If you see signs of blood sports, you say something – how you can help animals

As part of our “See Something, Say Something – Report Animal Cruelty” public awareness campaign this month, we are focusing on the topic of “blood sports.”

A dog who is a victim of the illegal blood sports known as “dog fighting” and “street fighting” suffers just as much on the inside as he does on the outside.

We sat down with Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, the ARL’s vice president of animal welfare, to learn more about the effects of blood sports on the animals involved.

blood sports

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare, hosted a talk in January on dog fighting by the ASPCA’s Terry Mills in conjunction with the New England Federation of Humane Societies

ARL Blog: What are some common physically identifying signs of a fighting dog?

Dr. Smith: Fighting dogs end up bearing many scars, usually clustered around the face, neck, front legs and chest. Dogs can also suffer much more severe injuries such as broken bones and disfigurement of their ears, snouts, etc.

The scars that are visible on the outside of a fighting dog are only the tip of the iceberg in what the dog has suffered.

ARL Blog: What generally happens to the “winner” – or worse yet – the “loser” in a dog fight?

Dr S: Dogs who “win” will fight again and again, earning higher stakes with each victory.

Dogs who “lose” have a much sadder fate. They have been discovered on the side of the road, floating in the harbor, and in the garbage.  They can die shortly after the fight from trauma, but more commonly they die from a lack of appropriate veterinary attention to their wounds.

Ultimately, all dogs become the “loser” and thus find themselves abused multiple times: by inhumane housing and emotional neglect, by the fights themselves, by the life threatening infections they develop, and by the cruel deaths they suffer at the hands of their owners.

ARL Blog: What are some other “blood sports” that people should be aware of and what are the physical effects on the animals involved?

Dr S: Cockfighting (two roosters) and finch fighting (perching birds) are common in Massachusetts.

During Cockfighting between two gamecocks, owners will inject a toxic form of pesticide to increase their endurance and often attach knives to the bird’s legs. Every fight ends in serious injury or death, often for both of the birds involved.

Finch fighting between two male and one female bird has become increasingly popular due to the birds’ small size, docile nature, and ease of transport. During finch fighting the owner will attach blades to the males’ feet and sharpen their beaks to ensure maximum injury to the female finch which ultimately results in their demise.

Learn more about signs of dog-related blood sports