Dog Fighting Law & Legal Definition


Dog fighting is an illegal practice in which two dogs, usually of a Pit Bull breed, are put into an enclosed area for the purpose of attacking and quite frequently, killing each other. Spectators bet on which dog will win. On average, fights last about one hour, but sometimes last two hours or longer. The fight does not end until one of the dogs is no longer able or willing to continue fighting. Dog fights usually end in serious injury or death for one or both dogs involved.

Federal law prohibits transporting dogs across state lines for dog fighting.

In May 2003 this prohibition was extended to apply to birds, and to exports of dogs or birds for fighting. The majority of states now also prohibit attendance at animal fights.

The following is an example of a state law regulating dog fighting:

("a) It shall be a Class C felony for any person:

  1. To own, possess, keep or train any dog with the intent that such dog shall be engaged in an exhibition of fighting with another dog;
  2. For amusement or gain, to cause any dog to fight with another dog, or cause any dogs to injure each other;
  3. To permit any act in violation of subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection.

(b) It shall be a Class C felony for any person to be knowingly present, as a spectator, at any place, building, or tenement where preparations are being made for an exhibition of the fighting of dogs, with the intent to be present at such preparations, or to be knowingly present at such exhibition or to knowingly aid or abet another in such exhibition.

Any dog used to fight other dogs in violation of subsection (a) of this section, shall be confiscated as contraband by the sheriff or other law enforcement officers and shall not be returned to the owner, trainer or possessor of said dog. The court shall award the animals to the humane society or other agency handling stray animals. At its discretion, the humane society or other agency handling stray animals shall humanely dispatch or dispose of any confiscated dog.

(c) Any dog confiscated pursuant to subsection (b) of this section by the sheriff or other law enforcement officers shall be taken to the local humane society or other animal welfare agency.

(d) An appointed veterinarian or officer of the humane society or other animal welfare agency may upon delivery or at any time thereafter destroy the animal that is in his opinion injured, diseased past recovery, or whose continued existence is inhumane and destruction is necessary to relieve pain or suffering.

(e) After confiscation the humane society or other animal welfare agency may make application to the circuit court for a hearing to determine whether any animal seized pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall be humanely destroyed due to disease, injury or lack of any useful purpose because of training or viciousness. The court shall set a hearing date not more than 30 days from the filing of the application and shall give notice of the same to the owners of the animals. Upon a finding by the court that the seized animals are diseased, injured or lack any useful purpose due to training or viciousness, it shall be within the authority of the humane society or other animal welfare agency to humanely destroy such animal. Any animal found by the court not to be diseased, injured or lacking any useful purpose due to training or viciousness shall be delivered to a court approved private veterinarian or a private housing facility under the supervision of a veterinarian. Expenses incurred in connection with the housing, care or upkeep of the dogs by any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity shall be taxed against the owner.

(f) If any dog owner is convicted under subsection (a) of this section, the animal(s) shall be awarded to the local humane society or other animal welfare agency."