Animal Fighting
(Colorado 18-9-204 C.R.S.)

Close up of heads of two dogs fighting with jaws open

Colorado's law against dog, rooster and other animal fights

Section 18-9-204 of the Colorado Revised Statutes makes it a felony to hold, sponsor or encourage a fight between animals for the purpose of monetary gain or entertainment.

Ways you can violate Colorado's animal fighting law include (without limitation):

  • Breeding a dog for use in a dog fight,
  • Entering a rooster into a cock fight,
  • Allowing a dog fight or other animal fight to occur on property you own or control, even if you aren't present when the fight takes place; or
  • Attending an animal fight in order to document it for a newspaper or an animal rights organization.1

Colorado animal fighting penalties

A first-time offense for dog fighting, rooster fighting or other animal “blood sports” in Colorado is punished by:

  • A mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 (and possibly as much as $100,000), and
  • A potential prison sentence of up to 3 years.

A second for subsequent Colorado animal fighting conviction can be punished by:

  • A mandatory minimum fine of $5,000 (and possibly as much as $500,000), and
  • A potential prison sentence of up to 6 years.

Defending Colorado animal fighting charges

Colorado takes dog fighting and other animal fighting charges seriously. And because this is a charge to which juries are likely to be unsympathetic, it is important to retain a lawyer who will fight them vigorously before they get to trial; or, if necessary, present your side of the story to a jury clearly and with compassion.

While the best defense to Colorado animal fighting charges will depend on the facts of your case, common defenses to dog fighting and similar charges often include (but are not limited to):

  • You didn't know you were present at place where an animal fight was taking place;
  • The animal(s) you owned weren't being kept for the purpose of fighting;
  • You didn't knowingly allow your property to be used for animal fights or to house fighting animals,
  • The police entrapped you or engaged in other misconduct, or
  • The animal(s) was/were discovered during an illegal search and seizure.

To help you better understand Colorado's law against animal fighting, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers explain the following, below:

Two roosters fighting in midair

1. What is animal fighting in Colorado?

Section 18-9-204 of the Colorado Revised Statutes makes it a felony to cause, sponsor, arrange, hold, or encourage a fight between animals for the purpose of monetary gain or entertainment.

For the purposes of 18-9-204 C.R.S., a person encourages a fight between animals for the purpose of monetary gain or entertainment if he or she:

  • Is knowingly present at or wagers on such a fight;
  • Owns, trains, transports, possesses, breeds, sells, transfers, or equips an animal with the intent that such animal will be engaged in such a fight;
  • Knowingly allows any such fight to occur on any property owned or controlled by him;
  • Knowingly allows any animal used for such a fight to be kept, boarded, housed, or trained on, or transported in, any property owned or controlled by him;
  • Knowingly uses any means of communication for the purpose of promoting such a fight; or
  • Knowingly possesses any animal used for such a fight or any device intended to enhance the animal's fighting ability.

You do NOT violate 18-9-204 C.R.S. by:

  • Engaging in normal hunting practices as approved by the Colorado division of parks and wildlife, or
  • Training animals for any purpose not prohibited by law.

1.1. Examples of animal fighting

Examples of activities that count as animal fighting under Colorado 18-9-204 C.R.S. include (but are not limited to):

  • Training a pit bull for dog fights;
  • Allowing a ranch you own to be used for cock fights;
  • Breeding roosters for use in fighting;
  • Betting over the phone on the outcome of an animal fight;
  • Posting info about a friend's dog fight on your Facebook or Twitter page;
  • Removing a bird's natural spurs so that a gaff (metal spur) or knife can be attached to it;
  • Knowingly possessing or selling gaffs or cockspurs (bracelets with sharp, curved spikes that are attached to the legs of fighting birds); or
  • Attending a dog fight solely in order to expose its cruelty.

2. Consequences of fighting animals in Colorado

2.1. First animal fighting offense

A first animal fighting offense is a Colorado class 5 felony. Penalties for animal fighting can include:

  • 1-3 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of up to $100,000 -- with a $1,000 mandatory minimum fine regardless of whether you are sentenced to prison.

2.2. Second or subsequent animal fighting offense

A second or subsequent dog fighting, cock fighting or other animal fighting conviction is a Colorado class 4 felony. Punishment can include:

  • 2-6 years in prison (with 3 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of up to $500,000 -- with a $5,000 mandatory minimum fine regardless of whether you are sentenced to prison.

3. Colorado animal fighting defenses

Common defenses to Colorado dog fighting, cock fighting and other animal blood sport charges can include (but are not limited to):

  • Your animal fought another animal, but your animal was a pet;
  • You didn't know that an animal fight was taking place;
  • You didn't know that you were financing an illegal animal fighting operation;
  • You weren't present at an animal fight, but were the victim of mistaken identification;
  • Your animal wasn't being kept for the purpose of fighting;
  • You didn't knowingly allow your property to be used for animal fights;
  • You didn't knowingly allow property you own or control to be used to house fighting animals;
  • You didn't know that the event you promoted on your social media page was actually an animal fight;
  • You didn't know that an item you possessed was used for animal fighting;
  • You didn't know that an animal you treated had been injured in an illegal fight;
  • The police entrapped you or engaged in other misconduct, or
  • The animal(s) was/were discovered during an illegal search and seizure.

Call us for help…

call center receptionist

The state of Colorado investigates and prosecutes animal fighting charges vigorously -- so that's how we defend them.

Our Colorado criminal defense attorneys understand that there are two sides to every story and that things are not always the way they at first appear.

If you or someone you know has been charged with dog fighting, cock fighting or another animal “blood sport” in Colorado, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Communities our criminal attorneys serve include Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster, Centennial and Boulder.

For the quickest response, simply fill out the confidential form on this page. Or call us at our conveniently located Denver home office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202
720-955-6112


Legal defenses:

  1. See People v. Bergen, App.1994, 883 P.2d 532, rehearing denied, certiorari denied.

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