Dog fighting is illegal in countries including the UK and US. Unfortunately, that does not stop it happening, it just happens in secret.
In the fight the dogs are badly wounded, suffering heavy bleeding, ruptured lungs, broken bones, and other life threatening injuries. If the losers of these matches do not die of their injuries, they are tortured to death for humiliating their owners.
The only rare exception is if the owners feel the dogs are worth trying to salvage because they make them money.
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Most people think "Dog Fighting doesn't happen around here" because they haven't seen or heard about it.
It happens everywhere, probably in your town or city, but because it is a secretive, underground activity, only people involved in it know exactly when and where each fight takes place.
Below: This dog has had his nose, lips and much of the skin on his face ripped off, partially exposing his skull. He is unlikely to receive any veterinary attention and, as with many dogs with fighting injuries, he may die a slow, painful death from the resulting infection.
It is practiced all over the world. There are national and international networks of people interested in this cruel activity.
Websites and publications are dedicated to the subject and are available to people within the dog fighting community.
In some countries the practice is widely accepted and considered entertainment for the whole family.
Below: This dog, forced in to fighting, was kept in a dark attic in chains with its mouth bound shut and was regularly beaten.
The breeds most commonly used in fighting tend to be Pit Bulls,
Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and
American Pit Bull dogs, Modern American Bulldogs, American Bull
Terriers, or mixes/cross breeds related to those breeds.
Dog Fighters have to put in a lot of effort to train their dogs to fight, as naturally these dogs are gentle, loving, affectionate, tolerent breeds. Although these are the usual breeds used, other breeds have been known to be used.
Bait dogs, which are dogs used for fighting dogs to practice on, tearing them apart, can be any breed.
They are often stolen family pets, obtained from adverts where they are offered free, or at a low price.
Below: Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Bull Terriers are nick-named "Nanny Dogs" because of being so good with children.
They are used because they are strong and muscular, with strong jaws, they are extremely loyal and gentle to humans, and very eager to please them, even if it means enduring high levels of pain.
This means they are easy
to train in whatever way the human wants, without fear of their dog
Dog fighters know that if trained to do so, these dogs can do a lot of damage.
Below: The dog breeds used are very loyal to humans and and will go through a lot of suffering to try to please their owners. Their unscrupulous owners exploit this to the maximum.
Dogs are forced by their owners to fight each other. They are too
frightened to disobey their owner for fear of the punishment they
receive if they do. They are also fighting to survive against the other
dog who is doing the same thing.
The breeds used are fiercely loyal to humans and will try their best to please their owner and to avoid often fatal and prolonged torture from them for disappointing them. They will go through extreme pain in a fight to try to achieve this.
Below: This is dog fighting victim Gypsy with drainage tubes in her face due to the severity of her facial injuries. Parts of the skin left on her face was rotting and falling off and she had also had a leg completely torn off.
Because of these breeds eagerness to please their owner, they are perfect for unscrupulous people to exploit, abuse and train in whatever way they wish.
Ignorant people then blame the dogs for their behaviour, not acknowledging that their owners treatment of them and all their training is responsible.
The dogs are administered drugs to make them more aggressive and muscular, and are also put through specialised rigorous training regimes to build muscle and encourage aggression.
This is usually done from when they are innocent, wide eyed puppies, unaware of what horrors lie in store for them. The dogs are usually bought for the purpose of fighting, and are often bred for that purpose too.
Below: A gang member got these puppies solely to earn him money being torn apart in dog fights. He is already making them wear heavy chains around their necks to begin building their strength. These innocent pups know nothing of the horrors they will have no choice but to face.
This abuse and purposeful negative training of dogs leads to certain breeds being unfairly labelled as dangerous dogs.
This then results in whole breeds being made illegal and put to death because breed specific legislation is brought in.
This means millions of loving, gentle pets that have done nothing wrong, are taken from their heart broken families and put to death. It does not matter if they are the most gentle pet in the world, because as long as they are considered to be a certain breed, they are condemned to death. It can be compared to racism and genocide in humans.
BSL is already enforced in many places, including the UK, and is a constant threat everywhere. See the breed specific legislation page for more details.
Below: Pit Bulls are wonderful with people and make great therapy dogs. Here, a nursing home resident is getting a cuddle from a typically affectionate Pit Bull.
Despite suffering terrible injuries in the fights trying their best
to please their owner, many dogs end up being tortured and killed by
their owners who felt they did not do well enough.
Dogs who do not die from their wounds, or are not abandoned somewhere isolated and left to die from their injuries, are punished for humiliating their owners because of not being willing enough or good enough fighters.
This is because the owners/trainers feel the dogs have
Ways fighting dogs that are considered not good enough or "past it" are commonly killed:
Below: Patrick was found in this starved near-death state, after by chance being found in a rubbish bin. Somebody had hidden him there and left him to suffer a horrible death alone and frightened.
Many dogs are tortured to death in other barbaric ways - in any way these depraved people can think up. Sometimes when they are injured badly in fights, or tortured by their owners, they are abandoned to die prolonged and agonising deaths, hidden in skips and rubbish bins, or left in abandoned and unused buildings that nobody ever goes in.
If they miraculously survive long enough for someone who cares to find them, they occasionally make it to a shelter or rescue organisation.
Below: Dog Fighting victim Rosie was left for dead on the street with a severed right leg ripped off in a fight.
Below: This victim was sadly found too late.
Animal Volunteer Tania Zuback's Story:
I never knew his name but his presence will be embedded in my soul for the rest of my life. I was called at 2am along with animal control.
clerk at a 7-11 saw what he thought was a bag of garbage thrown into the
parking lot from a speeding pickup.
It was actually a 100lb male Pit Bull Terrier, wrapped in a Red Food store bag. As I unwrapped this bag, a bloody mass that did not resemble anything somehow crawled into my lap and tried to lick me, while whining in a tone hardly to be heard. His ears were cut off, his legs were sawn off, his nose and mouth as well. He appeared just a round ball with the stench of death.
I learned later that this 2 year old dog had lost in a dog fight. His owner had done this. He died in my arms with a look of gratitude. What was left of his bloody tail moved as he took his last breaths.
I also learned he had never been petted, never known a home other than a box in a basement, never been called a good boy or had a toy to play with, never chased a ball or a fly, never been kissed, or known what it felt like to be loved. Still, in this dogs final moment, feeling pain beyond our imagination, with only the forgiveness a dog can hold in it's heart, he wanted to be loved.
If a dog has been a dog fighting victim, just about nobody will give it a chance of a home. People are too frightened that the dog fighters influence on them may have damaged them too badly and don't fully trust them. These dogs chances of ever feeling love are extremely low. Most are put to death having only ever felt pain and neglect.
Breeds commonly used as fighting dogs are abandoned in huge numbers because of irresponsible owners and dog fighters.
They are hard to
re-home thanks to these irresponsible owners, who train them to be
intimidating, giving them an undeserved bad reputation.
Tragically, the majority of these dogs that do end up in shelters are euthanised when they do not find a home within the time limit due to that undeserved bad reputation.
In the US, that can be as little as a
couple of days, in the UK, seven days.
Below: This is a dog that was rescued from dog fighters who were starving him. He was assessed and put up for adoption. Like so many others, nobody wanted him within the time limit, so he was put to death.
He never got the chance to feel love. This happens to the majority of dogs rescued due to not enough people adopting - especially breeds commonly victims of this barbaric act.
Below: This is Chance, one of the very few lucky ones who got adopted and got a chance to feel what it is like to be loved, instead of being put to death, unwanted.
Occasionally, even if the dog gets in to a "no kill" shelter, if it has
been badly traumatised by the abuse dog fighters have put it through, it
may never be emotionally ready to be re-homed.
However, there are far more dogs that do need homes than the rescues and shelters can cope with. That is sadly why the number of perfectly re-homable, loving dogs put to death every year is in the millions.
If you would like to help by giving a pet in need the love they long for, even if it is just fostering one temporarily, you will find lots of information on the Adopting rescue pets, Fostering or Sponsoring Animals page.
If you are only interested in fostering or sponsoring an animal, there is information on the Animal Fostering And Sponsoring page.
If you do decide to help in these ways, please consider the breeds that have trouble finding homes. Many people have the misconception that they are aggressive.
This is due to the type of people who often tend to buy them as puppies with the intention of purposely training them to fight, or be an intimidating, aggressive weapon.
Any breed of dog can be trained to be
this way, but the Pit Bull and Staffordshire Bull Terrier type breeds
are attractive to these people because of their muscular bodies and
their jaw size and strength.
Without the influence of such bad owners, these breeds are loving, affectionate, tolerant, forgiving and gentle dogs.
More information can be found about Staffordshire Bull Terrier breeds and similar dogs on the So Called Dangerous Dogs and Other Overlooked Shelter Pets page.
Below: A young dog with fighting injuries, it's spirit broken, it's soul destroyed.
Some dog fighters, or dog men, as they are often referred to in the US, will argue that fighting dogs do not feel pain as humans or other dogs do.
The fact is that all breeds of dogs share the same nervous system and feel a very similar amount of pain. This system allows them to feel pain very similar to what any human would feel.
Below: This dog fighting victim is so grateful to have been saved from the terrifying, lonely agony of dog fighting, and to have his painful wounds tended to.
A bait dog is a dog that dog fighters make their fighting dogs practice on. The bait dog is made helpless by having it's jaw taped shut and it may also be tied down.
These dogs can not defend themselves and are terribly injured or killed. Dog fighters/dog men are known to use cats and rabbits as bait animals too.
Dog fighters acquire bait animals in a variety of ways. They steal people's pets, they respond to "free to good home" adverts, they obtain the animals from pounds, shelters, rescues and other re-homing organisations, and they trap wild and feral animals.
Dogs that are not willing to fight, or good at fighting, are also used as bait dogs.
Below: Aussia was an elderly, 15 year old rottweiler who was stolen from his quiet life in Corry, TA, & tortured to death, hought to have been used as a bait dog. He had what looked like injuries made by fighting dogs and marks where he had been bound at the ankles, meaning he was unable to defend himself. He was then dumped in pond, where he was found dead. His owners are of course heart broken and nobody has been caught.
Offering any pets Free To A Good Home
is always a risk, as studies by animal charities have shown that these
animals can often fall in to the wrong hands and suffer terribly as a
It is better for animals to be re-homed through reputable rescues who do thorough checks of adopters. If this is not possible, then to minimise the risk, do extensive checks in to the people who want to take the pets.
People are often not what they seem and will put up a very
respectable front and put on a good act.
It is best to keep all animals in the house. When they are in the garden, supervise them at all times, as they could be taken in a blink of an eye.
If you must keep animals in your garden, use security measures to make sure they are as safe there as possible. Make sure your garden is secure so nobody can reach or climb over in to it, or enter it, without you letting them.
There have been many cases of rabbits and other pets being taken from hutches in gardens, even when they have been padlocked. The only really secure option is to keep animals inside.
Never leave your dog outside a shop and do not let your dog out of your sight if outside.
If in your garden, make sure walls/fences/gates are high enough so nobody can climb over them. Also make sure there is a lock on the gate. Cats are more difficult, unless they are house cats, as they like to roam freely. Make sure your pets are micro chipped and wear a tag.
Below: When Oogy the Pit Bull was a 16 week old puppy, he was used as a bait dog. Half his head, including his er was bitten off and his jaw partially crushed. He was then thrown in to a cage to bleed to death. He was found and rescued after approximately a week. The vet did not know whether he would make it. Amazingly, he did and is now happy with a loving family. This is him today:
A major motivation is trying to make money. It is also very much about
gaining status and respect within that community (some people have very
uneducated views about respect). Certain people are excited by the
violence and bloodiness of this cruel activity and appear to have no
Some people may argue that dog fighting is a tradition that has taken place for centuries. They may also say that it is part of their cultural heritage and that they enjoy being involved in a community that generations of their family have been involved in.
Tradition is used as an excuse for animal cruelty all over the world. The Spanish Festivals Of Animal Torture & Other Countries Cruel Traditions page shows examples of this. However, culture and tradition are no excuse for cruelty.
There is no excuse good enough for animal abuse. People are supposed to have evolved and become more civilised over time. This is not evident in people who are pro-dog fighting.
Below: With money being one of the main motivations of people involved in dog fighting, the Humane Society in the US offers up to $5000 reward for information leading to the prosecution and conviction of dog fighters.
Dog fighting is done so secretively that dog fighters make sure that decent, compassionate people do not know information that could stop them continuing this cruel, blood thirsty activity. Money and status is what these selfish and greedy people care about. They do not care about the dogs' suffering.
Dog fighting tends to be associated with poorer areas of society, both urban and rural, less well educated people and gang members.
are involved in dog fighting are often found to be involved in gang
related violence, drug dealing, mugging, burglary, selling of stolen
goods, assault, prostitution and other criminal activity.
However, people from every walk of life can also be involved. People such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers, judges, even veterinary surgeons.
Not forgetting, of course, celebrities such as Michael Vick. To read more about Michael Vick's involvement in dog fighting, please go to PAGE 2.
Below: This is Troy Major, an Animal Control Officer. Instead of protecting the animals in his care, he forced the dogs in to dog fighting.
Below: This is Vet Dr Gary Friederich. He helped support dog fighting and covered it up, instead of protecting the animals involved.