Henry Smith MP was pleased to host and speak at the launch of a new report from the League Against Cruel Sports, which calls for tougher penalties and a national register of offenders to tackle dog fighting.
Project Bloodline was a six month investigation designed to understand why, when and where dog fighting takes place, and how it can be stopped. It is being developed and instigated by the League Against Cruel Sports as part of its campaign to end dog fighting in the UK.
“As a dog lover I find it appalling that anyone would even contemplate training dogs to fight, injure and brutally kill.
“Dog fighting is an abhorrent activity belonging to the past. Convicted perpetrators need to face appropriate punishments, however currently our courts lack the vital power to impose these – this needs to change if we have any chance of stopping dog fighting for good.
“I support the League Against Cruel Sports with their campaign to both increase the available custodial sentences to at least three years and their call for a national register of animal abusers.
"This isn't just an animal welfare issue, usually those who take part in such cruelty are also involved in the drugs trade and abuse against children."
Working collaboratively with 60 partners in a ‘typical’ UK urban area, the League Against Cruel Sports unearthed intelligence which included:
- Prohibited dogs bred and sold in a clandestine market in order to supply the high demand for status and fighting dogs with Pitbull ‘type’ puppies being sold for £1,000
- Before a fight has even taken place animals are left severely injured or are even killed having been subjected to brutal training methods including body or head slamming
- A feral cat colony being kept to supply ‘bait’ for dog fighting
- A Staffordshire Bull Terrier which had been used for ‘bait’ had its teeth crudely pulled and broken with pliers so that it could not defend itself
- The bodies of dead dogs, which had been used for fighting, dumped near farmland
Dog fighting is not purely a matter of animal welfare. Evidence from the UK and abroad points to the activity being a ‘gateway’ crime to serious and organised offences, such as drug and gun crime. In the United States dog fighting is recognised as a Grade A felony by the FBI and the practice of tackling dog fighting to prevent other crimes is well established.
Based on the intelligence and experience gathered from Project Bloodline, the League Against Cruel Sports is calling for the implementation of a national dog fighting action plan which can be rolled out in any area where dog fighting is prevalent.
Based around three areas of Prevention, Understanding and Prosecution (PUP), recommendations include:
- The formation of a National Task Force, led by a senior figure in Government, to ensure sufficient collaboration and action takes place to tackle dog fighting across the country
- Details of individuals banned from keeping dogs should be held on a national register by statutory agencies, helping to prevent further offences being committed whilst increasing opportunities for enforcement action
- Legislation and penalties for offenders must be clarified and strengthened; the League is calling for a minimum three year custodial sentence for convicted dog fighters. Sentencing should reflect the spectrum of offending in relation to dog fighting (from street level dog fighting to organised crime). Rehabilitation programmes should be offered as part of the sentencing mix
- The Dangerous Dogs Act should be reviewed as a matter of urgency
Anyone with information about dog fighting taking place in their community can confidentially contact the League Against Cruel Sports Animal Crimewatch service online: www.league.org.uk/crimewatch or by calling: 01483 361108