OSPCA sounds alarm over Ontario dogfighting operations

File photo.
File photo. AP Photo/Jason Dearen File

TORONTO – Ontario’s animal cruelty watchdog agency is launching an awareness campaign to identify and report dogfighting rings after three outfits were discovered within in the past year.

“Dog fighting exists in Ontario and we need to stop it. We need public support to help us identify dog fighting rings so that we can thoroughly investigate and prosecute these animal abusers,” Senior Inspector Jennifer Bluhm said in a release.

“Dog fighting is purposeful and systematic animal cruelty for profit.”

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Charges have been laid after authorities uncovered three alleged fighting rings with the past year, including one in Chatham-Kent, where over 40 dogs were seized.

READ MORE: To kill or not to kill? Ontario SPCA seeks to destroy 21 alleged fighting dogs 

Animal seizures have also triggered a contentious court battle as the OSPCA is pushing to euthanize 21 animals, claiming they exhibit dangerous behaviour and cannot be rehabilitated.

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Speaking to the media Thursday, Premier Kathleen Wynne praised the agency’s efforts.

“I certainly support them in their work to make sure that animals are treated well, that they’re not abused and they’re not exploited,” she said. “I can’t imagine why anyone would be so heartless as to abuse an innocent creature.”

The agency announced Wednesday that it had destroyed two pit bulls seized from an alleged ring in Lanark, Ont. last May.

The OSCPA says a dogfighting ring exhibits telltale signs, including:

  • An inordinate number of aggressive dogs being kept in one location, especially multiple dogs who are heavily chained and seem un-socialized.
  • Dogs with scars on their faces, front legs, and stifle area (hind end and thighs).
  • Dog fighting training equipment such as treadmills used to build dogs’ endurance, “break sticks” used to pry apart the jaws of dogs locked in battle, tires or “springpoles” (usually a large spring with rope attached to either end) hanging from tree limbs, or unusual foot traffic coming and going from a location at odd hours.

Anyone witnessing a dog fight or who suspects the existence of a dogfighting ring is encouraged to contact police and the Ontario SPCA Animal Cruelty Hotline at 310-SPCA (7722).