South Yorkshire is one of the worst places in the country for forced animal fighting such as cock-fights, new RSCPA figures reveal.
Calls to the RSPCA reporting organised animal fighting have gone up by a third in the past five years, despite the practice having been illegal for 180 years.
South Yorkshire came in eighth in the top ten areas for animal cruelty reports in 2014, followed by Derbyshire in tenth.
South Yorkshire had 18 reports, followed by 16 in Derbyshire.
Chief inspector Ian Briggs, from the RSPCA’s special operations unit which investigates organised animal crime, said the figures came as no surprise.
He said: “People look at me with amazement when I tell them about some of the things I’ve seen and heard of when it comes to dogfighting and cockfighting.
“Some people simply can’t believe it still happens, but it does and these new figures show that it is as much a problem now, if not more, than any other point in recent years.
“I’ve been investigating organised animal fighting for more than a decade and it still disgusts me.
“Knowing that there are individuals who continue to take pleasure in watching animals brutally fight each other, often causing horrific and sometimes fatal injuries.”
Chief inspector Briggs added: “RSPCA inspectors deal with countless instances of neglect caused by ignorance, but these cases are all about premeditated cruelty.
“People are deliberately breeding, training and fighting animals for the sole purpose of inflicting suffering.
“Hopefully one day organised animal fighting can truthfully be described as a thing of the past.
“Until then, we’ll keep investigating and try to bring about an end to such horrific levels of animal cruelty.”