One of the dogs that was rescued in Atteridgeville.
DOG owners should be worried if their “best friends” go missing; the animals could be part of the dog-fighting scene somewhere in a dingy location. The “sport” is common in the country, and Pretoria is no exception.

A special investigator at the SPCA, Nadia Hansa, said dog fighting had always existed, and gamblers bet large amounts on the outcome.

However, Hansa said that the last decade had seen an huge increase.

“There are numerous syndicates that make this appalling act a lucrative business,” she said.

Last week, six people were arrested in connection with dog fighting in Atteridgeville.

Hansa said they had been tipped off by members of the community, and subsequently alerted the police.

“The dog fighters had gathered in an isolated area where they thought they were safe from detection.

“Two dogs were writhing on the grass in a bloody battle while the spectators laughed and shouted at them. At this moment the national SPCA inspectors and SAPS members stormed in,” said Hansa.

At least 14 dogs were rescued after the arrests. Those who were arrested were charged with animal cruelty and dog fighting.

According to Hansa, any breed was vulnerable, but pit bulls and bull terriers were the most targeted.

“Other breeds are used as bait before the actual fight,” she said.

Typically, dog fights aren’t held where the dogs are bred and trained.

The dog-fighting arenas are prepared by syndicate members. They are typically in a warehouse, barn or other large structure in a remote location large enough to hold an audience and the fighting pit.

A bait dog is then thrown into the pit, then followed by the fighting dogs, which are normally on a leash. And in no time blood is spilt. In some cases, the fight doesn’t stop until one of the dogs dies.

In February 2016 Kutso Kopanye Reginald Khoza Neo Dichabe and Reabetswe Sekhalo were found guilty and sentenced for participating in dog fights.

Hansa said the best way to make sure your dog is not stolen to be used in the blood sport is to always keep it in secure premises, behind high walls.

Another way is to microchip the dog so it is easier to track if stolen. Lastly, make sure that the dog has been sterilised.

“This will discourage dog snatchers, because it can’t breed any more,” she said.