As personal injury lawyers, we are often confronted with the tragedy of injuries from dog bites— particularly injuries to children. In the vast majority of cases, negligent dog owners are responsible, either because they fail to properly socialize their dogs or because they subject their dogs to cruelty or neglect.
Most people love their dogs and never expect their dogs to injure anyone. There is a subculture of people, unfortunately, inclined to view having a menacing dog as a status symbol, and intentionally raise their dogs to be aggressive.
Even more dangerous than the “status symbol” group, however, is a third group: Dog fighting aficionados.
In this two-part series, we will discuss the very serious consequences of having a dog fighting operation in your area, and what you can do to help put a stop to it.
Dog Bites From Trained Dogs Are Rare But Can Be Devastating
Attacks by trained fighting dogs are much less common than dog bites by pets. However, trained dogs are more likely to be involved in concerted or repeated attacks, resulting in extremely serious or even deadly dog bite injuries.
A growing body of evidence has emerged in the last decade suggesting that dog fighting may be much more common than previously suspected. Participation in dog fighting activities is illegal throughout the U.S. and its territories (even attending a dog fight is a felony crime in Florida.
In part because it has gone underground, dog fighting is often heavily entwined with organized crime and other illegal activities. Dog fighting operations sometimes even steal pets for use as live bait to train fighting dogs.
A combination of outrage at the cruelty involved — both in the fights themselves and throughout the dogs’ lives — and concern about criminal activity has changed the national culture around dog fighting in the past ten years. Many communities are both targeting dog fighting locally and participating in regional dog fighting task forces.
One thing law enforcement always needs, however, is the public’s participation in eradicating dog fighting and the harm it causes.
Under no circumstances should a private citizen attempt to investigate or confront a suspected dog fighting operation. We can all play a role, however, in preventing dog bites, animal cruelty, and organized crime by keeping our eyes open.
In part II of this series we will provide a list of common signs that a dog fighting operation is in place.
Source: Animal Legal and Historical Center, Michigan State University College of Law, “What are the signs that someone might be running a dogfighting operation?” Hanna Gibson, 2005