Animal welfare

Dog fighting

In this article, The Humane Society of the United States discusses a long-running anti-cruelty case when a federal judge in Alabama handed down tough sentences for a number of active participants in a dogfighting network that spanned four states. One defendant, dubbed by U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins as “the godfather” of this ring, was sentenced to eight years in a federal penitentiary—the longest prison sentence ever handed down in a federal dogfighting case. Testimony indicated that Donnie Anderson hosted 80 fights in which nearly 500 pit bulls fought for hundreds of spectators who bet as much as $100,000 per fight.

I find it mind boggling that dog fighting continues to be so popular.  Recent articles, for example, discuss the breeding of “Frankenstein dogs” in Ireland for the purposes of dog fighting. In Akron. Ohio, police raided a dog fighting operation this month. Rewards are being offered in Syracuse to stop illegal dog fighting operations.  There is, of course, the very famous case of former NFL player Michael Hick and his dog fighting operations.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how some people can enjoy watching animals engage in blood sports.  These type of activities, unfortunately, have been a part of our history for centuries.  Blood sport was very popular in Ancient Rome, and involved many different types of animals, including wild cats, elephants, and dogs. Dog baiting become very popular in England in the 12th century:  Dogs were placed in rings with bulls and bears. In the mid 18th century, dog baiting became illegal in England, but the “sport” switched to having dogs fight each other in the ring. Dog fighting was exported to the United States, but was made illegal in most states by the 1860s, as it was considered inhumane.  Unfortunately, dog fighting has continued to be popular in the United States.  Dog fighting is illegal in most countries but, again, continues to operate illegally.  Dog fighting is certainly illegal in Canada, but our laws are on the soft side:  According to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Canadian Criminal Code makes it an offence if someone “encourages, aids or assists at the fighting or baiting of animals or birds”. However, the person literally has to be caught in the act … in Canada it is not an offence to train animals to fight nor to accept money from animal fighting. Clearly Canadian legislation has some way to go.


Favre, D. (2011). Animal law, welfare, interests, and rights. New York: Walters Kluwer.

Villavivencio, M. (2007). A history of dogfighting.



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