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Frequently Asked Questions: Dogfighting
  • Is Dogfighting Illegal?
  • Is being a spectator at a dog fight a crime?
  • Is dog fighting a felony?
  • How Does Dogfighting Affect People?
  • What Happens in a Dogfight?
  • Does My Community Have Dogfighting?
  • What Can I Do?

Yes, dogfighting is a felony in every state and a federal felony.

Yes. California Penal Code section 597.5(b) makes it a crime to knowingly be present at a dog fight as a spectator OR to knowingly be present in a place where preparations for a fight are being made. The penalty is up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

Someone Someone can be charged with felony dog fighting if they do any of the following:

    * Owns;
    * Possesses;
    * Keeps;
    * Trains any dog with the intent that the dog will be used in a dog fight;
    * Allows any of the above to be done on any premises under his/her charge or control; or
    * Aids or abets any of the above.

California Penal Code section 597.5 is a felony. It carries a penalty of up to three years in state prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.
 
Additional criminal charges could be for intentional cruelty, animal neglect (e.g.: in instances where dogs have been injured in a fight and not taken for medical treatment or where any of the dogs at the scene are simply neglected (untreated skin conditions, underweight, ear infections, severe flea infestation, etc.). It is also possible to charge for Practicing Veterinary Medicine Without a License.

Dogfighting not only hurts animals but also endangers a community’s safety.  Illegal drugs and firearms are commonly found at the scene of animal fighting events.  Young children brought to matches are desensitized to violence and taught that cruelty is acceptable. Evidence shows that those who commit dog fighting crimes and other forms of animal abuse are more likely to be violent toward people.

Dogs, usually pit bulls, are bred and trained to fight each other to the death or until one dog can’t continue – all for the amusement of spectators and the profits from high-stakes gambling.  Fights can last for hours, as the dogs are trained to continue even after suffering serious wounds.  Dogs who can’t fight are abandoned or mercilessly killed by electrocution or gunshot.

Dogfighting is pervasive and can take place in any community.  Some signs include:

  • A large number of pit bulls held in one location, especially multiple dogs who are chained and seem un-socialized
  • Dogs with scars on their faces, front legs, hind ends and thighs
  • Dogfighting training equipment such as treadmills and tires hanging from trees
  • Many people visit a location at odd hours
  • If you see any suspicious activity related to animal abuse of dog fighting, report it to the local law enforcement or call our direct line at (909) 945-4400
  •  If you witness a dogfight in progress, call the police immediately.
  • If you suspect dogfighting in your neighborhood, call the Humane Society of the United States tip line at 1-877-TIP-HSUS   1-877-847-4787. HSUS will pay YOU up to $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of a dog fighter
  • Callers wishing to remain anonymous may also call: WE – TIP at 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-782-7463). WE-TIP will up to $1,000 Reward.
Frequently Asked Questions: Cockfighting
  • Is Cockfighting Illegal?
  • How Does Cockfighting Affect People?
  • What Happens in a Cockfight?
  • Does Cockfighting Occur in My Community?
  • Don’t Roosters Naturally Fight?
  • Can Cockfighting Spread Disease?
  • Where Can I Find More Information about Cockfighting?
  • What Can I Do?

Yes, cockfighting is now illegal in all 50 states, and a felony in most states.  It is also a felony to transport animals and cockfighting implements across state lines for an animal fighting venture.

Cockfighting is not only a barbaric form of animal cruelty but a threat to community safety.  Participants often carry illegal drugs and firearms and engage in illegal gambling.  Young children are frequently present at fights, exposed at an impressionable age to an environment of violence and callousness toward animals.

Cockfighters breed roosters for maximum aggression and then pit them against each other in fights to the death.  The birds fight with razor-sharp knives or gaffs resembling curved ice picks strapped to their legs.  These weapons cause painful injuries such as punctured lungs, gouged-out eyes, and broken limbs.  Even the ‘winners” often die.  Trash bins overflowing with dead and dying animals are a common sight at cockfights.

Cockfights take place in all parts of the country.  Organizers keep the locations of fights secret, but ordinary community members can easily spot signs that cockfighting is occurring on property, such as:

  • A large number of roosters held in one location, tethered to a crude shelter (often a simple A-frame wooden structure) or confined in pens
  • Roosters who have had their combs, wattles, and natural spurs cut off
  • The sound of roosters crowing, coupled with large congregations of people in remote barns, orchards or fields.
  • In city areas where backyards are hidden from view

In natural settings, roosters do fight over food, territory, and mates, but only to establish dominance within a group and usually without seriously hurting each other.  This natural behavior doesn’t involve the extreme cruelty that occurs in staged cockfights.  For example, fighting birds are often given steroids or other drugs to enhance their unnaturally bred aggression.  They’re also force to fight until a winner is declared – usually when one bird dies.

Cockfighters bring hundreds of roosters to one location for scheduled fights.  The congregation of so many birds in a small area creates an ideal environment for diseases such as avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease.  The surviving roosters can spread these diseases when they’re brought home after fights.

Click here to view a short film on cockfighting that our office produced with the help of The Humane Society of the United States.

  • If you see any suspicious activity related to animal abuse of cockfighting, report it to the local law enforcement or call our direct line at (909) 945-4400
  • If you witness a cockfight in progress, call the police immediately.
  • If you suspect cockfighting in your neighborhood, call the Humane Society of the United States tip line at 1-877-TIP-HSUS 1-877-847-4787. HSUS will pay YOU up to $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of a cock fighter
  • Callers wishing to remain anonymous may also call: WE – TIP at 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-782-7463). WE-TIP will up to $1,000 Reward.
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It is the mission of the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office to represent the interests of the people in the criminal justice system, as mandated by California State law. The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office serves the residents of San Bernardino County by: seeking the truth, protecting the innocent; holding the guilty accountable; preserving the dignity of victims and their families; and, ensuring that justice is done while always maintaining the highest ethical standards.

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