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The Criminal, Underground World of Dog Fighting

Dog fighting is a type of blood sport in which dogs are forced to fight one another for the entertainment and/or profit of spectators.


Dog fighting is one of the most heinous forms of animal cruelty. Fighting dogs are typically raised in isolation, so they spend most of their lives on short, heavy chains. They are regularly conditioned for fighting through the use of drugs, including anabolic steroids to enhance muscle mass and encourage aggressiveness. Fighting dogs may have their ears cropped and tails docked close to their bodies to minimize the animal’s normal body language cues and to limit areas that another dog can grab during a fight. Fighters usually perform this cropping/docking themselves using crude and inhumane techniques.

Although dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, it continues to occur in every part of the country and in every type of community. Fights can happen in a variety of locations ranging from back alleys to carefully-staged enterprises. Fights typically take place in a 14-20 square-foot pit designed to contain the animals. Fights can last just a few minutes or several hours, and both animals may suffer injuries including puncture wounds, lacerations, blood loss, crushing injuries and broken bones. Although fights are not usually to the death, many dogs succumb to their injuries later, and losing dogs are often discarded, killed or brutally executed as part of the “sport.”

Dog fighting is often associated with other forms of criminal activity including illegal gambling and possession of drugs and firearms. By our estimate, there are tens of thousands of dog fighters in the U.S., forcing hundreds of thousands of dogs to train, fight, and suffer every year.

To learn more, visit A Closer Look at Dog Fighting.

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