It’s great to see the Royal Veterinary College raising awareness about an increase in dog fighting in the UK. The research suggests that nearly 15% of veterinary professionals suspected that they had treated at least one dog that was engaged in illegal dog fighting in 2015. Most of these cases, however, were not reported to the relevant authorities.

Veterinary clinics are on the frontline when it comes to spotting the people involved so it’s vital they know what to look for and how to report it. But it’s not easy. Our investigations reveal people who force dogs to fight often have links to other forms of violence, drugs and anti-social behaviour – they can be difficult and threatening. That’s why the League has produced a range of materials to help veterinary clinics understand how to approach it.

The advice from Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is clear, non-accidental injury must be reported and the welfare of the animal overrides the owner’s right to confidentially. The League has specially trained investigators who are experienced in handling these sensitive situations. You can share your concerns with us safe in the knowledge that we’ll protect your identity and identity of your clinic as we investigate. We’ll also liaise with the local police and we’ll keep you informed about how the investigation is progressing.

Dog fighting is one of the most horrific forms of animal cruelty, not only for the violence the dogs endure during fights but because of the trauma they suffer throughout their lives. Training methods brutalise, and fights inflict untold physical and mental suffering on ‘man’s best friend’. A key tool in the armoury of a dog fighter is secrecy – they thrive by keeping their activity hidden from view – let’s work together to protect these animals and make real progress in tackling dog fighting in the UK. Surely man’s best friend deserves that.

If you have suspicions that a dog brought into your clinic has been involved in dog fighting take a look at our advice for professionals and share your concerns with us by emailing our Animal Crimewatch service at [email protected] or call 01483 361 108. The information you provide is strictly confidential.