End dog fighting in the UK

Many find it surprising that dog fighting was outlawed nearly 200 years ago. Sadly it still continues in the 21st century and is a significant animal welfare issue for the UK

Our experience suggests, as professionals involved in dog rescue and vet practices your work will potentially bring you into contact with dog fighters or dogs born to fight. We are asking for your help as you really can make a difference helping us to end this horrendous bloodsport. To help support you in your understanding of dog fighting and making decisions on what to do, we have put together some information and advice.

This advice will help you identify the signs of dog fighting and explains how to raise your concerns. We’re appealing to the veterinary community and rescue centres for information to help us raise awareness and tackle this appalling abuse.

If we work together and share information we can bring an end to dog fighting and ensure those who commit this horrendous crime are bough to justice.

Our Animal crimewatch team are experienced, with law enforcement backgrounds and have wide ranging knowledge on dog fighting and are happy to give you further guidance and advice.

Information for Law Enforcement

We have created an information leaflet for law enforcement.

Information for vets and rescue centres

Typical dog fighting injuries

As with other forms of animal abuse, the most significant indicators are the injuries that result from the dog fight.

  • Multiple puncture wounds in various stages of healing
  • Wounds to the head, neck, chest, and forelimbs

The owner’s account of the injury may be inconsistent with the injury presented to you; or the account given by the owner changes during the examination. A common explanation given is that the injuries result from a ‘spontaneous dog fight in the local park’.

Types of dog

We believe the favoured breed, but not exclusively, is the (illegal) American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), however globally many other breeds are used including the Dogo Argentino (Illegal) and English Bull Terrier.

The pure breed APBT is the ultimate choice for a dog fighter which will usually come from a bloodline of winners and champions.

There can also be a cultural choice of breed for dog fighting such as within the Pakistan, Afghanistan communities favoring the white Bully Kutta and Gul Terrier

Fundamentally those dogs bred into dog fighting are isolated and deprived of other dog socalisation causing them to be dog aggressive not person aggressive. This is because the ‘owner’ will need to enter the fighting pit to encourage the dog, and they require the ability to ‘handle’ the dog.

Indicators to consider

  • Front legs may show bite marks encircling the leg, or degloving injuries.
  • Gums may be damaged, missing or badly swollen with bruising and necrotic flesh.
  • X-rays may show new, as well as healed fractures.
  • Damage to teeth - teeth may be broken, filed or extracted.
  • White marks on the fur indicating scarring underneath
  • There may be marks around the neck from a weighted collar used to build muscle.
  • Indications of homemade veterinary treatment such as stitching or superglue
  • Owners may offer cash payments or arrange for a third-party to pay the bill
  • You may be asked for drugs or medical supplies (such as antibiotics) for animals that haven’t been brought into your clinic because their owner wants to patch them up in secret.

Not only do these animals suffer terribly during fights but by the time they’ve reached you, they may be in very poor condition. Dogs that are repeatedly forced to fight often have multiple puncture wounds, crushing injuries, fractured bones, swellings and infections. They may also suffer from blood loss, dehydration, and shock. Many also have Babesia and/or parvovirus.

Recording injuries

Making detailed notes of all injuries is crucial.

  • Scan for a microchip and take good quality overall photographs so the dog can be easily identified.
  • Note the extent, nature and position of wounds on the body and take photographs from the front and two sides before administering treatment.
  • Complete a separate scar/wound chart for every dog you see, taking photographs of all scars/ wounds present.

If you see clinical signs that cannot be attributed to the history provided by the owner, you should record non-accidental injury in your diagnosis notes. ‘Recognising abuse in animals and humans’ provides guidance. It’s important to record a detailed clinical history as your notes may be used at a later date if a case goes to Court.

Can I report my concerns?

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons provides advice on how to deal with situations where you suspect animal welfare is compromised and they are clear that public interest in protecting the animal overrides the professional obligation to maintain client confidentiality.

Share your concerns about the animal in your care with your Head of Practice. Once you’ve decided how to approach it, discuss your concerns with the owner.

It’s an offence under section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (England and Wales) and the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2006 (Scotland) to force animals to fight. It is also an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal. If you have concerns, we urge you to report to the police using 101. If you have concerns about your immediate safety contact the police on 999

We would also ask you contact the us via our Animal Crimewatch confidential service.

All information you provide to us is strictly confidential. We will discuss any concerns you may have. Your information will be used by us to help raise awareness and by our team of professional investigators to help bring people to justice.

Financial support for rescue centres

We appreciate that caring for these dogs can be expensive for rescue centres as they often have higher veterinary bills, need more behavioural support and take longer to rehome.

We offer a one-off payment of up to £500 as a contribution to help with these costs. In return, we ask to use a brief summary of the circumstances to create a case study to help us raise awareness of dog fighting.

Read the commercial agreement which sets out the terms and conditions for payment and complete an application form.

Or you can apply online.

You'll need to show why you think the dog in your care has been involved in dog fighting. If you’d like to discuss how the scheme operates email [email protected]

Download this information in pdf format: Dog fighting - Advice for rescue centres