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Dog ring smashed

FIVE MEN involved in an organised dog fighting enterprise have been given prison sentences following a major RSPCA undercover operation.

The men received prison terms of between four and five months whilst others were handed suspended sentences, bans on possession of dogs and community service. Charges ranged from managing premises for dog fighting to possession of pitbull-type dogs, which are illegal under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Operation Lace was a major investigation into dog fighting in the Birmingham area conducted on 4 April 2006 by the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit (SOU), West Midlands Police and RSPCA inspectors.

It followed the discovery of a dogfight in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham in February 2006. During the operation 51 dogs (including 45 pitbull-type dogs) were seized and a number of items including treadmills, a video, veterinary kits, breaking sticks and other dog fighting paraphernalia were taken away.

RSPCA Chief Inspector Mike Butcher of the SOU said: ‘This was a complete dog fighting enterprise - they had a venue, and they bred, sold and fought dogs. We’re delighted that the courts have recognised the severity of these offences and hope it gives a hard message to anyone else engaged in what is an appallingly cruel practice. ‘This country banned dog fighting more than 150 years ago because it was barbaric, but still some people seem to get their kicks from seeing two animals rip each other to pieces. We shall fight on to ensure these people are stopped. ‘We’d like to thank West Midlands Police for their help and co-operation in this case, and we will continue to work closely with all authorities to stop this abhorrent practice.’

The trial of cases relating to the Alum Rock dogfight is due to be held in September 2007.
Under the new Animal Welfare Act, which came into force in spring 2007 in England and Wales, dog fighting prosecutions will be subject to greater penalties. The maximum fine has increased from £5,000 to £20,000.