The bloody world of dog fighting

Leoni Kruger
LEPHALALE — After the community was made aware of the theft of puppy dogs last week, Mogol Post investigated the matter further.
In January last year it was reported on national media that 18 people stood in the court in Nigel after being arrested for involvement in illegal dog fighting in Tsakane, on the East Rand of Johannesburg.
An inspector from the NSPCA Special Investigation Unit, said whether you are empathetic to the animals or not, it is proven that dog fighting has a direct impact on a community – especially on what children are feeling and how they are developing. She said dog fighting can be broken up into three different levels of sophistication. The lowest level would be the township fights in the rural areas. No training is involved and the dogs, bought for very low prices, are either stolen or bred on a very low basis. Interestingly enough, the NSPCA says there’s not a lot of gambling involved, it’s more about prestige and owning the winning and strongest dog. It can be gang- or drug-related.
According to the NSPCA, whenever you find dog fighting, you will find a raised level of violence in the community and it is a very strong indicator that it can lead to future violence.
The medium level fights are more sophisticated and gambling is rife as a lot of emphasis is put on the breeding and selling of as many puppies as possible from the winning dogs.
The most dangerous of the levels involves high level dog fights which include extremely organised crime members who are ruthless with their dogs, which they see as investments, as “killing machines”. The people in this level of dog fighting are deep underground criminals.
The dogs are trained for long periods and lots of investment is put into bloodiness and the training of the bloodline. These kinds of fights are planned long in advance and surprisingly enough with the use of social media!
According to the NSPCA, dog fighting is a world-wide problem and South Africa is actively involved. They also say that a lot of people would recognise the actual act of dog fighting as cruel and resulting in suffering, but they don’t realise the huge amount of suffering happening off scene. “These dogs are kept in very bad conditions and they are on chains for most of their lives and when injured or suffering, they are very seldom taken to veterinarians due to the fact that it may raise suspicion”.
The Animal Protection Act number 71 of 1962 specifically relates to the illegality of dog fighting in SA.
Dog fighting on any level is seen as a severe crime in SA and even spectators who have nothing to do with it will be prosecuted, says the NSPCA spokesperson.
Wikipedia refers to dog fighting as “a type of blood sport generally defined as opposing two game dogs against one another in a ring or a pit for the entertainment of the spectators or the gratification of the dog fighters, who are sometimes referred to as dog men”.
Worldwide, several countries have banned dog fighting, but it is legal in some countries like Japan, Honduras and parts of Russia.
Cheryl Oosthuizen, one of the board members of Lephalale SPCA, said that they are not aware of any recent local cases of dog fighting, but they have reason to believe that Lephalale and surroundings are not indemnified therefrom. “We do get enquiries from people who are looking for an aggressive dog like a pit bull, bull terrier, Rottweiler, etc. but we never let any type of aggressive breed be adopted. We also know that dog fighters are looking for puppies to use as bait during fights. The thing is, if a puppy gets stolen, how will one ever know if it’s been stolen because it’s cute or because someone wants to use it as bait” she said.
Lephalale SPCA warns the community that they are alerted about this and that they will leave no stone unturned to get those who are involved in dog fighting behind bars!

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