Dog Fighting - The Facts (Courtesy of Hopeful Foundation & Hazel Scott)



The “fighting dog” has few friends. They live lives of brutality and unspeakable cruelty at the hands of those who gamble on their lives, while betrayal and death await them. It happens every day, frequently in the suburbs. What started out as a recreation and gambling sport among gang members has now spread into the community and has become an epidemic.


Gangs run dogfights, and now children are involved, cheering on dogs in fights to the death in alleys, the bush and empty lots. Dog fighting has become a “pervasive poison” and its victims are not only the dogs, but the children who are growing up on a blood sport and the damage to their minds is frightening. Statistics show that two thirds of all dogfighting reports are directly connected to teenagers. These dogs are used as a status symbol by young people who think by having a vicious fighting dog makes them look tough and these macho-type dogs are also used as weapons of intimidation. Young children are often present at the fighting events which promotes insensitivity to animal suffering.

When youths enjoy the suffering of animals and have no empathy and compassion for them, it becomes very easy for them to grow into adults who can inflict pain upon fellow humans. It has been seen for youths to snap the necks of puppies, and it is the dehumanizing effect that such violence has on youths that is so worrying. Where there is dogfighting and gambling, there are drugs involved. In raids dogs have been found chained to poles in abandoned buildings or basements with the windows boarded up, no air, no food and no water, protecting their drug stashes. A skeleton of a dog chained to a pole was found; they left him there to starve to death after he had served his purpose. Others have been found dead after they had started eating each other and left there to die.

There seems to have been a shift recently towards more brutal and vengeful treatment of the animals as dog fighting has been increasingly adopted by gang culture. "Part of the psychology of dog fighting is the same as other forms of animal cruelty - a lot of it is about power and control," said Dr Randall Lockwood, a psychologist and senior vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Add to this the dog fighter's identification with his animal in the ring - and desire to win "bragging rights" - and the scope for violence is great. "The dog fighter sees his dog's victory as having a direct reflection on his strength and manliness, which I think is one of the reasons that we see brutal treatment of animals that don't perform well," Dr Lockwood said. "The failure of the animal is seen as a personal failure, an embarrassment, and something where you need to prove your strength and dominance by getting even."

“Highly organized dog fighting syndicates operate on luxury farms and in unoccupied industrial areas, and both clientele and audience arrive in luxury sedans and expensive 4 X 4’s, and it’s all kept very secret (with pervasive accusations of SAPS collusion). At this end of the fighting spectrum the sums of money that change hands are often staggering, and the number of purpose bred and trained dogs are significant, as is the injury toll and wastage. For these people, the dogs are a mere commodity, and there is little of the sentimental attachment witnessed even in the slumland dog ownership to be found.” ~ Mike Wood, DipCABT CABP, Animal Rehabilitation Initiative



Dogfighting is a sadistic “contest” in which two dogs - specifically bred, conditioned, trained and forced to fight and kill - are placed in a pit (generally a small arena enclosed by plywood walls) either in hidden basements, abandoned apartments with the windows boarded up, and empty swimming pools. Fights average 1-4 hours, ending in death, or the dogs not willing or unable to continue due to fatigue or injuries. The injuries inflicted and sustained by dogs participating in dog fights are frequently severe, even fatal. The more fortunate dogs are the ones that die during the fight instead of after...

The torture and abuse these animals suffer is simply horrific. To teach the dogs to be more aggressive trainers will starve them, then throw a piece of meet between them and have the dogs kill each other for it. They put heavy weights on the animals to build up their strength. They beat the animals with bats, sticks and steel piping. They feed them hot peppers and gun powder. The dogs are also starved as these stupid people believe it will make them better fighters. They are also kept in small cages and are burned with cigarettes on their heads, and are stabbed through the cages to make them as vicious as possible. Many of these dogs have heavy chains round their necks and have untreated wounds from the chains. Sometimes the dogs are separated by pry bars to prolong the fight.

American pit bull terriers are used in the majority of these fights. They have been specifically bred and trained for fighting and are unrelenting in their attempts to overcome their opponents. With their powerful jaws they are able to inflict severe bruising, deep puncture wounds and broken bones. Dogs used in these events often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days after the fights. In describing the details of one particular dogfight, a convicted dogfighter wrote, “Miss Rufus spent most of the rest of the fight on her back. Bandit broke her other leg high up in the shoulder, as well as one of her back legs in the knee joint. The only leg that wasn’t broken she chewed all to hell herself. Bandit had literally scalped Miss Rufus, tearing a big chunk of skin off the top of her head alongside one ear.

"Many fighters come from non-responsive homes and communities with limited social or economic opportunity. They never acquire the tools to excel. With dogfighting, they are accepted, especially if they have a winning dog. Well known and respected in their circle, they are emulated by others. They gain a tremendous satisfaction and positive reinforcement from their new 'friends.' And because of their commitment to the care and training of their dog, their dog is a winner, and so are they." 


When the fighting dogs are puppies their ears are often cut off without anesthetic or medication. In one case a trainer was charged with removing his puppy’s ears with a pair of scissors while neighbors watched. The dog's mouths where taped, and their legs where bound together so they could not move. The pain these puppies must have through is sickening. For the thousands of unfortunate souls who don’t make the grade, their short lives after are a living hell of unthinkable cruelty and abuse.

When a dog loses a fight because he is too weak and exhausted, dehydrated or his wounds are too severe, the owners and spectators get very angry, and tape their mouths and feet so that they can’t move and set them on fire to teach them a lesson for losing. They are kicked, beaten, stabbed, locked in closets and apartments, thrown on garbage dumps, and left in the bushes or vacant lots alive, to die a slow agonizing death.

Dog fighters have said that they want them to suffer. “Who cares”, they say, "they are expendable..."

Pit bulls and other breeds that are born “COLD” or won’t fight are kept around and sacrificed to “SIC” other dogs on. As if dog fighting isn’t sadistic enough these people go around the neighborhoods abducting pets and stray dogs. Bigger dogs are sometimes taken but it’s your smaller dogs that are predominantly used. These little dogs don’t stand a fighting chance or a hope in hell against these fighters. They are called “BAIT” dogs; their mouths are bound up and are used as bait. They are either given to the fighting dogs before a match to get them going or thrown in to make the match more exciting. Over the years while the fighting dogs are in training these small helpless dogs are used for them to practice on. There have also been incidents where cats have even been used.


Say NO to dogfighting!

Hazel Scott

Participate in the 'Say NO to dogfighting' campaign in the following ways:

1. Join the Facebook Page:

2. Sign the Petition:

3. Print out and distribute or put up these flyers/posters:

(There are Zulu and Xhosa flyers/posters coming!)

4. Tell people about anonymous dogfighting hotline: 078 893 7582 5. Watch the Cruel Game Movie:

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