A volunteer with the Mayo SPCA is warning people not to advertise dogs or puppies as ‘free to a good home’ on websites such as DoneDeal or Gumtree because they could end up being used in the barbaric practice of dog baiting.
Annie Kivlichin said illegal dog fighting is a common and lucrative practice in the county, particularly in some of the larger towns.
She described dogs rescued by her organisation with horrific wounds, which were consistent with dog fighting, such as severe cuts and tears and broken teeth, where dogs with strong bite reflexes had their mouths forced open with an implement.
Dog fighting usually involves two dogs being pitted against each other in a ring for entertainment while spectators bet on the outcome.
Trainers of the fighting dogs often practice dog baiting, where another animal is tied up, mauled, and usually killed by the fighting dog to test or hone its instincts.
“It’s going on here. There’s no doubt about it,” said Ms Kivlichin. “The problem is catching these people. It goes on in secret and there is big money involved.”
She appealed to pet owners to be responsible and help ensure their animals are not used in dog fighting.
“You do not know who is taking these dogs away and so much skulduggery goes on with animals. There are really unsavoury people who are training and fighting dogs in this county and you simply have to check very carefully before you give an animal away to someone.”
Puppies and dogs which are advertised as free could also fall into the hands of puppy breeders, added Ms Kivlichin.
“Ireland is known as the ‘puppy capital of Europe’. Two cars were recently stopped in Dublin and one had 25 puppies in the boot and another had more than 30. They were in a most terrible state and were being driven to the UK to be sold,” she said.
“Check carefully where your dogs are going and make sure it’s not a breeder because, if it is, you are condemning the animal to a miserable life.”
Mayo SPCA is a voluntary organisation which rescues and rehomes abandoned and mistreated animals. Last year, it rehomed more than 500 animals across the county.
For more information, visit www.mayospca.com