THREE dogs have been seized in Huddersfield by the RSPCA following a probe into illegal dog fighting.
Police from 10 forces and RSPCA officers today revealed details of a three-year investigation - named Operation Gazpacho - into the illegal and barbaric sport.
On Monday four police officers accompanied by RSPCA inspectors raided addresses and outbuildings in the Deighton area of Huddersfield.
Three dogs were seized and one man was interviewed.
Equipment which may have been used for dog fighting was also seized.
RSPCA Inspector John Atkinson said the dogs are in a secure location and an expert will be brought in to determine whether they are pit bulls or not.
Pit bulls must be legally registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act but are popular choices for dog fighting, as are Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
Insp Atkinson said: "The operation was very successful. We have not finished interviewing yet. We will interview the man again once we have collated all our evidence.
"We will be hoping to make further arrests after more information has been gleaned."
The Huddersfield dogs were among 73 seized nationwide through the operation.
Twelve men in total were interviewed after raids in Huddersfield, Barnsley, Birmingham, Chesterfield, Gainsborough, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Oxford and Scunthorpe.
Items, including treadmills, scales, veterinary kits and breaking sticks, which can all be used for training fighting dogs, were recovered.
Blood and hair samples were also taken away for DNA analysis.
Chief Inspector Mike Butcher, from the RSPCA special operations unit, said: "We are extremely pleased with the operation and hope to make more arrests shortly."
He added: "It's astonishing to think that, even in the 21st century, there are still a small minority of people who enjoy the barbaric sport of pitting one dog against another and we will continue to make sure that those involved are dealt with through the courts."
The police and RSPCA have long been keen to crack down on the sport, which has been outlawed since 1835.
Dog fighting still goes on in deserted barns and derelict premises away from public view.
Dogs are often subjected to exhausting training and are coached by owners to develop vicious behaviour.
They are pitted against other dogs in hour-long bouts, with huge bets riding on the outcome.
Often the losing dog will die from injuries sustained in the 14ft ring.
Most injuries go untreated, as the illicit nature of the sport means owners are unwilling to go to the vets.
The most popular fighting dogs are American Pit Bull terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers, which can sell for thousands of pounds.
But stolen pets of any breed are often used as `training material' for the up and coming fighting dogs.