Organised crime targeting animals exists, one example being syndicated dog fighting. Other covert offences of cruelty against animals include sexual abuse.
These offences are secretive so there is a need for a specialised unit to research, investigate and combat issues of this kind. There are also “attendant” activities which are also of grave concern. For example; breeding, training, untreated injuries, behaviour traits and the general welfare of the animals.
Monitoring events/shows using specific breeds of animals is an associated proactive initiative.
As its name suggests, the NSPCA’s Special Investigations Unit is a team of qualified individuals. Information gathering may be painstaking yet the successful raids, arrests, prosecutions and custodial sentencing have led to this Unit gaining credibility within South Africa and amongst the international community. Above all, the Unit’s breakthroughs and successes especially with regard to dog fighting and the sexual abuse of animals have led to the rescuing, veterinary treatment and rehabilitation of many animals.
This Unit holds the highest number of successful dog fighting raids and prosecutions in South Africa. A prosecution initiated by the NSPCA’s Special Investigations Unit led to the first instance of direct imprisonment punishment for this crime being handed down in South Africa.