Differentiating Between Spontaneous and Organized Dogfighting Injuries
Organized dogfighting is an inhumane and illegal practice in all 50 states. Because of this, it is critical to develop evidence-based patterns of injury associated with this illegal activity. This research will help clinicians identify dogs injured by organized dogfighting and help in prosecuting dogfighters.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the types and prevalence of injuries found in a population of dogs involved in spontaneously occurring dogfights and compare these with injuries in dogs known to have been used in organized dogfighting.
ASPCA researchers assumed dogs who had not been bred and trained for fighting but were involved in spontaneously occurring dogfights would have different injury patterns than those of dogs involved in organized dogfighting.
Researchers reviewed the medical records of dogs examined in connection with organized dogfighting cases between 2009 and 2013, noting the body zones in which injuries were present. Comparison data on injuries from spontaneous fighting were gathered by reviewing medical records of dogs evaluated at an emergency veterinary clinic for injuries related to fighting with another dog between January 1, 2003, and June 1, 2014. Researchers primarily compared spontaneous fighting that occurred between dogs categorized as Medium Dog/Medium Dog (MDMD), in which a medium-sized dog was injured in a fight with another dog of the same sex and similar weight.
These dogs were considered the best population for comparison with those involved in organized dogfighting, where dogs are generally of medium size (35-50 pounds) and are typically matched by sex and weight.
Dogs involved in spontaneous Big Dog/Little Dog (BDLD) fights were also included, because dogs injured in this type of spontaneous fighting are commonly seen by veterinarians. The mechanism, and therefore the pattern, of injury in BDLD fights is thought to be distinct from those incurred by other types of dogfighting, including organized dogfighting. This category was included to help determine whether the methods used in this study could differentiate between injuries incurred in different types of dogfights.
Dogs involved in spontaneous dogfights had different patterns of injury than dogs seized from illegal organized dogfighting operations. Although medium-sized dogs who had fought with another dog of the same sex and similar weight had injuries in some of the same body surface zones as dogs who had been forced to fight, the latter group more commonly had injuries to multiple locations as well as a higher prevalence of injuries, particularly of the thoracic limbs and head.
The differences in injuries between dogs involved in organized and spontaneous fighting will help veterinarians and law enforcement in identifying and prosecuting illegal dogfighting.