The force waging war on dog fighting scourge
THE RSPCA is taking the fight to the sick humans behind illegal dog fighting rings with a special task force aimed at targeting the cruel blood sport. And there are no fewer than 12 investigations currently in operation around the state. WARNING: Distressing content
Established around two years ago, the RSPCA's Taskforce has recently called upon specialist investigators from the US to help identify warning signs of the organised dog fighting gangs.
Chief Inspector of the RSPCA's taskforce Daniel Young said it's important to have a specialised unit to combat dog fighting and other similar activities.
"I've always felt the need for specialist investigators that focus on the complex cases," he said.
"When you start delving into the prohibited events arena, you deal with far more complex areas… And so we've recently engaged experts in the (United) States who lead the way in dog fighting investigations."
The Queensland team consists of three full-time specialists from within the RSPCA - a Digital Intelligence Officer and two experienced officers, who work closely with personnel from within the organization as well as exterior agencies from around the world.
The dog fighting community is a fairly tight-knit circle, however is very far reaching.
Mr Young said many of the dogs who are currently forced to fight in Queensland have bloodlines stemming back decades from within the United States.
"Dogs these days may look fairly mundane compared to the dogs we see in movies about dog fighting or dogs that originally came from the US," Mr Young said.
"Often people expect to see dogs with cropped ears, which is often not the case as it draws a lot of unwanted attention to the dog."
Mr Young said scarring is a good indication something more sinister may be at play, however said strange behavioral patterns and anti-social behaviour were often the more telling signs.
"These dogs aren't treated like a family pet… and they aren't socialized like normal dogs," he said.
"They are kept on chains and can be worked or exercised vigorously. They will be exercising much more than a normal dog does."
Mr Young said taking notice of whether neighbour's dogs were leaving the premises on frequent occasions would also help to identify potential dog fighting rings.
With around 12 ongoing specialist investigations this week alone, Mr Young stressed the importance of education within the community.
He said a common misconception around the criminal activity was dog fighters stealing family pets to be used as "game dogs" within fights, which often last hours.
"Fighting dogs have the willingness to fight even when they're injured and exhausted… the average dog from the backyard wouldn't do that."
There is some speculation that dog fighting attracts other secretive criminal activity, including organised illegal gambling.
Mr Young said that the team had heard anecdotal figures of gambling at dog fights ranging into the 10s of thousands of dollars, however couldn't ascertain whether this was true.
The RSPCA will prosecute two alleged dog fighters within the coming months following Wednesday's prosecution of dog fighter Jared Nathan Trenear, who was sentenced to six months prison with a release date of July 31, 2019.
If you suspect animal cruelty of any kind, call the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).