Dog Fighting Laws

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What Is Dog Fighting?

Generally defined, dog fighting is the act of having and training dogs for the purpose of fighting, usually to the death, for the purpose of entertainment or gambling.

Is Dog Fighting Illegal?

Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The federal government also prohibits dog fighting, but this law generally only comes into play when the illegal activity crosses state lines. Although animal cruelty is the most negative aspect of dog fighting, it is also linked to organized crime and other illegal activities. Thus, while dog fighting would almost certainly be covered by the more general laws that most states have against animal cruelty, all of them have decided to make the act a crime in its own right.

Most state laws characterize dog fighting as “for amusement or gain, causing dogs to fight or injure each other,” or something to that effect. In many states, it is also a crime for landowners to knowingly allow dog fights on their property. Moreover, many states have also made it illegal to even be present at a dog fight, even without any direct participation.

What Is the Punishment for Dog Fighting?

The punishments for participation in a dog fight vary between the states, but the one thing all of these laws have in common is their status as felony offenses. Generally, dog fighting carries a prison sentence of 3-5 years. The most famous criminal defendant convicted of dog fighting, NFL star Michael Vick, garnered national and worldwide attention. In 2007, he pleaded guilty to federal charges related to an operation on his property which involved dog fighting and gambling. Vick served 21 months in prison, then 2 months in home confinement.

Should I Seek Legal Advice?

If you have been or believe you may be charged with a dog fighting offense, it is essential to seek legal advice immediately. A criminal defense lawyer will be best situated to evaluate the situation, negotiate with authorities, or represent you if need be.

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Last Modified: 10-28-2015 12:13 PM PDT

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