DOG fighting is on rise in Bradford, the RSPCA warned last night.

And it is thought to be one of the reasons why, on average, a dog is stolen in the Bradford district every 12 days.

Bradford RSPCA Inspector Sarah Bagley said there were dog fighting rings in the Bradford district.

"Dogs are stolen as bait for attack dogs," she said.

"Injured animals are subjected to DIY first aid treatment and are denied pain relief. It's barbaric in this day and age that dog fighting goes on."

Insp Bagley urged dog owners to be vigilant and not leave their pets tied up outside shops.

"It only takes seconds for someone to untie a dog and run off with it," she said.

"Don't leave them on their own in the back yard and watch out for people nosing around."

West Yorkshire Police said there had been 31 incidents of dog theft across Bradford between August 2014 and July 27 this year. More than one dog could have been stolen in some of the incidents.

There were 34 reported incidents of dog theft between August 2013 and July 2014.

But campaigners say the figure could be higher with some owners not reporting the thefts which are also thought to occur for illegal breeding farms.


The issue has been highlighted by the snatching from the street of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Ralph.

The pet, who will be two next month, was lured into a car at the back of his home in Eccleshill at 2.40pm on Tuesday, July 7. He has not been seen since. The incident was captured on CCTV.

Ralph's owner, warehouse worker Scott Shaw, 20, said he feared his dog had been deliberately targeted for dog fighting.

Mr Shaw, of Norman Lane, said: "The road at the back is just a dirt track with garages. It's out of the way for anyone not living here. This car pulls up and you can see Ralph going to the car with his tail wagging. A passenger leans out of the back and you can see he is holding something. Then the car drives off at speed.

"He's probably been taken for fighting or breeding. I hope it's not for fighting. It's horrible not knowing what's happened to him. He is part of the family and he is missed a hell of a lot. He's a very friendly dog and was a big comfort to my dad when he was dying of cancer."

Julie Fowler, a Bradford campaigner for owners, said 22 dogs had been registered as missing on the DogLost website since the start of the year. The vast majority of those had been stolen, particularly in the Ravenscliffe area, she said.

She said: "There are a lot of dogs stolen in Bradford, but the case of Ralph is the first time there has been evidence of people going out in cars to steal dogs.

"A lot vanish into thin air, without witnesses. The theft of dogs is on the increase, they are much-loved family pets. But the people who take them aren't interested in that. All they are interested in is making quick money. It's organised crime."

Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies raised the issue of dog thefts at Prime Minister's Question Time earlier this year.

He said: "It is a much bigger issue than I had appreciated. Clearly there is a particular problem in Bradford.

"It's heartbreaking for the owners and terrible for the dogs who are devoted to them.

"That is made worse by the fate that might await them. Some are stolen for dog fighting, others are sold on for profit.

"It is a serious offence and the key is to catch the perpetrators and give them lengthy prison sentences. The laws are in place. The issue is the enforcement of them. It needs to be treated as more of a priority by the police and the courts."

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "A theft of any kind can be distressing, but one where a family pet is taken can be even more upsetting.

"Reports of theft are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. Victims are given crime prevention advice where appropriate and are kept updated on any progress.

"We would encourage dog owners to get their pets micro-chipped, and to keep their pets indoors, or in secure premises, when home alone.

"We would ask people to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

Ralph is dark brindle with a white chest and was wearing an Ezydog black collar when he went missing. The car involved in the theft was a five-door blue Volkswagen Golf, with distinctive tinted back lights, sunroof and tow bar.

Anyone with information about Ralph's whereabouts should contact Mr Shaw on 07780 438227.

  • Have you witnessed or seen evidence of dog fighting in Bradford? Call our newsdesk on 01274 705292 or email