I FIND the idea of organised dog-fights utterly despicable, and regard those who engage in this horrifying pastime as savages who deserve nothing less than having their nuts crushed in the jaws of a grumpy pit-bull terrier.
So it was with gritted teeth that I forced myself last night to listen to a BBC Radio 4 programme uncovering the facts behind a 400 percent surge in dog-fighting in the UK in last three years.
The programme – The Report – used as its foundation the breaking up of a dog- fighting ring in the mainly-Pakistani enclave of Alum Rock in Birmingham two years ago.
Twenty-six men were eventually convicted for taking part in the largest illegal dog-fight uncovered in the UK.
The RSPCA had long regarded dog-fighting as the preserve of white working class men attending fights in the countryside.
What the fight in Alum Rock revealed, said the BBC, was the first glimpse of organised dog fighting in the Asian community taking place in urban surroundings, wuth tens of thousands of pounds gambled on the result.
Subsequent raids have revealed that dog-fighting has become a problem in some sections of the Asian community, said the BBC
Ian Briggs, chief inspector of the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit said dog-fighting is up 400 percent:
Out of all the work we do 98 percent is Asian.
Mr Briggs said the organisation believes there is a dog fight nearly every week nationally from a small fight in the park to the bigger organised events such as that uncovered at Alum Rock.
Information about one fight we uncover leads to another but certainly we are scratching the surface.
A youth worker from Handsworth said the goal among those engaged in dog-fights goal was to create a perfect fighting specimen.
They’re looking for a more exotic dog, more jaw pressure, one which has got more stamina, the drive just to kill, that’s what they are looking for, them characteristics people will pay money for. That’s where the money’s at.
Dog fighting is part of life in rural Punjab and Kashmir and there are fears that its acceptability could be increasing among a new generation of young Asians in the UK aware of fathers, uncles and cousins attending fights in Pakistan.
But forensic psychologist Dr Vince Egan, of the University of Leicester, believes this creates real dangers of a tolerance of cruelty and of lowering ideas of “what is acceptable”.
The RSPCA says it is keen on tackling this problem in the British Pakistani community but is finding it hard to penetrate the gangs.
And while the majority of the community find the fights abhorrent, there is among others – as one Asian youth worker explained – certain apathy.
People say ‘the dog wants to fight’. I don’t believe that at all because it’s the human being that’s taking the dog to fight. They haven’t got a choice about being in that ring.
You canÂ listen to the programme via the BBC iPlayer after broadcast or download the podcast.
On June 29, the BBC reported that man described as a key player in a major dog-fighting scene was sentenced to four months in jail and banned from keeping dogs for life.
Barkat Hussain, 44, from Unett Street, Smethwick, West Midlands, trained pit-bull terriers for fighting and kept related medical supplies.
He admitted keeping and training pit-bulls dogs in breach of a court order.
He had previously been jailed and banned from keeping dogs, following involvement in a mass dog fight.