A man has been found guilty of animal cruelty after police found evidence he was the head of an organised dog fighting gang.
By, 22 Feb 2019
John Knibbs, 55, from Lincolnshire, was first prosecuted for dog fighting by the RSPCA in 2009. He was disqualified from keeping animals for life but was found guilty of breaching the order in 2016 and then again in 2017.
During the recent investigation, police found footage on Knibbs phone of two dogs being forced to fight.
More footage showed dogs with horrendous injuries, and police found text messages that made references to dog fighting.
8 dogs rescued
Raids connected to the investigation found 8 dogs, including an American bulldog and a pit bull. Police believe Knibbs was trying to breed the ultimate fighting dog from the most aggressive breeds.
Knibbs was convicted of causing unnecessary suffering to two dogs, while Kimberleigh Steele, also from Lincolnshire, was convicted aiding and abetting Knibbs.
Adam Scott was also convicted of keeping two banned dogs. He was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work and pay costs of £3,000.
The BBC went undercover to investigate the world of modern-day dog fighting. They discovered a disturbing trade stretching from Eastern Europe to the UK.
A dark and disturbing sub-culture
Well organised gangs use social media networks and closed network apps to discuss and arrange dog fights.
The League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) is a UK based dogfighting charity. Last year they received nearly 100 calls from concerned members of the public regarding illegal dog fights. Mark Randell runs a private investigations agency specialising in wildlife crime. He led the LACS investigation until 2017 and identified 70 British people linked to this dark subculture.
Dark fighting is illegal in the UK. It's also against the law to own or trade fighting dogs. People can also be convicted of filming a dog fight without good reason.
Although the UK has much tougher laws than many other developed countries, the LACS want them extended even further. They want a national register of owners who are banned from owning dogs, a review of the Dangerous Dogs Act, and tougher sentences.
Contact the RSPCA if you have any concerns about a dog’s welfare.