Hidden scourge of dog fights

2020-03-02 12:47
A generic picture of dogs fighting.

A generic picture of dogs fighting. (Twitter)

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New details have emerged of how dog-fighting rings operate around the city, with their legs stretching into national operations.

Investigations into dog-fighting rings in Pietermaritzburg continue with the SPCA making good progress in finalising the contents of a docket that will be used in the prosecution of the matter.

Pietermaritzburg and large portions of the province have experienced an increase in the theft of “power-breed” dogs - including pitbulls, staffies and bull-terriers - that are all being used in local and highly sophisticated national fighting rings.

Recent tip-offs from informers suggest that there is a three-tiered dog fighting structure in place.

The first tier is the entry level fighting taking place in several areas on a casual basis.

“It’s not organised and takes place on an ad-hoc basis. The guys just meet at the street corner with their dogs and let the dogs fight there and then, if it takes their fancy. We call these guys the ‘wanna-be-gangsters’ - who walk around with their dogs on a leash as a fashion accessory,” said SPCA senior inspector Roland Fivaz.

He said the next level was more organised where there were dedicated meeting places and times, rules and “money in the pot”.

“This is extremely widespread but also kept under wraps. It does not happen publicly. The dogs used here are thoroughbreds and those participating all contribute money towards the prize that goes to the winning dog,” said Fivaz.

The highest level, he said, was highly secretive and involved big stakes.

“This is very organised with lots of money at stake. These dogs are expensive, imported thoroughbreds, that are bred and trained to fight. The dog owners are never physically present at the fights, instead sending representatives and dog handlers with the dogs while they watch from live streams on webcams. It’s a sophisticated, slick operation. These fights travel nation-wide and rarely happen in the same place twice,” said Fivaz.

Earlier this month Fivaz made a desperate appeal to the public to come forward with any information relating to dog fighting activities.

He said they had decided to prioritise clamping down on illegal dog fighting activity this year after being provided with tip-offs.

“Together with the SAPS we went to a property where five badly neglected and injured pitbulls were rescued.

“The dogs were found illegally chained in a cruel manner and all dogs had bite marks on their bodies, as well as teeth that had been snapped off with root exposure. Having their roots exposed means the dogs have been living in excruciating pain, and they required urgent veterinary care,” said Fivaz.

dog fighting

Pietermaritzburg SPCA recently rescued three dogs that were injured during dog-fighting.

The dogs have been in the custody of the SPCA since the beginning of the month where they are undergoing treatment.

The injuries, he said, were confirmed by their vet as being consistent with dog fighting injuries.

“The vets have been fabulous in assisting us, especially with forensics on dogs that do not show exposed injuries. They have helped with x-rays that show repeated chipping of the bones as a result of injuries sustained during the fights,” said Fivaz.

The SPCA has created a special fund dedicated to the investigation of dog-fighting rings in the city and are also appealing to the community for support towards covering these costs.

Their banking details are: Standard Bank – Account Number 250068052 – Code 057525. Use “Stop Fight” as the reference. Anyone wanting to report any information that may assist the SPCA in their investigation can contact 082 808 3915.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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