A two-year investigation by the League Against Cruel Sports has uncovered an international network which breeds, transports and organises dog fights around the world – including the UK.

Our investigation, carried out by League intelligence staff and specialist external contractors, into this global network began when we received a tip-off to our Animal Crimewatch reporting service about possible dog fighting in the Midlands area. This led us to an Eastern European national who was at the centre of a network breeding, transporting and fighting dogs all over the world.

We shared our investigation with the BBC who supplemented our work with their own investigation which featured across BBC news programmes in February.

Two images of dog fighting victims


Global dog fighting network

At the centre of this network is a Bulgarian national, Ivo Nikolov. The network includes a dog kennels named Tomy Flyman and a pet transportation organisation named Pettransport Bulgaria. Behind these apparently innocuous names we found a business dealing in the breeding, transportation and fighting of dogs.


Breeding

Dog fighters want dogs that have the strength and stamina to fight well. To increase the chances of a dog being a good fighter they value highly trained dogs that are bred from successful fighting dogs. Similar to race horses, a champion dog will be used as a stud to sire puppies – which will then be sold to dog fighters. This process creates ‘bloodlines’ which are recorded and used to sell both adult dogs as well as puppies. The better the bloodline, the higher the price.

This advert from Tomy kennels shows a male dog (Maron) and a female (Mamba) being mated. It shows that Maron is a ‘Champion’ (CH) fighter who has won three registered fights (3xW) and has also been awarded 1 x ‘Best in Show’ (B.I.S.) which is a title used to recognise a dog that’s done particularly well in a dog fighting tournament or exhibition where a number of fights are held in a single day.

Mamba is held in what is known colloquially as a ‘rape stand’, this is used to prevent the female from refusing to mate.

Breeding kennel for dog Fighting and dog with scars


Transportation

To prove this network were not only breeding dogs for fighting, but were also transporting them around the world, we gathered a huge amount of evidence. These images show dogs en route to many of the 29 countries we identified as part of their global network:

World map with indication of dog fighting activity


Fights

The brutal reality of dog fighting is that however these dogs are bred, and wherever they are taken to, they will be forced into a ‘pit’ to fight another dog.

Dog fighters, however, report on the fights as if they were talking about a football match.

Online chat between dog fighters


Training

Dogs involved in dog fighting are required to have both strength and stamina. They are trained using equipment such as a treadmill which they are chained to and forced to run. In some cases, an ‘incentive’ such as a cat in a cage is put in front of them.

Other training methods include using a ‘lure’ designed to get the dogs to leap into the air, to build their muscles.

Dogs training to fight


The ‘pit’

Dog fighting can take place anywhere – on the street, in parks etc. But at an organised level, fights usually take place in an arena called a ‘pit’. These structures can be made up of a range of materials, such as wooden planks or used tyres, or even in the back of a van.

A dog fighting pit with a fight going on


Injury and ‘treatment’

Dogs that are forced to fight frequently suffer significant injuries, time and time again. Many will die in the ring or in the days that follow from their injuries. For those that do survive, a trip to a trained veterinarian is unlikely. To avoid suspicion, dog fighters often treat their dogs at home, using home-made veterinary kits. These include staple guns and superglue to seal wounds.

Medical and Vet Supplies used by dog fighters


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