When Dogfighters Come to Town

Posted by Stephan Otto, ALDF's Director of Legislative Affairs on January 17, 2012

Especially where groups of neighboring urban buildings are involved, empty foreclosure properties present an increasing challenge for law enforcement as incoming criminals replace outgoing residents.

Dogfighting is decidedly toxic to communities, as a chilling case from Chicago illustrates all too well. A September 3, 2011 news report describes a 7-month-old German shepherd puppy who was stolen from his home, sold for $10 and later discovered to have been decapitated in a nearby area of foreclosed properties known to be heavily used by dogfighters. A 16-year-old boy reportedly admitted to the alleged crime and was arrested and charged with felony counts of animal cruelty and animal torture. Horrified neighbors are left to lament their ongoing fears as police continue to investigate:

… “People around here are scared. The kids around here know that they are fighting dogs back there all the time,” the man said…

…A police source in the Austin area told me that within the past eight months, officers have recovered at least 10 dogs from the same vacant building this owner believes his dog was taken to…

…Despite a new ordinance that is supposed to force banks to secure and maintain foreclosed properties, many decaying properties like this one in Austin are being taken over by undesirable elements. And these criminal squatters are making it difficult for legitimate residents to enjoy their own homes.

“There have been several dogs missing in this area, and I am also hearing that someone is catching cats and [gouging] their eyes out,” the dog owner said. “All of a sudden, these things are happening. If these are the kind of people that are coming into the neighborhood, we can’t stay here. We have worked too hard to have to live like this.”…

Chicago Sun-Times, September 3, 2011

Pet Theft is but one ugly aspect of dogfighting culture. Acquired by theft or deception (for example, by answering “Free to a Good Home” ads), some dogs are stolen for fighting or breeding, while disposable “bait” animals are used to incite dogs to fight and test for “gameness.”

The financial and societal costs of dogfighting are heavy and insidious, creating a ripple effect across a jurisdiction. Egregious animal cruelty combined with the inevitable elements of weapons, drugs and gang violence motivate already overburdened local, state and federal criminal justice bureaus to devote resources to dogfighting cases. Citizens not directly exposed to the crime are nonetheless disadvantaged by law enforcement agencies stretched beyond their means, as well as animal shelters overwhelmed by animal victims and costs of care. There are children who are regularly exposed to the ruthlessness of dogfighting from a young age – while children who witness violence of any type suffer the effects, juveniles who ultimately become participants in the dogfighting world face particularly ominous futures.  

Resolve to acknowledge the impact that dogfighting has on your community, regardless of its geographic proximity to your home and family.  Find and support local programs which seek to prevent future dogfighters by educating youth, and contact your legislators at all levels of government toward supporting law enforcement and animal shelters by enacting and strengthening laws which deter and penalize dogfighting.

5 thoughts on “When Dogfighters Come to Town

  1. Diana says:

    I live in Brooklyn NY and own a 4-year-old rescued pit. He is MARVELOUS with kids and I have been trying to think of ways to volunteer as a teen educator to help prevent desensitization to dogfighting and issues of animal cruelty. Can you point me to some resources?

  2. Sue says:


    I recommend contacting Best Friends Animal Society. They have many pit bull education programs in various communities across the US.
    They also started the Dogtown show (Link below).

  3. beth wheeler says:

    Look for the group on Facebook called “Bruised Not Broken”

  4. Christine says:

    Any type of animal cruelty makes me sick! I have two wonderful cats and was disturbed to read about pets being stolen and abused or worse! I am especially tired of cowards going after helpless cats who don’t bother anyone. I truly believe every state needs to punish people who abuse or kill animals in a much more harsh manner — the electric chair (regardless of the age of an abuser). This way, other people may think twice before trying to harm an animal. I really believe this would help eliminate animal cruelty. It would be great if this could also occur worldwide to end animal cruelty in other countries too.

  5. M.L. Rhodes says:

    I was about to give one of my dogs away when I was warned that it would be a good “bait” dog. Evidently it’s a common practice in ‘teaching’ dogs to kill. I knew that dogfights are held as a gambling game around here, but that fact had been hidden WAY back in my brain! Please know that your sweet dog may make good ‘bait’. Then go the extra mile to protect all the animals you can. They need us.

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