Dog fight ring probed after arrests

A suspected dog fighting ring has been uncovered after police arrested ten people and seized animals in a series of raids.

Detectives said they believed one of the houses raided, in Accrington, could have been being used as a dog training centre.

Police said two caged pit-bull type dogs were discovered at a derelict house in Crossland Street, as part of the joint investigation with the RSPCA.

A further two similar dogs, suspected of being illegal and banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act, along with Class A drugs were also seized at other addresses.

The ten people were arrested in Willows Lane, Blackburn Road, Crossland Street, Richmond Road, Steiner Street and Monk Street on suspicion of animal welfare offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Veterinary kits and an industrial freezer containing what appeared to blood were also seized Police officers have secured the houses so they could be searched and the dogs have been taken to RSPCA kennels so they can be examined by the Government vet to discover their exact breed.

Chief Inspector Mike Butcher from the RSPCA Special Operations Unit, said dog fighting was “abhorrent and cruel”.

He said: “Dog-fighting was banned in this country over 150 years ago, but still continues today.

“The RSPCA is determined to give the message that this is not acceptable.

“We are extremely pleased with the operation and would like to thank Lancashire Constabulary for their help and co-operation throughout.”

Detective Inspector Pete Simm said that the raids demonstrated the commitment of the force to take action against anyone believed to be housing dangerous dogs or breeding them to fight.

He added: “I would like to reassure members of the community that this is not a widespread problem but an isolated and localised issue.”

He said officers will be investigating whether the address in Crossland Street was being used as a “training centre.”

And he added that the raids were a result of the increased flow of information from the public following the death of five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson, who was mauled by a pit bull in St Helens last December.

He said: “People are now being extra vigilant and informing the police. We received information from the local community and acted upon that.

“I think the dogs are being bred for two reasons, the first being for fighting purposes, which inflicts a lot of degrading suffering on the dog itself. Another reason why they are being bred is because of the stigma attached to owning a dog like that. It gives the person kudos and can be seen as a macho status symbol.”

Hyndburn MP Greg Pope said: “Dog fighting is barbaric and cruel. I am really pleased that the police are taking this seriously. “

Brian Roberts, chair of Hyndburn Community Safety Partnership, said: “We are determined to ensure that this vile practise is stamped out.”

Earlier this month, Nasar Khan, of July Street, Blackburn, appeared in court after police found nine illegal, unlicensed pit bull terriers chained up around a house he owned.

He pleaded guilty to eight charges of owning fighting dogs and one of allowing one of the dogs to be in a public place without a muzzle or lead and has been warned that he faces jail when he is sentenced.