Dogfighting is a inhumane bloodsport where dogs who have been bred, conditioned and trained to fight are placed in a pit to fight each other for spectator entertainment and profit. Fights average one to two hours, ending when one of the dogs cannot continue. The Humane Society of the United States provides all of the following information as well as steps to help identify, report, and prevent dog fighting. The vicious blood “sport” of dogfighting is still thriving underground, despite the public outrage that followed the Michael Vick case. The HSUS estimates more than 40,000 people participate in organized dogfighting in the U.S., and hundreds of thousands more take part in impromptu street dogfighting. The HSUS is working hard to get law enforcement’s attention on this topic and educate the public on how to spot this gruesome crime.
The injuries inflicted and sustained by dogs participating in dogfights are severe and often fatal. The dogs used in the majority of these fights have been specifically bred and trained for fighting—an upbringing that relies on abuse and mistreatment from puppyhood.
Typical dogfighting injuries include 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. Otherwise healthy dogs who are born "cold" or won't fight are often used to sic other dogs on as training.
In describing the details of one particular dogfight, a convicted dogfighter wrote, "Miss Rufus spent most of the rest of the fight on her back and Bandit broke her other front leg high up in the shoulder, as well as one of her back legs, in the knee joint. The only leg she didn’t break, she chewed all to hell. She had literally scalped Miss Rufus, tearing a big chunk of skin off the top of her head alongside one ear."
Over the years, law enforcement raids have unearthed many disturbing facets of this illegal bloodsport. Young children are often present at these events, which promotes insensitivity to animal suffering, enthusiasm for violence and disrespect for the law. Illegal gambling is commonplace at dogfights, with wagers of thousands of dollars at stake. This profitability makes dogfighting commonplace in organized crime settings as well as the streets. The sale and use of illegal drugs is common at dogfights as well, and firearms and other weapons have been found at these events due to the large amounts of cash present. Dogfighting has also been connected to other kinds of violence—even homicide.
Dogfighting is a felony offense in all 50 states and it is a felony offense under federal law as well. It is also a felony to knowingly bring a minor to an animal fight. There are several compelling reasons for this. Because dogfighting yields such large profits, the penalties associated with misdemeanor convictions are much too weak to act as a sufficient deterrent and are simply seen as the cost of doing business. Dogfighting should be punished by more than a slap on the wrist—it’s not a spur-of-the-moment act; it is an organized 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. Making dogfighting a felony means law enforcement officials are able to put in the effort needed to properly investigate.
The Humane Society of the United States supports felony charges for spectators of dogfights. Spectators provide much of the profit associated with dogfighting and, with it, the motivation to continue the cruel practice. Because dogfights aren’t 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. Thankfully, many states have realized that felony charges for spectators can help crack down on dogfighting, but more legislation is still needed.
Animal fighting continues to be a prevalent industry across the country. We have made significant progress and our work has these criminals on the defensive, but there are still many ways you can help. Humane Society of the United States will pay you up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a dogfighter.
Humane Society of United States offers a standing reward ($5,000) for information leading to a conviction of illegal animal fighting; spread the word about it any way you can. Click on the link below to be directed to the HSUS contact form.
Educate the masses—or at least your circle of friends—by sharing videos (like the one in the link below) on social media. There is no better way to get people motivated to do something than to let them see the problem.
Introduce yourself to your local law enforcement agencies and bring animal fighting issues to their attention. Call or visit your local law enforcement offices and bring them animal fighting reward posters (click on the link below to get them). Even better, present law enforcement with statements from local animal control or shelter workers regarding the signs they see of animal fighting in the community.
Let law enforcement agencies in your community know about the HSUS's day-long training courses for law enforcement on animal fighting with experts who discuss the signs of animal fighting and how to eradicate it. Once they are serious about cracking down on animal fighting, word will quickly spread that your town is no safe haven for animal fighters.
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