What is dog fighting?
Dog fighting is an inhumane ‘blood-sport’ 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.
Animal suffering and dog fighting
The injuries inflicted and sustained by dogs participating in dogfights are severe and often fatal. The dogs used in most of these fights have been specifically bred and trained for fighting — an upbringing that relies on abuse and mistreatment from puppyhood.
Typical dog fighting 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.”
Breeding criminal activity
Over the years, law enforcement raids have unearthed many disturbing facets of this illegal blood-sport. 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 dog fighting 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. Dog fighting has also been connected to other kinds of violence — even homicide.
Dog fighting is a felony offence in all 50 states of the US, and it is a felony offence under federal law as well. It is also a felony to knowingly bring a minor to an animal fight.
“A felony is sometimes called a “high crime” because it’s so serious. A felony differs from a misdemeanour in the amount of punishment someone gets when convicted. In the United States, a felony is a crime that has a sentence of more than a year in prison. A year or less in jail means the crime is just a misdemeanour. If you’re convicted of a felony, even after you serve your time you may be denied certain rights and privileges”
There are several compelling reasons for this. Because dog fighting yields such large profits, the penalties associated with misdemeanour convictions are much too weak to act as a sufficient deterrent and are simply seen as the cost of doing business.
Dog fighting 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 dog fighting go to extensive lengths to avoid detection by law enforcement, so investigations can be difficult, dangerous, and expensive. Making dog fighting a felony means law enforcement officials are able to put in the effort needed to properly investigate.
In the US, the HSUS supports felony charges for spectators of dogfights. Spectators provide much of the profit associated with dog fighting, and with it, the motivation to continue the cruel practice.
Because dog fights 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 dog fighting, but more legislation is still needed.
Dog fighting is on the increase in the UK
Although dog fighting in the UK has been illegal for many years it continues due to the underground nature of those involved. As part of the ‘training regime’ for fighter dogs, pets are often stolen from gardens etc to be used as ‘bait dogs’. They are thrown to the fighter dogs to be torn apart.
Professor Green: Inside The Secret World Of Dog Fighting – BBC
Fining those convicted of being involved in dog fighting is not a deterrent due to the vast amounts of money involved in dog fighting circles. The only way to address this vile ‘blood sport’ is to give AUTOMATIC custodial sentences to ANYONE, be it those who steal pets to be used as bait dogs, fighter dog owners, organisers and those who attend fights i.e. EVERYONE involved.
What you can do to help stop dog fighting?
Learn how to spot the signs of dog fighting. If you suspect dog fighting activity alert the Police.
The tell-tale signs of dog fighting
Unusually high numbers of pit bull type dogs in your area.
Multiple dogs tethered with heavy chains.
Dog isolated or left un-socialised.
Dogs, especially pit bull types, with fresh scars, cuts or wounds.
Tyres, ropes or rawhide hung from trees or wooden beams, used to toughen neck and jaw muscles.
Potential sounds from a dog fight – barking, yelping and shouting.
Sightings of pit bull type dogs leaving or entering derelict or out-of-the-way buildings.
Damage to play equipment in parks, such as tooth marks on equipment. General anti-social behaviour involving groups of (usually) young men with pit bull type dogs.
The three kinds of dog fight in the UK:
Level One: Impromptu street fights or ‘rolls’
One on one fights in urban parks and housing estates.
Dogs may be tethered on a chain or taken off for the fight.
Arranged on the spot, no referee or rules, fight over in a few minutes.
Predominantly young men, who may have gang connections.
Little or no money involved.
Likely to occur somewhere in the UK every day.
Level Two: Hobbyist
Series of fights in abandoned buildings, garages or even living rooms and bedrooms that have been converted into a ‘pit’.
Operate on a localised fighting circuit.
Often gang-affiliated with gambling involved.
Takes place in urban and urban fringe areas. Likely to occur somewhere in the UK every couple of weeks.
Level Three: Professional
Sophisticated dog rings with highly trained dogs of reputable bloodlines
Always takes place in a ‘pit’
Includes spectators, rules, referees and timekeepers. Contracts drawn up between dog owners stipulating date, location, dog weight, referee and betting stake.
High stakes gambling with hundreds of thousands of pounds wagered. Gangs travel around the UK or internationally to enter dogs in fights or attend fights
Highly secretive, invitation-only.
Likely to occur somewhere in UK every few months.
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