Analysis of UK dog fighting, laws and offences

Harding, Simon and Nurse, Angus (2015) Analysis of UK dog fighting, laws and offences. Project Report. Middlesex University, London, UK.

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This research working paper examines legal aspects of the phenomenon of dog-fighting in the contemporary United Kingdom (UK). Its aim is to, so far as is possible, examine the extent of dog-fighting activity, the nature of dog-fighting offences and the complexity of dog-fighting criminality and criminal justice responses to dog-fighting with a view to assessing whether contemporary social and criminal justice policy is adequate to deal with the level and nature of dog-fighting issues. In respect of this issue, the research makes a number of policy recommendations, as well as recommendations for future research to further assess the current enforcement landscape.
The focus of this research working paper is primarily the law relating to dog-fighting in England and Wales, examining the nature and extent of dog-fighting offences within UK legislation. Ortiz (2010, p.7-8) argues that dog-fighting is primarily a working class pursuit which arose as a consequence of urbanization in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as the popularity of bull-baiting declined and rural labourers migrated to the cities bringing their love of blood sports with them. ‘Pit sports’ such as dog-fighting offered not only the entertainment of the fight but also the release and excitement of associated gambling activities and the opportunity for workers to hold evening matches indoors while being able to return to work the following day (Ortiz, 2010, p.8; Evans and Forsythe, 1998). Accordingly, dog-fighting existed within a predominantly white, working-class subculture of like-minded enthusiasts and represented a distinct type of organised animal exploitation. However, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and others, report that contemporary dog-fighting has moved away from its organised pit-based origins to encompass street dog-fighting in the form of chain fighting or chain rolling, the use of dogs as status or weapon dogs (Harding, 2012). Thus one question for this research is whether legislation and enforcement policy has kept pace with developments in dog-fighting and the evolution of its linked criminality. In assessing this issue, the research conclusions and recommendations (see later in this working paper) identify some shortcomings in the current approach to dog-fighting albeit the need for further research and analysis is specified.
It worth noting early on that the literature and research on dog-fighting remains extremely limited. This is particularly the case for UK literature. Consequently it is necessary to draw upon the somewhat wider literature from the USA. This literature is both historic and contemporary and often culturally situated. Nevertheless there are many aspects of dog-fighting, including the Rules of Dog-fighting and the guidance for preparing and training dogs which have direct cross over, similarity and applicability to the UK situation, despite the obvious different cultural contexts. As a result we shall draw upon this work and this is often reflected in the use of American references and citations. Naturally the legislative provisions and processes differ extensively in the USA which limits the applicability of US legislative solutions to the UK context.

Item Type: Report (Project Report)
Keywords: Dogs; Dog fighting; Violence; Animal Welfare; Legislation
Subjects: Law and criminal justice > Criminal justice
Law and criminal justice > Criminal justice > Criminal law
Law and criminal justice > Criminal justice > Criminology
Law and criminal justice > Law
Law and criminal justice
Law and criminal justice > Law > Legal practice
Law and criminal justice > Criminal justice > Sentencing
Social sciences
Social sciences > Sociology of deviance
Depositing User: Simon Harding
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2018 13:18
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:26

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