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National Dog Fighting Awareness Day – April 8, 2023

National Dog Fighting Awareness Day is April 8 and has been observed every year since 2014. It’s no wonder why dogfighting is banned in the entire country. Yet the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals believes there are still many dog fighting rings out there, so they created this day as part of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month in April, to spread awareness and encourage people to take action against dog fighting. For these competitions, dogs are trained to severely wound or kill their adversary, and it’s all too common that losers are abandoned without receiving any medical treatment.

History of National Dog Fighting Awareness Day

The origins of dog fighting can be traced back to the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 A.D., as both sides brought dogs to the battlefield to help them fight. While the Romans won the war, British dogs proved to be better trained, and so the Romans, impressed, began to import British fighting dogs for war and entertainment. They would take them to their Colosseum and have them fight in groups against other animals, and later they would export them to other countries all over Europe.

By the 12th century, this became popular among the English nobility, who had them fight chained bulls and bears. By the early 19th century, people started talking about the scarcity of bulls and bears, their high prices, and even animal cruelty, which resulted in the British Parliament’s banning this activity in 1835. But this just made everyone turn to dog vs. dog combat. Humans started crossbreeding dogs to create stronger breeds.

Shortly before the start of the Civil War, fighting dogs were imported to the United States, and soon enough, the rest of the world. But the concerns about animal abuse kept growing as well, and by the 1860s, most states in the U.S. outlawed bloodsport. The A.S.P.C.A. was founded on April 10, 1966. In 1976, dogfighting was made illegal in every state, but the enforcement remained lax until a study showed a link between the activity and other crimes.

The Animal Fighting Prohibition Act went into effect in May 2007, which provides a penalty of up to three years of imprisonment for each offense of interstate or foreign transport of animals for fighting purposes. In December 2010, the A.S.P.C.A. established a Blood Sports unit dedicated solely to investigating animal fighting and has partnered with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. In 2017 alone, they rescued more than 300 dogs from 13 dogfighting operations across 11 states.

National Dog Fighting Awareness Day timeline

43 A.D.
Roman Invasion of Britain

Both sides use dogs on the battlefield; later, Romans have their dogs fight other animals for public entertainment.

12th Century
Baiting Becomes Popular in England

The practice in which groups of dogs are forced to fight other animals is a form of entertainment for the nobility.

1835
The British Parliament Bans Baiting

This results in the creation of dog fighting, as there is no law against it.

April 10, 1966
The A.S.P.C.A. Is Established

Its goal, as stated by its founder, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

1976
Dog Fighting Becomes Illegal

While illegal, it isn’t a rare activity, and enforcement isn’t severe until later studies demonstrate a link between the activity and other crimes.

December 2010
The A.S.P.C.A. Creates a Blood Sports Unit

The unit is dedicated to investigating animal fighting, and they partner with the police to stop these activities and rescue animals.

National Dog Fighting Awareness Day FAQs

Why do fighting dogs have no tongue?

It is common for ears and tongues to be removed in dogfighting because their opponents could latch onto them during a fight.

Do dog fights end in death?

Usually, fights are not to the death, though many dogs succumb to their injuries later. The only times losing dogs have their injuries treated and aren’t abandoned is when they have had a good history of fights won or come from a bloodline that’s considered ‘valuable.’

Where is dogfighting most popular?

The biggest dogfighting state in the U.S. is North Carolina.

How to Observe National Dog Fighting Awareness Day

  1. Sign the petition to pass the HEART Act

    The bill would allow more canine victims to be released as evidence so they can be rehabilitated, and require the defendant to pay for all veterinary care and ensure a full recovery for the dog, if possible. You can learn more and show your support for the HEART Act online.

  2. Learn how to tell if a dog is involved in dog fighting

    There are six signs to look for: multiple scars including lips or ears that have been ripped off, pit-bull-mix-type dogs that weigh around 40 to 50 lbs., dogs being hooked up to heavy chains, dogs being chained inches apart from one another if there are multiple, a dirt ring around the area where the dog is, and dogs chained in a secluded area out of the public’s view, such as in a basement. Learn more signs of animal cruelty and how to report it.

  3. Adopt a former fighting dog

    While these dogs may seem completely rehabilitated, violent tendencies could still occur, as dogs too, can suffer from P.T.S.D. You need to be careful about these, but if you can handle them, these dogs can become the happiest, most grateful, and most loyal animals you will ever see. Handsome Dan’s Rescue is an animal training group meant to help victims of dog fighting to rehabilitate, and find them a home. You can learn the stories of how these dogs learned to live again — and adopt one if you think you can take care of it.

5 Surprising Facts About Dogfighting

  1. Over 16,000 dogs die every year

    This is the number estimated by animal rescue organizations in the U.S.; however, many cases of dog fighting go unreported, so it’s impossible to know the exact number.

  2. Around 40,000 Americans participate each year

    Whether it’s dog trainers, breeders, organizers, spectators, or gamblers, this is the number estimated by many organizations in the U.S.

  3. Weaker dogs are used as disposable targets

    They are called 'cold' in dog fighting circles and are used when training the 'prize dog,' so it’s not just the losers in real matches that are left to die.

  4. 50% of police officers encounter dog fighting

    It’s not as rare as you might think: a study done by the F.B.I. revealed that half of all police officers in the U.S. have dealt with dog fighting at least once.

  5. Three N.F.L. players convicted for dog fighting

    They were Doug Atkins, LeShon Johnson, and Michael Vick.

Why National Dog Fighting Awareness Day is Important

  1. It encourages people to consider abused dogs as an option

    When people are looking to adopt a dog, they simply look into animal shelters, but this day reminds us that some dogs need care more than others. Not everyone can handle looking after animals that have gone through so much, but the more people know their stories, the better their chances of being adopted.

  2. It teaches us how to identify victims of dog fighting and how to stop the menace

    If you think you’ve encountered a dog fighting ring or a canine victim, remember not to approach it yourself. It can be very dangerous, no matter how badly hurt the dog is, and it should be taken care of by professionals.

  3. It reminds us that dog fighting is still all too common

    Many people assume that, because it’s illegal, dog fighting in the U.S. only happens on rare occasions. Or that it only happens in areas of high crime. This day reminds us that, unfortunately, dog fighting remains pervasive.

National Dog Fighting Awareness Day dates

YearDateDay
2023April 8Saturday
2024April 8Monday
2025April 8Tuesday
2026April 8Wednesday
2027April 8Thursday

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