Animal Fighting

Animal fighting, including dog fighting, cockfighting, and badger baiting, have been outlawed for many years.

Despite our best efforts, it still carries on. Our Intelligence Unit investigates dog fighting networks to identify participants and bring those responsible to justice.

Animal fighting: Dog fighting

Pit Bull Animal Fighting
Photo by Justin Veenema on Unsplash

Dog fighting is a brutal and illegal blood sport where dogs are forced to fight each other for human entertainment and profit. This practice often involves severe cruelty and results in serious injuries or death for the animals involved.

The dogs used in these fights are typically bred and trained for aggression. They endure harsh training regimens, including being starved, beaten, and conditioned to fight through pain. Owners may disfigure their dogs by sharpening their teeth, cropping their ears, and docking their tails to make them more formidable opponents. Fights can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, and even if the dogs survive the fight, they often succumb to their injuries later due to a lack of proper medical care​.

“Bait” animals, such as smaller dogs, cats, or other small animals, are used to train fighting dogs. These bait animals are often severely injured or killed in the process. The cruelty extends beyond the fights themselves, as many of these dogs live in poor conditions and suffer from neglect and abuse.

Dog fighting in the UK has seen a notable increase. Greater London is a significant hotspot, followed by regions like Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire​.

In England and Wales, those convicted of dog fighting can face up to 51 weeks of imprisonment and/or fines. In Scotland, the penalties can be more severe, with up to 12 months of imprisonment and fines up to £20,000.

Animal fighting: cock fighting

Cockrel Animalfighting
Photo by Mitchell Orr on Unsplash

Cock fighting is a blood sport where specially bred and trained cockerels are placed in a pit to fight each other, often to the death. These fights are typically organised for gambling purposes, attracting significant amounts of money from spectators betting on the outcome. The cockerels are often fitted with sharp spurs or knives attached to their legs to inflict maximum damage during the fight​.

Cock fighting is inherently cruel due to the severe physical trauma inflicted on the birds. The cockerels endure extreme pain and injuries such as deep lacerations, broken bones, and punctured organs. Even if a fight does not end in death, the birds may suffer from untreated injuries leading to their eventual demise. The training and preparation of these birds involve additional cruelty, including isolation, aggressive conditioning, and mutilation to enhance their fighting abilities​.

Cock fighting has a long history in the UK, but it is now illegal. Despite the ban, underground cock fighting still occurs sporadically.

How to report animal fighting such as dog fighting and cockfighting

Pitbull2 AnimalFighting
Photo by Sumeet Singh on Unsplash

The Animal Welfare Investigations Project investigates animal fighting in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries across the globe. We share intelligence with statutory agencies such as the police on suspected individuals involved in dog fighting and cock fighting.

Our Intelligence Unit is interested to hear from anyone who has first-hand information on individuals suspected to be involved in animal fighting. You can share information with the Animal Welfare Investigations Project by sending an email to our Intelligence Unit. The email address is