BARBARIC dog fighting is ‘going on all the time’ in East Lancashire in an ‘underworld of criminality’, animal welfare charities have warned.
The claims come as a man pleaded guilty to breeding fighting dogs in Accrington after he advertised nine pit bull-type puppies for sale on Facebook.
Vets last week also struggled to save a Staffordshire bull terrier which collapsed in a Nelson surgery after apparently being involved in a fight.
Police have also seized a suspected pit bull-type dog, which has recently had a litter of seven puppies from a property in Chorley.
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Officers warned that although the puppies, which have been distributed to new owners, may look ‘cute and cuddly’ now, they could grow up to be extremely dangerous dogs.
Animal charities have condemned the use of dogs for fighting, branding it ‘horrific’.
Paula Knowles, from Pendle Dogs in Need, said: “There are organised dog fights going on in this area and dogs are being used as bait dogs. It is barbaric but it is happening on our doorstep.
“People are taking dogs from back yards, or from lampposts outside shops, and are using them to train up fighting dogs.
“It is horrific to think about but it is happening in East Lancashire and we need people to be aware of it.”
Steve Wood, founder of Hyndburn Stray Dogs in Need, said: “The people who do this are real, real scum. They have no regard for animal welfare and they just let their dogs fight for the enjoyment they get.
“It is not that it has become more and more common in East Lancashire, it is going on all the time and it is well-organised.
“These dogs are lethal weapons and are more dangerous than a gun because they do not need aim, they just attack.
“Nobody is prepared to give the police information because it is an underworld and criminality is involved.”
The extent of the issue was highlighted by Mr Wood following the sentence of 28-year-old Krzysztof Bulawa.
Blackburn Magistrates’ Court heard how he offered pit bull-type puppies for sale through an advert on Facebook.
The advert was blocked within an hour of it appearing, but by the time police executed a search warrant at Bulawa’s Accrington home, all nine puppies had gone.
The mother was still in the house as was the defendant’s new born baby.
Bulawa, of Devonshire Street, pleaded guilty to possessing a fighting dog, advertising fighting dogs for sale and breeding fighting dogs. He was made subject to a weekend curfew between 9pm and 5am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for 12 weeks and ordered to pay £145 costs.
The magistrates made an order for the destruction of the dog, although Bulawa had already signed a disclaimer which would have given the police the authority to have the dog destroyed.
Scott Parker, defending, said his client had initially been unaware the type of dog he had taken in and there was no suggestion the dog had ever been involved in any incidents.
Speaking after the case Bulawa said: “It is unfair. My dog did nothing.
“Now I have to wear a tag and they say my dog is dangerous and I am dangerous. It was never used for fighting and it never hurt anybody.”
Vets in Nelson were shocked when a female Staffordshire bull terrier was found dumped in the back yard of a house in Chapel House Street, Nelson.
The dog was taken to Stanley House Vets, but collapsed in the surgery due to her loss of blood.
She was kept at the surgery for two days to recover from shock before undergoing an operation on her leg. She is now being cared for by Pendle Dogs in Need.
Mrs Knowles, from the charity, said: “When the dog was found she was covered in blood, with a bad leg injury and several bite marks.
“It is absolutely heart breaking to see this happening, but people need to be aware of it.”
Police in Chorley said they seized a suspected Pit Bull terrier dog from a property in Corporation Street under the Dangerous Dogs Act. The dog has since been confirmed as a pit bull-type.
The dog had recently had a litter of seven pups which are thought to be around six-weeks-old.
They have all been passed onto other people.
Police and Chorley Council have since traced two of the puppies, but community beat manager PC Debs Collier said they were keen to trace the remaining five.
She said: “Although these dogs are just six-weeks-old and look cute and cuddly, they will grow into extremely dangerous dogs with the potential to cause serious injury.
“It is important we find these dogs before anybody is hurt. I would not want it on anybody’s conscience if they knew where one of these dogs was and it went on to cause harm.”
Former dog warden Mr Wood said he believed the solution to the problem of dog fighting was licences.
He said: “We have got to get rid of all the stupid legislation about dogs being dangerous.
“Anybody who owns a dog must have a licence and to obtain that licence, you must show you are capable of looking after the dog.
“Each dog should have a separate licence and they should have to pass an aggression test. If it fails, it gets put down.”
Chief Insp Justin Srivastava said: “If anybody has information about fighting dogs, we would encourage them to call the police.”