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Council in dog fighting ‘blitz’

Hammersmith and Fulham police, backed by the local council, have announced that Staffordshire bull terrier owners now face arrest and thousands of pounds in fines if evidence is found that their dogs have been used in illegal fights.

Following complaints from residents, police will now be stopping and searching 'Staffies' to make sure they are not carrying wounds or scars from fighting.

Sergeant Chris Everett says the sight of more young men with Staffordshire Bull Terriers is a sign of a dark underground scene. "It's almost become a fashion accessory to have one. Last summer it was mini-motos, this year it’s Staffs," he said. "Groups of people with dogs meet up so they can fight, although it's rarely to the death."

Forty seven incidents have been report by locals since February this year and, in that time, two dead dogs have been found in the area's parks.

Councillor Greg Smith, Hammersmith & Fulham Council's cabinet member for crime and anti-social behaviour, said enough was enough.

"A minority of irresponsible owners are abusing the natural energy and stamina of these dogs to turn them into aggressive beasts. It has created a climate of fear in the area and we back the police's zero-tolerance crackdown on the cruel owners who are training their dogs irresponsibly."

Councillor Smith said the council's parks constabulary were working with the local safer neighbourhoods teams, as well as with volunteers from the Mayhew Animal Home, to target the yobs who use their pets as weapons. He said: "The vast majority of pet owners are law-abiding and responsible but a small minority are using dogs as status symbols and, frankly, weapons. We are clamping down on this minority so that the rest of us can enjoy owning pets and using the borough's parks without the fear of being attacked."

It is illegal to train dogs to fight and police can now seek fines of £20,000, up to 51 weeks in jail and order the dogs to be destroyed if an owner is found guilty in the courts.