Domestic dogs used as baits to train fighter canines for illegal bouts

New Delhi: The dirty secret of illegal dogfight operators is now out in the open. To make their fighter dogs more ferocious and aggressive dog trainers are using pet and abandoned dogs as baits.

DB post has accessed videos where fighter dogs can be seen attacking pet and street dogs. Experts claim that several dogs are smuggled these days and chances are high that some of them are being used illegally by dog bout organisers to train their dogs for a fight.

Secretly organised dog fights

Farmhouses across Punjab, Haryana and Delhi is drawing in enthusiasts who place their bets ranging between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 20 lakh. Since dog fights and betting are both illegal, these fights are secretly organised. But the brutal game is gaining popularity among the wealthy network who invest a huge money on dogs.

An insider told DB Post that since they aim to train their imported dogs to kill other fighter dogs, as part of training, they make their dogs practice on abandoned or street dogs. “They want their dogs to be like killer machines and to train them pets and street dogs are now being used,” he said.

Expert’s take

Animal rights organisation Fauna Police has been raising the issue of dog fights from a long time. They have shared dog-fight videos through Facebook and Twitter and written to authorities including Punjab and Haryana Police and governments but there has been no concrete action despite promises by both the governments.

“This video is a real eye-opener and very scary too, this could be anyone’s lost pet, a community stray dog, an abandoned dog or dogs discarded from dog fights. This trend started in some western countries and is popular in neighbouring Pakistan as well, but unfortunately it has started spreading in parts of north India at an alarming rate,” said Abhinav Srihan of Fauna Police.

Srihan explained that initially fighter dogs – Pakistani Bully, were smuggled to Rajasthan. When dog-fight trend started picking up in Punjab many NRIs started importing American Pit Bull, Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier, these breeds are specifically used for bouts.

“The operators also cross breed these dogs with other superior breeds and I estimate that at present there are hundreds of such fighting dogs all over Punjab,” said Srihan.

Inhumane treatment meted out to the canines

The tails of these dogs are chopped off so they don’t become easy targets during fights. They are kept in cages covered with cloth or in a dark room for many days and given only raw meat to eat. For a few days, they are kept without food to make them aggressive and ferocious in the run-up to the fighting day. They are also given hormone injections and drugs. In some cases, the dogs are tied with ropes to increase their aggression quotient. They are also made to run on the treadmill to keep fit.

Select people invited to watch the fight also bet on them, ensuring the amount runs into several lakhs. Winning dogs are put on sale for anything between Rs 1-3 lakh. During a typical fight, specially trained dogs — pitbulls, bulldogs, Indian mastiffs, basset hounds and other breeds — tear into each other on instructions from their owners. The canines keep fighting till one of them dies a bloody death.

History of dog fights

The grisly dog fighting tradition dates back to the 18th century, and has now made its way into suburban India. It’s an international racket where dogs are smuggled from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Australia all the way into India. Lakhs are spent on training Pitbulls, bull dogs, Indian mastiffs and other pedigree dogs.

Gory pictures and videos of wounded and bleeding Pitbulls and other fighting dogs are openly displayed on social media platforms by members of dog fight clubs. Many of these pages were taken down after animal rights activists approached authorities to report dog fight fests.