Updated: Apr 21, 2021
Dogfighting is one of the most heinous forms of animal cruelty. Dogs used for fighting 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. Dogfighting victims 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 dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, it continues to occur in every part of the country and in every type of community. In the past decade, the ASPCA has assisted with approximately 200 dogfighting cases in at least 24 states, and has impacted through rescue, consultations and investigations nearly 5,000 victims of dogfighting.
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.”
Dogfighting 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 dogfighters in the U.S., forcing hundreds of thousands of dogs to train, fight, and suffer every year.