RSPCA: Dagenham dog fighter given 10 year ban

Dog DNA found on flesh stapler at Tony Barbara’s home

An Essex dog fighter convicted of a string of animal cruelty offences – including possession of a flesh stapler used to treat injured dogs – has been banned from keeping dogs for 10 years.

Tony Barbara was yesterday (4.2.13) also given a 24 week custodial sentence, which was suspended for two years, after he was found guilty of training dogs to fight.

Romford Magistrates’ Court heard the 48-year-old trained two pit bull terrier type dogs called Susie and Elaine, and one black and white bull terrier called Gerald for fighting.

He was also found guilty of possession of a flirt pole, used to train dogs for fights, and a veterinary kit – which included a flesh stapler – used to self-treat their injuries. The items were found at Barbara’s address on Third Avenue, Dagenham, during a search of his home by the RSPCA and Essex Police on 16 November in 2011. A forensic analysis of the flesh stapler showed it carried canine DNA, and that it had been used to treat injured dogs.

The unemployed defendant was also convicted of two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to the pit bull terrier Elaine (pictured right), by failing to get appropriate veterinary treatment for an injury to the dog’s teat and her conjunctivitis.

Barbara previously admitted possession of the two pit bull terrier type dogs, Susie and Elaine, in breach of the Dangerous Dogs Act.

He was also ordered to pay costs of £780 at yesterday’s sentencing hearing.

Mike Butcher, chief inspector of the RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: “Tony Barbara trained his dogs for the sole purpose of fighting – an activity which was a premeditated act intended ultimately to cause horrific levels of deliberate cruelty in the pit.

“He is clearly a troubled man, but it appears the one constant in his life was dog fighting. Despite this, there is no excuse for inflicting such suffering on those dogs we know about, and potentially many more that we don’t.

“Dog fighting is a depressing blot on our reputation as a nation of animal lovers. While people like Barbara continue to pursue their sickening obsession, we’ll continue to track them down and bring them before the courts.”

The RSPCA began proceedings against Barbara following the warrant, which was arranged as part of the special operations unit’s ongoing investigation into dog fighting.

Despite a training keep being seized from Barbara’s address – a notebook filled with detailed accounts of fights involving his dogs – he was acquitted of five charges of causing animal fights to take place between 29 May and 6 September in 2011. The district judge told Barbara that although there was clear evidence that the fights had taken place, there was no way of proving whether they happened within the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

He was also found not guilty of four charges of causing unnecessary suffering, while two welfare offence charges were formally dismissed halfway through his trial, which took place last year.


Notes to editors

Case photographs and video footage is available from the RSPCA press office by calling 0300 123 0244 or emailing

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288  Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email:  Website:

Dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds! Check out our top tips for
canine care: