The launch of new advice on how to recognise, record and report the signs of dog fighting, will help vets and nurses join the campaign to end the barbaric sport.

Animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports, has launched its online and downloadable ‘Advice for the Veterinary Community’. The new resource describes the warning signs of dog fighting and gives vets and nurses guidance on how to record the injuries and then report their concerns.

TV Vet and animal welfare campaigner Marc Abraham said:

“If not killed outright, dogs involved in dog fighting invariably suffer from appalling life-threatening injuries, so it’s vital that all vets and nurses know how to identify and record signs of dog fighting when they see them in their practice - and then report their concerns.

“This advice sheet gives veterinary staff the tools to easily do that, in total confidence, thus helping to make the veterinary profession an important part of the solution to this horrific animal welfare issue that’s still blighting our society today.” 

From street level fighters who force their dogs to spontaneously fight in urban parks, to professional dog fighters who often have links to other serious crime, this appalling practice is still happening – despite being banned since 1835.

Dog fighting is prevalent in urban and rural areas across England and Wales and involves many different types of dog, including terriers, mastiffs and bull breeds. The training methods used to prepare dogs to fight as well as the fights themselves, see the victims enduring immeasurable pain and suffering.

“The fact that we’re still even having to talk about ending dog fighting when it was banned nearly 200 years ago is shocking. The League’s excellent work continues to highlight just how awful this crime is and that it’s still going on right across this country. The veterinary community can really make a difference in helping tackle, expose, and finally end this awful cruelty,” said Mr Abraham.

The warning signs include dogs with multiple scars in various stages of healing, typically these are wounds are to the head, neck, chest, and forelimbs. You may also see damage to their teeth and gums, and ears and tails may be crudely chopped. Owners may request veterinary supplies for animals that are not registered at the practice and as with other forms of animal abuse, the injuries seen, and the explanation from the owner, are likely to be inconsistent.

Several images of pitbulls and fighting dogs

Suzanne Heaney, Dog Fighting Programme Manager for the League Against Cruel Sports, said:

“Dog fighting results in unbelievable suffering for the animals involved. Forced to fight, many dogs either die in the ring or very soon after, from a multitude of horrendous injuries. Survivors are patched up with homemade veterinary kits, but some of the luckier ones will make it to a veterinary clinic to have their injuries treated.

“Veterinary staff are on the front-line when it comes to seeing injuries that dogs may have suffered as a result of dog fighting and this advice sheet offers clear guidance on how to recognise, record and report the signs of this terrible crime. By following this advice, staff will be well-informed about how to act when one of their patients raises concerns that they may have been injured through dog fighting.

“Vets and veterinary nurses play such a critical role in animal welfare and by working together we’re confident we can put an end to this most hideous of cruel sports once and for all.”

The advice sheet is available to view online or download here. Veterinary clinics can also request a practice pack including dog fighting client information leaflets and waiting room posters from [email protected].

Anyone with information about dog fighting can confidentially contact the League Against Cruel Sports Animal Crimewatch service on 01483 361108 / www.league.org.uk/crimewatch.

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Notes to Editors

  • For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected] 
  • The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).