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Dog fighting is a blood sport in which game dogs are made to fight, sometimes to the death. Dog fighting is used for entertainment and may also generate revenue from stud fees, admission fees and gambling. It is illegal in most developed countries.
Dog fighting is a blood sport that can be traced back to ancient times. Blood sports involving the baiting of animals has occurred since antiquity for example at the Colosseum in Rome during the reign of the Roman Empire. It possibly reached the peak of its popularity during the 16th century. The various animal types involved in the bait allowed for the breed specialization and basic anatomical forms of fighting dogs, which we see today.
Dog fighting has been documented in the recorded history of many different cultures, and is presumed to have existed since the initial domestication of the species. Many breeds have been bred specifically for the strength, attitude, and physical features that would make them better fighting dogs.
Scholars[who?] speculate that large-scale human migration, development of trade, and gifts between royal courts of valuable fighting dogs facilitated the spread of fighting dog breeds. There are many accounts of military campaigns which used fighting dogs, as well as royal gifts in the form of large dogs.
History in Europe and North America 
Before the 19th century, bloodsports such as bull baiting, bear baiting and cock fighting were common. Bulls brought to market were set upon by dogs as a way of tenderizing the meat and providing entertainment for the spectators and dog fights with bears, bulls and other animals were often organized as entertainment for both royalty and commoners.
Early dogs of the bull terrier type were bred for the working characteristic known as gameness, with the pitting of dogs against bear or bull testing this attribute along with the strength and skill of the dog. These early "proto-staffords" provided the ancestral foundation stock for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. This common ancestor was known as the "Bull and Terrier".
In Britain these bloodsports began to be officially eliminated in 1835 with the introduction of animal welfare laws. Since dogfights were cheaper to organize and far easier to conceal from the law than bull or bear baits, bloodsport proponents turned to pitting their dogs against each other instead. Dog fighting was used as both a bloodsport (often involving gambling) and a way to continue to test the quality of their stock. For decades afterward, dog fighting clandestinely took place in pockets of working-class Britain and America. Dogs were released into a pit, and the last dog still fighting (or occasionally, the last dog surviving) was recognized as the winner.
Breed origins 
The foundation breed of the fighting dog was, in its outward appearance, a large, low, heavy breed with a powerful build and strongly developed head.
Dog breeding in its earliest stages was carried out systematically, with the desire for specialization. It is believed that the development of individual breeds took place in narrow geographic areas, corresponding to the performance required in these regions. Selection for performance, complemented by the breeding for suitable body forms, led to the formation of breeds. The task of the fighting dog demands specific anatomical traits and temperamental features. The goal is to breed a dog that will attack animals but is docile and affectionate toward humans. All breeds with a character suitable for protecting humans and fighting wild animals may be considered for dogfighting. Special attention is often given to the American Pit Bull Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
Societal aspects 
Fighting dog training 
A young dog who is to be trained to fight is allowed to fight with other dogs in "rolls". The dogs that are less inclined to fight are discarded, killed, or used as bait dogs. Smaller, weaker dog breeds and mixes are sometimes used as bait dogs as well. Not all dog breeds can be trained to fight in the first place.
"Street" dog fighters rarely train their dogs to fight properly, preferring starvation, abuse, isolation, and drugging to encourage the dogs to fight.
Training a dog to fight can be prosecuted under animal abuse or neglect.
Bait animals 
"Bait" animals are animals used to test a dog's fighting instinct; they are often mauled or killed in the process. Trainers obtain bait animals from several sources: wild or feral animals, animals obtained from a shelter, or in some cases, stolen pets. Sometimes the animals are also obtained through "free to a good home" ads. According to news reports compiled by the Humane Society of the United States, the snouts of bait dogs are wrapped with duct tape to prevent them from injuring dogs being trained for fighting. Their teeth are filed and their nails are cut until nothing is left. Other animals, such as cats and rabbits, are also reported to be used as bait animals. Experts have said small dogs, kittens, and rabbits are more at risk of being stolen for bait than larger animals.
Gang and criminal activities 
In places where dog fighting is outlawed, its clandestine culture is believed to be directly related to other crimes and to community violence. Peripheral criminal activities that sometimes occur at a dog fight include illegal gambling, racketeering, drug trafficking, prostitution, and gang violence. Animal advocates also cite desensitization to violence and animal cruelty as an unwelcome corollary of dog fighting, particularly among child spectators.
Animal welfare and rights 
Animal advocates consider dog fighting to be one of the most serious forms of animal abuse, not only for the violence that the dogs endure during and after the fights, but because of the suffering they often endure in training. At least one major study alleges that the prevailing mind set among dog fighters is that the more the dog suffers, the tougher he will become, and the better fighter he will therefore be. According to a filing in U.S. District Court in Richmond by federal investigators in Virginia, which was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and published by the Baltimore Sun on July 6, 2007, a losing dog or one whose potential is considered unacceptable faces "being put to death by drowning, strangulation, hanging, gun shot, electrocution or some other method". Some of the training of fighting dogs may entail the use of small animals (including kittens) as prey for the dogs.
Status by Region 
Dog fighting has been popular in many countries throughout history and continues to be practised both legally and illegally around the world.
Due to the actions of groups such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, dog fighting is now illegal in all first world countries except Japan.. Dog fighting is legal in most third world countries. In the 20th and 21st centuries, dog fighting has increasingly become an unlawful activity in most of the world.
Dog fighting and the possession of any fighting equipment designed for dog fighting is illegal in Australia. Dog fighting in Australia is often associated with gambling activities and other illegal practices such as drug dealing and firearms. The RSPCA is concerned that dog fighting involves the suffering or even the death of dogs for the purpose of entertainment. The illegal nature of dogfighting in Australia means that injured dogs rarely get veterinary treatment placing the dog's health and welfare at even greater risk. "Restricted Breed Dogs" cannot be imported into Australia. These include the Dogo Argentino, the Japanese Tosa, the Fila Brasileiro, the Perro de Presa Canario and the American Pit Bull Terrier. Of these, the Pit Bull Terrier and the Perro de Presa Canario are the only breeds currently known to exist in Australia and there are strict regulations on keeping these breeds, including a prohibition on transferring ownership.
Dog fighting and other forms of animal fighting is extremely popular in all parts of rural Pakistan, and is deeply rooted in the rural culture, where some 70 percent of the population resides. It has been a way for tribes, clans and the rural people to socialize while being entertained.  Even though it has recently been banned by law, it is still being practiced in rural Pakistan, especially in provinces such as Punjab, Azad Kashmir, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. There can apparently be as much as millions of rupees at stake for the owners of winning dogs, so different breeds have carefully been bred and selected specifically for the purpose, such as the Bully Kutta and Gull Dong.
Dog fighting is not common, but can be found in some rural areas, and is illegal as defined by the Indian law. It is also illegal to possess dogfighting materials such as videos, or to attend an event.
According to historical documents, Hōjō Takatoki, the 14th shikken (shogun's regent) of the Kamakura shogunate was known to be obsessed with dog fighting, to the point where he allowed his samurai to pay taxes with dogs. During this period dog fighting was known as inuawase (犬合わせ).
Dog fighting was considered a way for the Samurai to retain their aggressive edge during peaceful times. Several daimyō, such as Chosokabe Motochika and Yamauchi Yodo, both from Tosa Province (present-day Kōchi Prefecture), were known to encourage dog fighting. Dog fighting was also popular in Akita Prefecture, which is the origin of the Akita breed.
Dog fighting evolved in Kōchi to a form that is called tōken (闘犬). Under modern rules, dogs fight in a fenced ring until one of the dogs barks, yelps, or loses the will to fight. Owners are allowed to throw in the towel, and matches are stopped if a doctor judges it is too dangerous. Draws usually occur when both dogs will not fight or both dogs fight until the time limit. There are various other rules, including one that specifies that a dog will lose if it attempts to copulate. Champion dogs are called yokozuna, as in sumo. Dog fighting is not banned at a nationwide level, but the prefectures of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Fukui, Ishikawa, Toyama and Hokkaidō all ban the practice. Currently, most fighting dogs in Japan are of the Tosa breed which is native to Kōchi.
South America 
Dog fighting is illegal in much of South America. The American Pit Bull Terrier is by far the most common breed involved in the bloodsport. The Fila Brasileiro and Dogo Argentino are also used as fighting dogs. The Dogo Cubano and Dogo Cordoba were used for fighting a century ago, but have become extinct.
North America 
Dog fighting is illegal in the United States. It has been illegal in Canada since 1892; however, the current law requires police to catch individuals during the unlawful act, which is often difficult.
According to a study by the College of Law of Michigan State University published in 2005, in the United States, dog fighting was once completely legal and was sanctioned and promoted during the colonial period (17th century through 1776) and continuing through the Victorian era in the late 19th century. It has become increasingly outlawed, a trend which has continued into the 21st century.
As of 2008, dog fighting is a felony in all states. It is against the law even to attend a dog fighting event, regardless of direct participation. According to authorities, dog fighting is increasingly practiced by gangs in low income areas of the United States, and is linked to other unlawful activities, such as illegal gambling and prostitution.
CNN estimates that about 40000 professionals are in this sport in the United States and has described it as a large commercial activity. Top individual fights are said to have a prize money of about USD 100000. It states that over a hundred thousand people are engaged in this activity on a non-professional basis.
Despite legality issues, dogs are still commonly used for fighting purposes all across the continent. The American Pit Bull Terrier is the most popular breed used for fighting, but foreign breeds, such as the Dogo Argentino (used widely in South America) and Presa Canario (used in Spain) are also gaining popularity.
Although animal cruelty laws exist in Russia, dog fighting is widely practiced. Laws prohibiting dogfights have been passed in certain places, and in others dogfights are legally held generally using Caucasian Shepherd Dog, Georgian shepherd, Central Asian Shepherd Dog. Temperament tests, which are a common and relatively mild form of dog fighting used for breeding purposes, are fairly commonplace. Dog fighting is prohibited in Moscow by order of that city's mayor.
South Africa 
Dog fighting is reportedly widespread in South Africa, particularly in the Western Cape region of Stellenbosch. The Stellenbosch Animal Welfare Society (AWS) frequently responds to complaints of night-time dog fighting in the town of Cloetesville in which hundreds of dogs fight. Young children may be used to transport fighting dogs to avoid arrest of the owners.
United Kingdom 
The Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 of England and Wales was the first legislation in the world that made dogfighting illegal. Despite periodic dog-fight prosecutions, the illegal canine pit battles continued. Sporting journals of the 18th and 19th centuries depict the Black Country and London as the primary English dog fight centres of the period. In recent years the inner cities, particularly London, have seen a steady rise in the number of convictions for dog fighting.
Significant US cases 
On 27 August 2007 professional American football player Michael Vick pleaded guilty to felony charges of running a dogfighting ring. Vick joined three others who had pleaded guilty earlier to federal offense charges for running a competitive dogfighting ring called "Bad Newz Kennels" over a period of six years. The case drew widespread publicity in the United States owing to Vick's fame, his image as a role model, and certain gruesome details of the operation, including how underperforming dogs were executed via means such as electrocution and hanging. The related unlawful gambling he funded was also objectionable to his professional football league's Player Code of Conduct. The four co-defendants face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 plus restitution. It is also likely that Vick will forfeit ownership of the $700,000 fifteen acre estate in Surry County, Virginia, which was developed for the enterprise. A Virginia state grand jury met to consider additional state charges on Vick on 25 September 2007.
In the wake of the Michael Vick case, the Animal Legal Defense Fund drafted a recommended amendment to state laws that would enable prosecutors to charge dogfighters under the respective state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (commonly referred to as "RICO") statute. Applied to animal fighting, RICO, which was originally designed to be a weapon against a wide variety of organized criminal efforts including drug dealing and gambling, would give prosecutors increased muscle in seeking justice for the animals abused and—as in the highly-publicized Michael Vick dogfighting case—executed by their owners. Thirty-two states currently have RICO statutes to which this amendment could be applied. The amendment was enacted in Virginia in July 2008, making it the third state, along with Oregon and Utah, whose law lists dogfighting as a RICO predicate offense.
On 12 July 2012, Detroit rapper Young Calicoe's house was raided by police on suspicion of dog fighting and other crimes against animals including chickens. Earlier that month he recorded a home video boasting about how his animals are "champion fighters" and posted the video on YouTube for his fans to see. Many of them were outraged and e-mailed the video to the Detroit Police Department. As of today, the Young Calicoe animal abuse video is available for viewing on LiveLeak. Since news of this broke out, many of his social networking sites have been under attack by angered fans, and many rival rappers wrote diss tracks to show their rage. Young Calicoe is still under investigation.
See also 
- Dog fighting in the United States
- List of dog fighting breeds
- Cricket fighting
- Villavicencio, Monica (2007-07-19). "A History of Dogfighting". NPR. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "ASPCA | Dog Fighting FAQ". Fight Animal Cruelty. ASPCA. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
- U.S. Dog-Fighting Rings Stealing Pets for "Bait"
- Pets 911 - "Free to a Good Home"
- Congressional commentary to 7 U.S.C. §2156
- Dog Fighting General Overview
- Topic Galleries - baltimoresun.com
- "Is dog fighting illegal in Australia?". RSPCA Australia Knowledgebase. n.d. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- "Things you should know about restricted breed dogs". November 4, 2005. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- "The horrific world of dog fighting tournaments in Pakistan". February 28, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- "Dog fighting in pakistan is alive and kicking". January 23, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
- Weblio Dictionary (Japanese)
- "Tosa inu history and breed information". Bulldog Information. Retrieved 2007-05-27.
- Canadian Federal Legislation regarding animal welfare
- "Dogfighting a booming business, experts say". 2007-07-19. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- A Brutal Sport Is Having Its Day Again in Russia
- Dog fights are back in the news… again.
- Hundreds of animals savaged in night-time dog fighting in Cloetesville
- Green, Frank (24 August 2007). "Vick signs plea deal, admits providing gambling funds". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
- Animal Fighting Case Study: Michael Vick
|Wikinews has related news: Number of suspects in Finnish dogfighting case rises to ten|
General information 
- Bully Kutta Fighting Dog Breed
- Fighting Dog Breeds
- Animal Legal and Historical Center
- Monsieur Pitbull
- Diane Jessup
- Sad Reality
- Stafford and Baiting Sports
- ASPCA: Article about Dog Fighting
- Knock Out Dog Fighting
News articles 
- Staff (30 November 2007). "Dog fighting in Acadiana: Video part 1". KLFY TV 10. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- Staff (30 November 2007). "Dog fighting in Acadiana: Video part 2". KLFY TV 10. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- Webster, Richard (26 November 2007). "Dog fighting remains big business in Louisiana". New Orleans City Business. Archived from the original on 2008-03-14. Retrieved 2007-11-26.
- Burke, Bill (17 June 2007). "Once limited to the rural South, dogfighting sees a cultural shift". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2007-06-17.
- Staff (7 July 2012). "Detroit Rapper Young Calicoe Raided After Dog Fighting Video Goes Viral". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2012-07-11.