Following an increase in canine street battles, animal activists are calling for tougher penalties for those involved, BBC News reports.
According to a report by the League Against Cruel Sports, dog fighting has moved from organized dog battles to what is referred to as “rolls,” where chained dogs fight on behalf of their owners. Reportedly, it is young men wanting to maintain “street cred” who are the ones behind this surge. The league also said residents of the town of Luton in Eastern England report that the dogs are being trained in one park by hanging them from trees by their jaws to improve strength.
“This is planned, it is organized, it is deliberate,” Eduardo Goncalve, the League’s chief executive, told the BBC. He said going beyond simple street fighting, the pups were trained to fight in harnesses on treadmills with “bait” dogs used as opponents.
The United Kingdom currently has legislation on the books that bans dog fighting; however, the League said there also should be a registry of banned owners and penalties need to be strengthened. The group also wants lawmakers to review the Dangerous Dog Act, which the group claims is fundamentally flawed.
Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, which reportedly came into effect in 1991, Pit Bull Terriers, Dogo Argentinos, Japanese Tosas and Fila Brasileiros are banned in England and Wales. The League claims the act “targets particular types of dog, rather than poor behavior by their owners.” But lawmakers say the act can be used against owners of any out-of-control dog, according to the BBC.
Via undercover investigators, the League showed the BBC a Staffordshire Terrier named Cupcake who had signs of having been used in training. Not only did she have scars around her neck and an injured eye, the dog’s teeth had been filed back to prevent it damaging its opponent.
“To victimize and torture a vulnerable creature to try to create a status or an image they want to be proud of is pretty despicable,” a woman who rehabilitates abandoned dogs and now is looking after Cupcake told the BBC. “Man up. If you have a lust for fighting, go out and fight yourself.”