Child dog-fighting ring concern
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CAPE TOWN- NINE dogs have been rescued from a dog fighting ring in Tafelsig, with the owners being as young as 13, while a former MMA fighter has saved another dog in Hout Bay.
After receiving a reliable tip-off this week, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA rescued nine dogs from a backyard in Tafelsig, which had been used for fighting and breeding.
While James le Roux, a former Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, rescued a dog from a fighting ring in Hout Bay, after buying the dog for R1800 in a bid to save him, and placed a post on Facebook, hoping to locate its owners.
The dog has since found a home on a farm in Mamre.
Belinda Abraham, of the Cape of Good Hope SPCA, said the accused were all minors.
“Yes, indeed, sadly the accused are all children, the oldest of which is only 13,” said Abraham.
The SPCA inspectors had found the dogs chained and some of the animals had suffered deep tissue scarring, which indicated dog fighting.
Le Roux said he had saved the dog by asking the dog fighting ring owners to sell him their best dog, in a bid to rescue him.
Le Roux works with horses daily, as a blacksmith.
“I cannot mention where I bought the dog but I asked for their best fighter. I put the post on Facebook because I wanted to see whether I could locate the owner.“
Abraham discouraged people from saving dogs from rings, due to the revenue being used to continue illegal activities.
“This dog was not brought to our facility and our Inspectorate was not made aware of this incident. While we understand the emotional knee-jerk reaction to get the dog out of these circumstances, we would not encourage the public to negotiate the purchase of dogs from dog fighters.
“Please don’t be emotionally blackmailed into buying a dog. Rather report this matter to the SPCA on 021 700 4158/9 or 083 326 1604 (after hours). This gives us the opportunity to investigate, build a case, and to prevent an individual from owning animals again, should they be found guilty in a court of law.
“Buying a dog, at great expense to rescue it, puts the mechanics of supply and demand into motion, and you will unwittingly create a market for dog fighters.
“Purchasing one of these dogs may rescue one dog from hardship, but these individuals can get another dog tomorrow – so the cycle will continue,” said Abraham.
Allan Perrins, of the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa, said they also discouraged people from purchasing animals used for dog fighting, and would advise people to rather take photographs or videos, to aid with the closure of the ring and the court case.
“We would propose that they immediately report their concerns to law enforcement and the nearest animal welfare organisation. If it is safe to take photographs or video footage of the incident, then anyone who notices anything suspicious should do so, as this type of evidence can be weighty in a court of law.
“While the rescuer needs to be commended for stepping in and buying the dog, we would discourage others from following his example, as it may incentivise others – involved with dog fighting and backyard breeding – to emotionally blackmail and hold animal lovers to ransom.
“Organised dog fighting carries a far heftier sanction than opportunistic or street corner dog fights, as it can be classified as an organised crime.
“In such a case, the authorities would be entitled to seize various assets linked to the crime. Crime never pays and the forfeiture of assets can amount to a substantial amount, with devastating consequences for the perpetrator, their families, and anyone involved – including spectators,” said Perrins.
He added: “The law says that anyone found guilty of animal cruelty, especially dog fighting, can expect the book to be thrown at them. Anyone with a conviction for animal cruelty will suffer a host of indirect consequences, for the rest of their lives.”
MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz said they are urging people to become whistle-blowers, to end the vicious cycle.
“Dog fighting is illegal, and citizens who participate in such activities must be investigated and brought to book. We urge citizens with information, that can lead to arrests, to please come forward.
“On another level, dog fighting is also cruel and morally reprehensible, and we appeal to citizens not engage in or support dog fighting, which brings undue pain and suffering to innocent animal,” said Fritz.