Dogs are being mauled and left for dead as the blood ‘sport’ of dog fighting grips Britain.
Dog fighting was outlawed in England in 1835, but carries on in a secret underground world run by organised criminals.
The dog fights usually take place in backwater car parks, industrial units or farm buildings where grown men take bets while goading their pets to rip each other apart.
Many of the dogs used in fighting will have broken bones, missing teeth and serious injuries to their head, ears, front legs and chest as they are forced to fight to the death, going head-to-head in a pit. Many, including Staffordshire Terriers, English bull terriers and American Pitbulls among some banned breeds, are forced to fight and then left to die, never receiving proper veterinary treatment in case their owners get rumbled.
Some pets have even been found to be pumped up with steroids to make them more aggressive. Smaller, weaker dogs named bait dogs are used to teach fighting dogs the ropes and get severely injured in the process.
According to the League Against Cruel Sports, dog fighting operates at three levels.
Street rolling is when dogs are forced into spontaneous fights in parks and housing estates.
Then there is the amateur rings, often involving lower level criminals.
Meanwhile professional dog fighters are often dangerous hard men with links to serious organised crime.
Strict training regimes and rules apply and large sums of cash are wagered on the outcome of fights that typically last from 30 minutes to two hours.
In all these cases, the animal’s interests are put last.
Sadly, many of the dogs used by dog fighters are never found and those who are rescued are often found to be banned breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act and cannot legally be rehomed.
Others need experienced dog owners to give them a second chance at life.
The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) has also been leading work in the UK and Europe into tackling this barbaric blood sport.
In 2018 the LACS received around dogfighting to a confidential hotline alone, while the RSPCA had a shocking 8,000 reports in just four years from 2015 to 2018.
Greater London has the highest number of reported crimes, followed by the West Midlands and Greater Manchester.
Mike Butcher, the RSPCA‘s dog fighting expert said: “Dog fighting is a cruel and barbaric practice that has no place in modern day society.
“Dogs who win fights are prized and are often treated like Kings. But those who refuse to fight or lose are often abandoned or barbarically killed.
“The dog fighting world is a dark and frightening place. But it could be happening in an inner-city warehouse next door to your office or on a rural farm in your quiet village.
“We’d urge the public to be our eyes and ears and report anything suspicious to us to investigate.”
If you suspect dog fighting near you, call the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999, or The League Against Cruel Sports’ animal crimewatch line on 01483 361 108.
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