Animal welfare charity The League Against Cruel Sports, is asking veterinary staff for help in recognising the signs of dog fighting, in the hope that further victims of the barbaric sport can be prevented.
Suzanne Heaney, dog fighting programme manager for the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Dog fighting results in unbelievable suffering for the animals involved. Forced to fight, many dogs either die in the ring or very soon after, from a multitude of horrendous injuries. Survivors are patched up with homemade veterinary kits, but some of the luckier ones will make it to a veterinary clinic to have their injuries treated.”
The League is encouraging veterinary staff to use their ‘Advice for the Veterinary Community’ factsheet, a new resource that describes the warning signs of dog fighting and gives vets and nurses guidance on how to record injuries and then report their concerns.
“Veterinary staff are on the front-line when it comes to seeing injuries that dogs may have suffered as a result of dog fighting and this advice sheet offers clear guidance on how to recognise, record and report the signs of this terrible crime. By following this advice, staff will be well-informed about how to act when one of their patients raises concerns that they may have been injured through dog fighting,” Suzanne added.
From street level fighters who force their dogs to spontaneously fight in urban parks, to professional dog fighters who often have links to other serious crime, this appalling practice is still happening – despite being banned since 1835.
Dog fighting is prevalent in urban and rural areas across England and Wales and involves many different types of dog, including terriers, mastiffs and bull breeds. The training methods used to prepare dogs to fight as well as the fights themselves, see the victims enduring immeasurable pain and suffering.
The warning signs include dogs with multiple scars in various stages of healing, typically these are wounds are to the head, neck, chest, and forelimbs. You may also see damage to their teeth and gums, and ears and tails may be crudely chopped. Owners may request veterinary supplies for animals that are not registered at the practice and as with other forms of animal abuse, the injuries seen, and the explanation from the owner, are likely to be inconsistent.
Suzanne said: “Vets and veterinary nurses play such a critical role in animal welfare and by working together we’re confident we can put an end to this most hideous of cruel sports once and for all.”
An appeal for information has been launched by the League following the discovery of the three dogs and the charity is asking anyone with information about dog fighting to confidentially contact their Animal Crimewatch service on 01483 361108 / www.league.org.uk/crimewatch
‘Advice for the Veterinary Community’ is available to view online or download from: www.league.org.uk
Veterinary clinics can also request a practice pack including dog fighting client information leaflets and waiting room posters from firstname.lastname@example.org