Dog fighting doubles in Bedfordshire in just one year

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Counties in the east of England have been revealed as hotspots for dog fighting.

Despite the pandemic lockdowns, 98 cases of dog fighting have been tackled by the RSPCA in the east of England since 2019.

A dog being trained before a big fight (Picture: RSPCA)A dog being trained before a big fight (Picture: RSPCA)
A dog being trained before a big fight (Picture: RSPCA)

And in Bedfordshire alone – the cases have DOUBLED from 2021 to 2022.

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Ian Muttitt, RSPCA dog fighting expert and special operations unit (SOU) chief inspector, said: “Our figures show in the past four years the RSPCA has uncovered and dealt with 98 incidents of dog fighting just in the east of England – let alone in the rest of England and Wales. Essex is the worst county in the east for it, with 29 of the incidents occurring there.”

Bedfordshire has recorded 16 cases since 2019.

Two adult American Pit Bull type dogs in an illegal dogfight (Picture: RSPCA)Two adult American Pit Bull type dogs in an illegal dogfight (Picture: RSPCA)
Two adult American Pit Bull type dogs in an illegal dogfight (Picture: RSPCA)

Ian added: “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.”

And he said, for some reason, reports of animal cruelty peak in the summer months.

"Dog fighting, which is connected to organised crime, is just one of the many acts of cruelty we see every year,” he added.

It was outlawed in England in 1835 but still goes on today. Invariably, many of the dogs used are never found – and those who are rescued are often banned breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act which cannot legally be rehomed.

A bloodied dog (Picture: RSPCA)A bloodied dog (Picture: RSPCA)
A bloodied dog (Picture: RSPCA)

The RSPCA is urging the public to be their eyes and ears and report anything suspicious to them.

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.

“Signs of dog fighting can vary but if you notice a dog with lots of scars on its face, front legs, hind legs and thighs, or with puncture wounds and mangled ears – this could be a sign of dog fighting and should be reported to the RSPCA or the police. Other suspicious activity includes dogs being hidden away in outbuildings or kennels of sight and not exercised in public.”

London has the highest number of cases in the country with 91 recorded since 2019.