By Shaun Gillham
ORGANISED dog fighting is rampant in Nelson Mandela Bay and other parts of the Eastern Cape, with high income earners – including lawyers, doctors and even crooked veterinarians – betting tens of thousands of rands and even cars on animals that are forced to savage each other to death.
According to animal rights organisations, the dog fighting rings stretch from the Bay to Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, Plettenberg Bay and East London, but Port Elizabeth appears to be the epicentre of the scourge.
The city’s northern areas in particular have become a hotspot for vicious underground dog fighting, with the Animal Anti-Cruelty League (AACL) in Nelson Mandela Bay revealing that it was now dealing with as many as 150 cases a month.
Last year the league was already attending to 100 cases a month.
So rampant has the practice become that a dog fighting hotline established by the league and manned by police has crashed as a result of the massive number of calls received. The major areas identified for both formal and informal fights are Booysens Park, Helenvale and Shauderville in the northern areas, as well as Greenbushes.
Extensive ongoing investigations by police and AACL officers reveal that:
*Professionals like doctors, lawyers, veterinarians and even police officers are involved in the lucrative activity which can earn fighting dog owners or those betting on animals luxury cars or up to R50000 in cash;
*An agreement is made between rivals to starve their fighting dogs until they literally want to eat one another;
*Informal dog fighting is rife in the northern areas and both youth gangs and ordinary teenagers are involved. The youths walk the streets with their dogs looking to pit them against others;
*Breeds like pit bulls have become a status symbol for youngsters in the northern areas;
*Small dogs like Jack Russells are being stolen from suburban homes as “bait dogs” – they are used to “bait” the more violent breeds into a frenzy;
*League members are constantly threatened by people involved in dog fights.
Bev Rademeyer, who has extensive experience in the dog fighting underworld and works closely with police on behalf of the AACL, said that the dogs were trained and prepared for fighting in a variety of ways, with dog training for the more formal fights being different from the informal.
“The dogs are usually starved ahead of informal fights. When we get the dogs together they are so hungry and desperate that they attack each other and literally want to eat each other.
“Other dogs are trained using, for example, circular washing lines and they are forced to jump. This strengthens the neck and the chest areas of their bodies, which is important in fights.
“Dogs are also put into harnesses and made to pull loads of bricks.”
Police spokesman Warrant officer Alwin Labans said there had definitely been an increase in the number of fighting dogs seen in the northern areas.
“I can also confirm there has been an increase in the informal fights that are taking place. Teenagers, who walk the streets with the animals, are using them for informal fights,” he said.
This is a shortened version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday June 23 2012.
Article source: http://theweekendpost.com/2012/06/26/bay-dog-fighting-horror/