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Update on the alleged Dog Fighting case in Tilbury, Ontario

Tuesday February 17, 2016 - The Ontario SPCA would like to provide further information on the care of the dogs involved in an alleged dog fighting case outside of Tilbury, Ontario.

What is Dog Fighting?
Dog fighting is one of the most heinous forms of animal cruelty. Animals used in Dog Fighting operations are typically raised in isolation and spend most of their lives chained up in an unacceptable living environment. Many of the dogs involved undergo alterations to their ears and tails to limit the animal’s ability to express emotion. This modification is often done by an untrained individual and can be traumatizing for the animal. The dogs are conditioned for fighting through regular use of drugs, including anabolic steroids to enhance muscle mass, which also encourage aggressiveness.

Dog Fighting has been known to happen in a variety of locations ranging from back alleys to carefully-staged settings. The fights typically take place in a 14-20 square-foot pit designed to contain the dogs and can last just a few minutes or be as long as several hours. All the animals involved may suffer injuries including puncture wounds, lacerations, blood loss, crushing injuries and broken bones. Although fights are not usually to the death, many dogs succumb to their injuries later, and losing dogs are often discarded, killed or brutally executed as part of the “sport.”

In many cases Dog Fighting is often associated with other forms of criminal activity including illegal gambling and possession of drugs and firearms.

The Ontario SPCA has served as Ontario’s Animal Welfare Charity since 1873. In all of the Ontario SPCA’s animal cruelty cases, animal care is our top priority. The Ontario SPCA engages industry experts to work with the animals to meet their specific needs as required. This case is of no exception.

In late 2015, working with Chatham-Kent Police Service, 31 dogs were removed from the property near Tilbury Ontario, during an investigation into an alleged dog fighting operation and brought into the care of the Ontario SPCA.

Three of the dogs have been humanely euthanized for medical reasons after two veterinarians deemed that euthanasia was the most humane option.
Of the remaining 28 dogs, each dog is being cared for and assessed individually to address the needs of that animal.

The Ontario SPCA does not own the dogs involved in this case. The outcome is before the courts and will be determined by a Justice of the Peace. The Society has provided the courts with all the information we have gathered on the health and condition of the animals, including independent reports shared by our industry experts in assessing the behaviour of dogs used in fighting.
Euthanasia of any animal is always a last resort. It is a decision made after consultation with experts and after all options for the health and safety of the public and of the animals have been exhausted.

Generally speaking, if any dogs are adoptable or can be rehabilitated, regardless of the breed, all efforts are made to place these dogs into living situations suitable to their temperament. This includes working with rescues and sanctuaries to have adoptable pit bulls transferred out of the province of Ontario.

The 28 dogs from this investigation will remain in the care of the Ontario SPCA while the case is ongoing, or until a decision is made by a Justice of the Peace.

The Society thanks the public who have come forward to provide support for the care of the dogs and the industry experts who have taken the time to work with these dogs while they have been in our care. We will continue to update the public as we have more information to share.

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