Dog fighting is an activity in which two dogs are made to fight each other for the purpose of gambling and amusement. The dogs are bred, conditioned and trained for that purpose. The fight lasts for up to two hours, ending when one or both dogs are so badly injured that they cannot continue. Dog fights usually are planned and organized, more often than not. The aftermath of a dog fight often includes the death of one or both of the severely injured dogs.
Dog fighting has been condemned as immoral, its organizers are subject to felony convictions in all but two states, and even its spectators are exposed to criminal liability in 48 states. There are numerous reprehensible facets of this practice, including the presence of gambling, firearms, illegal drugs, and young children. Exposing children to this activity makes them insensitive to animal cruelty, and ultimately leads to violence against other people. (See Humane Society of the United States, First Strike: The Connection Between Animal Cruelty and Human Violence.)
Dog fighting is the reason why pit bulls and other breeds of dog are so dangerous and vicious toward other animals. The presence of dogs bred for violence poses a substantial threat to the community. One reason is that, to a dog that is looking to fight another dog, a small child appears like a worthy opponent, and thus becomes a defenseless victim. Another reason is that the violence of an attack is often redirected to a nearby human, causing severe injuries.
The criminal penalties against dog fighting should be the same in all states, but two states -- Idaho and Wyoming -- still let the practice "slide" as a misdemeanor. Being present at a dog fight should be a felony is all states, but many states refuse to treat it as such. Possession of a dog that is trained and conditioned to fight should be illegal in all states, but a number permit it without any kind of penalty. The Humane Society of the United States maintains a chart that lists all of the state laws.
Everyone in a state that treats the possession of a fighting dog, or the organizing, participating in, or attendance at a dog fight, as less than a felony should contact their state representatives and demand that the law be changed. Everyone who learns information about dog fighting in their own community should report the same to the police.