RSPCA NSW find online tip-offs valuable for animal welfare investigations

RSPCA NSW has reiterated despite social media chatter about suspected dog-fighting rings in the capital region they have had no evidence to substantiate such claims.

However the organisation has found instant sharing of material online has become a powerful tool in the fight for animal welfare. 

Online advertisements for the illegal sale of week-old kittens, cases of cock-fighting and videos of brutality sent in to RSPCA NSW have all successfully sparked investigations into animal mistreatment. 

"Photos and videos of people beating animals, or pig-hunting with dogs, these have gone on to be investigated as a result of screen shots sent in to us here," RSPCA NSW spokeswoman JessicaConway said.

"Dog-fighting rings is one of those concerns that frequently pops up on Facebook and social media but we have very little evidence, in fact none at the moment, that dog fighting rings are in existence," she said. 

"It's important to emphasise that anyone who does know anything get in touch with the RSPCA and their local police. These sorts of practices are abhorrent and if there was any evidence to investigate we would certainly be on that." 

Ms Conway said investigative teams had various means to identify the origins of submitted online material but the more information provided the better. 

"It is always worth sending things in, because we have had success with this in the past," she said. "All the details of those that alert us to cruelty are confidential and that is bound by law."

Murrumbateman woman Beth Stevenson has been agonising about the safety of her two Staffordshire bull terriers since she returned home on the night of January 2 to find them both missing. 

"The past weeks have been hell," she said. "I am just scared they have been taken possibly for breeding, dog-fighting or possibly as baitdogs." 

Her suspicions the dogs were targeted because of their breed heightened after she encountered a Facebook message posted about the betting operations connected to dog-fighting. 

Reporting the incident to Yass police, Ms Stevenson said she was told it was clear the dogs were taken as there was evidence of damage to her front gates. 

But after weeks waiting in hope that six-year-old Vodka and 14-month-old Billy would turn up, the Stevenson family are calling on the local community for help.

"We are offering a $1000 reward with no questions asked," Mrs Stevenson said. "I just want them brought home safely."

Ms Conway said owners in Mrs Stevenson's position could   harness the power of the RSPCA's broad network by notifying their local branch that an animal wasmissing or stolen, and sending in microchip details and photographs. 

"There are certainly benefits to let us know what's happening," she said. "And if there is any obvious trend to animals being abducted in a certain area we can follow this up and find find out why." 

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