How can you tell if a dog is a fighter or just got in a fight? It can be a dangerous undertaking for all involved. Part I of II

Reporting dog fighting can be really confusing and dangerous for an inner city vet.  Here is an article about how I handled it in inner city Philadelphia.

Dog fighting is a felony in all fifty States and veterinarians are mandated reporters of animal cruelty in many States and provided immunity for good faith reporting in other states.  But these laws are constantly changing.  All I knew was that when I was practicing in center city Philadelphia, I was not practicing in a State where I was protected or immune from civil action if I reported in error.  Not to mention, I practiced in a very dangerous neighborhood at the time, and was often terrified to do the right thing- but I did anyway. It was complicated in practice and at the shelter where I volunteered occasionally.

Dog fight

Inner city pit bulls were the main dogs that presented as the biters or bitten.  They fought with other dogs because they were not trained to do so.  For two years I had fighting dogs popping out of my exam rooms and survived it with the help of a skilled staff, muzzles, and patience.  Of course pit bulls, if properly trained like any dogs, can be great family dogs.  They can be sweet, loyal, and fun.  It’s just that the majority of bite wounds and dog attacks I saw in the poor part of center city Philadelphia were untrained pit bulls.  It was a fact.

Most of the dogs I suspected to be fighters were pit bulls, Chow Chows, Boxers, and hybrids.

Uneducated poor pet owners that shouldn’t be pet owners owned the majority of the mean pit bulls I saw.   Believe it or not, it was not uncommon for there to be accidental dog fights fights in the parking lot.  There was even an attack in a car out front.

More to follow…

Dr. Jed

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Dr. Jed Schaible VMD

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November 14, 2010 at 15:49

I’ve heard about Chow Chows being pretty miserable, but Boxers is a new development to me! I have recently been doing a little research into dog bite stats and have found Boxers to be in the top 10. I was always under the impression that they were a friendly, family type dog, who knew?

December 5, 2010 at 10:43


Boxers used to be that friendly loving family dog, but now they are being overbred by back yard breeders, puppy mills, etc for a buck of profit. The change has happened quickly. My first two years out, I never saw any boxer but a loving one (I was also in a ritzy suburb in Ohio).

Now, my whole staff groans when we have a new boxer scheduled for an appointment because we only see the aggressive unstable ones. They are unpredictable.