Greater London named as the worst southern area for dog fighting
The south of England has been revealed as the second worst region in England and Wales for dog fighting, following closely behind the North. Despite the pandemic lockdowns, 224 cases of dog fighting have been tackled by the RSPCA in the south since 2019.
The leading animal welfare charity released the new figures as part of their Cancel Out Cruelty Campaign which launched last Monday.
Operations Unit (SOU) chief inspector Ian Muttitt said: “Our figures show that in the past four years the RSPCA has uncovered and dealt with 224 incidents of dog fighting just in the south of England, let alone in the rest of England and Wales. Greater London is the worst area in the south for it, with 91 of the incidents occurring there.
“It’s staggering that something which has been illegal for almost 200 years, which most people would consider consigned to history, is still so rife.”
The RSPCA’s Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, aims to raise funds to help its frontline rescue teams continue to save animals from cruelty and abuse and to raise awareness about how to stop cruelty to animals for good.
Dog fighting peaks in summer
“Each year, these reports of cruelty reach its terrible annual peak in the summer months.” Ian continued. “Around this time of year nationally we receive a report of an animal being beaten on average every hour of every day.
“We don’t know why reports of animal cruelty peak in the summer months although things like animal abuse being more visible as people are outdoors more and the cost of living crisis could be major factors.
“Dog fighting, which is connected to organised crime, is just one of the many acts of cruelty we see every year. The RSPCA is the only charity rescuing animals and investigating cruelty in England and Wales with a team of frontline rescue officers, specialist vet teams and a network of animal care centres and branches working tirelessly to save animals and provide rehabilitation to animal victims.
“Together, we believe we can and will cancel out cruelty to animals by replacing violence with kindness. We are urging people to donate to our Cancel Out Cruelty campaign,every donation will help animals.”
Dog fighting was outlawed in England in 1835 but still goes on today. The RSPCA – founded almost 200 years ago – is the country’s leading organisation tackling dog fighting and, for the last four decades, the RSPCA’s SOU have been investigating reports, rescuing dogs and prosecuting perpetrators.
Sadly, many of the dogs used by dog fighters are never found and those who are rescued are often found to be banned breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act* and cannot legally be rehomed.
In total the RSPCA’s SOU have investigated 1,156 incidents of dog fighting across England and Wales since 2019. The north of England has been revealed as the worst region for dog fighting between 2019-2023, with the South of England (224 investigations), the Midlands (212 investigations), the East of England (98 investigations) and the West (77 investigations) following closely behind.
Dog fighting world is dark and secretive
Ian said: “The dog fighting world is a dark and secretive place. It could be happening in an inner-city warehouse next door to your office or on a rural farm in your quiet village. “
The RSPCA are urging the public to be their eyes and ears and to report anything suspicious to them. Anyone who is concerned about the welfare of an animal or suspects dog fighting may be taking place should call the RSPCA animal cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.
“Dog fighting is serious, organised animal cruelty and we would not want anyone to put themselves at risk with the sort of people who are involved in such a violent pastime.” Said Ian. “It is imperative to report suspicions to the RSPCA and to under no circumstances approach these people yourself.”
Sadly the RSPCA receives around 91,500 calls to its cruelty line every month and investigates 5,300 reports of deliberate animal cruelty but in the summer calls rise to 133,000 a month – which is three every minute.
The RSPCA’s frontline teams are working hard to rescue animals in need this summer but we can’t do it alone – we need your help to Cancel Out Cruelty. To help the RSPCA continue investigating dog fighting and other animal cruelty, please donate today.
*Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 prohibits four types of dog – including the pit bull terrier – meaning the RSPCA is unable to rehome any dogs identified under this law. This means that if these types of dogs are rescued, the RSPCA is unable to legally rehome them and must euthanise them. The RSPCA is strongly opposed to this and is campaigning for change: www.rspca.org.uk/endbsl.
Top 5 southern dog fighting hotspots since 2019
The below data show the number of cases investigated by the RSPCA not the number of calls relating to dog fighting received.
|County||2019||2020||2021||2022||YTD May |
|Isle of Wight||1||1|
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