Luton has been selected as a pilot area for a project aimed at ending dog fighting in the UK.
And dog-loving Lutonians could earn themselves up to £1,000 for passing on tip-offs about the cruel pastime where the animals are deliberately set upon each another, horrifically injured and ripped apart for ‘sport’.
Project Bloodline has been developed by animal welfare campaigners League Against Cruel Sports (LACS). Initially being piloted in Luton, the project focuses on the ‘street’ level category of the activity, which usually involves dogs being forced to fight against each other in urban areas such as local parks.
LACS say dog fighting results in torn flesh, blood loss, disembowelment and even death. People involved in dog fighting often ignore their dogs’ injuries or may take the animal out of town to seek medical attention. There are also suggestions that some use bait animals, such as cats, to train the dogs to fight.
Despite the barbaric sport having been outlawed almost 200 years ago, a dog fight takes place somewhere in the UK every day of the year, according to a recent academic report published by the League.
Mark Randell, from LACS, said: “Dog fighting is barbaric and repugnant and betrays the trust of the human/dog relationship. It’s got to be stopped.
“We’re offering up to £1000 for information about dog fighting around Luton. This is a chance for local animal lovers to play their part in stamping out such a savage activity.
“Anyone who has specific information about people who are involved in dog fights or where or when these cruel events take place, is urged to contact the League’s confidential Animal Crimewatch reporting service on 01483 361 108.”
Through exposing the cruel practices of dog fighting via intelligence and data collection, the League aims to persuade policy-makers into making dog fighting a specific recordable offence, leading to improved enforcement and for penalties to be more stringent to act as a more effective deterrent.
The League’s recent report revealed that people get involved in dog-fighting to boost their street cred, for fun or for profit. There are three distinct ‘levels’ of dog fighting in the UK: ‘street rolls’, ‘hobbyist’ and ‘professional’. Some organised dog fights can last up to five hours.
Mr Randell added: “Dog fighting is a clandestine activity, which in the past more commonly took place in disused rural buildings and was managed at a professional level.
“Now we’re seeing a move to urban areas such as Luton, where dog fighting is becoming a way of establishing dominance, often related to gang activity.
“Either way, it’s mostly about machismo and money, and the dogs are the victims.”
As part of the pilot, the League is working with a network of local community partner organisations. Luton has been chosen as the location to launch the Project Bloodline because:
> Although there is no evidence to suggest Luton has a bigger dog-fighting problem than other towns, research suggests that a significant number of dogs have been stolen, possibly as bait in the Luton area
> Traditionally, dog fighting has frequently occurred here and while partially addressed, is still happening
> Luton is demographically and culturally reflective of the UK
> As a central town, Luton offers the kind of location fitting for a logistical achievable pilot
If successful, the techniques used during the Luton pilot will then potentially be rolled out by LACS to cities across the country.