Government urged to outlaw dog-fighting

ELAINE EDWARDS


A major animal welfare organisation has called on the Government to speed the passage of legislation to allow prosecution of those who breed animals for activities such as dog-fighting and badger-baiting.


Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) said there were two canine cruelty crises that currently needed to be highlighted in this country.


Communications manager Orla Aungier said dog-fighting was “rife” in Ireland. The organisation provided video footage of dog fights to TV3, which screened it last night.


“We are calling on the Department of Agriculture to fast-track the new animal health and welfare legislation required to prosecute people breeding animals for illegal activities such as badger-baiting and dog-fighting,” Ms Aungier said.


“Dog fighting is rife in Ireland today, the footage that we gave to TV3, which they screened last night is only the tip of the iceberg. Dog fighting is ubiquitous among the drug gangs in Dublin, Limerick and in every large town in this country and we have found the savage results on the bodies of dogs subjected to this horrific animal brutality.”


Ms Aungier claimed badger-baiting occurred “in every town in Ireland” and that immediate action had been taken in Northern Ireland over the weekend following media reports of such activities.


She claimed the activity was “even more widespread in the Republic, yet apathy remains”.


“The existing legislation is wholly inadequate and while we wait for appropriate legislation, animals continue to suffer at the centre of a murky underworld of drugs, money laundering and violence.


“We know that dogs are being bred for badger Baiting and dog fighting, we have uncovered the various paraphernalia such as treadmills and fighting pits. We have seen the damaged animals that are the voiceless victims to this heinous crime. The gardaí have too, they know who is at the centre of these violent baiting and fighting rings, but nothing can be done as their hands are legally tied.”


New legislation is currently being drafted and it the DSPCA said it was “essential that this is prioritised as a matter of urgency”.


It called for the appointment of Garda liaison officers dedicated to animal welfare with the necessary powers to enforce “robust legislation” and work with organisations such as the DSPCA Inspectorate.


Legislation to crack down on badger-baiting was also demanded by groups in the North, following a major operation against those involved in the activity there.


Raids were carried out across Co Armagh throughout the weekend following a six-month investigation stretching across the Irish border and as far afield as France and the USA.
A website especially set up as part of a sting drew those involved in the badger baiting towards the investigation and helped identify them.


The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) said the investigation uncovered “glaring shortcomings” in the policing of laws which were supposed to protect the badger and its habitat.


Successful prosecutions by the agencies charged with protecting badgers in Northern Ireland were virtually unheard of despite hundreds of the animals being torn apart each year, said the charity.


During the weekend swoops several dogs were seized in a joint operation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the USPCA.


The PSNI said: “Police working in partnership with the USPCA attended a number of premises in the Armagh area following reports of animal cruelty. In one incident a number of dogs were removed. No arrests were made and investigations are continuing.”


Three pit-bull type terriers were among those seized and taken into care by the USPCA.

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