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Prison term for dog fighter

A man who pleaded guilty to dog fighting offences has been given a three-month prison sentence.

Ian Martin Draper, 41, from Asthal, Burford, Oxfordshire, pleaded guilty to charges of causing the fighting of dogs, causing suffering by permitting a dog to fight and by failing to get veterinary attention for an injured dog. He also admitted to keeping a place for dog fighting, permitting suffering by failing to exercise care and supervision and possession of 10 pit bull terriers. Banbury magistrates also banned Draper from keeping dogs for 10 years.

The RSPCA’s undercover special operations unit, along with uniformed RSPCA inspectors and police raided his property in December 2003 as part of a nationwide operation codenamed ‘Gazpacho’, into the continuing illegal activity of dog fighting across the country. At Draper’s house they discovered one dog with extensive injuries to his chest and face - consistent with having been in a recent dog fight.

Also found at the property were a homemade fighting pit; a treadmill, used to improve dogs stamina; breaking sticks, used to prize fighting dogs’ jaws apart; homemade veterinary kits, used to treat injured dogs on site and not arouse suspicion from vets; books and videos on the subject.

Chief Inspector Mike Butcher, from the RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: "Dog fighting is abhorrent and barbaric and should be consigned to the history books where it belongs. Anyone who uses their dogs for this activity is risking serious injury to their animal and is also breaking the law. Our inspectors are constantly working to eliminate the activities of cruel gangs that take part in dog fighting.

"We are extremely pleased at the sentence given out today. We hope it sends a clear message to all those who continue to participate in this bloody and cruel sport that it will not be tolerated in the 21st century."

The RSPCA is appealing for anyone with information about illegal dogfights to contact the RSPCA’s national helpline on 08705 555999 and leave a message for the special operations unit. All calls are treated in strict confidence and are charged at the national rate. A reward of up to £1,000 is offered for information that leads to a successful conviction