DOG FIGHTS are being held regularly in Preston and suspects are being investigated by police, according to a report in the Lancashire Evening Post newspaper.
The ‘sport’ is being allegedly being fuelled by residents crossing banned dog breeds such as Pit Bull Terriers with other breeds to create larger and more ferocious animals. Housing officials say they have noticed a particularly high concentration of aggressive crossbreed dogs in the Avenham and Fishwick areas, although it is unclear where in the city the fights are held.
Lancashire Police wildlife officer PC Duncan Thomas said: ‘Dog fighting is alive and well in Lancashire and we have a number of suspects whom we believe are actively engaged in dog fighting and the breeding and distribution of illegal dogs.They will adapt the dogs by clipping their ears, they train them on treadmills and will feed them high protein food. Before a fight they are given pain killers so they will tolerate more.’
He said Staffordshire Bull Terriers were being stolen by criminals for their Pit Bulls to train on before going into real fights. PC Thomas said crossing illegal dogs with legitimate breeds was not exposing a loophole in the law, as the litter would also be banned.
In Preston, complaints made to the Community Gateway Association about dogs escaping and roaming free on the streets have increased by 84% since January. And there has been a 71% increase in complaints about dog barking and smells.
The Association, which has around 6,000 properties in Preston, believes there are scores of tenants housing large dogs in kennels and other structures at their homes without permission and some are involved in dog fighting.
Sue Roach, a community safety manager for Gateway, said: ‘Some are being used for dog fighting; it's going on in Preston. We've heard that from the RSPCA and the police are aware of it as you can see scarring on the animals to the face and shoulders.
‘There have been reports of some tenants were using the dogs to guard illegal drugs at their properties.’ She said action was being taken because dangerous dogs roaming the streets were becoming a priority issue at Police and Communities Together meetings across Preston.
To combat the problem, Gateway is writing letters to all tenants that they are breaching tenancy agreements by having kennels inside and outside their homes without permission. Tenants who have already erected a structure will be given 28 days to remove it or face legal action.
During a multi-agency clean-up operation in Ribbleton, 60 Gateway properties were looked at, of which 10 had kennels housing large dogs in the backyard.
Housing officers visiting homes have found some residents with five or six dogs kept inside and in their backyards.