Australia’s Hidden Dogfighting Problem

By : Rhiannon Cunningham July 25, 2019 Category : Animal Welfare

Earlier this month, Jared Nathan Trenear was jailed for six months by a Brisbane magistrate for after participating in illegal dogfighting. The RSPCA found four adult dogs restrained with wire, no suitable bedding, and no access to clean water, as well as two litters of puppies, at Trenear's home in April 2018.

Most Australians have no idea that dogfighting is happening here and would be horrified to discover that this cruel practice is increasing across our country.

Dogfighting is an extremely brutal activity that causes horrendous suffering to the dogs forced to participate. It is a notoriously well-organized and extensive underground economy that operates globally and generates income for those involved through illegal gambling, the sale of dogs, and their valuable offspring. Fights have been known to have purses totaling over $700,000, which does not include the side wagering that occurs in most of these instances.

Dogfighting is closely linked to many other forms of illegal crime. Participation in dogfighting commonly overlaps with involvement in the drug trade, as well as illegal weapons trade, violent criminal activity, and child pornography. In the United States, many of the federal cases against dogfighting originated as investigations into drug trade.

Strict Australian import requirements make the flow of dogs into Australia more difficult, but there is evidence from online forums that dogs have been imported into Australia from the USA (home to many of the original dogfighting bloodlines) for dogfighting. Presently, there are suspected to be several major dogfighting kennels in Australia that proliferate these original bloodlines, without having to undertake the risk of importing new dogs. Furthermore, artificial insemination techniques and the import of semen from fighting dogs around the globe allow dogfighters to continue to bring new fighting dog blood into Australia.

Professional dogfights generally are held in extremely private locations with attendees often never even provided the actual address, but instead led to the fight location from a secondary meeting point. Attendees might also be made to turn off and surrender their mobile phones until the fight is over. The nature of dogfighting practices allows owners, organisers, and even dogs to live in various states but still be connected to the same kennel.

Historically, large kennels operate very silently and often require complex investigations to uncover. These investigations are hampered when legislation only prohibits actual dog fights, and not the general activities surrounding dogfighting, such as breeding, keeping and selling dogs for fighting. Further development of practical and legislative tools for law enforcement to use in proactively tackling this issue will not only help them to eradicate individual kennels, but will result in gaining information that will help determine and tackle the dogfighting network throughout all of Australia.

Earlier this month, HSI’s Senior Specialist in Global Anti-Dogfighting, Animal Protection and Crisis Response, Janette Reever, joined Australian enforcement officers at strategic meetings in Sydney and Brisbane on how to expose and eliminate the hidden dogfighting problem across our country. We are confident that this collaboration is a vital step forward in bringing about the end of this horrendous problem.

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Rhiannon Cunningham is a Campaigner for Humane Society International and has been with the organisation since 2015. She is admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW as a solicitor and has a Masters in Environmental Law from The  Australian National University. Currently, she is in her final year of a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science, with a focus on conservation and sustainability. Her work with HSI is primarily focused on environmental policy, native wildlife protection, and animal welfare laws.

Images: Kendra Stanley-Mills / Special to The Detroit Free Press

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  1. Avatar Shelley says:

    Horrendous. Thank you for doing all you can in an insidious and challenging area to tackle and eliminate. I hope you can find ways to stop this at its source. Just when I think nothing more horrendous can come along - there it is. Bless you and thank you for never giving up.

  2. Avatar Marie-louise Sarjeant says:

    dogfights are distressing and completely immoral and it's completely unacceptable to have this in Australia it should be illegal and a prison offence.

  3. Avatar Rosemary Biggins says:

    Disgusting morons who participate in this, hopefully they’ll be thrown in prison and the key permanently lost forever! ????????????

  4. Avatar Len Hall says:

    Penalties should be huge fines and long jail sentences for organisers and also the morons who attend these meetings.

  5. Avatar Eva De Baets says:

    Stop torture and abuse

  6. Avatar Barbara Nicholls says:

    Dog fighting paraphernalia,dogs with fight scars and fighting pits and other things used for this purpose let alone injured dogs and medication only vets should have. Should point to dog fighting and should be admissible in court. Even if it was just how these dogs were kept should be against the Law. Police should not have to wait until some poor dog is being ripped apart before they can do anything. People watching should be ashamed and charged as well. They just run in every direction and get away? Police need a different way around this, so they catch all the dogfighting criminals If you see something suspicious report it.

  7. Avatar JULIE Burton says:

    It is disgraceful that people could do this to animals, they need to be jailed.

  8. Avatar Melina mura says:

    I can't believe that people can be so cruel.

  9. Avatar Mile mannas says:

    Stop this brutality! Lives suffer!! Punish the scums with 20 years jail!! Don't be soft!!

  10. Avatar Donna says:

    Many reports to local regional police stations go nowhere. A dedicated hotline to report would be useful. T h e puzzle would be easier to piece togettogether all the information and reports going into the one number and getting to task team.

  11. Avatar Donna cox says:

    Absolutely disgusting. This needs to stop. Our government should be doing more.

  12. Avatar Rosemary says:

    I pray this horrific “sport” end soon!

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About HSI Australia

HSI concentrates on the preservation of endangered animals and ecosystems and works to ensure quality of life for all animals, both domestic and wild. HSI is the largest animal protection not-for-profit organisation in the world and has been established in Australia since 1994