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13 Shocking Dog Fighting Statistics & Facts to Know in 2024

Written by: Oliver Jones

Last Updated on May 28, 2024 by Dogster Team

US Dog Fighting Facts and Statistics

13 Shocking Dog Fighting Statistics & Facts to Know in 2024

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Every year, thousands of dogs are abused and killed in the illegal dog fighting industry.

It’s a brutal sport where two innocent animals are trained to attack and kill. Dogs are pitted against each other and forced to fight to the death. Spectators bet on who will win the bloody, ugly matches.

A fighting dog’s life is full of pain from birth to death. It is hard to know the true scope of the dog fighting industry, but it is a large and profitable business. Tens of thousands of people participate in dog fighting every year. And yet, most people don’t know much about dog fighting. If you want to know more about dog fighting and the fight to stop it, these facts and statistics are a great place to start.

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The 13 Dog Fighting Statistics

  1. Fighting dogs endure horrific training routines.
  2. Weaker dogs are treated as disposable targets.
  3. A single dogfight can last for hours.
  4. Upwards of 16,000 dogs are estimated to die every year from dogfighting in the US.
  5. About 40,000 Americans are involved in dogfighting each year.
  6. Dogfighting is a hobby for some but a professional sport for others.
  7. Bets on dogs can reach as high as $100,000 for a single fight.
  8. Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states.
  9. Punishment for dogfighting can result in hefty fines and jail time.
  10. 50% of police officers have encountered dogfighting at least once in their careers.
  11. Dogfighting is seen as a gateway crime.
  12. Police raids can seize up to 500 dogs in one go.
  13. Many rescued dogs are rehabilitated.
us dog fighting stats
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A Fighting Dog’s Life

1. Fighting dogs endure horrific training routines.

(LCA)

Fighting dogs are usually trained from birth to be aggressive and powerful fighters. These training routines are brutal and abusive. Dogfighting breeders and trainers will often “toughen up” their dogs through beatings and forced starvation. They also put dogs through exhausting exercise routines such as chaining dogs to a treadmill for hours.

Finally, trainers sic their dogs on other animals to teach them to attack, often killing the other animals in the practice.

pit bull terrier pulls freight
Image Credit: dudonyrud, Shutterstock

2. Weaker dogs are used as disposable targets.

(Humane Society)

As part of their training, dog fighters often use weaker or more docile dogs as disposable targets to train their prize dogs. These dogs are sometimes called “cold” in dogfighting circles. Dog fighting breeders will save the most aggressive and powerful dogs to become fighters while the rest are treated as disposable.


3. A single dog fight can last for hours.

(The Humane Society)

Once a dog gets to the fighting ring, the fight itself usually lasts for 1–2 hours, although it can last longer. These fights are brutal and bloody. They end when one dog is killed or is too injured to continue. Even dogs who survive to the end of the fight often die shortly afterward from blood loss, infection, and lack of proper veterinary care.

two dogs fighting
Image Credit: Przemek Iciak, Shutterstock

4. Upwards of 16,000 dogs are estimated to die every year from dog fighting in the US.

(NHES)

Because so much dog fighting goes unreported, we don’t know for sure how many dogs die from dog fighting every year. However, some animal rescue organizations estimate that at least 16,000 dogs are killed in the dog fighting industry every year.


The People Who Participate in Dog Fights

5. About 40,000 Americans are involved in dog fighting each year.

(The Humane Society)

Like the number of dog deaths, it’s hard to know how many people are involved in dog fighting. Many organizations suggest about 40,000 people are involved in the US. This includes dog breeders and trainers, fight organizers, spectators, and gamblers.

man training a dog
Image Credit: 12019, Pixabay

6. Dog fighting is a hobby for some but a professional sport for others.

(LCA)

Most people involved in dog fighting do it for small amounts of money or purely as a hobby. It’s also common for gangs to use dog fighting as entertainment, including “street fighting” out in the open. However, there are also professional dog fighters. Professional dogfighters might travel around the country from event to event. They make their money through betting or selling dogs.


7. Bets on dogs can reach as high as $100,000 for a single fight.

(CNN)

Dog fighting often goes hand-in-hand with illegal gambling. Participants bet on which dog will win a fight or how long the fight will last. Bets on dogs are often in the range of hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, in some circles, the bets get much higher. In at least one instance, a bet related to dog fighting reached $100,000.

hand holding dollar notes
Image Credit: gc1366, Pixabay

The Fight Against Dog Fighting

8. Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states.

(FBI)

In the United States, dog fighting is prosecuted as a felony. In many states, it is also a felony to own a dog used in dog fighting or be a spectator at a dog fighting event. If dog fighting were only a misdemeanor or other low-level offense, police would not be able to devote the resources needed to break up dog fighting rings. Even now, many police departments do not have the resources to properly investigate dog fighting.


9. Punishment for dog fighting can result in hefty fines and jail time.

(NEACHA)

Although dog fighters won’t spend their lives in prison, if they are convicted, they can still have serious consequences. Along with having a felony charge on their record, dog fighters can face up to 3 years in prison. They also can be forced to pay extensive fines as high as $250,000.

man in a prison cell
Image Credit: RODNAE Productions, Pexels

10. 50% of police officers have encountered dog fighting at least once in their careers.

(FBI)

Dog fighting isn’t as rare as some people think. According to a study done by the FBI, about half of police officers have dealt with dogfighting at some point in their careers. Dog fighting affects many jurisdictions across the United States, both urban and rural. Although dog fighting can occur anywhere, it is more common in high-crime areas.


11. Dog fighting is considered a gateway crime.

(NEACHA)

Dog fighting is not a crime committed in isolation. Many dog fighting charges come alongside other crimes. Often, dog fights also involve illegal gambling. Illegal weapons and drug dealing also take place at dog fighting events. Those involved in dog fighting are also highly likely to be convicted of violent crimes against humans, up to and including homicide.

Cocaine plastic packets, pistol and US dollars banknotes on a table
Image Credit: rawf8, Shutterstock

12. Police raids can seize up to 500 dogs in one go.

(NEACHA)

The number of dogs seized in an anti-dogfighting operation varies wildly. In some cases, up to 500 dogs have been seized at once. Although some raids seize only one dog, this is less common. The average number of dogs taken per successful raid is 35.


13. Many rescued dogs are rehabilitated.

(FBI)

Once dogs are seized in a police raid, their path forward is complex. Dogs are both victims and evidence in a legal battle against dog fighting. In the past, dogs have been held in near isolation for a year or more pending criminal charges and eventually euthanized. However, in recent years, avenues have opened up to process the dogs more quickly and humanely.

Through civil forfeiture suits, organizations can often claim the dogs in just a few months. This opens the door to rehabilitation, fostering, and eventual adoption. These programs are most successful for rescued puppies who are not yet permanently scarred by their abuses. Between 2016 and 2019, about 1,000 dogs were rescued and rehabilitated from dogfighting.

Pitbull Mastiff
Image By: NivCube, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Fighting

Why is it so hard to shut down dog fighting completely?

Dog fighting is difficult to contain because it is so common and so well-funded. Although there are no statistics for the amount of money made in dogfighting each year, dog fighters have millions of dollars to lose if shut down and the resources to fight long legal battles. It is also difficult to prosecute those involved in dogfighting because of the challenges involved in using living creatures as evidence.

Awareness, funding, and police veterinary resources all help stop dogfighting. (NEACHA)

Is it illegal to watch a dogfight?

Being a spectator in a dogfight is a crime in all 50 states, but the severity of that crime varies from state to state. In some states, it is always a felony. In other states, it is only a misdemeanor. In some states, it is only a felony for repeat offenders. (NEACHA)

man in handcuffs
Image By: 4711018, Pixabay

Are the dogs that are seized by police euthanized?

New methods of terminating custody of dogs have led to many dogs being rescued and rehabilitated, but other dogs are still being euthanized. For many dogs, a lack of resources leads to euthanization even when rehabilitation is possible. But some dogs, especially adult dogs who have spent their whole lives suffering abuse and aggression, are beyond rehabilitation.

In these cases, it is often determined that euthanization is the most humane option. (FBI)

Are only Pit Bulls used for dog fighting?

Pit Bulls are often associated with dogfighting, but many breeds of dogs are sometimes called Pit Bulls, including the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and American Bulldog. All of these breeds of dogs are used in dogfighting, along with mixed-breed dogs and any other large dogs brought up for aggression. (LCA)

three american bulldogs on grass
Image By: B Wills, Pixabay

What are some signs that a dog is being used for fighting?

Dogs used in fighting often have cropped ears and sometimes cropped tails so that other dogs cannot bite them. They tend to be aggressive towards humans and other dogs and might be chained up with a heavy chain and collar. Fighting dogs might have visible injuries such as lacerations, puncture wounds, and torn fur and skin. (LCA)

What can I do if I suspect someone is involved in dog fighting?

If you witness signs of dog fighting, the best thing to do is report it. The Humane Society of the United States has a tip line available for reporting and offers a $5,000 reward if a dogfighter is convicted. They will work with local law enforcement to provide resources and guidance. You can also report the tip to law enforcement directly. (The Humane Society)

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Final Thoughts

Dog fighting is a brutal and unfortunately common sport. It could involve around 40,000 humans and lead to the death of an estimated 16,000 dogs every year in the US. Dogs involved in dog fighting are abused and conditioned to be aggressive and violent. Although many involved in the dog fighting industry are convicted every year, the fight against dogfighting is still far from over.


Featured Image Credit: Zeralein99, Shutterstock

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