Sunderland, Hartlepool and South Tyneside Branch

Dogfighter jailed after admitting training animals for brutal bouts

Press Release Tuesday 24 February 2015

John Psaila thought to be a major figure in British dogfighting

A man thought to be a major figure in British dogfighting has been jailed for 121 days and banned from keeping animals for life after an RSPCA investigation uncovered a dogfighting training school at his house.

Officers from the RSPCA’s special operations unit tracked John Psaila down to two houses in the Greater Manchester area where he kept and trained several pit bull terrier type dogs to fight in organised bouts.

The 49-year-old, of Thornvale, Abram, was sentenced today for the 14 offences he had previously admitted. Charges included training animals to fight and possession of equipment such as treadmills, medication and a captive bolt gun which were all designed for use in connection with organised fights.

Officers even discovered one dog being trained on a treadmill when they arrived at Psaila’s address in Abram during investigations last summer.

Chief inspector Ian Briggs, of the RSPCA’s special operations unit, said: “John Psaila appears to be a big player in the dogfighting world judging by the evidence we found during our investigation. When he was interviewed he admitted he’d had an interest in pit bull terriers since the 1980s.

“To have successfully obtained convictions against him is a huge breakthrough in our ongoing battle to bring dogfighters to justice and prevent more animals from suffering at the hands of people like him.

“Dogfighting is one of the most brutal, extreme and premeditated forms of animal cruelty. Hopefully this case will provide fresh information that will lead us to other dogfighters who think they are above the law.”

He appeared at Wigan & Leigh Magistrates’ Court today (24.2.15) when he was sentenced to 121 days in jail and disqualified from keeping all animals for life. Magistrates told Psaila he cannot appeal that ban for 15 years. He was also ordered to pay £520 costs.

Inspectors from the RSPCA’s special operations unit – which investigates organised animal crime – joined officers from Greater Manchester Police on warrants at Psalia’s Abram address, as well as a house on Lowton Street in Radcliffe, Manchester on 9 June last year.

They were acting on information that he was involved in organised dogfighting and an allegation he was preparing to take a dog to a fight.

At the Abram address they found what resembled a training school for fighting dogs, including treadmills, weighing scales, home veterinary kits with medication and muscle-gaining powder and breaking sticks, which are typically used to separate dogs during a fight.

The RSPCA found Psaila had two pit bull type dogs – called Ziggy and Tip – in his care and he subsequently admitted training both of the dogs to fight.

Psaila also admitted to training a dog called Cruise to fight. Although the dog was not found at either address, texts from his phone revealed plans to arrange a fight between Cruise and another unknown dog.

Footage of the dogs being trained on treadmills was found on the defendant’s mobile phone.

Other paraphernalia such as dogfighting yearbooks and magazines, as well as a bucket and a sponge covered in blood were also discovered at property belonging to Psaila.

The court was told in mitigation that Psaila claimed to have only been involved in dogfighting for three years in an attempt to make money.

Recent RSPCA figures showed Greater Manchester came out third in the list of areas which received the highest number of calls about organised animal fighting in 2014. There were 35 reports from Greater Manchester, as the national figures showed the number of calls to the RSPCA about organised animal fighting had increased by 33% in the past five years.


Notes to editors

Case footage is available to download from

Case photographs are available to download from

RSPCA news
Office: 0300 123 0244/0288