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Animal Fighting: Dogfights, Cockfights, and Other Animal Abuse

Updated on October 12, 2011

Even in America, thousands of animals are abused in some form everyday. Animal fighting has been around for hundreds, even thousands, of years, and although it is illegal in the U. S., it still persists in rings and streets throughout the nation. There are many different forms of this animal cruelty: cockfighting, dogfighting, and bullfighting. Unfortunately, the whole business is very secretive, making it almost impossible for law enforcement officials to stop it.

Two roosters fight to the death.
Two roosters fight to the death.


Dogfighting is a blood "sport" where two dogs are set against each other in a pit and forced to rip each other apart. Dogfighting can be split into two categories: street dogfighting and organized dogfighting.

Less organized, though just as brutal, street dogfighting takes place on the streets and in backyards, and can be triggered by things like insults and taunts. The rules and traditions of dogfighting are often ignored and the dogfight lasts only a few minutes. On the other hand, organized dogfighting is extremely secretive; people may go to one location and then escorted to where the dogfight takes place so they don't know where it will be beforehand. Via internet and mouth, word of dogfights are spread and take place in locations like abandoned warehouses, fields, and empty houses, where it is easy to evacuate quickly.


Staffordshire bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and American bulldogs are the most common dogs bred for dogfighting. Since they're often interbred, they are frequently referred to as merely pit bulls.

As puppies, the most aggressive ones are picked and forced to have their first fights. Survivors do not live normal lives. For a couple of months they are chained (sometimes with weights to increase the dog's strength) until they begin their training. Small, caged animals are used as baits while a training dog is on a treadmill and as a reward, given to the dog after to rip it apart.

Training dogs are forced to tread water, hang onto chains with a piece of meat with their jaws, and sometimes given steroids. In professional dogfighting, the dogs' nutrition is very carefully measured, though some dogs are also starved to encourage aggressiveness, for the same reason they are beaten and antagonized. Many dogfighters cut off the dog's ears so that the other fighter will have nothing to latch onto.

Just a few months over a year old, a prospective fighting dog has his first "roll", which is a fight that lasts ten minutes. Any dog that's not good enough will be abandoned, shot, electrocuted, drowned, burned alive, and killed through other torturous methods. Later, if the dog wins the next fight, lasting around an hour, then he's ready to fight.

Every time a dog wins a fight, it has to keep fighting and fighting. Then the dog is bred to produce puppies, which are brought up to endure a life of violence and torture.

After dogs have been trained for dogfighting, they become too aggressive for people to keep them as pets, so sadly, often result in euthanization.

At A Dogfight

In a dogfight, dogs are released at opposite ends in a pit surrounded by a 3-foot high, often portable, wooden fence. Spectators force the dogs to continue fighting by prodding and poking at them. It can last for hours, until one of the dogs dies or is seriously injured. The losing dog is killed for embarrassing the owner as a part of the entertainment. In addition to animal abuse, other crimes are usually committed at the dogfight, such as gambling, drug deals, illegal gun sales, and murder.

Unfortunately, children are often exposed to dogfights, which may teach them to enjoy violence and think hurting animals is all right.

Since dogfighting is so secretive, it is difficult and rare for police to discover a fight before it happens. By the time the police arrive at the scene, the remains of a fight are dog corpses and puddles of blood. If you suspect there is dogfighting going on in your neighborhood, contact your local law enforcement authorities immediately.



Cockfighting is like dogfighting; two roosters fight to the death in a pit, from which they can't escape. The birds are fitted with three-inch long steel blades, called "gaffs", to slash the other opponent, resulting in horrible injuries. Tortured to make them more aggressive, the birds are bred to fight. They peck and scratch each other with their beaks and claws. For more endurance, the birds are pumped with stimulants.

Cockfights last from a few minutes to half an hour, usually ending in death for one of the birds, though it's not uncommon for both birds to die. Like with other animal fighting, cockfighting comes hand-in-hand with other illegal activities, like gambling. Several thousands of dollars have been reported to pass hands after a cockfight.


Called noble and honorable in certain areas of the globe, the tradition of bullfighting is in reality the ganging up of people on a scared, wounded animal. First, the bull is beaten and crippled in order to weaken it before the show. Then a picador mounted on a blindfolded horse (blindfolded so the horse can't run away) thrusts his spear into the bull from above. Stabbing the bull from above adds to the bull's injuries and prevents him from moving his head or neck. The frightened bull thinks it is the horse torturing him because he doesn't see the man above, and attacks the horse while the man is perched safely on top. Sometimes the horses are so mutilated they must be killed- but not before they make a show of it in front of the crowd.

NOTE: In the video above, the sticks on the bull's back are basically stakes driven into his back to make the bull bleed to death. WARNING: The video above is not for the fainthearted.

As for the "courageous" matadors- armed with an array of weapons, they jab at the weak, dying animal, trying to antagonize it. Then, the matador attempts to kill the bull, but usually fails, adding even more to the bull's pain. Another person then shows up, the executioner, who is supposed to slice the bull's spinal cord and kill it. Sometimes, their efforts have still not murdered the poor bull, and the confused, paralyzed, conscious bull is dragged around the ring by his horns. Outside the ring, if the bull is still alive, its throat is slashed, while some people kick and beat it for fun.

Other Animal Fighting

In addition to forcing dogs, birds, and bulls to fight, some people go so far to include badgers, fish, and hogs.

A blood sport named "Hog Dog" is basically dogfighting only with a hog and a dog, hence the name. Also, "badger baiting" is another blood sport involving somebody drawing a badger out of its den, capturing it, and putting it in a den, where they release a dog. The dog pounces on the badger and the two begin fighting. Oftentimes, the badger's teeth and claws are removed to make the fight last longer.

Some betta fish are bred for fighting. Two fish are left in the same tank and begin attacking each other as people bet on the outcome. This practice originated in Thailand, where people would breed betta fish for their aggression, but there are people who do it all over the world. 

Animal cruelty happens all the time, all over the globe, and unfortunately, it's tough to stop the people who do this for their selfish, sick pleasure. If you suspect there is any animal cruelty going on in your neighborhood, contact your local law enforcement agencies immediately.

To help stop animal fighting, you can write letters to the media to create more awareness about the situation. There are many organizations looking to help animals, such as the HSUS and the ASPCA that you can support by donating a few dollars. 


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