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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.


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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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