A man who ran a dog-fighting venue at his flat has been jailed.
Liaquat Ali, 40, of Steiner Street, Accrington, was arrested after reports that dozens of fights were being staged in the Hyndburn area, both on streets and inside properties.
The RSPCA said reports of dog fights had increased 17-fold since 2004 as people were using them as status symbols like ‘fast cars and flash clothes’.
Ali is the first person in the country to be prosecuted for causing dogs to fight and keeping a fighting venue under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
After the case, Ian Briggs, chief inspector of the RSPCA Special Operations Unit, said: “This is a landmark case and we’re pleased with the sentence.
“We can only imagine how many dogs have suffered at the hands of Mr Ali and his friends, and the kind of things they’ve had to endure at a premise kept by him for that very purpose.”
Ali was found guilty of keeping a fighting venue at a Blackburn Road flat, where RSCPA officers discovered blood splattered across the walls, and of organising an on-street fight between two dogs, including his pet pit bull Enzo.
DNA samples later showed the blood was from “at least two dogs”.
Ali had earlier pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Enzo by keeping him in a tiny padlocked box, and by not feeding him. He had also pleaded guilty to owning two illegal pit-bull type dogs.
Hyndburn magistrates yesterday jailed Ali for six months, and banned him from owning animals for life. They expressed regret that they did not have the power to jail him for longer.
Defending, Peter King told the court that Ali was of low intelligence and had been “taken advantage of” by two Asian businessmen who were visiting Accrington.