Sick underworld of ‘£100k-a-night’ dogfighting where steroid-charged hounds fight to death in blood-soaked council flats

WITH blood splattered on the floors and smeared on the walls it is like a scene from a horror movie, but this is the reality of dog fighting in Britain.

For ten minutes two raging animals were locked in a room in a London council block and forced to tear chunks out of each other for their owners.

Patch Dolan / Channel 4This dog trainer admitted 50 of her animals had died as a result of cruel contests[/caption]

Patch Dolan / Channel 4Dogs being trained to fight to the death[/caption]

channel 4Dog fighter Phillip Ali put his dogs on treadmills[/caption]

Tragically, it is not an uncommon episode, because reports of dog fighting have risen by a third in three years. 

Now this clandestine cruelty has been exposed by a shocking new documentary on Channel 4.

In the show, criminals claim that dog fighting is more lucrative than drug dealing, earning them up to £100,000 a night, while a female trainer admits 50 of her combative canines have died.

The gangs will stop at nothing to win the prize money.

The animal protection charity the RSPCA uncovered evidence that contest kingpins make their dogs – known as ‘gladiators’ – run on treadmills for up to three hours a day so they have the stamina for two hour encounters.

Dogs are beaten to increase their pain threshold or starved and given steroids to make them aggressive.

Ian Muttitt, chief inspector in the RSPCA’s special operations unit, tells The Sun: “The top level in dog fighting is extremely clandestine, predominantly organised criminals.

“It is their hobby – a desire for bloodlust to see animals attacking each other, often to the death.”

Dog fighting has been illegal in the United Kingdom since 1835 and can carry a prison sentence of up to five years.

That combined with a revulsion among dog-loving Brits for such ‘bloodsport’ means those involved keep their activities as secret as possible.

Blood money

Investigative journalists Ben Zand and Charlie Mole set about trying to penetrate this shadowy world.

First they met two gangsters in London in masks holding back massive, snarling mastiffs.

One of them claims: “Drugs is small money compared to dog fighting, minimum £50,000 to £80,000.

“This is an elite world. Everybody’s got that money to spend in this world.”

The money is earned from the ‘purse’ – prize money – and side betting.

The Channel 4 team, whose programme Inside Britain’s Dog Fighting Gangs will stream from May 1, then met a trainer in the Midlands at a remote location.

It is their hobby, a desire for bloodlust to see animals attacking each other often to the death

Ian Muttitt

The West Midlands is believed to be one of the country’s dog fighting hotspots, with the RSPCA dealing with over 60 cases in the past four years in the region.

A treadmill, illegal drugs and five dogs were found in a dawn raid in Saltley, Birmingham, last September.

Trained to kill

The woman, who kept her identity hidden, says: “I have lost probably about 50 dogs through fighting. 

“You have some dogs which will come out alive, some owners whose dog has lost, they will kill them anyway.”

She adds: “It’s brutal, but it’s what they were bred for.”

In reality there is little natural about their behaviour, because these animals are being transformed into supercharged killers under her tutelage.

On camera she admits to striking the dogs, which include a Rottweiler and Belgian Malinois, with a leather cane to get them used to pain.

Other methods include removing food.

RSPCADogs are kept outside to have ‘nothing to live for’[/caption]

The League Against Cruel SportsA former fighting dog left with horror injuries[/caption]

Patch Dolan / Channel 4The hounds are put through cruel ‘bootcamps’ to get in shape[/caption]

She reveals: “You will have four to five days warning before a fight, sometimes you have to starve some dogs a little bit, some dogs work better when they’re hungry.”

The prizes can range from £1,000 to £100,000.

But she draws the line at giving her animals performance-enhancing substances, commenting: “We also have cheating fights when people use steroids, amphetamines and do anything to make a dog hyper, I don’t believe in those fights.”

Doped up

Dog-fighting monster Phillip Ali, 68, from Chigwell, Essex, had no such qualms about doping his animals.

An RSPCA investigation revealed he’d not only given the dogs steroids, but medication to line their stomachs so they could better cope with pain relievers.

There was evidence that one dog was told to continue fighting even after it had suffered at least one broken leg.

Ian does not believe that these criminals care about their animals.

He says: “Phillip Ali, by his own words, made reference to gladiator dogs that need to be kept outside because if they are inside they have something to live for.”

But if they are a champion – a title achieved after winning three fights – efforts will be made to keep them alive because money can be made from breeding their offspring.

How to spot dog fighting in your area

THE RSPCA needs the public’s help to root out illegal dog fighting gangs, by reporting evidence of injuries

Sustained and loud barking from multiple dogs in gardens: Fighting breeders may keep and train a lot of dogs in a small space, and sustained, distressed calls from the dogs could be a sign of this.

Tyres hanging from trees: This set-up is used in training, with the dog made to hang from the tyre by its jaw to strengthen its bite.

Scratch marks in public parks: Makeshift pits can pop up in public parks and then vanish, but gouges on the ground, as well as blood stains, can show where a fight was staged.

Dogs with puncture wounds or missing limbs: Surviving fighters will often limp away from a fight with bite marks, or missing limbs. Scars on black-furred dogs will often show up as white patches.

Dogs whose ears have been cropped back: This practice makes it harder for rival dogs to latch on to the ears, and can make the animal look more menacing.

A raid at Ali’s property in March 2022 uncovered makeshift veterinary gear – such as syringes, skin staplers, an intravenous kit and bandages.

In April Ali was found guilty of ten animal welfare offences including training a dog for a fight.

His associates, Billy and Amy Leadley, aged 38 and 39, from Takeley, Essex, and Stephen Brown, 56, also from Chigwell, were also found guilty of offences related to dog fighting.

They are all due to be sentenced in June.

Ian alleges: “Phillip Ali was at the very pinnacle of dog fighting and has been for some time.”

Footage and messages retrieved from his phone showed that the network stretched as far away as Ireland, France and Spain.

But there are different levels to the dog fighting world.

Settling scores

A gangster carries away his injured dog

Director Charlie Mole investigated dog fightsChannel 4

Below the highly organised Ali there are planned fights that don’t have the same type of sophistication – and at the bottom there are fights in parks between status dogs.

The Channel 4 team uncovered another disturbing trend.

Charlie says: “There were two sides of dog fighting we came across, the traditional type in a boarded up property where two dogs fight for money and then there was inner city gangs with big scary dogs trained for violence which are used a bit like weapons, but also seem to be using them to settle disagreements.”

They met a gang member who was using his mastiff dog named Ghost to settle a row over a debt.

The dogs duel rather than their owners.

Ben and Charlie both went with the masked man to a council block and watched as he took his powerful hound into a room where another dog awaited.

They listened to the barking and squeals of agony as the scrap unfolded behind the locked door.

Once it was done, the journalists looked inside.

Documentary director Charlie says: “It looked like a murder scene, blood spattered all across the floor. It was sweaty and hot in the room. 

“Afterwards there was a smear of blood on the wall from Ghost.”                

It looked like a murder scene, blood spattered all across the floor

Charlie Mole

The animal was so badly injured that he had to be carried away dripping in blood.

As his owner walked down the dark street he complained callously: “Got to move on, get another dog, he can’t fulfil his duties.”

Throats ripped out

Many dogs don’t come out alive.

Other gangsters in the documentary tell how the animals will rip each other’s throats out.

One says: “You lose when it can’t carry on, snout broken, crunching, that dog can’t even move its mouth anymore, leg broken or death or evading the fight, you have lost.” 

The RSPCA asks members of the public to keep an eye out for such injuries.

It is reports of animal cruelty that can lead to the likes of Ali being raided.

Even though there have been reports of the XL Bullies being involved in dog fights they are not the most wanted breed.

The most likely champion remains the pitbull terrier, which is banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act in Britain.

To get around the law new breeds are being created.

Ian says: “The dog that remains the dog of choice is the pitbull, what we’ve seen since the dangerous dogs act was brought in, is a move to breed that dog with other bull breed dogs, such as staffies, but also boxers and labradors.”

They are only dangerous, though, because that’s the way they were raised.

Charlie concludes:  “It was a difficult film to make. It’s really upsetting. It is horrible. The dogs are blameless in this. They are trained to do this.”

UNTOLD: Inside Britain’s Dog Fighting Gang is available to stream on

Patch Dolan / Channel 4Dog handlers try not to get attached to the animals they send to their deaths[/caption]

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