Illegal dog fighting is on the rise in the UK as panic grows regarding the number of XL bully-related attacks on members of the public, the RSCPA has claimed.
Barbaric dog-on-dog death matches were banned in the UK 200 years ago, but now authorities have warned that they could be seeing something of a resurgence.
The news comes after demands have been lodged both by the public and in Parliament for the XL bully to be banned in the UK.
READ MORE: Extreme American Bully breeders announce new freakish bloodlines like 'fight promotions'
The majority of deaths from dog attacks have come from the breed since the start of 2022 and footage of a recent attack in Birmingham at a petrol forecourt – which injured three – has led to a flashpoint in the debate around whether or not to ban them.
Online, various Instagram breeding accounts with thousands of followers have shared footage of their XL bullies training, jumping high and grabbing onto sacks hanging from trees, glorifying and celebrating the physicality and aggression of the dogs.
And at the extreme end of a culture of dogs being celebrated for their violence and physicality is the horrific reality of cage fights.
The RSPCA reports that between 2015 and 2020 it received more than 9,000 reports of organised dog fighting.
Earlier this year, the organisation reported that the number of dog fighting incidents had been on the rise, with 1,156 cases of dog fighting having been tackled since 2019 as of July this year.
Dog fights see animals often killed or gravely injured with the RSPCA reporting that some animals don't get taken to vets and instead undergo botched surgeries using the likes of “staple guns”.
RSPCA dog fighting expert and Special Operations Unit (SOU) chief inspector Ian Muttitt said: "Sadly we're back seeing pre-pandemic levels of dog fighting incidents.
"An average of 19 incidents were being investigated every month in 2019 and that has risen to a shocking 31 a month so far this year.
"Our figures show that in the past four years, the RSPCA has uncovered and dealt with 1,156 incidents of dog fighting in England and Wales. The north of England is the worst region for it, with 42% of the incidents occurring there.
"It's staggering that something which has been illegal for almost 200 years, which most people would consider consigned to history, is still so rife."
While there is little evidence to show that the XL is commonly used in these fights, reports from MailOnline claim the American bully has a long history of being bred to fight in the ring.
Meanwhile, the availability of XL bullies and the way they are portrayed on social media appears to celebrate violence, with lineages of the dogs advertised online like an MMA fight card.
Many of the dogs appear to herald from wanna-be trainers on various Instagram accounts.
Footage of the dogs showcases their strength and athleticism, with numerous pages showing men trying to control the powerful hounds, creating an appearance that the dogs are bred for aggression and possibly even some form of combat.
Speaking to MailOnline, law and criminology lecturer at Royal Holloway University Dr Lawrence Newport, said: “The American Bully is bred from fighting stock, and inbred repeatedly to produce the massive, violent breed we see today.
“These original fighting dogs were bred to be moved from cage to pit-fight. They were not bred for positive, social traits but solely for surviving and winning brutal, hours-long fights.”
The author of a recent report into the breed, he continued: “The American Bully was intensively bred from these fighting dogs, and inbred for size and strength. This has instilled in them a hair-trigger response and a desire to attack and to kill.
“Once an attack has started, whether it be another dog, a sheep, horse or a child, an American Bully will not stop. That is why victims have had to be identified through scraps of clothing.”
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