Practical Issues > Animals for Entertainment > Dog fighting Index

Dog fighting harms animals, society
By Billy Hall
Jackson County
Acting Animal Shelter Director

We are called upon, more than we like, to assist law enforcement when they crack down on illegal dog fighting. This is a troublesome issue for not only animal lovers, but society as a whole. Dog fighting has become a serious issue in our area and nationwide.

Why should you know how to recognize and report suspected dog fighting activities?

Because dog fighting is a felony in Most every state and is linked to many other illegal and criminal activities. Law enforcement and animal welfare investigators report:

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    Dog fighters are often involved in illegal gambling, the sale and possession of drugs, as well as illegal weapons.

    Dog fighters and spectators have a history of violent and criminal behavior toward people. THIS IS A LEARNED BEHAVIOR!!  However, upon confrontation by law enforcement agencies, the anticipated gun battles and war like atmosphere from the fighting groups is almost never seen.  In fact, they crumble, begin to cry, hide and beg for various forms of amnesty.

    Dog fighting is another entertainment activity for gangs.

    Dogs trained for fighting have been known to viciously attack innocent people for no apparent reason.

    It is not uncommon for dog fighters or spectators to involve their children in dog fighting.

      Research shows young children who view this type of violence have a greater acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behavior. These children are taught to believe that it's okay to inflict the cruelties they observe and that dog fighting is an acceptable practice.

      Just because your neighbor owns a pit bull does not mean that he or she is a dog fighter.

 Signs of serious dog fighting include:  

    Ownership of several adult dogs and/or puppies that are confined by thick chains with or without weights on their collars.

    Tires or other items suspended from trees to provide jaw strengthening activities.

    Hand walking, jogging or using a treadmill

    A "cat mill" which confines a cat, rabbit or other small animal and encourages the dog to chase it may be present. As a reward for its hard, work, the dog will be permitted to capture and kill the confined animal. These "bait" animals are often stolen pets or animals obtained through "free to good home" advertisements.

    People of all ages coming and going in groups from a residence or other site, some with dogs.

 What Should You Look For?

      Men, women and children attend dog fights throughout the year. Dog fighting is not a "seasonal sport."  Virtually any area within the community and county can hold a dog fight:  

    An abandoned house

    Vacant garage

    Isolated warehouse

    Commercial or residential basement

    Secluded park

    Farmhouse or barn

     Observing adolescents and/or adults with dogs, going to or coming from a site, should peak your curiosity.
    The party-like atmosphere surrounding a dog fight is noticeable. Spectators cheer for their chosen dog as the bets stack up. Growling and barking, especially if other breeds of dogs are being used, is sometimes recognizable.  

What Breed of Dogs are Involved in Dog Fighting?

     Dogs which have the appearance and characteristics of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier or any other breed commonly known as pit bull, may be used in dog fighting activities. Other large breeds of dogs may also be used for dog fighting.

     Dogs used in fighting often times have observable characteristics:

    Recent or long-standing wounds and abscesses

    Short ear crops

    Scars on the head, throat, legs, and ears

    Wide leather or web collars with heavy rings

    Puncture wounds and lacerations

    Bleeding dogs and/or blood stains in a confined area

    Severe injuries that can result in death from loss of blood and internal trauma.

What Can You Do?

     Remember that violence, weapons, and illegal activities go hand-in-hand with dog fighting. Report any suspected dog fighting activities to the appropriate local law enforcement agency --- Jackson County Sheriff's Department or one of our four municipal police departments.

     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.

           In Most states, it is a felony for any person to:

1)   Sponsor, promote, state or conduct a fight or fighting match between dogs.

2)   Wager or bet, promote or encourage the wagering or betting of any money or other valuable thing on a dog fight.

3)   Own a dog with the intent to willfully enter it or to participate in a dog fight.

4)   Train or transport a dog for the purpose of participation in a dog fight.

5)   To attend a dog fight or exhibition of a dog fight. 

       Punishment for the first offenses vary from $1,000 to $5,000 or a one- to three-year term in a state penitentiary. The penalty for being a spectator is $500 to $5,000 fine or up to one year in a state penitentiary.

      Remember, reporting dog fighting will reduce violence and illegal activities in your neighborhood! It is up to you and your neighbors to spread the word that dog fighting is not acceptable in your neighborhood.

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