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Unchained -10 Ways to Indentify Dog Fighting in Your Own Neighborhood

Updated on July 14, 2014


Dog fighting is a felony is all 50 states and the District of Columbia. So while criminals are viciously fighting animals to their death for profit, local and federal law enforcement, the ASPCA, and the Humane Society of the United States are fighting for justice. Currently, the ASPCA is working with Congress to enact legislation making it a federal crime to even attend any organized animal fighting event. It will be a tremendous victory for innocent animals forced to participate in a barbaric blood "sport". Along with 367 pit bulls officials in a recent national raid were able to seize narcotics, drug paraphernalia, weapons and 500,000 dollars cash used for gambling. The sweep was the result of a four year multi-state investigation.

If you witness a dogfight in progress call 911 Emergency, immediately. Dog fighting is a deadly crime.


When you suspect evidence of dog fighting there is a 99% chance other illegal activity will be discovered within an operation. What do you look for in your own community as evidence of dog fighting? What can you do if you believe its happening in your own backyard? What can you do if you know of or see a dog being chained or tethered and in obvious distress?

Contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS

Contact your local law enforcement

Call your local animal control or humane officers.

Contact the ASPCA or HSUS (website links are available on this page)

Below is a list of TEN COMMON WARNING signs of dog fighting compiled from resources including the ASPCA, HSUS, law enforcement and various animal welfare organizations.


Have you noticed a high or inordinate amount of the pit bull breed in your area? Do you see or have you seen multiple dogs tethered with heavy chains? Are the dogs isolated and left un-socialized? Although tethering and chaining can occur with any breed of dog, pit bulls are most commonly used in illegal dog fighting operations.


Do you see dogs, especially pit bulls with fresh scars on their faces? Do you see dogs with multiple scars, cuts, open or healed wounds? Fighting dogs will have swollen faces, puncture wounds, bites, and scratches all over their body.


Dogs that are constantly confined either by chains or in a cage are already living a prison sentence. Dogs thrive on socialization and loving human contact. All dogs will become scared and aggressive when under the chronic stress of confinement. In urban areas you may witness pit bulls kept in cages indoors, outside or tied up twenty-four seven to a little patch of yard near a building or apartment complex. You may even witness tethering on steps or stairwells. It is cruel and inhumane to constantly crate or confine a dog. Report animal cruelty.


A springpole conditions a dog for fighting by building up his neck and jaw muscles. A springpole involves a rawhide, knotted rope, tire or other material that is suspended from a beam or sturdy tree branch. A dog will bite and relentlessly hold on to it to build strength and endurance.

This type of device, often seen hanging in trees, triggers suspicion in many utility workers, public works employees and postal carriers who may notice and report activity in rural areas.

Concerned neighbors may watch people and vehicles traveling in and out of an area at odd hours of the day.


A fighting pit will have noticeable "scratch lines." Pits are often constructed out of plywood, measure between 14 and 20 square feet and have walls two to three feet high. What you should look for is blood stains. Recently, dogfighters have been using chain link fencing. Fighting pits can also be constructed out of crude makeshift materials such as hay barrels. The diagonal scratch lines are drawn in two opposite corners. The dogs stay behind these lines until the referee orders them to be released.


A jenny mill or what is sometimes referred to as a cat mill is a device used to encourage a dogs prey instinct. It also conditions dogs for fighting. Jenny mills resemble a miniature harness or horse walker. The dog is strapped to a spoke projecting from a rotating center shaft and chases a small bait animal, such as a rabbit.


United States:
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It is illegal to ship dogfighting publications through the U.S mail but when you notice any one with underground magazines like "Scratch Back or the "International Dog Journal" they are more than likely keeping track of winning bloodlines. Other publications to look for are "Sporting Dog Journal" and "Certified Contender Report".


Have you ever seen a dog owner with a blood stained breakstick? Breaking sticks are a foot long piece of wood which is flat on one side and used to pry open a dogs mouth during battle.


Even if some of the following drugs are used for legitimate purposes the majority of dog fighting operations will illegally access and use

Dexamethazone which is a type of steroid.

Winstrol- V (steroid)

Ampicillin (antibiotic)

Amoxicillin (antibiotic)

Canine Red Dog, an iron supplement


A seemingly ordinary household object such an old fashioned washtub can be an incriminating piece of evidence. Large washtubs or buckets are used to sponge off fighting dogs before a match. Opponents will often try to cheat by using poisonous chemicals or caustic substances that will disable another dog. A referee will examine and help sponge down dogs before battle.


Witnessing animal abuse can be traumatic and terrifying, especially if you aren’t sure what to do about it. If you fear retaliation, you can protect yourself and your family by reporting anonymously but DO something. Another important step you can make is to become familiar with your local animal cruelty laws. Find out which agency handles cruelty complaints and learn how to follow up to make sure an investigation is conducted. Depending on the situation you may need to report what you have witnessed more than once. DON'T STOP until something is done or you get a response. Cruelty and abuse does not GO AWAY on it's own and is the symptom of a deeper issue. If you are suspicious of a group or individuals in your neighborhood, be safe and work with your local law enforcement. When you report animal cruelty you are doing more than saving the life of an animal. You are saving the life of your own community.


Have you ever reported animal abuse/ cruelty or witnessed a dog fight?

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Submit a Comment

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago

    Thank you for your response Crafty. I support any and all organizations that bring awareness or stop dog fighting and abuse all together. It sounds like an incredible charity. Pit bulls suffer from discrimination as you know but their behavior is dependent on owners treatment /training rather than breed standards. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Give all those four legged loves a hug from me!

  • CraftytotheCore profile image


    5 years ago

    I voted awesome, but I really wanted to cuss at the computer. It's such a terrible shame. I own a pit bull and he is the biggest love! It makes me so angry to think about the people who fight them! Have you heard about the boxing league that fights for pits? They are my favorite pit bull charity!

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago

    Agreed. Thank you, lifelovemystery for reading and commenting.

  • lifelovemystery profile image

    Michelle Orelup 

    5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

    This is such an incredibly cruel thing that I have trouble calling it a 'sport'. Do people have no heart, no soul? Is money that important to them that they will sacrifice a living being in the name of entertainment? So Sad.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago

    Thank you for commenting Vinaya. You mentioned another problem that we have in this country as well. Overpopulation. Millions of animals, not just strays but those voluntarily surrendered to shelters due to cost, ill health or aging are euthanized in the US. We are overbreeding in puppy mills and failing to spay and neuter. We are killing thousands of innocent animals every day. What is your country doing to solve the stray population issue?

  • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

    Vinaya Ghimire 

    5 years ago from Nepal

    This is a good article on the topic. However,some of your tips do not work in my country. Stray dogs are quite common here.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago

    Thank you Flourish,

    You are absolutely correct regarding recognizing the signs. Dogs more than any other animal in the history of our civilization trust human beings. Look at what we've done.

  • FlourishAnyway profile image


    5 years ago from USA

    It's important to know the signs. So many people don't know what they are seeing so with this type of education more animals can be protected. Some humans are despicable they treat living beings. We need to stand up when we see illegal behavior in every instance. Report, report, report.

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago


    Thank you for reminding all of us all that teaching empathy for human beings and animals should begin in childhood.

  • kidscrafts profile image


    5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

    Animal abuse is just terrible! It makes me really sad! What makes people do things like that.... I have no idea! I think we definitely have to educate children quite young about the respect of animals.

    Just a few days ago the radio reported that someone brutally killed two raccoons (a mother and he young) here in Ottawa; he will get a fine for brutality toward animals. I don't know if he will have to go to prison....he sure deserves it!

    Thank you for writing about this important subject! I hope a lot of people will read it!

  • LKMore01 profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago

    Thank you for your comment, Bill. Unfortunately, not every one is as outraged as they should be or even identifies the connection between animal abuse and crime. Awareness is a start. Thank you for being a compassionate human being.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    This kind of stuff makes me sick to my stomach. I will never understand how man, with such lofty capabilities, would stoop so low as to find entertainment in the cruelty to animals. Makes one almost ashamed to be human. Thank you for raising awareness about this horrible crap.


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