As a newbie at fieldwork, I have no idea where to begin. I went to a continuing legal education seminar on animal cruelty cases where Sandy Christiansen, the head of the Dogfighting Task Force of the Humane Society of the United States, spoke about pursuing dogfighting investigations online. He said they are finding out a lot about dogfighting online. The presumption of anonymity encourages people to speak more freely about their involvement in illegal activities. So even though I’m not that sort of undercover investigator, I figured maybe it makes the most sense to start there.

I’ve done some surfing around, and my initial experience looking at pit bull websites is completely different from Sandy’s description. There seems to be a broad range of message boards devoted to pit bulls, some of which take an animal rights perspective, and at the other extreme, a handful of anti-"humaniac" or possibly pro-dogfighting boards. Although the history and illegality of dogfighting are being discussed in these forums, I haven’t seen anyone selling fighting equipment or setting up matches like he made it sound. There is one site that seems most promising to start with. It has sort of a pro-dogfighting or at least pro-gamedog (is it the same thing?) slant, and it has a more welcoming vibe than most other sites.

Posted on January 14, 2005 .