Dogfighting is a blood sport that pits two dogs against each other in a fight to the death. Dogfights usually occur in a pit or ring, with spectators betting on which dog will win. The dogs are trained to fight by being starved and beaten.
Dogfighting is illegal in most countries and is considered a cruel form of entertainment. In the United States, dogfighting is a felony offense in all 50 states. Dogfighters often face stiff penalties, including jail time and hefty fines. It is estimated that thousands of dogfights take place every year in the United States alone.
The dogs used in dogfights are often severely injured or killed. In addition to the physical injuries, the dogs may also suffer from psychological trauma. Dogfights usually last until one of the dogs is too wounded to continue. Many dogs die as a result of their injuries.
Those who engage in dogfighting do not see the suffering of the dogs as a problem. To them, the dogs are simply tools for gambling and entertainment. They often do not provide proper care for their dogs, leading to further suffering.
Animal welfare groups have long campaigned against dogfighting. They have worked to rescue dogs from these situations and bring awareness to the public about the cruelty of this blood sport.
The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act
In 2007, the United States Congress passed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, making it a federal crime to attend or host an animal fight. Also, the law increased penalties for those who engage in dogfighting, including three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Act imposes felony charges to both participants and spectators of animal fights. A first offense is punishable by a fine of not more than $100,000 and imprisonment for not more than three years. A second offense doubles the maximum penalty and adds a mandatory minimum sentence of one-year imprisonment.
Since the passage of this law, there have been several high-profile dogfighting busts across the country. In 2009, law enforcement raided a dogfighting operation in Virginia run by former NFL player Michael Vick. Vick pleaded guilty to federal charges and served 21 months in prison. In 2013, law enforcement in Detroit busted a significant dogfighting ring that spanned several states. Eleven people were charged with federal crimes, and more than 50 dogs were rescued.
The penalties for dogfighting are severe, but the problem persists. Animal welfare groups continue to work to rescue dogs from these situations and bring awareness to the public about the cruelty of this blood sport.