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Tackling dog fighting

What is ‘dog fighting’?

Dog inside cage with facial injuries © RSPCA

Despite this cruel activity being illegal for over 180 years, we still investigate and prosecute dog fighting offences. Dogs are trained to fight and are pitted against each other with the aim of inflicting as much pain and damage as possible. There's also been a rise in so-called ‘casual’ dog fighting with people fighting their dogs in public places and filming it on mobile phones.

For the dogs unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of dog fighters, life is full of pain and violence. With dogs treated as nothing more than pieces of sporting equipment to be disposed of when damaged.

After fights many dogs are left with horrific injuries and rather than taking them to a vet, dog fighters will perform crude surgeries without anesthetic. Often using staple guns or super glue to close up wounds.

Most dogs used for fighting will ultimately either be killed in the ring, die as a result of their injuries or in some cases be killed by their owners.

Six fighting dogs seized


Pit bull type dog found at the defendants house © RSPCA

In 2015 we uncovered a dogfighting training school in the home of a man thought to be a major figure in British dogfighting.


Two pit bull type dogs - called Ziggy and Tip - were rescued as part of the investigation, The pair were both being trained to fight. Evidence of a third dog, named Cruise, being trained at the property and put forward into a dogfight was also discovered. Cruise was never found.

Our officers also found treadmills, medication, and a captive bolt gun - all designed for use in connection with organised fights. Other paraphernalia such as dogfighting yearbooks and magazines, as well as a bucket and a sponge covered in blood were also discovered at property.

This is just one example of some of the horrific cases we uncover.

What are we doing to stop it?

We have a ‘Special Operations Unit’ (SOU) made up of a team of investigators who are trained in monitoring and uncovering organised animal cruelty.

The dog fighting world is incredibly dangerous and our investigators often put themselves in harms way to expose this cruelty. Dog fighting cases are some of the most difficult to uncover as they are extremely complex and can involve large numbers of criminals who are very often linked to other types of crime.

It can take months or even years to gather enough evidence to bring a case to court.

Dog fighting is an abhorrent, cruel activity, sickening to any right-minded member of the public. It’s one of the most extreme forms of animal cruelty the RSPCA investigates.

- Mike Butcher, SOU Chief Inspector.

What can you do to help?

  • If you suspect someone is taking part in dog fighting, please call us in confidence on 0300 1234 999 or report it to the police.
  • Donate to help bringing dog fighters to justice.
  • Read our blog on the Channel 4 Documentary ‘Going to the Dogs