The dog fighting season is underway in Turkmenistan

Dog fights are held in Turkmenistan from the middle of autumn to the middle of spring.

It is difficult to comment on the legitimacy of this sport because there is no ban on dog fights as such. However, pursuant to article 178 of the Code of administrative offences, a warning or a fine in the amount of 290 manats, which in 2022 is $111 using the official rate or $19 at the current “black market” rate, is envisaged for cruelty to animals, which might result in their death or injuries.

Correspondents of “Chronicles of Turkmenistan” have previously reported that the holding of dog fights is a profitable business and organizers give bribes to police officers to avoid any problems. In addition, there are many high-ranking officers in the police, the NSM and the Defense Ministry whose dogs regularly take part in fights.

Fights are held in all Turkmen velayats: in Akhal etrap of Gökdepede in the villages of Önaldy, Gäminin jary, Talhanly, Täze zaman and in Kaahkin etrap – in the village of Artyk. Fenced areas for dog fights are available everywhere. Fights can also be organized in backyards of privately-owned houses, which are converted into dog fight venues because it generates good income.

Owners of Alabays (Central Asia shepherd dogs) are usually wealthy people but they keep a low profile. Handlers train dogs and take them to the dog fighting rings. The prizes are from 20- to 40 thousand manats ($5,7-11,4 thousands / $1-2 thousand), and even a bull or a young camel can be the main prize.

According to a source of “Chronicles of Turkmenistan”, one of the President’s nephews,– Kemal Rejepov, – owns a dog kennel in the village of Gurtly near Ashgabat. At the competition held on 29 January one of his dogs called Kent took part in the fight. In the final round Kent was seriously injured, was bleeding, lost a tooth and, according to eyewitnesses, was defeated by an Alabay from Lebap velayat. Nevertheless, the referee announced the winner to be the dog of the President’s nephew.

Dog fighting is a cruel sport, but it is traditional in Turkmenistan. Dogs not only get injured but sometimes are killed in the fights. For the sake of victory and prizes owners administer large doses of steroids and other chemical substances to their dogs, which negatively affect their health.

Enthusiasts of dog fights are informed of competition dates. The next competitions will be held in the village of Taze zaman on 13 February and– in the village of Talkhany on 15 February.

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In recent years President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has been actively trying to promote the Turkmen Alabay. Breeding centres for these dogs have been opened in every velayat. In 2021 the Day of Turkmen Alabay was established, and a 15 meter gilded monument to the Alabay was opened in Ashgabat. The head of state personally approved the design of medals for winners of a dog show and appointed his son Serdar Berdymukhammedov as the chairman of the International Association of Turkmen Alabay. Turkmenistan’s Foreign Ministry has applied for inclusion of the Alabay breeding system in the lists of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

At the same time staff of house administrations are required to exterminate stray animals among which are many neglected Alabays, but the authorities do not ban the tradition to hold dog fights and do not even mention them.

Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan