federal Animal Welfare Act prohibits the
interstate transportation of dogs for fighting purposes.
Forty-seven states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and
the Virgin Islands have made dog fighting a felony offense.
Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands
prohibit the possession of dogs for fighting. And 48 states, the
District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin
Islands prohibit being a spectator at a dogfight.
7. Should being a spectator also be a felony?
Yes. Spectators provide much of the profit associated with dog fighting.
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.
8. What can I do to help stop dog fighting?
If you live in one of the states where dog fighting is still only a misdemeanor,
please write to your state legislators and urge them to make it a felony.
To find out how your state treats dog fighting, visit our page on
State Dog Fighting Laws.
We encourage you also to write letters to the media to increase public
awareness of the dangers of dog fighting and to law enforcement officials
to urge them to take the issue seriously.
If you suspect that dog fighting is going on in your own
neighborhood, alert your local law enforcement agency and urge agency
officials to contact The HSUS for practical tools, advice, and assistance.
Copyright © 2004 The Humane Society of the United States.
All rights reserved
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