Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Woman arrested over dog fighting

The following article was published in The Times on September 9th:

A leading member of one of England’s biggest dog-fighting gangs, which had links with Northern Irish paramilitaries, wanted to become the Don King of the pitbull training world, a court was told yesterday.

Gary Adamson, 38, trained his illegally owned dogs on treadmills to compete in fights around Britain and attended “conventions” in Finland where severely injured animals had clips fastened to their ears and were electrocuted.

The harrowing accounts and secretly filmed footage of cruel treatment emerged at the start of a two-week trial at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court.

During a series of raids by the RSPCA, after an undercover investigation by a former SAS operative, it emerged that gang members also made pitbulls train in swimming tanks or by attacking “lunge poles” with dummies hanging from them to maximise the animals’ aggression.

The RSPCA raids also seized “break sticks” for parting the animals once their jaws had locked on to others, and veterinary products to treat animals injured in makeshift fight pits.

Five people, including Adamson, a welder from Yarm, North Yorkshire, have admitted a series of dog-fighting offences under the Dangerous Dogs and Animal Welfare Acts. They face jail terms of up to six months and fines of £20,000.

Claire Parker, 44, a mother of three from Kexby, Lincolnshire, was also in court yesterday. She denied being present at a dog fight, keeping premises for fights and owning three pitbulls. The breed is banned in Britain.

Mohammed Nasir Farooq, 33, from Birmingham, denied involvement in a dogfight, causing unnecessary suffering to a pitbull and possessing equipment associated with dog fights.

The RSPCA brought the case after Steve Ibinson, an undercover investigator and former SAS member, infiltrated a dog-fighting gang called the Farmer Boys, with alleged paramilitary links in Northern Ireland, for a BBC Panorama programme.

Mr Ibinson went on to uncover a series of links between that gang and dog-fighting criminals in England. Only now can his identity be revealed. He died of natural causes earlier this year while serving as a security guard in Afghanistan.

The court heard that after a fight at Mrs Parker’s garage, Adamson’s dog, Pablo, was so badly scarred that it appeared to have had a shotgun fired in its face. In secretly recorded video footage, Adamson is shown standing next to three reinforced pens in his yard, boasting that Pablo suffered a “real good ragging” during a 26-minute fight for a £500 prize.

The dog appears nervous as Adamson lifts it at one point by the collar to show numerous white facial scars, a badly torn ear and some wounds stapled up. The animal lost the fight and is thought to have died from its injuries, the court heard.

Mr Ibinson said in a recorded statement that Adamson was the representative of northeast England of the Farmers Boys, from Co Armagh, and aspired to be to pitbull fighting what Don King was to boxing.

Adamson was shown explaining that he wanted to make Pablo train in a swimming tank. At one point he grinned as he said that his mother was a member of the RSPCA, while was a badger-baiter.

Mr Ibinson said that he travelled with Adamson to Finland where they watched “conventions”, or dog fights, one of which resulted in a severely injured animal being electrocuted.

Michael Shorrock, QC, for the prosecution, said that RSPCA officers seized treadmills, break sticks and veterinary products at the house where Mrs Parker lived with her children and her late husband John, known as “Odd Ball”, a convicted dog fighter who died in prison.

Mr Shorrock rejected her suggestion that she was unaware of what took place in the garage.

The case continues.

A street status symbol

Two thirds of all dog fighting reports received by the RSPCA are directly connected to young men and women using their dogs as “weapons” in streets and parks

Animal welfare officers have reported horrific stab wounds, broken bones and cigarette burns to the dogs’ heads

In 2007 37 per cent of calls to the RSPCA about dog fighting related to instances where youths were “fighting” their animals outside. Last year that figure rose to 66 per cent

London has emerged as a hotspot. The Metropolitan Police seized 38 dogs under the Dangerous Dogs Act between April 2004 and April 2005. Between April 2007 and April 2008 officers seized 719

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