April 16, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

RSPCA reveals the south as one of England’s worst dog fighting regions

(Trigger warning – distressing topic and image)

Greater London named as the worst southern area for dog fighting

The south of England has been revealed as the second worst region in England and Wales for dog fighting, following closely behind the North. Despite the pandemic lockdowns, 224 cases of dog fighting have been tackled by the RSPCA in the south since 2019. 

The leading animal welfare charity released the new figures as part of their Cancel Out Our Cruelty Campaign which launched last Monday.

RSPCA dog fighting expert and Special Operations Unit (SOU) chief inspector Ian Muttitt said: “Our figures show that in the past four years the RSPCA has uncovered and dealt with 224 incidents of dog fighting just in the south of England, let alone in the rest of England and Wales. Greater London is the worst area in the south for it, with 91 of the incidents occurring there.

“It’s staggering that something which has been illegal for almost 200 years, which most people would consider consigned to history, is still so rife.”

 

The RSPCA’s Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, aims to raise funds to help its frontline rescue teams continue to save animals from cruelty and abuse and to raise awareness about how to stop cruelty to animals for good.

 

“Each year, these reports of cruelty reach its terrible annual peak in the summer months.” Ian continued. “Around this time of year nationally we receive a report of an animal being beaten on average every hour of every day.

“We don’t know why reports of animal cruelty peak in the summer months although things like animal abuse being more visible as people are outdoors more and the cost of living crisis could be major factors.

“Dog fighting, which is connected to organised crime, is just one of the many acts of cruelty we see every year. The RSPCA is the only charity rescuing animals and investigating cruelty in England and Wales with a team of frontline rescue officers, specialist vet teams and a network of animal care centres and branches working tirelessly to save animals and provide rehabilitation to animal victims.

“Together, we believe we can and will cancel out cruelty to animals by replacing violence with kindness. We are urging people to donate to our Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, every donation will help animals.”

 

Dog fighting was outlawed in England in 1835 but still goes on today. The RSPCA – founded almost 200 years ago – is the country’s leading organisation tackling dog fighting and, for the last four decades, the RSPCA’s SOU have been investigating reports, rescuing dogs and prosecuting perpetrators.

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.

In total the RSPCA’s SOU have investigated 1,156 incidents of dog fighting across England and Wales since 2019. The north of England has been revealed as the worst region for dog fighting between 2019-2023, with the South of England (224 investigations), the Midlands (212 investigations), the East of England (98 investigations) and the West (77 investigations) following closely behind.

   

Ian said: “The dog fighting world is a dark and secretive place. It could be happening in an inner-city warehouse next door to your office or on a rural farm in your quiet village.

“Signs of dog fighting can vary but if you notice a dog with lots of scars on its face, front legs, hind legs and thighs, or with puncture wounds and mangled ears – this could be a sign of dog fighting and should be reported to the RSPCA or the police. Other suspicious activity includes dogs being hidden away in outbuildings or kennels of sight and not excercised in public.

“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.

“Overall dog fighting in England and Wales has increased since 2019, jumping from a total number of 232 incidents investigated by the RSPCA in 2019 to 355 in 2022. We have dealt with 155 incidents this year, but we are only six months into the year, so we are concerned we will see this number steadily rise.”

Pit Bull Terrier
Two adults fighting
UK
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The RSPCA are urging the public to be their eyes and ears and to report anything suspicious to them. Anyone who is concerned about the welfare of an animal or suspects dog fighting may be taking place should call the RSPCA animal cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

 

“Dog fighting is serious, organised animal cruelty and we would not want anyone to put themselves at risk with the sort of people who are involved in such a violent pastime.” Said Ian. “It is imperative to report suspicions to the RSPCA and to under no circumstances approach these people yourself.”

 

The RSPCA are highlighting the issue as part of the charity’s Cancel Out Cruelty campaign.

Sadly the RSPCA receives around 91,500 calls to its cruelty line every month and investigates 5,300 reports of deliberate animal cruelty but in the summer calls rise to 133,000 a month – which is three every minute.

 

The RSPCA’s frontline teams are working hard to rescue animals in need this summer but we can’t do it alone – we need your help to Cancel Out Cruelty.  To help the RSPCA continue investigating dog fighting and other animal cruelty, please donate today.