A Dog Fight Every Day – New Report Exposes Extent of ‘Banned’ Sport in UK
We have been concerned that there was not enough information about dog fighting in the UK to enable us to effectively work on the issue. So we commissioned a report – and the findings were quite shocking.
‘Betrayal of Trust: The Tragedy of Dog Fighting’ reveals;
• Three distinct ‘levels’ of dog fighting: Street Rolls, Hobbyist and Professional
• Horrific injuries patched up by ‘street’ surgeons using only superglue or staples
• Training methods using ‘bait’ animals such as cats
• Organised dog fights that can last up to 5 hours
The authors of the report, criminologists Dr Simon Harding and Dr Angus Nurse spoke to a large range of people including those involved in dog fighting, and examined the practices, motivations and extent of dog fighting as well as the means to tackle it.
Click here to read a shortened version of the report
Click here to read the full report and all references
The three levels of dog fighting identified in the report are:
Level One: Street Rolls
• One on one fights in urban parks and housing estates
• Arranged on the spot, no referee or rules, fight over in a few minutes
• Little or no money involved
• Likely to occur somewhere in the UK every day
Level Two: Hobbyist
• Series of fights in abandoned buildings/bedrooms converted into a ‘pit’
• Operate on a localised fighting circuit in urban areas
• Often gang affiliated with gambling involved
• Likely to occur somewhere in the UK every couple of weeks
Level Three: Professional
• Sophisticated dog rings with highly trained dogs of reputable bloodlines
• Always take place in a pit, with rules, referees, timekeepers, spectators
• High stakes gambling with £100,000s wagered
• Dogs entered in fights both in UK and internationally
• Likely to occur somewhere in UK every few months
Pain and Suffering
The suffering of the dogs involved not only includes the pain – and sometimes death – inflicted during the fights themselves, but also from brutal training methods, particularly at the Professional level. Dogs reared for fighting are engineered so they are robbed entirely of their natural social behaviour and designed to fight regardless of pain or risk.
Links to Other Crimes
From analysing data provided by the Metropolitan Police and other sources, the report identified that young men who owned ‘dangerous dogs’ or ‘status dogs’, as defined under the Dangerous Dogs Act, were widely associated with or involved in an extensive range of criminal activity, including Robbery, threats to kill, Actual Bodily Harm and Drug Possession.
In Merseyside, 23 out of 25 dangerous dog owners had 87 convictions amongst them, while in the West Midlands 79 out of the 126 ‘dangerous dog’ owners had other criminal convictions.
The specific offence of dog fighting does not exist in the UK; it is contained within the broader offence of animal fighting prohibited under Section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act with a maximum penalty of 51 weeks in prison.
By contrast, in the US dog fighting is a felony offence in all 50 states with a maximum penalty of several years in prison. But because of the clandestine nature of the activity, it is very difficult to obtain convictions.