Dog fighting animals have their ears cropped and tails docked close to their bodies to minimize the animal’s normal body language cues and to limit areas that another dog can grab during a fight. Fighters usually perform this cropping/docking themselves using crude and inhumane techniques.
HOW BIG IS IT?
Dog fighting is a massive underground industry. In 2000, law enforcement authorities estimated dog fighting to be a $500 million/year industry worldwide with close ties to the mafia. From 2010-2018 ASPCA assisted with approximately 200 dog fighting cases in 24 states.
BURDENED LAW ENFORCEMENT
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Law enforcement is heavily burdened nationwide. 50% of law enforcement officers in all 50 states say they encounter dog fighting in their line of work. Officers have limited resources. 40% of law enforcement officers say limited resources, including money, time and manpower, pose a major obstacle when it comes to pursuing dog fighting cases.
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Dog fighters are often involved with other violence and organized crime. Most law enforcement officers consider dog fighting a severe crime, particularly due to the likelihood of dog fighters committing other violent crimes, citing the link between violence against humans and violence against animals as a major factor contributing to the severity of the crime. They also cited dog fighters’ involvement in organized crimes such as drugs and illegal firearms.
EFFORTS TO STOP DOG FIGHTING
The FBI now counts acts of cruelty against animals in their criminal database. In 2016, the FBI began collecting data on acts of animal cruelty in their National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), alongside felony crimes like arson, burglary, assault and homicide.
The National Sheriffs’ Association was a leading advocate for adding animal cruelty as a data set in the Bureau’s collection of crime statistics. The association for years has cited studies linking animal abuse and other types of crimes—most famously, murders committed by serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz. The organization also points out the overlap animal abuse has with domestic violence and child abuse.
In 2018, more than 5,000 animal cruelty incidents were reported in the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting system, which has only 44% U.S. coverage.
Some animal fighting raids are multi-state and multi-jurisdictional, and sometimes the perpetrators are charged under state law, or federal law, or both.