WARNING: CONTAINS DISTRESSING AND GRAPHIC CONTENT
The RSPCA has released video footage of a Staffordshire bull terrier being forced to run on a treadmill as a means of training for illegal dog-fighting.
It is believed it is one of thousands of dogs subjected to such treatment, which involves tethering the animals to a treadmill and making them run repeatedly to help their bodies reach their physical prime.
With a choke on its neck and a whip in front of it, the dog has no way of escaping the treadmill - despite becoming exhausted. Credit: RSPCA
Last month, John Knibbs, 55, was convicted of keeping and training dogs for fighting, having been raided after breaching a life ban on keeping animals.
Magistrates in Lincoln had been told how video footage found on Knibbs' phone showed dogs being forced to fight each other, with two dogs seen ripping each other apart in one clip.
There were also text messages that spoke of the 'crushing of bones'.
RSPCA inspectors found one of the dogs in Knibbs' care had been seriously injured in a fight that had lasted for 45 minutes.
The court was also told that another, who was called Baddy, had suffered severe puncture wounds fighting a much larger dog.
Baddy, one of the dogs that was in Knibbs' care. Credit: RSPCA
RSPCA inspector Kirsty Withnall said: "Although we never found Baddy's body, the pictures and text messages about the fight revealed there were severe puncture wounds to his head."
Withnall told the court that Knibbs had been looking for the biggest, most aggressive animals in a bid to create 'the ultimate fighting dog'.
He had been caught after one of his dogs, a crossbreed called Kali, had been found in a neighbour's garden covered in bruises and scars.
The RSPCA's Cliff Harrison said: "This poor dog was covered in wounds, both fresh and historic.
"She had bite marks, scratches and puncture wounds predominantly around her muzzle, ears and legs. These are exactly the sort of thing we see when dogs are forced to fight another dog.
"The vet agreed the injuries were consistent with dog fighting."
Dog fighting is illegal in the UK. Credit: RSPCA
Harrison added: "It's clear Forrest is obsessed with dog fighting and involved in keeping, training and fighting his dogs.
"They have significant injuries consistent with dog fighting and have clearly been caused suffering.
"Aspenden is a sleepy village and Forrest's home looks like any other.
"But behind closed doors, he was involved in this barbaric underworld, a secret he kept well hidden."
Along with his jail time, Forrest was banned for life from owning an animal.
<span class="NormalTextRun SCXW185470737 BCX0" ">The RSPCA's Chief Inspector, Mike Butcher, has called for fresh action on tackling illegal dog fighting rings.
He said: "We're still seeing rings, organised ones that are kept secret.
"You have champion pit bulls that are kept well away from anybody, they organise dog fights between them."
A dog being forced to run on a treadmill. Credit: RSPCA
Butcher said the dogs are bred as trophy animals, and are kept as status dogs to intimidate others.
Breeders often use code names so that they're able to brag about their successes while still ensuring the practice remains underground.
Butcher continued: "Organised fights are the Premier League of dog fighting.
"Then you've got the second tier, people go out and set the dog on cats and sheep.
"It's an off-the-cuff attack, normally by four or five youths with one dog. These are impromptu fights - they're not organised, but they're on the increase."
Featured Image Credit: RSPCA