MPs should act on sentencing as dog fighting continues to blight Britain

The RSPCA has revealed it investigated 511 calls about organised dog fighting last year, ahead of the debate between a cross-party group of MPs in Westminster Hall tomorrow (29.6.16).

In 2015 the RSPCA logged 559 calls from people with information linked to organised dog fighting, of which 511 – 91% – required further investigation.

In Northern Ireland there is now a maximum sentence of five years in prison for dog fighting compared to six months in England and Wales. The RSPCA hopes that an increase in maximum sentencing for dog fighting is given the support of politicians during the debate in Westminster.

RSPCA chief inspector Mike Butcher – recognised as one of Britain’s leading experts on dog fighting – said: “We need new deterrents to tackle the brutal spectacle of fighting two dogs in a pit, which continues to be an increasing problem despite it being made illegal more than 180 years ago.

“England has fallen behind other countries, including Northern Ireland, in its sentencing for dog fighting. We welcomed the announcement by the Government in 2015, that dog fighting is a serious offence and and that sentencing needs to be increased and hope they will announce measures to rectify this.

“I’ve seen footage of dogs gasping for life, covered in blood, as people encourage another dog to inflict yet more suffering upon them. Even after more than three decades investigating organised animal crime, I still find it shocking to actually think someone could gain so much pleasure from something so cruel.”

The RSPCA is the lead organisation in England looking at this issue and continues to investigate through its undercover and uniformed inspectorate cases where people have trained dogs like athletes, putting them on treadmills, feeding them muscle-building protein powders and using homemade training aids to get them ready for pre-planned fights.

Dog fighting, along with cock fighting, was banned in 1835. However, chief inspector Butcher – a member of the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit for more than 30 years – was instrumental in proving back in the 1980s that organised dog fighting remained a problem across England and Wales.

To help the RSPCA investigate dog fighting please text HELP to 78866 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).


Notes to editors

Animal fighting is banned under Section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. There are a number of offences. These include causing an animal fight to take place or attempting to do so, receiving money for admission, publicising a fight, training an animal to fight, taking part in a fight and being present at an animal fighting without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. Some of the offences can be committed without a fight having taken place.

Anyone convicted under Section 8 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 can face a maximum sentence of six months in custody and/or a fine of up to £20,000. A court can also pass orders banning someone from keeping/owning dogs (potentially lifelong bans) as well as ordering the forfeiture of equipment and destruction orders on any dogs involved.

RSPCA: we rescue more dogs than any other charity