DOG fighting is rife in Devon despite being outlawed in 1835, the RSPCA has reported, as it urges people to report incidents of dogs being forced into fighting.

Cases tend to peak over the summer months, says the animal welfare charity which has investigated 22 cases of dog fighting in Devon since 2019. The charity has released the figures as part of their new Cancel Out Cruelty campaign.

RSPCA dog fighting expert and Special Operations Unit (SOU) chief inspector Ian Muttitt said: “Our figures show that in the past four years the RSPCA has uncovered and dealt with 77 incidents of dog fighting just in the west of England, let alone in the rest of England and Wales. Devon is the worst county in the west for it, with 22 of the incidents occurring there. It’s staggering that something which has been illegal for almost 200 years, which most people would consider consigned to history, is still so rife.”

“Each year, these reports of cruelty reach its terrible annual peak in the summer months.” Ian continued. “The dog fighting world is a dark and secretive place. It could be happening in an inner-city warehouse next door to your office or on a rural farm in your quiet village.

‘Signs of dog fighting can vary but if you notice a dog with lots of scars on its face, front legs, hind legs and thighs, or with puncture wounds and mangled ears, this could be a sign of dog fighting and should be reported to the RSPCA or the police. Other suspicious activity includes dogs being hidden away in outbuildings.’

To report concerns, contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 so investigations can be made. The charity is appealing for donations to help it in its work to fight crualty. See