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By Matthew Cozier on 14.3.2024

Dog Fighting – Illegal, immoral and increasing…

Anyone who has had an eye on the news will have noticed that our canine friends have been making regular appearances in the headlines recently. Yet despite all the weird and wonderful stories that have come up there is one that seems to return time and again. Despite the tireless efforts of the RSPCA and animal rights groups, there has been an unprecedented rise in illegal dog fighting in Britain, the bloody results of which can be found in the nations overcrowded animal sanctuaries and, more and more frequently, in the waiting room of the veterinary surgery.

We are all aware of the kinds of dogs that these people go for, the larger, fiercer breeds with a reputation for being particularly vicious. I supported the Dangerous Dogs Act that banned the breeding of certain kinds of dog when it was first passed, but now it seems that this has only led to criminals with no real experience breeding them illegally, the results of which are horrific.

Originally, I had only seen the local news stories of isolated incidents involving teenage gangs most of which just highlighted the idiocy of some of the people involved. Increasingly though the stories have become more brutal. As someone that has always owned dogs it is hard to understand how people can be so blatantly and intentionally abusive of something in their care, especially when the relationship a pet has with its owner is based on trust.

It is only recently that I have become aware of the professional side of the crime, where dogs are bred and raised for the sole purpose of fighting by shady dog-fighting rings. In 2007 an undercover reporter for Panorama infiltrated one such ring and described the horror that he witnessed. The people involved were usually involved in numerous criminal activities but this brutal and exploitative sport attracted more than just street hooligans. The reporter described in detail each sadistic practice and the grotesque delight with which the owners allowed the pets to participate. The most horrific revelation in my opinion was that of the “bath” in which, after watching their pet be torn to pieces, the owner takes their losing dog and drowns them in a barrel of water.

So why when such stories keep returning to the headlines is this gross cruelty not being dealt with? Whilst the law regarding dangerous dogs has been changed recently, it has been slow to adjust to the rise in crime. I would argue that there needs to be a tougher price for criminals who choose to partake in such a vicious offence; a clear message needs to be sent to both the amateur and the professional that this kind of cruelty will not be tolerated.

The law should only show mercy where there has been evidence of compassion and in these cases there is none. The ugly truth is that the longer this crime goes uncurbed the more animals will be subjected to criminal malevolency and the toll on institutions such as the RSPCA will be dire. Whilst we cannot be there to stop every fight we can provide support for institutions that have the influence and the means to help combat this situation and help to bring an end to this kind of cruelty.


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