Dog fighting has been banned in England for almost 200 years now, but sadly, the barbaric ‘sport’ is still in existence.
It doesn’t take two seconds to Google ‘dog fighting’ to see some of the horrific injuries inflicted on dogs by some cruel individuals who use the poor animals for their own entertainment and way of making money through betting.
There are numerous reports online suggesting individuals pluck pets from the street or look to obtain cheap or free animals to use as ‘bait’ for fighting dogs.
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The RSPCA is the UK’s leading organisation in tackling dog fighting and, for the last four decades, the charity’s undercover Special Operations Unit (SOU) have been investigating reports, rescuing dogs and prosecuting perpetrators.
While they said they have never never found any evidence of pet dogs or cats being stolen from homes to be used in fighting, for training or as bait, they urge anybody who suspects their animal has been stolen to contact police as soon as possible.
The RSPCA told UNILAD more than 4,800 reports of organised dog fighting were reported to them between 2006 and 2015 and secured 137 convictions for dog fighting-related offences.
Dogs who have been used in fighting will usually sustain serious injuries to their head, ears, front legs and chest as they go head-to-head in a pit. Those who organise these barbaric fights generally do it in a relatively quiet and private location such as an industrial unit or farm building.
A recent case resulted in the perpetrator being jailed and banned from keeping all animals for life, RSPCA told UNILAD.
On February 18 2018, a man from Hertfordshire was jailed after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to a dog and keeping or training a dog for use in connection with an animal fight.
The RSPCA and police discovered Neil Forrest’s ‘dog fighting yard’ at his home in the quiet village of Aspenden after a Staffie (pictured above) belonging to the man was found covered in bite marks, old scars and cowering in a garden by a neighbour.
Forrest appeared at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, February 15, where he was sentenced to a total of 24 weeks in prison and was disqualified from keeping all animals for life – and was ordered to pay £750 in costs.
RSPCA inspector Cliff Harrison, who led the investigation, said:
This poor dog was absolutely covered in wounds – both fresh and historic – with bite marks, scratches and puncture wounds predominantly around her muzzle, ears and legs.
These sorts of injuries are exactly the sort of thing we we see when dogs are forced to fight another dog and the vet agreed that the injuries were consistent with dog fighting.
The dog was taken to the vet where she was looked over. Vets said her freshest wounds were around three to four days old, leading authorities to believe she’d been used in a fight just a few days earlier.
Luckily for the dog – who was nicknamed Kali by staff – vets were able to treat her and she is now fully recovered and receiving ‘lots of TLC in RSPCA care’.
Inspector Harrison said:
When we raided Forrest’s home with found three dogs kept in kennels in the garden, two of which were extremely athletic, fit bull breed types which were restrained with thick collars and chain tethers within the kennels.
A third bull breed was found in a crate in the garage and a fourth dog – a spaniel – was also found although there were no concerns for this dog.
We also found books and articles on pit bulls and dog fighting, and we recovered a photo of Forrest holding a dog in his garden suggesting it was a three-time champion with ‘Neil’s Yard’ written on the back.
Inside the garage we found a treadmill and scales – often used by dog fighters to train their dogs and prepare for a fight – but when we interviewed Forrest he denied having any involvement with dog fighting.
It’s clear from the evidence that Forrest is obsessed with dog fighting and is involved in keeping, training and fighting his dogs.
It appears he has tried to run his own dog fighting yard – called Neil’s Yard – but it’s unclear whether he’s had much if any success with that.
What is clear is that his dogs have significant injuries consistent with dog fighting and have clearly been caused suffering due to his pastime.
We believe he has been involved in this abhorrent, secretive bloodsport for years.
The court also ordered Forrest to be deprived of ownership of Kali who RSPCA staff will now seek to rehome.
Dog fighting is both cruel and barbaric, and the RSPCA said they will continue to investigate any reports of dog fighting.
If you suspect it is happening on your doorstep, contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.