Police have swooped on a dogfighting ring in Preston.
Six dogs were seized and a man arrested and bailed following the undercover operation at a disused industrial premises in the city.
The man, in his 20s, was questioned last night after a joint operation with RSPCA inspectors, codenamed Operation Ketch, smashed the ring early yesterday.
Three homes were searched as well as the industrial site, believed to have been used as a base by the dogfighting club.
The location of the ring is being kept secret as the operation is ongoing.
Items associated with dog fighting were seized as part of the series of raids , including what is believed to be a pit in which dogs fight.
Chief Insp John Wilkins, of the RSPCA’s special operations unit, believes the findings are evidence the barbaric sport is still prevalent in Preston.
He said: “We find it appalling that bloody and cruel practices like dog fighting can continue into the 21st century, but the results of these raids confirm our belief that, sadly, dog fighting is still prevalent today.
“This is part of our ongoing campaign against dog fighting and our inspectors are constantly working to eliminate the cruel gangs that take part in this barbaric sport.”
The RSPCA is now appealing for witnesses to come forward with information about illegal dog fighting and is offering a reward of up to 1,000 for any evidence which leads to a successful conviction.
A Lancashire Police wildlife officer, who cannot be named for operational reasons, believes the success of the swoop is a reminder the authorities are continually on the look out for such activities. He said: “This was an excellent joint operation between the RSPCA, police and our partners which, I believe, reminds people that we are here conducting operations aimed at investigating, preventing and detecting any acts of animal cruelty.”
Lorraine Holden, of Preston Action for Animals, said: “This is absolutely abhorrent and anyone involved in dog fighting should go to prison for a very long time.
“We are 100% behind this action.”
She said rabbits and cats, in some cases, were stolen and used in dog fighting.
The arrested man was released on police bail until October 18.
In May 2001, a joint operation between the RSPCA and police uncovered a cockfighting den in a Lancaster scrapyard.
Fourteen people were arrested as part of the raids and youths as young as six were found watching blood-stained birds fighting each other in a pit at Howard’s scrapyard on St George’s Quay in Lancaster.
At a trial in December 2001, city magistrates heard people attending the fight were betting hundreds of pounds on the outcome of the fight, which only ends with the death of one bird.
Anyone with any information about dog fighting is asked to contact the RSPCA’s confidential national hotline on 08705 555999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.