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Characterization and comparison of injuries caused by spontaneous versus organized dogfighting

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  • 1 Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.
  • | 2 Forensic Sciences, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 520 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018.
  • | 3 Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.
  • | 4 Forensic Sciences, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 520 8th Ave, New York, NY 10018.
  • | 5 Department of Mathematics, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, CT 06515.
  • | 6 Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To characterize and compare injuries found in dogs involved in spontaneously occurring dogfights with those of dogs used in illegal organized dogfighting.

DESIGN Retrospective case-control study.

ANIMALS 36 medium-sized dogs evaluated following spontaneous fights with a dog of the same sex and similar weight (medium dog–medium dog [MDMD] fights), 160 small dogs examined following spontaneous fights with a larger dog (big dog–little dog [BDLD] fights), and 62 dogs evaluated after being seized in connection with dogfighting law enforcement raids.

PROCEDURES Demographic characteristics and injuries were recorded from medical records. Prevalence of soft tissue injuries in predetermined body surface zones, as well as dental or skeletal injuries, was determined for dogs grouped by involvement in BDLD, MDMD, and organized dogfights. The extent of injuries in each location was scored and compared among groups by 1-factor ANOVA. Patterns of injuries commonly incurred by each group were determined by use of prevalence data.

RESULTS Mean extent of injury scores differed significantly among groups for all body surface zones except the eye and periorbital region. Mean scores for dental injuries and rib fractures also differed significantly among groups. Organized fighting dogs more commonly had multiple injuries, particularly of the thoracic limbs, dorsal and lateral aspects of the head and muzzle or oral mucosa, dorsal and lateral aspects of the neck, and ventral neck and thoracic region.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE To the authors' knowledge, this was the first study to compare injuries incurred during spontaneous and organized dogfighting. Establishing evidence-based patterns of injury will help clinicians identify dogs injured by organized dogfighting and aid in the prosecution of this crime.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To characterize and compare injuries found in dogs involved in spontaneously occurring dogfights with those of dogs used in illegal organized dogfighting.

DESIGN Retrospective case-control study.

ANIMALS 36 medium-sized dogs evaluated following spontaneous fights with a dog of the same sex and similar weight (medium dog–medium dog [MDMD] fights), 160 small dogs examined following spontaneous fights with a larger dog (big dog–little dog [BDLD] fights), and 62 dogs evaluated after being seized in connection with dogfighting law enforcement raids.

PROCEDURES Demographic characteristics and injuries were recorded from medical records. Prevalence of soft tissue injuries in predetermined body surface zones, as well as dental or skeletal injuries, was determined for dogs grouped by involvement in BDLD, MDMD, and organized dogfights. The extent of injuries in each location was scored and compared among groups by 1-factor ANOVA. Patterns of injuries commonly incurred by each group were determined by use of prevalence data.

RESULTS Mean extent of injury scores differed significantly among groups for all body surface zones except the eye and periorbital region. Mean scores for dental injuries and rib fractures also differed significantly among groups. Organized fighting dogs more commonly had multiple injuries, particularly of the thoracic limbs, dorsal and lateral aspects of the head and muzzle or oral mucosa, dorsal and lateral aspects of the neck, and ventral neck and thoracic region.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE To the authors' knowledge, this was the first study to compare injuries incurred during spontaneous and organized dogfighting. Establishing evidence-based patterns of injury will help clinicians identify dogs injured by organized dogfighting and aid in the prosecution of this crime.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Pichai Intarapanich's present address is Department of Mathematics and Physics, College of Arts and Sciences, University of New Haven, West Haven, CT 06516.

Address correspondence to Dr. Touroo (Rachel.Touroo@aspca.org).