A 38-year-old Jimboomba man has pleaded guilty to 16 charges, including six charges relating to organised dog fighting.
Joshua Baskerville entered a guilty plea in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court. Baskerville was charged with numerous offences under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, including: failing to treat for disease or injury, inappropriate handling, possession of prohibited cockfighting spurs and supply of an animal for use in a prohibited event, namely a dogfight.
Baskerville came to the attention of the RSPCA Taskforce after yet another investigation into illegal dog fighting.
In April 2018 RSPCA Inspectors, accompanied by Queensland Police Service, executed a warrant at the home of the father of six. Upon entry RSPCA Inspectors located a large number of dogs, many were tethered with heavy chains, and living in inappropriate conditions. They also located a number of training devices and other paraphernalia often used in organised dog fighting.
All the animals were transported back to the RSPCA shelter, where a number of dogs were found to have injuries consistent with organised dog fighting.
All the dogs and puppies seized were treated for a variety of medical conditions, including skin conditions, ear infections, hookworm and coccidiosis. One of those dogs, identified as ‘Omen’, a black terrier type dog, had scarring to his neck and other areas consistent with organised dog fighting.
A number of the dogs were identified as having a high level of aggression towards other dogs and had to be separated as a result of this aggression. Another dog of a similar breed to ‘Omen’, named ‘Boyka’, was also found to have injuries consistent with organised dog fighting. The name ‘Boyka’ is said to mean ‘warrior’ or ‘fighter’.
Sadly, due to the overt aggression displayed to other dogs by ‘Omen' and ‘Boyka’, they had to be euthanised. Thankfully all other dogs were able to be rehabilitated and rehomed by the RSPCA shelter team.
During a search of the property a trophy in the shape of a break stick was located in the defendant’s lounge room. Break sticks are used in organised dog fighting to pry open the jaws of an opponent and are often fashioned out of timber. The trophy featured an image of a well-known champion pit dog known as ‘Andy Capp’.
Also located in the defendant’s house were prohibited cockfighting spurs, which are used in the barbaric and illegal ‘sport’ of cockfighting. Other items such as treadmills were found in a shed located on the property. These types of devices are often used in the conditioning of dogs involved in organised dog fighting.
The majority of dogs were found tethered with large, burdensome chains. The use of heavy chains to tether dogs is often used as another method of conditioning dogs for fighting, by increasing their muscle mass and strength. Other dogs were found confined to a barn.
Numerous video files were seized from the defendant, one of which depicts Baskerville holding a tan coloured puppy just out of reach of a larger, black coloured puppy, which is harnessed to a treadmill. The puppy is encouraged to react aggressively to the older dog. This practice is used in the training of fighting dogs.
Baskerville was sentenced to three years’ probation and given a lifetime prohibition order, prohibiting him from owning any animal. The defendant was also ordered to pay almost $3,500 in costs.
Magistrate Kilmartin noted that had it not been for the defendants very specific personal circumstances, all of which had been out of his control, a period of imprisonment with actual time served would have been imposed.
His Honour made the point that this case and outcome should not be taken as a sign that these are not serious offences. “They are the worst kind of animal cruelty”, he said
He made the point that no future courts should rely on this sentence as a precedent and continued, saying “This outcome is a result of exceptional circumstances and is not reflective of the seriousness of the penalty that would usually be imposed”.
RSPCA Queensland Chief Inspector Daniel Young said that the RSPCA are satisfied that Mr Baskerville no longer has any involvement in these activities, and is banned from owning dogs indefinitely.
“We are pleased to have this particular matter finalised after a prolonged investigation focusing on organised dog fighting. Dog fighting is an abhorrent act where dogs are pitted against each other resulting in serious injury, even death, so to be in a position where we can remove animals which are destined to become fighting dogs is major result,” he said.
“From the intelligence we have gathered, it is alarming the level of activity relating to dog fighting that still exists. The manner in which these dogs are raised from such a young age is appalling; it introduces them to a life void of the normal comforts that the community has come to expect a dog should receive. Tragically, dogs that are the subject of organised dog fighting are unable to escape a life perpetual conflict and misery.”
We encourage anyone with information relating to dog fighting to contact the RSPCA 1300 ANIMAL.