Reports of organised animal fighting to RSPCA up by a third in past five years
Shocking new figures come 180 years after dog fighting was banned in UK
Calls to the RSPCA reporting organised animal fighting have gone up by a third in the past five years – despite dog and cockfighting being banned for 180 years.
There was a total of 594 calls to Britain’s biggest animal charity in 2014 to report incidents or information connected to organised animal fighting, compared to 449 in 2010 – an increase of nearly 33%.
Chief inspector Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA’s special operations unit which investigates organised animal crime, said the figures came as no surprise.
“People look at me with amazement when I tell them about some of the things I’ve seen and heard of when it comes to dogfighting and cockfighting. Some people simply can’t believe it still happens, but it does and these new figures show that it is as much a problem now, if not more, than any other point in recent years.
“I’ve been investigating organised animal fighting for more than a decade and it still disgusts me, knowing that there are individuals who continue to take pleasure in watching animals brutally fight each other, often causing horrific and sometimes fatal injuries.
“RSPCA inspectors deal with countless instances of neglect caused by ignorance, but these cases are all about premeditated cruelty. People are deliberately breeding, training and fighting animals for the sole purpose of inflicting suffering.
“Hopefully one day organised animal fighting can truthfully be described as a thing of the past. Until then, we’ll keep investigating and try to bring about an end to such horrific levels of animal cruelty.”
Animal fighting and baiting was banned in England by the Cruelty to Animals Act in 1835. It is now covered by section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act which makes it illegal to stage an animal fight, to take part in an animal fight, train animals for the purpose of fighting, to attend and/or publicise an animal fight and to posses equipment designed to be used in connection with animal fighting.
The West Midlands emerged as the region with the most calls last year, followed by Greater London and Greater Manchester.
The areas with most reports of organised animal cruelty to the RSPCA in 2014 were:
1. West Midlands (48)
2. Greater London (36)
3. Greater Manchester (35)
4. Lancashire (27)
5. Kent (26)
6=. Nottinghamshire (23)
6=. West Yorkshire (23)
8=. Essex (18)
8=. South Yorkshire (18)
10=. Cheshire (16)
10=. Derbyshire (16)
“The West Midlands and other largely urban areas tend to get most reports but, from our experience, organised animal fighting can happen anywhere, from remote locations to city warehouses.
“The most important thing is that if someone does have any information they contact the RSPCA so that we can investigate,” added chief inspector Briggs.
Anyone who wants to report animal cruelty can contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty and advice line by calling 0300 1234 999.