Today, 8 April, is the Dog Fighting Awareness Day. While the day was established by ASPCA in the USA, it is sadly relevant on this side of the pond as well: despite having been illegal for over 180 years in the UK, this bloody 'sport' is still killing and maiming dogs across the country.
Investigating it is often very dangerous: dog fighting often involves a large amount of money, and criminals often linked to other types of crime. Unfortunate dogs caught in this are pitted against each other in fights or used as bait dogs to train young dogs to fight, resulting in horrifying injures for which they rarely receive proper veterinary care
Mike Butcher, Chief Inspector of RSPCA'a Special Operations Unit (SOU), said, "Dog fighting is an abhorrent, cruel activity, sickening to any right-minded member of the public. It’s one of the most extreme forms of animal cruelty the RSPCA investigates."
In 2015 the RSPCA uncovered a dog fighting 'training school' in the Greater Manchester area and arrested 49-year-old John Psaila, believed to be a major figure in British dog fighting. Officers found treadmills, medication, and a captive bolt gun at the property, along with dog fighting yearbooks and magazines as well as a bucket and a sponge covered in blood.
Two pit bull type dogs, Ziggy and Tip, were taken away from the property. The pair were both being trained to fight. Evidence of a third dog named Cruise was also discovered, but Cruise was never found. Psaila received a sentence 121 days in jail and was disqualified from keeping all animals for life - a ban he can appeal against in 15 years' time. While the RSPCA was satisfied a conviction was obtained, the sentence seems quite lenient for a "major figure" in British dog fighting.
The RSPCA is also warning for another worrying trend that's on the rise: the ‘casual’ dog fighting, with people fighting their dogs in public places and filming it with their mobiles.
If you suspect someone is taking part in dog fighting, you call make a confidential call to RSPCA on 0300 1234 999, or report it to the police.
Images by RSPCA.