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15 Rules


This article is from the American Pit Bull Terriers Breed FAQ, by Michael Bur with numerous contributions by others.

15 Rules

Again, the authors of this document wish to emphasize that we do not
condone the activity of dog fighting. Dog fighting is illegal and a
felony in the United States. However, reading over the rules can help
one gain a historical perspective of the driving force behind the
traditional breeding goals of the APBT breeder. This should help shed
some light on what the APBT really is as opposed to what the media has
portrayed him as. If you think you might be offended by the material
written here, by all means, skip this section and the next section as

You have been warned.


Rule 1: The principals shall select a referee who is
familiar with the rules and who is satisfactory to both
sides. The referee will then appoint his Timekeeper. Each
handler will select a man to act as his chief second or
cornerman, whose duties are to wash the opponent's dog, and
to remain near this dog's corner as an observer.

Rule 2: Each handler is to furnish two clean towels and a
suitable blanket, to be used by his opponent. Either
handler may demand that the opposing handler and his
cornerman bare their arms to the elbows; also the handler
may taste his opponent's dog's water before or after the
contest (up until the referee has rendered his decision on
the contest).

Rule 3: No water, sponges, towels or any other accessories
are allowed in the pit at any time, except the referee who
shall have in his possession an adequate breaking stick and
a pencil; also a copy of these rules. The pit shall not be
less than 14 feet each way, whenever possible, with a
canvas-covered floor, upon which has been painted or chalked
on, 12.5 feet apart, and with a center-line half way between
the scratch-lines.

Rule 4: The referee shall toss a coin to be called by the
handlers. The winner of the toss shall decide which dog
shall be washed first and also have the choice of corners.

Rule 5: The dogs shall be washed at pit-side in warm
water and some approved washing powders and then rinsed.
The first dog to be washed shall be brought in and held in
the tub by his handler and washed by the opposing cornerman.
When pronounced clean by the referee, the dog shall be
rinsed clean in a separate tub of warm water and toweled
dry as possible, then wrapped in the blanket provided and
carried to his appointed corner by his handler and accompanied
by the man who washed him. These are the only two persons
allowed near this dog until the dogs are Let Go. The other
dog shall now be brought in and held in the tub by his handler
and washed(in the same water) by the opposing cornerman. When
this dog is pronounced clean by the referee and rinsed clean
and toweled dry, he shall then be carried to his corner by his
handler and accompanied by the man who washed him.

Rule 6: The referee shall now ask "Are both corners ready?"
If so, "Cornermen, out of the pit"..."Face your dogs"...
"Let Go." The timekeeper shall note the time and write it
down for future reference.

Rule 7: Any dog who jumps the pit is automatically the loser
of the contest and no scratches are necessary, and no dog is
required or allowed to scratch to a dead dog. The live dog
is the winner.

Rule 8: Should either dog become fanged, the referee shall
instruct the handlers to take hold of their dogs and try
to hold them still so the handler can try to unfang his dog.
If this isn't possible, the referee shall separate the dogs
with the proper breaking stick and then unfang the dog using
a pencil. The referee will then order the handlers to set
their dogs down near the center of the Pit and approximately
two feet apart. The referee will then order "Let Go." This
in no way constitutes a turn or a handle and has no bearing of
the future scratches.

Rule 9: This is to be a fair scratch-in-turn contest until
the dogs quit fighting, then rule 13 shall take over. The
first dog to turn must scratch first; thereafter they are to
scratch alternately(regardless of which dog turns) until
one dog fails to scratch and thereby loses the contest.

Rule 10: To be a fair turn, the dog accused of turning
must turn his head and shoulders and his front feet away
from the opponent and regardless of whether or not the
dogs are otherwise touching.

Rule 11: The referee shall call all turns, although either
handler may ask for a turn on either dog. If the referee
rules there has been a turn, he will instruct the handlers to
"pick up free of holds" as soon as possible, and should
either dog accidentally get a hold again, the handlers shall
set the dogs down immediately and make a continued effort
to pick up the dogs, free of holds. When picked up, the
dogs must be taken to their respective corners and faced
away from their opponent. The Timekeeper shall note the
time and take up the count(not out loud) and also the
referee shall notify the handler whose dog must scratch.

Rule 12: At 25 seconds, the Timekeeper shall call out
"Get Ready." At these instructions each handler must toe
his scratch-line and face his dog toward his opponent with
his dog's head and shoulders showing fair from between
his handler's legs, and the dog's four feet on the canvas
floor. At the 30 seconds, the Timekeeper calls out "Let Go."
and the handler whose dog must scratch must instantly
take his hands away from all contact with his dog and also
release all leg pressure from against the dog's body.
And the dog must instantly start across and the handler
must remain behind his scratch-line until his dog has
completed his scratch or the referee has ruled upon it.
There is no time limit on the time required to complete this
scratch. But, when released at the words "Let Go," the
dog must start across at his opponent. He may waver from
direct line, fall down, crawl ... drag or push himself
across, so long as he makes a continued effort and DOES
NOT HESITATE OR STOP until he has reached out and touched
his opponent. The opposing handler may release his dog any
time he sees fit after the order to "Let Go"; however, he
must do so as soon as the dogs have touched each other.

Rule 12A: This is an alternate rule for those handlers who
wish to have their dogs counted out in the corner. It is
the same in all respects as Rule 12, except that after 30
seconds, when the Timekeeper calls out "Let Go," the
referee shall count our loud, at as near one-second intervals
as possible, ONE...TWO...TIME(three seconds), and the
dog must be out of his corner and on his way before the referee
calls "time," or lose.

Rule 13: If the dogs have apparently quit fighting,
whether they are helpless, tired out or curred out, and
regardless of whether both dogs are down or one dog is
down and the other dog is standing over him, but neither
dog has a hold, the referee shall ask it they are willing to
scratch-it-out to a win or not. If so, they shall proceed to do
so, but if either handler is unwilling, then the referee shall
instruct the Timekeeper to note the time and call time in
two minutes. If either dog breaks time, then nothing has
changed, but if, at the end of the two minutes, the dogs are
in the same relative positions and neither dog has a hold,
the referee shall order the handlers to handle(PICK UP FREE
OF HOLDS) their dogs. When picked up, the dogs shall be
taken to their corners and the corner procedure is the same
as in a normally called turn and handle. If there have been
no previous turns or handles to establish the order
of scratching, the dog who has been the longest without a
hold(usually the down dog) to be scratched first, then,
as soon as free of holds, the dogs shall be picked up and
the other dog scratched. Should one dog fail or refuse
his scratch, then the dog who failed shall lose the contest.
If both dogs fail to scratch, the referee shall call it a
no contest, but should both dogs make their initial scratches,
the handlers by mutual agreement may ask the referee for
a draw decision. The referee will then rule it a draw.
Otherwise the contest shall continue, but in this manner:
any time the dogs are not in holds and not fighting, the
referee shall order the dogs to be handled and scratched
alternately until one dog fails to scratch and thereby loses.
No attention is paid to turns(after rule 13 is invoked)
except as a possible chance to handle.

Rule 14: Fouls that will be just cause for losing a contest:
A. To leave the pit, with or without the dog before the referee
has ruled.
B. To receive anything from outside the pit, or allow anyone
outside the pit to touch or assist the dog.
C. To push, drum, throw or spank, or in any way assist a dog
across his scratch-line, except by encouraging him by voice.
D. To step across a scratch-line before the dog has completed
his scratch or the referee has ruled on it.
E. To stomp on the pit floor or kick the pit sides, yell at of
give orders to the opponent's dog, or(in the referee's
opinion) do anything to distract or interfere with either
dog while scratching or fighting to affect the outcome
of the contest.
F. To interfere with the opposing handler or touch either dog
until the referee gives an order to handle the dogs.
G. To use a "Rub," "Poison," or "Hypo" o neither dog.

Rule 15: If there should be any outside interference before
the contest has been concluded, the referee has full authority
to call it a "NO CONTEST" and shall name the time and place
the contest is to be resumed and fought out to a referee's
decision.(The same referee shall preside.) Also, the referee
shall insist that the dogs be washed and weighed(in the
referee's presence), and the dogs shall weigh at the weights
specified in the original articles of agreement, and to do
this as many times as necessary to conclude the contest.

Instead of rule number 12A in which a dog has three seconds
to leave his corner, he us usually given ten seconds to
cross to the other dog.

A 30-second out-of-hold count is generally used, and the
down dog must always scratch first(unless both dogs are
down with neither in a position of advantage).

The pit may be covered with carpeting rather than canvas
(rule 3), the scratch lines may consist of some of the
modern tapes, and the central line between the scratch
line is often omitted.


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