141 W Elm
Wichita, KS 67203
Animal fighting, in various forms, has been around for quite a
while. Certain cultures have considered multiple forms of animal fighting to be
entertaining and have celebrated this brutal sport by making it a spectator
event. Animal fighting does occur in Sedgwick County in several forms and
various county agencies are working together to help fight this. Animal fighting
generally occurs in one of two forms: cockfighting and/or dog fighting.
Cockfighting has been commonplace across the globe for
thousands of years. It was introduced to the American colonies relatively early
on and was later outlawed in the early states due to the cruelty involved. As of
today, cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states as well as the District of
During this sport, two cocks (also known as roosters) are
pitted against each other in some sort of a “pit.” Pits can be specifically
constructed for the sport or can be as simple as placing several bales of straw
together and forming an enclosure. Birds are then pitted against each other in
fights that can last anywhere from minutes to up to half an hour. Death usually
occurs in at least one of the fighting birds.
Fighting birds are bred and trained for these fights. They are
often fed and/or injected with various steroids, vitamins, and other substances
during a training cycle and this will usually result in a much more aggressive
and fearless nature in the birds. Because of this it is very rare that former
fighting birds are able to be rehabilitated after rescue.
1. Aren’t roosters naturally aggressive?
- “In nature, a rooster may fight another rooster over territory or over a mate,
but these fights are usually brief and don't involve serious injury. In
organized cockfights, however, the roosters' natural instincts are exaggerated.
Through breeding, feeding, training, steroids and vitamins, the roosters become
killing machines for people's entertainment.”1
2. I thought that only dog fighting was illegal. Is
cockfighting illegal as well?
- Yes. Cockfighting is now illegal in all 50 states, including the District of
Columbia. In some states it is even a felony offense. If you want to know about
your state, you should visit www.aspca.org.
3. Is it true that metal spurs are tied to a fighting
bird’s legs during the fight?
- This is often the case. These “spurs” are called gaffs. The bird owner or
trainer will cut off the natural spurs on the bird’s legs and leave behind only
a short stump that the gaff can be attached to. The gaffs come in a number of
varieties and are used so that the bird can puncture vital organs in its
4. I have heard that wattles and combs are often cut
off of the birds before they fight. Why?
- The wattle (the comb below the beak) and the comb (the flap of skin on top of
the beak) are often removed so that the opposing bird does not rip them off in
battle. Generally, to lose one of these body parts would result in blood loss
which might hinder the fighting bird during the match.
5. They are just chickens. Why should we care about
cockfighting in our community?
- Cock fights are very violent in nature and often result in birds sustaining
extremely painful injuries which may lead to death. Sometimes injured birds are
just left to die and may be in agony for quite some time before they pass on.
The gaffs often cause eyeballs to be punctured and/or bones to be broken.
- In addition to the extreme cruelty involved with cockfighting, it has been
documented that cockfighting often goes hand-in-hand with other criminal
offenses such as gambling, narcotics, weapons violations, and alcohol-related
crimes. There have been multiple incidents where violent street gangs have been
closely linked to cockfighting and dog fighting enterprises.
- “…cockfights often inspire a party-like atmosphere in which entire families
gather, including children. This often leads to concerns that a child will not
only become desensitized toward cruelty to animals, but are at risk of becoming
injured by the sparring birds or abused by other people.”1 “Seeing adults relish
such brutality can teach kids to enjoy violence and think that animal suffering
6. What should I do if I want to report a possible
cockfighting location in Sedgwick County?
- You should call either Sedgwick County Animal Control at (316) 660-7070 or the
Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office at (316) 660-0750 and report your suspicions.
They will be able to answer any questions you might have as well about animal
fighting or other animal-related crimes. If you believe that an actual cockfight
is in progress, you should call 911.
Dog fighting has also existed in various countries for
hundreds of years. “While organized dog fighting activity seemed to decline in
the 1990s, many law enforcement and animal control officials feel that it has
rebounded in recent years. Street fighting has reportedly continued to grow as a
significant component of urban crime. The Internet has also made it easier for
dog fighters to rapidly exchange information about animals and fights.”
Due to the recent publicity surrounding the Michael Vick case,
more people are becoming aware of the brutality that’s involved with dog
fighting. Dogs that are being trained for this sport most often are kept chained
up nearly twenty four hours a day with what is usually a logging chain. It is
believed that the heavier the chain the better so that the dog’s neck muscles
can be built up. Dogs are then trained to fight in a variety of ways. “Dogs are
trained from a very young age to develop their "gameness". The dogs are often
beaten, starved, drugged, and constantly antagonized to promote aggression
toward other dogs. Some types of equipment used in training might be a
treadmill, heavy chains to build chest muscles, weights to hang from necks,
spring poles, etc.” If they aren’t killed in the
actual fight, they often are later killed inhumanely because they had lost the
fight or gave up.
"The dog's mouth was taped shut, and the dog was leashed to a
tree stump and soaked in furniture polish. A necropsy showed the dog was alive
when it was set on fire."3
Oftentimes, innocent dogs are stolen out of people’s backyards
or are picked up as strays and are used as bait dogs. Bait dogs are used to test
a fighting-dog-in-training’s “gameness” which often means that they are rendered
helpless and are brutally attacked by the fighting dog.
During the fight itself two dogs are pitted against each other
in a “pit” and fights may last anywhere from minutes to hours. At the street
level, there are generally no rules and they will fight until one dog kills the
other or until one of the owners calls the fight off. During a more organized
fight, there are a number of rules and a referee will stand by to ensure that
all rules are followed.
While it is most often the pit bull that is used in dog
fighting, there are several other breeds that have been and are being used for
this barbaric sport. “Fila Brasileiros, Dog Argentinos and Presa Canarios have
also been used in this blood “sport”. Occasionally Doberman Pinschers or German
Shepherds are reportedly used in street fights, or as “bait dogs” to train
fighting dogs.”4 It has been reported that some
“fighters” have begun to cross bullmastiffs with pit bulls in an attempt to
create an even more aggressive and physically strong breed. It is important to
remember that none of these specific breeds are “evil or aggressive” dogs by
nature. Pit bulls, with the appropriate socialization, are generally very loving
dogs that can be great with children. They are well known for their strong
desire to please their owners. This desire is sometimes what is taken advantage
of by owners who want their dogs to fight.
“These dogs don't ask to fight but it is in the nature of
the pit bull to do anything to please its master. These dogs fight through
unimaginable pain, often with broken limbs, half their faces torn away, but when
they hear the voice of their master you can see their tails wag. They only want
to make humans happy. What kind of human being does this to a dog? Takes this
kind of advantage of unquestioning loyalty and love?” 3
As previously mentioned, dog fighting is not only an issue in
our community because of the animal cruelty involved but also because of the
propensity for other crimes to be occurring concurrently. In other words,
narcotics, illegal weapons, gang-related crimes, gambling, and various violent
crimes usually go hand and hand with dog fighting. It is not at all unusual for
law enforcement officers to discover evidence of the above crimes and more
during a dog or cockfighting investigation. Part of this may be occurring
because, nationwide, law enforcement has been discovering that dog fighting is
becoming even more popular among urban gang members in recent years.
If you suspect that dog fighting may be occurring in your
area, please contact 9-1-1, especially if you know of an organized dogfight in
progress. You may also report your suspicions to Crime Stoppers at (316)
267-2111. If you have any questions about dog fighting, please feel free to
contact Sedgwick County Animal Control at (316) 660-7070 or the Sedgwick County
Sheriff’s Office at (316) 522-2610. The Humane Society of the United States is
even offering a $5000.00 reward for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction
of a dogfighter. For more information please see
www.humanesociety.org or see the link
in the Links section of this article.
We, at the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s
Office, are dedicated to helping citizens combat crime in their
neighborhoods. But we need your help! By utilizing
crime prevention techniques around your home, work place, and
vehicles, you can decrease your chances of becoming a victim!
If you have any questions about what you could do to help
protect yourself and your property, please call either your
Community Liaison Unit at (316) 660-3920 or your Community
Policing Unit at (316) 660-0750.
information provided in this document is not intended to be
legal advice, but is merely intended to convey general
information commonly encountered when dealing with the Subjects
discussed herein. Because laws can change very rapidly, we
cannot guarantee that any
Information on this document (or references contained therein) is current
or accurate. Additionally, laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and
are subject to interpretation of courts located in each county. Legal advice
must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case and the information
provided herein may not be an appropriate fit for your particular situation. The
Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, its employees, agents, or others will not be
liable or responsible for any claim, loss, injury, liability, or damages related
to use of this document or any reference provided herein.
Dog Fighting Poster
Animal Abuse and Neglect
The Human Society of
the United States
The American Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
fighting - Victims Without Voices
1 "ASPCA | Cockfighting."
ASPCA: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Ed.
ASPCA. Web. 11 Jan. 2010.
"Cockfighting : The Humane Society of the United States." The Humane Society
of the United States : The Humane Society of the United States. Web. 11 Jan.
3 Unknown. "Dogfighting
| victims without voices." Dogfighting: Victims Without Victims. Web. 12
Jan. 2010. <http://www.lolabull.com/dogfighting/index.html>.
4 "ASPCA |
Dog Fighting FAQ." ASPCA: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals. Web. 12 Jan. 2010. <http://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/dog-fighting/dog-fighting-faq>.
Written by: Deputy C. Fischer
Reviewed by: J. Page D1642
Mission: To assure quality public services that provide for the present and future well-being of the citizens of Sedgwick County.
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