Five men involved in an organised dogfighting 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 dogfighting to possession of pitbull-type dogs, which are illegal under the Dangerous Dogs Act (see notes for full details of charges/sentences).Operation Lace was a major investigation into dogfighting 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 Road 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 (pictured below), 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 dogfighting 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 dogfighting 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.” Under the new Animal Welfare Act, which came into force in spring 2007 in England and Wales, dogfighting prosecutions will be subject to greater penalties**. The maximum fine has increased from £5,000 to £20,000.
Results of cases:
1. Assam Noshad Lone of Brockhurst Road, Birmingham: Found guilty of possessing two pitbull-type dogs received four months prison (suspended for one year), £1200 costs, five-year ban on owning dogs, 120 hour community punishment order. This case is subject to an appeal, 13 July 2007 Birmingham Crown Court.
2. Adio Clarke, of Holly Road, Handsworth, Birmingham: Pleaded guilty to managing premises for dogfighting, possessing 11 pitbull-type dogs, and to causing unnecessary suffering to three of the dogs. Received four months in prison, and banned from keeping dogs for 10 years.
3. Amar Ali, of Edgebaston Road, Smethwick: Pleaded guilty to 12 charges of possession of pitbull-type dogs. Received 20 weeks in prison, suspended for one year, 10-year ban on possession of dogs, and 150 hours community service
4. Mir Dawood of Anglesey Street, Lozells, Birmingham pleaded guilty to owning one pitbull-type dog, and breaching a ban on possession of dogs. Received four months in prison and disqualified from keeping dogs for 10 years.
5. Kamran Iqbal of Sandbourne Road, Alum Rock, Birmingham: Found guilty of possessing a pitbull-type dog and causing unnecessary suffering to that dog. Received five months in prison and a five-year ban on keeping dogs, plus forfeiture of that dog and associated equipment.
6. Mohammed Shazad, of Holly Road, Handsworth, Birmingham pleaded guilty to three charges owning pitbull-type dogs.Received four-month sentence for each offence, to run concurrently, a five-year disqualification for keeping dogs and forfeiture of all items seized.
7. Wasim Azam of Bevington Road, Aston, Birmingham: Pleaded guilty to owning two pitbull-type dogs. Received four months in prison, disqualified from keeping dogs for five years, plus forfeiture of associated equipment. An appeal is to be lodged. Anyone with information relating to dogfighting activities can call the RSPCA cruelty line in confidence on 0870 5555 999.