Dogfighting is one of the most dreadful animal abuse practices, so the dog fighting statistics we’re presenting here are sure to make you at least a bit sad. You’ll be shocked at how big the ‘industry’ is and just how bad it treats the animals.
Top 10 Unbelievable Stats and Facts on Dogfighting
- 57% of Americans believe dogfighting doesn’t happen in their community.
- Dog fights are illegal in all 50 American states.
- Dogs are abused and killed because of dogfighting every year.
- Dog fights, on average, last 1–2 hours.
- Large Japanese dogfight tournaments can feature up to 250 dogs.
- Harry Hargrove is responsible for approximately 1,000 dog deaths.
- In 2021, over 100 Pitbulls used for dogfighting were seized by authorities.
- Michail Vick, an NFL player, was caught organizing dog fights in 2007.
- The history of dogfighting started in ancient Rome.
- Dogfighting has been present in America since the 1800s.
Devastating Dogfighting Stats to Make You Think
If you think dogfighting is a part of the past, you’ll be surprised by our dogfighting statistics. You’ll also understand why dogfighting is referred to as organized cruelty. So, let’s go.
1. 57% of Americans believe dogfighting doesn’t happen in their community.
But even if they suspect something shady is happening, many of them won’t do anything about it.
Although 92% of the people interviewed said they would report dogfighting if they suspected it, only 53% actually reported it when they saw it happen. On the other hand, 25% did absolutely nothing.
The numbers come from a poll, though, so they should be taken with a grain of salt.
2. Approximately 40,000 people participate in organized dogfighting in the US.
(The Humane Society of the United States)
As it’s so difficult to identify the people involved in dogfighting, this number is not precise. But, there are indications that the numbers are much higher, as these are only those involved in organized fighting.
3. Dog fights are illegal in all 50 American states.
(Animal Legal & Historical Center, 2014)
Organizing dog fights is a felony, and it’s additionally persecuted by the Federal Animal Welfare Act. A person found guilty can go to jail for up to 5 years. Unfortunately, depending on prosecution, the organizer of dog fights can get away with a fine or be put on probation.
What some people don’t know is that it’s also illegal to watch a dog fight. Spectators in dog fights can get up to one year of jail time or pay up to $5,000, or both. Bringing a minor to the fight increases the punishment.
4. On average, 20 people are arrested during a raid.
This comes from the arrest statistics, which show that anywhere between 1 and 123 people involved with the organization of dog fights can be arrested in just one raid.
Besides these arrests, police, on average, find and seize around 35 dogs, but this number can go up to 500.
5. Research shows that hundreds of thousands of dogs are abused and killed because of dogfighting every year.
(Animal Legal Defense Fund, 2020)
These are only the estimated numbers, though. However, since only one group of perpetrators injured and killed 420–640 dogs in more than four years, the number is unlikely to be much lower.
Since dog fights are illegal and only a tiny percent of perpetrators get busted, there are no exact reports on this subject. Many never get discovered, and those who do will never report the real kill numbers.
6. Reporting organized dogfighting can get you $5,000.
(The Humane Society of the United States)
The money is offered by the Humane Society of the United States, but not everybody gets it. You’ll only get the money if the organizer of dog fights you reported is arrested and convicted.
Even if you don’t get the prize money, you should still report. If you recognize the signs of a dogfighting organization — scarred dogs on heavy chains, training equipment, or fighting pits — call 911 immediately.
7. Owners of dogfighting “champions” earn around $100,000 annually just from stud fees.
The owners of female dogs pay the fees for puppies that are more genetically predisposed to be aggressive and, thus, more likely to win fights. The female dog often gets tied up while violated to prevent her from hurting the male.
8. Dog fights, on average, last 1–2 hours.
(Humane Society International, 2019, Lewiston Sun Journal, 2018)
The fights end when one of the dogs can’t fight anymore. Dogs that lose either die during the fight succumb to injuries later or are killed by their owner after the fight.
Even their deaths are painful — most owners kill them by hanging, electrocuting, or drowning. Rarely they are shot, but this is usually avoided to not draw any attention.
9. Large Japanese dogfight tournaments can feature up to 250 dogs.
According to some interviews from 2016, there can be between 60 and 100 dogs fighting in the smaller tournaments. Almost all pit bull fights are sponsored by the Japanese mafia — the Yakuza.
Besides all the facts against it and the mafia’s involvement, dog fights are still legal in most parts of Japan. What’s even worse — watching dog fights is considered a family-friendly activity by those involved.
Recorded Dogfighting Cases — Stats and Facts
Here, we’ve prepared some reported cases and busts that happened during 2020 and 2021, as well as some infamous cases that have changed the way people look at dogfighting.
10. In a dogfighting bust in 2020, the police have found over 150 dogs.
(The United States Department of Justice, 2020)
This was the largest bust of the year. The chain of crime extended through four states and was also connected to cocaine distribution.
There were many people involved in this crime, including Vernon Vegas, one of the most prominent dogfighting trainers.
(CityWatch Los Angeles, 2021)
More precisely, 42 were discovered in Florida, 35 in North Carolina, 19 in Virginia, and 34 in Georgia. All of the seizings happened during the first half of the year, so more reports are yet to come.
Since statistics show that pit bulls are the most used dog type for dog fights, these numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise.
12. During the dog fighting ring bust in August 2021, 10 people were arrested.
(NBC New York, 2021)
Since they also saved 89 dogs, this is regarded as perhaps the largest bust in New York history. Before the bust, the organization was highly profitable — $175,000 per fight was the regular bet for one person.
12. Harry Hargrove, a dogfighting trainer, is responsible for approximately 1,000 dog deaths.
This death count comes from the fact that this man had a four-decade-long career in the field of dogfighting. The number is approximate but is believed to be even higher — at some point, Hargrove had over 250 dogs at once.
He sold dogs online, trained them for dog fights, and organized dogfighting events. He was known as a “dogfighting kingpin” until he was arrested in 2010.
13. Michail Vick, an NFL player, was caught organizing dog fights in 2007.
(Washington Post, 2019)
This is definitely one of the most famous dog fighting cases in the US. There were 66 dogs found on Vick’s property. He later admitted to organizing dogfighting, killing dogs, and betting illegally.
What separates this case from most others is the fact that most of the dogs were actually resocialized and adopted. This is especially fortunate considering their condition and the fact that pit bulls generally have a hard time getting adopted.
Surprising Dog Fighting Statistics and Facts
If you’re interested in learning more about dog fighting history or want to know what happens to the animals in dog fights, read on.
14. The history of dogfighting started in ancient Rome.
The phenomenon can be traced back to the Roman conquest of Britain, which started in 43AD. This means that humans have been organizing dog fights for almost 2000 years.
In Roman times, the dogs didn’t just fight other dogs. They were made to fight lions, people (gladiators), and, believe it or not, elephants.
15. Dogfighting has been present in America since the 1800s.
In the beginning, it was considered a great sport and even supported by the United Kennel Club. They created the rules and provided referees. However, by 1976, all states had outlawed dogfighting, and it started to switch to more illegal circles.
Unfortunately, it’s still practiced no matter the punishment.
16. Dogs suffer from many life-threatening injuries because of fights.
(Bristol Live, 2018)
Deep wounds, broken bones, and severe bruises are just some of them. In addition, they lose a lot of blood, their wounds get infected, and many die from all the injuries. A study has found that 96.8% of the dogs examined had injuries to their limbs.
Also, 93.5% of them had head injuries, while most had injured teeth, mouth, and necks. After all, they are trained to attack those areas precisely.
Besides injuries, the dogs are often malnourished, dehydrated, and rarely alive for long after a lost fight.
Why is dogfighting bad?
Dogfighting is bad because it harms animals in many ways. Animals involved in dogfighting are chained, starved, trained to fight to the death, and often brutally killed in the end. Even the dogs who “win” the fights might still die from their injuries.
(Lewiston Sun Journal, 2018)
How common is dog fighting in the US?
Dogfighting is quite common. We couldn’t find any precise info, but research from 2007 showed that over 40,000 people participated in dogfighting and organized it professionally, while thousands did it as amateurs.
(The Humane Society of the United States)
How many dog fights happen a year?
Since dog fights are illegal, there are no sources to show the exact numbers. However, ASPCA assisted with uncovering about 200 dogfighting cases in the past decade. Since these are only the ones that were busted, the numbers are probably much higher.
We also know that the numbers are pretty high in Japan, where dog fights are legal.
(ASPCA, 2018, Newsweek, 2016)
How many pit bulls die a year from dogfighting?
There are no reports on pit bull deaths from dogfighting, but we know that around 16,000 dogs die each year due to dogfighting, most of which are pit bulls. However, since dog fighting is illegal and participants want to remain unknown, getting exact results is impossible.
There are some estimates that hundreds of thousands of dogs suffer from abuse related to dogfighting. Still, there is no precise info on deaths.
(Animal Legal Defense Fund, 2020)
What is a bait dog in dogfighting?
Bait dogs are dogs used to train fighting dogs by getting them used to mutilating another dog. A bait dog can be any dog that is not physically strong or aggressive. In other words, it can be any dog not suitable for dog fighting.
Their teeth often get plucked out, or their mouths might be taped to prevent any damage to the fighting dog.
They are generally stolen, but they might also come from unsuspecting people who give their dogs up for adoption. The bait dogs can also come from a fighting dog’s litter.
With all the numbers we’ve shown you, you surely understand how big this illegal industry is and how many animals suffer because of money and entertainment.
Although it’s disheartening that this happens every day, knowing something is done about it is good, and we can all help.
So, we hope that our dog fighting statistics mean something to you, and you’ll report any suspicious activity you ever stumble upon.
- Animal Legal & Historical Center
- Animal Legal Defense Fund
- Bristol Live
- CityWatch Los Angeles
- History of Yesterday
- Humane Society International
- Lewiston Sun Journal
- NBC New York
- The Humane Society of the United States
- The Washington Post
- U.S. Department of Justice